Five things to get you through lockdown 

In need of some lockdown-inspo? We have five brilliant recommendations for you. 

The book: In Bibi’s Kitchen

One of the most acclaimed releases of 2020, In Bibi’s Kitchen is more than a recipe book. Somali-born chef Hawa Hassan and cookbook author Julia Turshen team up with eight African Bibis, or grandmothers, from eight different spice-rich East African countries that border the Indian ocean -- South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, and Eritrea -- to share their stories and their recipes. A tribute to generational wisdom, a reflection on immigration, and a celebration of exceptional women, it’s a stunning mix of culinary and personal narrative that’ll mesmerise you -- and will leave you wanting to make every dish in its pages.

The podcast: Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner

The Guardian’s food critic invites a famous name from the world of literature, pop culture, politics and more to share a meal and a chat in a restaurant of his choosing. From this simple premise, you get a podcast that’s insightful, delightfully smart, and sure to make you hungry. From Minnie Driver to Dolly Alderton, Marcus Samuelsson and Charlie Brooker, the conversation is often as moreish as the food. Right now, though, we especially love the show for reminding us of the experience of dining out -- from the clinking of the glasses to the background chatter and the atmosphere of conviviality you only find in restaurants. A joy to listen to.

The series: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

If you’re not familiar with Samin Nosrat, a culinary maven and all around delightful human being, watch Salt, Fat, Acid Heat on Netflix. Based on her highly successful 2017 book by the same title, the four-part docuseries breaks cooking down into four conceptual basics, which Nosrat exemplifies through examples from various parts of the world. A beautiful way to learn more about food and ingredients, not to mention travel from the comfort of your armchair. Want more Samin in your life? Check out Home Cooking, her lockdown-inspired podcast with Hrishikesh Hirway.

The utensil: an immersion blender

Soup is pretty much all we crave in winter, and an immersion blender is the perfect gadget to have for that. Inexpensive, easy to use and even easier to clean (essential for life in lockdown), we’ve never used it as much as we are right now. It’s not just good for soups. Fresh pesto in seconds? You got it. Hummus to spread over pita chips? Absolutely. A banana milkshake post work-out? You know it.

The ingredient: za'atar

A flavourful Middle Eastern blend of oregano, marjoram or thyme, and earthy spices like cumin, coriander, sumac, salt and sesame seeds, za'atar is the only mix you need in your life (ok, not quite, but you get it). It adds a savoury edge to any dish, works wonders in curries and stews, and makes any salad, bread or dipping sauce taste extra delicious. We use ours generously and deliberately, and never get bored of it. Best yet, it’s easy to DIY once you have all the spices -- though you can also buy a pre-made one. 

We love it, and so should you!

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