For many of us, food means love, generosity and family. The scent of a traditional spice mix or the sizzle of dough frying bring memories to life. Here, food writers and cooks share the recipes and flavours that mean home to them
LARA LUCK’S RICH SEASONED RICE WITH CARIBBEAN-STYLE ROAST CHICKEN, ROASTED PUMPKIN AND SPINACh
Lara Luck is a food stylist and recipe writer, and a regular contributor to Waitrose Weekend. @foodbylaraluck
My family is from the West Indies so Caribbean food is a staple in our house. I’m so grateful my mum passed down the wonderful recipes she grew up with, so I can share them with my own family.
Mum is from St Lucia, where preparing a green seasoning as a base flavour for meats, poultry and fish is common. It adds a different depth of taste, while cider vinegar helps ensure the chicken is tender and enhances the spices.
Caribbean food is about love, vibrancy, flavour and togetherness. This will get your taste buds tingling!
RIAZ PHILLIPS’ VEGETABLE CURRY
Riaz is a food writer, photographer and activist. His online cookbook Community Comfort raises funds for healthcare colleagues and families of ethnic minority Covid-19 victims. @riazphillips
Each Caribbean island is an amalgamation of different cultures from around the world, largely influenced by European and American colonialism over the centuries.
While many people are aware of the West African influence in the region, the Indian influences on the island are less often mentioned. Many people think of curry as the reserve of late nights, but archives suggest curried vegetables were actually a morning breakfast staple.
Here, vegetables cooked in coconut milk and an assortment of spices provide a simple meal that will engulf your kitchen in a vivid aroma as soon as the oil hits the spices.
BENJAMINA EBUEHI’S PUFF PUFF
Benjamina, a former Great British Bake Off quarter finalist, is a baker, food stylist and recipe writer. Her book The New Way to Cake (Page Street) is out now. @bakedbybenji
These little balls of fried yeasted dough go by many different names across Africa, but Nigerians know them as puff puff. Devoured while still hot at parties, weddings and everything in between, they’re incredibly moreish and you can never have just one.
My aunty Lucie makes the best puff puff – light and airy, with the perfect golden colour. I’ve based this recipe on her version, with added nutmeg and a sugar coating to satisfy my sweet tooth.
The art of making these is all in the frying. Seasoned pros are able to scoop the wet batter into their hands and portion out perfectly round balls straight into the hot oil. But if, like me, you haven’t been making these for years and years, using an oiled tablespoon will give you puff puff that tastes just as good – albeit a little wonky!
NICHOLA WILSON’S JUNKIN BEEF SHORT RIBS
Nichola is a Partner and cook at the Waitrose store in Bloomsbury
In Caribbean culture, food is so important – even if you have no money, you can go to your neighbour and eat. My grandmother always used to say “must cook for passersby” – meaning you always have to cook enough for anybody who might pop in!
This is something I cook all the time for the family – the ribs should be sticky and sweet and the meat falling off the bone. And always pick them up with your fingers to eat!
STEPHEN SATTERFIELD’S FAMILY FOOD MEMORIES
Stephen is a food writer and media entrepreneur, and presenter of Netflix's High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine transformed America
A dish that says ‘home’ to me is fried fish, which my dad was very good at. Fried fish with coleslaw, hush puppies (small, deep-fried balls of cornmeal batter), and rice. I definitely think of my dad’s cooking as home.
Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, my father used to cook fried fish for the church congregation on Sundays. Watching him cook for over a hundred churchgoers was certainly formative – I think it’s why I got into food. And his fried fish is still better than mine...
"I remember eating fried fish and collard greens"
My grandmother was another formative influence. She passed when I was rather young, but I do very well remember convening at her house every Sunday after church. Those are some of my earliest, happiest childhood memories. I do recall her being an extraordinary cook. This is my maternal grandmother, and she and my father – her son-in-law – cooked together all of the time. So I understood, pretty early in life, that food could be a potential cornerstone for a family.
Again, I remember eating fried fish, but also collard greens, braised greens… And I remember a lot of cakes that my grandmother used to make – she was an extraordinary baker. I remember obscenely tall and elaborate cakes – with three or four layers – for an ordinary Sunday dinner. It didn’t need to be a special occasion. Sunday was the occasion.
FOZIA ISMAIL’S FAMILY FOOD MEMORIES
Fozia is a food writer and runs a Somali supper club, Arawelo Eats
My earliest memories of Somali food revolve around laxoox (pronounced la hore), a fermented flatbread cooked in a pan. Some people call it angero, but this is not to be confused with its more famous Ethiopian cousin enjera, made of fermented teff flour.
The Somali version would have traditionally been made with sorghum rather than teff. Interestingly both grains are native to the region and both have a naturally sour flavour profile. Laxoox is smaller, less sour and more delicate, something between a crumpet and a crêpe.
"My mum always had a starter going for the laxoox in the corner of our kitchen"
My mum always had a starter going for the laxoox in the corner of our kitchen – it is made up of whatever batter was left from the last batch of batter. A sort of generational batter continually birthing life to the next set of laxoox ready to line our greedy stomachs. This would be served with clarified butter and a milky sweet Somali spiced tea (shaah), which you could pour directly onto the pancake for chaotic deliciousness.
My mum pretty much made a batch every day as they could also be eaten with savoury dishes like suqaar (pronounced su-car), a deliciously simple dish of small cubed beef with onions, carrot, green bell pepper, xawaash (essential spice mix including cinnamon, cumin seeds, coriander, black pepper, cloves and cardamom) and fresh coriander. It’s a really lovely, fragrant and surprisingly light beef dish that works well with laxoox.