Anyone keen to gain an insight into what can be expected from the new restaurant set to open on London’s Charlotte Street in the summer would do well to pick up a copy of Ben Tish’s new book Moorish.
Norma will be launched as the first independent eaterie from the Stafford London hotel under the direction of its culinary director, Tish. The menu, it was announced last month, will be inspired by the food and culture of Sicily, with particular emphasis on its Moorish influences.
Tish’s third book has a wider remit, taking in the culinary influences that followed the invading Berbers of North Africa and later the Arabs from the Middle East, who arrived in Spain and southern Italy. The settlers brought with them exotic spices, fruits, vegetables and nuts, which they combined with the indigenous meat, fish and seafood of their new homelands to create big, bold-tasting dishes.
Every section of the book – including breakfast and brunch recipes, dishes cooked over charcoal and slow-cooked recipes among others – is filled with concoctions that pack a punch.
How about flamenco eggs with pancetta, spiked with sweet paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper to start the day? Smoky sardines with crushed fennel seeds, slow-cooked onions and sumac for lunch? And Ibérico pork with quince, cumin, sweet vinegar and marjoram, followed by caramelised fig tart with muscovado sugar and goats’ milk for supper?
Tish, who spent his earlier career working with Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry, and who has been a regular on TV programmes such as Saturday Kitchen and MasterChef, says that the book is first and foremost for the home cook. I can vouch that it has certainly done wonders for my culinary repertoire – the slow-cooked lamb shoulder with butter beans, Moorish spices and buttermilk was a big hit with my family – but there is also much to inspire the professional chef. I, for one, cannot wait to try a variation on the theme of some of the dishes featured in Moorish when Norma opens in a few months.
Moorish by Ben Tish, Bloomsbury, £26