Reut Grant is the Israeli balaboosta behind food delivery service The Homemade Cook (formerly Sweet Little Tutti). Although the Mill Hill-based mother of three has been cooking for private customers for several years, had limited her orders to fit around her young family. Now she has stepped up supply to meet lockdown demand.
Grant has lived in the UK for 15 years, but remains full of passion for the Middle-Eastern food she grew up with. Her heritage feeds through into her colourful, spicy Sephardi menu. Her meat is kosher and so is her (unsupervised) kitchen, from which she makes Friday-night food.
Her baked chicken burgers were zingy with lemon and loaded with herbs; meatballs sitting in a super-savoury tomatoe-y sauce were declared “even better than your meatballs!” by my son (hmph). Honey soy chicken was sticky, sweet and full of flavour; aubergine curry was rich with peanut and coconut creaminess and a cauliflower curry (packed with veggies in a tomato-based sauce) tasted fresh and healthy.
Turmeric-yellow mejadra (rice and lentils) had a strong curry flavour and made a tasty side, as did tomato-sauce-slathered green beans, pleasingly al dente. Salads were bright and colourful. Quinoa, dotted with bright butternut and shiny pomegranate seeds, was a winner with my husband. I loved the roasted cauliflower, grape and walnut salad.
Another Middle Eastern treat was delivered by Yoram Janowski, co-founder of Keff, a new business serving stylishly branded pots of Israeli dips. Israeli-born Janowski has recently left a career in commerce to set up shop selling his favourite food, hummus. His recipe has been honed over the years and perfected after time spent cooking with Halil, an Arab Israeli whose food he discovered in Carmel Market.
Keff’s food (pictured above) is vegan and gluten-free. The flavours are fresh and punchy — you can taste all the individual ingredients. Smooth, creamy hummus had some grainy chickpea texture; spicy tomato matbucha included small chunks of pepper and tomatoes and even the smooth tahini sauce was no shrinking violet. A fresh, green aubergine dip was satisfyingly smoky and flecked with hot red chilli.
On the side were pillowy soft pittas – made the Israeli way. The resealable pots — helpfully labelled with full nutritional values — were perfect for our socially distanced picnic during a sunny half term.
Another Mill Hill-based Israeli, Stav Gal, sent me an artistically presented box of delicious Yemeni treats. Gal produces the most beautiful boxes which, she says, are mostly being sent as gifts. In my box: two mallawach — Yemenite flatbreads, with mini pots of grated tomatoes; grated hard boiled egg, spicy pickled mini cucumbers and hot vinegary peppers. Four cute mini spinach and feta bourekas formed from crisp, fried filo completed the main course. To finish the light meal, there were fresh apricots and dates, plus some mint to make tea.
It felt like a mini-holiday.