When we left the UK we gave away many of our cookery books, brought what we considered essential with us and consigned those we did not want to part with to storage and shipping. The essential included Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden a book that we cannot do without, Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef, and some Turkish books.
Browsing through the recently arrived books was an inspiration, and we ended up having a Madhur Jaffrey moment, whilst contemplating Latin American stuff and how to get our hands on leaf coriander and limes. We had beef and spinach using her lamb and spinach recipe from Illustrated Indian Cookery along with sour chick peas from the same book. Both were absolutely delicious. We have a load of the chick peas left over so will be diving back into her book for another evening.
It does bring to mind what is not available here, and possible creative solutions. Lavaş will suffice for chapatti, although chapatti are not hard to make, and for flour tortillas. Lemon can in most instances be a good substitute for lime. Corn flour for tortillas is not going to happen, and getting hold of leaf coriander is going to be very difficult, we have some seeds but leaf production is never guaranteed. We can at times get fresh ginger here and we have been freezing it with reasonably satisfactory results.
On the positive side we are fortunate enough to have wonderfully fresh local produce and an abundant market. It’s just that, having lived for 15 years in the midst of one of Europe’s largest Punjabi communities, there are tastes we have missed – but no longer!