Yas­min Khan is nuts about peanut but­ter, a geek for ex­otic fruit

The Guardian - Cook - - To Finish -

new. I re­cently had it ren­o­vated – we knocked a wall down and painted the walls sun­shine yel­low. I’m just be­gin­ning to set­tle into it, still de­cid­ing on what goes where. There are end­less jars of things on long, open oak shelves, a lit­tle wrought­iron break­fast ta­ble with a very large fruit bowl – that’s an Ira­nian thing. I travel a lot, so the kitchen is full of lit­tle me­men­tos: a turquoise and navy hand­painted dish from Is­fa­han on the wall, a framed print of lit­tle ele­phants from Thai­land, a lit­tle fish tile from Nazareth. My cook­books don’t fit in here – they’re in the liv­ing room.

My kitchen is …

my mini food pro­ces­sor. It’s al­ways out on the counter. I use it al­most ev­ery other day, for pestos, smooth­ies, chop­ping fresh herbs and grind­ing nuts – sta­ple tech­niques in Ira­nian cook­ing.

My favourite kitchen tool is …

rice. I come from a rice-farm­ing fam­ily. My grand­fa­ther could eat rice three times a day. When he first came to the UK, in 1997, he brought with him a 5kg bag – he was wor­ried the rice wouldn’t be good enough here. It’s my com­fort food.

My store­cup­board sta­ple is …

have peanut but­ter, straight out of the jar. I al­ways have a jar on me. It’s my con­stant snack – salty, nutty, fill­ing.

When I’m starv­ing I …

the peo­ple and ideas I come across on my trav­els. I just got back from Is­rael and the West Bank, where I spent time

My culi­nary in­spi­ra­tion is …

cook­ing with Pales­tinian fam­i­lies – so ev­ery­thing I’m mak­ing at the mo­ment has freekeh and all­spice in it. Cook­ing in peo­ple’s homes is the best: you learn things you don’t get through TV or a cook­book.

My best-kept kitchen se­cret is …

pome­gran­ate mo­lasses. I use it in tra­di­tional Ira­nian food, but also when­ever I need some­thing sweet and sharp: in Asian-style stir-fries, In­di­anstyle cur­ries, bolog­nese sauce. It works the same way as bal­samic vine­gar, ac­cen­tu­at­ing sweet­ness with acid­ity.

When I’m in­vited to din­ner I al­ways take …

what­ever I’m recipe-test­ing at the time. My friends are my guinea pigs. To­mor­row I’m go­ing to some­one’s house with three kinds of baklava.

Ev­ery­thing tastes bet­ter with …

sto­ries. Find­ing out about what an in­gre­di­ent is, its history and prove­nance, is my big pas­sion. Know­ing makes food bet­ter.

am a geek. I’m a list per­son, al­though my down­fall is al­ways the ex­otic fruit section. Pa­payas, guavas, man­gos­teens, hon­ey­dew Pak­istani man­goes … I just can’t help my­self.

When I go shop­ping I …

I’m mak­ing a batch of kukus – Ira­nian frit­tatas. It’s what you make when you have a glut of any­thing. I’m do­ing one with caramelised onions, chopped french beans and turmeric, and an­other with but­ter­nut squash and bar­ber­ries.

For din­ner tonight …

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