Cookbook of the Week: Spanish Made Simple
Omar Allibhoy is passionate about his Spanish heritage, and his cookbook Spanish Made Simple is both a declaration of that passion and an attempt to pass it on to others. Born in Madrid, Allibhoy began cooking at the early age of five. Allibhoy began his culinary training under legendary, three-Michelin-starred chef Ferran Adrià before heading to the U.K. to work in some of London’s top restaurants.
In London he quickly became a success, working as head chef at El Pirata de Tapas and establishing it as one of the best tapas restaurants in London. In 2010 Omar opened his first restaurant, Tapas Revolution, which became so popular that within a year a second location was opened, followed by another and another. There are currently seven Tapas Revolution locations openin the U.K.
Allibhoy traveled the globe experiencing how locals ate, and through that experience realized how important his own cuisine was to him. “I love all food, but the dishes one grows up with leave an indelible mark on your heart, from the flavors, aromas, and memories around them to — in my case — the quick and easy dinners my mum used to rustle up in minutes.”
In Spanish Made Simple Allibhoy offers a range or recipes from easy lunches to more elaborate evening dinners — his best recipes, mostly unwritten, passed on from one generation to another by word of mouth.
Delve into Spanish Made Simple and discover recipes from every corner of the country, from Andalusia to Galicia, from Castilla to areas along the Mediterranean coast.
Some of the recipes included in the book are:
Omar Allibhoy is the author of Spanish Made Simple, and chef and founder of Tapas Revolution.
The Daily Meal: What is your philosophy of cooking (and/or eating)?
Omar Allibhoy: My philosophy is simple; you can cook without fuss and still eat like a king.
How did it inspire the recipes you chose to include in this book?
I wanted to include recipes that were simple, authentic, and the kind of home-cooked meals that are widely enjoyed across Spain. These are the recipes I grew up with in Madrid and still cook today at home with my son. They are easy to re-create in your own kitchen, with accessible ingredients you can find in any supermarket but have great Spanish flavor and are my absolute favorite dishes to cook.
What is your favorite recipe in the book and why?
There’s so many to choose from, and it depends on the season and what kind of mood I’m in. If I had to choose, I love torreznos con Mojo Dulce (slow-cooked pork belly with a sweet and sour sauce). I love the taste of slow-cooked, soft belly of pork. In this recipe I serve it with "Mojo Dulce" sauce, which is a sweet, spicy, and sticky type of sauce that we have in my Tapas Revolution restaurants, and hundreds of customers have asked me to bottle it and sell it in the supermarkets.
What are some of the foods you can’t live without?
In my kitchen at home I always have a few good Spanish extra virgin olive oils to hand to use according on what I am cooking. Garlic (we put garlic on everything back home), tomatoes (difficult to find good ones but well worth the sourcing), bread (our main source of carbs, one needs to mop sauces with something), at least 3 different cheeses (all-time favorite), eggs and potatoes (for Spanish omelette once a week), pimentón (smoked paprika, our most used spice, chorizo is spicy because of the smoky paprika), chorizo (everything you add it to turns into a good meal)...
Would you rather dine out or cook at home?
I love eating out, especially in London as we have such a diverse restaurant scene, but my favorite dining moments are always at home with my friends and family. I like to cook and eat the best food, cheese, drink the best wines and really indulge when I am home. I do put an effort when inviting people over and so does my friends and family luckily.
What is your favorite go-to meal or drink?
Cod throats with pil pil sauce - which is like a hot mayonnaise sauce. It’s a traditional dish from the Basque region of Spain, made with salt cod, garlic, olive oil and the sauce is emulsified. It’s very decadent and my favorite dish!
How do you hope readers will use this book, what do you hope they take away?
I hope readers will turn to Spanish Made Simple for some easy, authentic Spanish cooking and hopefully some dishes will become part of their weekly repertoire! It would be great if they use it on the weekends when cooking for friends and family, as I am a great believer in that food is always best shared.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just the culture of food in Spain, it’s so important to our lifestyle and how we socialize. A few plates of tapas, good wine and sharing food enhances conversation, encourages adventurous eating and brings us all closer together.