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Book review: Community Comfort, by Riaz Phillips

13 August 2020 by

Belly Full food writer Riaz Phillips was inspired by other community-based cookbooks to pull together this collection of recipes, celebrating the great diversity of comfort foods while raising money to support Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

All proceeds of Community Comfort will go towards the Majonzi Covid-19 Bereavement Fund, helping BAME communities to pay for funeral arrangements, bereavement counsellors and therapists. The book has already raised £35,000 of its £50,000 target.

More than 100 BAME chefs, restaurateurs and food enthusiasts have contributed their favourite recipes, including Lympstone Manor chef-patron Michael Caines, Rosa's Thai founder Saiphin Moore, Ikoyi's Jeremy Chan and James Cochran of 12:51, to create a collection that varies from the incredibly simple, such as Dr Anna Sulan Masing's orange cake, to Kareem Roberts' more complex crispy goat belly goujons.

The book points out that lockdown forced many of us to slow down, eroding the solo TV dinners and lunch-on-the-go lifestyle. Although some chefs have, of course, now returned to work, lockdown encouraged us to remember the comfort and connection to our homes, childhoods and identity that food can bring. Several recipes are described by their authors as ‘a hug' on a plate – something which, in the new normal of social distancing, we're all missing.

The collection spans breakfast recipes, bites, salads, veggie, soups and stews, curry, meat and fish, as well as ‘sweets and stuff', with a mini biography for each contributor, championing their heritage and businesses.

I can't wait to turn to Phillips' slow stew peas and Safiyah Mariyah's Jamaican ital stew when the weather cools down, but until then, Tanya Gohil's pav bhaji sloppy Joe looks like a fantastic veggie alternative for chefs currently running barbecue offerings. Meanwhile, Benjamina Ebuehi's chocolate fudge cake with ginger caramel seems perfect for any occasion or weather.

Community Comfort: Recipes From The Diaspora, by Riaz Phillips. Tezeta Press (Available to download at www.tezetapress.com, minimum donation £10)

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