Q&A With Sabrina Ghayour
Chris: Dietary trends show a huge surge and interest in vegetarian and vegan foods, was that the inspiration for Bazaar?
The one thing I’ve learnt in life is the older I get, I can see it’s so dangerous to jump on a trend because trends have a very short shelf life and because I’m a stubborn Capricorn, we don’t like to do what other people are doing. I don’t go out of my way to avoid what other being are doing but I tend to dance to the beat of my own drum, and in this case follow my stomach.
The truth is, I thought about this book a couple of years ago because the way I started to eat food was changing. But, I’m not going to lie, it’s come at a handy time that the vegetarian book has been published because it coincides with a time where a majority of people who include meat or fish in their diets, want to actually eat less. I’m over 40, my digestion sort of laughs in my face when I look at a steak but my brain is thinking yeah! My eyes are going crazy and thinking yeah stick a lamb on the grill, but actually my body is thinking “broccoli.”
I wrote this book because I wanted to help out people who were in the same boat as me, which is not necessarily vegetarians and vegans but I find as a meat eater and I came back from a meat-heavy holiday, and I’m like that’s it – I'm gonna detox, no meat for a week. Then I’d eat potatoes and pasta and rice and bread and cheese and cream and butter, because you turn to white carbs and add cheese in to add protein, but four five days in you start to feel a little sluggish and you’re kidding yourself if you think that was a healthier option than a piece of grilled fish or pork! So, this is simple, economical, full-flavoured recipes for people who eat meat – I’ve got you guys on my mind.
Your brain is quite powerful and if you tell it there’s no meat on the table, you are left wanting a little bit, but raiding your spice cupboard using supermarket products or things that are readily available today, to put simple things together, shouldn’t be that complicated. It coincides with the trend, I’m really happy it does, but it just coincides with the world today.
Chris: The word Bazaar means market, do you have a favourite market in the world?
Sabrina: I recently moved to Yorkshire, there are beautiful markets there, I’ve got a handy little asparagus farm five minutes away. Those kinds of places make me really happy but I like any kind of market in any kind of area where you’re walking around and you don’t even know what half the stuff is. I have to say South East Asia, I just gasp every time I walk into a market. And they’re really humble places, they’re not posh farmers markets at all, and proper Thai culture, they only shop in these markets. The colours, the sights and the smells and the sounds, I love stuff like that.
Chris: My brother Jeff and I, we love markets, we grew up on markets, fish stalls, chicken – you could buy anything. I used to skip school and go to Chelmsford market and buy chickens, my poor mum – our garden was full of chickens, turkeys, ferrets, we were about 12 years old! But back to the book, does Middle Eastern food cooking usually have meat as the centre piece and is this changing to?
Sabrina: The answer to that is yes, and then no. Yes, meat is very essential and very central, is it ever going to change? I don’t ever see it changing, because meat still signifies doing well and there is a taste for it, just like there is in many traditional regions in England. It’s like talking a Yorkshireman out of a roast on a Sunday, that’s a no-go area! They love a bit of local meat on a Sunday. Even chefs do, you’ve got to have meat on a Sunday! So I don’t see it changing, but maybe after it’s been embedded here in the West for so long, maybe it will have an impact there. The truth is, they eat much less meat there than we do anyway. They don’t eat the volume we do because it is still a special ingredient and it’s not something you can get on every street corner, processed to the high hill in your sandwich. Convenience food is a very Western concept.
Chris: I agree with you, on Sundays I’m even eating less meat, it might be because the family has grown up and moved away so doing a roast for one or two is difficult, so I often find myself cooking vegetarian food on a Sunday so it has definitely changed for me. What spices should we stock up on that are typical Middle Eastern flavours?
Sabrina: So, I’m one of the most boring Middle Eastern people on God’s earth because my favourite spices happen to be salt and pepper. Salt just belongs in everything, as we know it even creeps its way into sweet recipes really well but pepper I think is grossly underused as well because people tend to think of it as seasoning is two twists and you’re done. I’m always the one at a restaurant where the waiter is doing it and I’m like, keep going, like what you do with parmesan – keep going! So, I’d say salt, pepper and chilli, but the truth is, Persians don’t use spice at all, we have saffron, but it’s very expensive to stock.
I think you probably already have the stuff that I use in your cupboard, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric – this is like, worst case, super fancy we’re talking, but good old salt and pepper and chilli if you like chilli. Also herbs, all the things we’ve forgotten and stopped using, but I’ve always had dried thyme, oregano, sage, I’m mad about packing in flavour. If you’ve seen any of my breakfast posts on Instagram there’s usually about four or five different herbs and spices just on my toast! Whatever you’ve got, just chuck it on there and be brave.
Chris: Why do you like Maldon sea salt so much? It’s local for us so we’re very proud of it. So why do you particularly enjoy using it?
I just really love the taste of it. Of course food miles, it is local, Essex is the closest salt port for me, but generally it is just the flavour. I have tried many other British, Welsh, Cornish, Scottish brands and they’re lovely but I just really like the taste of this. I also went to a very fancy restaurant in New York, like Michelin star kind of place, and they were like “now we have salt tasting, and this is Maldon” and I was like to my friend – that’s from Essex! And this was before Maldon had a social media presence, they’re still family run but this was before any of that. I was blown away and thought if it’s good enough for the chef there then it’s good enough for me and I just love it. Love it! And no – I’m not paid to say that, there are currently no endorsement deals.
How To Win A Signed Copy of Sabrina Ghayour Bazaar Vegetarian Recipes
We are offering one Exquisite reader the chance to win a signed copy of Sabrina's new vegetarian cook book.
HOW TO ENTER?
All you need to do to be within a chance of winning the tickets is...
1) Visit and like our Facebook page.
2) Share this article on Facebook. Or, simply share this article via the social media links at the top.
3) Answer this question: What brand of salt is Sabrina Ghayour's favourite?
The competition will close on Monday 24th June 2019 and the winner will be selected by random and announced on Monday 24th June 2019 via our Facebook and Twitter feed.
Terms & Conditions
*Please note the winner must respond to our message within 48 hours or the prize will be given to the runner up. The winners must be aged 18 and over. UK Only.
Exquisite Essex employees, sub-contractors or contributors are not allowed to enter. Entries must be received by the closing date stated. Exquisite Essex cannot take responsibility for lost or delayed entries. Only one entry per person per competition. A entry list of participants will be available on request. There are no cash alternatives to competition prizes. The judges' decision is final. Data provided will be collected, stored and processed in a data based for the purpose of managing the competition entries.Such information will not be used for any other purpose than as stated in these Terms & Conditions or as separately accepted by you. Exquisite Essex may use your personal data for the marketing, including direct marketing from our partners. Any personal data that you provide will be held and processed in accordance with the requirements of the 1998 Data Protection Act. Refined Media Ltd reserves the right to amend competition Terms and Conditions and/or cancel any Competition at their sole discretion. Submission of entry will be taken as acceptance of these Terms and Conditions. All entry instructions form part of these Terms and Conditions. English Law governs this Competition and each party submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.