Honey & Co's tip for cooking Middle Eastern food

Sarit Packer, co-founder and chef at London’s Honey & Co, shares her best advice for perfecting your Middle Eastern cooking at home.


“Take everything that you’d think of as a normal amount of herbs and spices and double it or triple it, that’s probably the first place to start. Just don’t be scared. When we say a full bunch of parsley we mean a full bunch, we don’t mean five little sprigs.

Itamar and I always laugh that the first party we ever went to when we moved to this country was a New Year’s Eve party. It was a really nice party, they had little name tags on everything and they had this big bowl that said it was tabbouleh salad.

The nicest thing is to cook food that is not your own.

We looked at it and it was all cracked wheat with a touch of green. We were like no, no, no, the ratio should have been the exact opposite. It should have been a whole bowl of green with a touch of cracked wheat.

So this is the biggest thing, to leave what you would expect to cook and to really try and follow other people’s recipes because what you get is a reflection of the person who wrote the recipe and that’s the nicest thing. The nicest thing is to cook food that is not your own.

Sometimes I get people like ‘you said six cloves of garlic, but to me six cloves of garlic is too much’. Well, try it. Sometimes we say to use 100ml of olive oil and they’re like ‘no, no I’m sure you didn’t mean 100ml’. Well, I wrote it!

This is sometimes the essence of cooking: trusting someone else’s recipe. No one has written a recipe with the idea of you messing up your dinner. Everyone wants you to have a nice dinner and they’ve all tried these recipes before. No one is just writing them like ‘I think this will work’.

So I’d say just really surrender to that, do exactly as it says and then see what you get. Next time you can adjust it if it was too much for you, but I think that is the main thing.”