He has been in the news this week, for defending Jamie Oliver’s use of chorizo in #paellagate, and on Tuesday I was lucky enough to meet Omar Allibhoy in person.
At the launch of his new cookbook ‘Spanish Made Simple’ in his Tapas Revolution restaurant in Birmingham, the charming chef guaranteed that the recipes would be easy to make at home, even claiming that they are foolproof!
Omar said: “Inside my book you will find the best recipes I have to offer; for all sorts of occasions including midweek suppers, weekend lunches, full on evening gatherings and of course some tapas.
“They have all been translated from my Spanish kitchen where most of the recipes are unwritten they are just passed on verbally from generation to generation. They are authentic and simple – but some have necessitated a few phone calls to my mum and aunty!”
Spanish Made Simple is a comprehensive guide to 100 key Spanish dishes. From those that you will already know and plenty more new dishes to be discovered, the book is divided into seven sections.
Nibbles – I was happy to see salt cod fritters in this section as I can happily eat bucket loads of these!
Meat & Game – already my partner’s favourite section, he cannot wait to try the slow-cooked lamb and pepper stew.
Fish & Seafood – from a midweek supper of fried hake to the Christmas speciality of baked crab with cava, you will never be stuck for ideas on cooking fish again.
Eggs & Poultry – includes how to make the basic roast chicken a stand out dish with a beer can.
Vegetables – who knew that muscovado and honey compliment aubergines so well?
Salads – grilled lettuce with a sweet and sour bacon vinaigrette is one of Madre Allibhoy’s dishes that has made it onto the Tapas Revolution menu.
Soups, Pulses & Stews – the hearty chorizo, greens and bean stew will be perfect to beat the Autumnal chill.
Paella & Rice – Omar recommends wrapping your saffron in foil and toasting it for 10 seconds to boost it with an extra layer of flavour.
Desserts & Sweet Treats – the poached pineapple in rum with a coconut cream, learnt from Omar’s years with El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià just about make us for the disappointment of not seeing a recipe for churros.
Overall, I like the way Omar introduces each recipe with either a story behind the region the dish originates from, or why they are important to him, which I think adds a nice personal touch. He guides you step by step through cooking and his handy notes increase the chances of a perfect result every time.
I was pleased to see that there are plenty of recipes to suit vegetarians in this book and (with the exception of pig cheeks and cuttlefish) the majority of ingredients you will probably already have in, so no searching the shops for expensive ingredients.
So whether you want to boost your bocadillo or perfect your paella, Spanish Made Simple will help you enjoy the best-tasting and most authentic dishes from all corners of Spain.
Spanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar Allibhoy of Tapas Revolution (Quadrille £20) Photography: Martin Poole