Our Recipes for peace series features a range of inspiring dishes to celebrate the varied - and tasty - ways in which food can play a role in building peace.
This week’s recipe comes from Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer – founders of the hugely popular Middle Eastern restaurant Honey & Co. in London. The husband-and-wife team, who first met ten years ago in a restaurant kitchen in Israel, cooked this dish for Conflict Café – our pop-up restaurant that champions the idea of peace through food. The recipe also features in their new cookbook - Honey & Co.: The Baking Book.
The dish they have chosen is commonly found in Lebanon, where Alert works to strengthen the resilience of local communities, politicians and institutions to conflict. It is also popular in Syria, where we improve the peacebuilding knowledge and influence of civil society organisations. Find out more about our work in the Middle East here.
Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer's ijjeh (MIDDLE EAST)
For us, food is beyond conflict. Our cooking is a labour of nothing but love and an extension of our home. The food we cook is the food we grew up on and also the food we grew to love, our moms’ and aunties’ food, the street food we always crave, the food we tried at our friends’ houses, sometimes, things we only heard about or imagined, and most of all, the things we miss from our childhood. Food has that priceless power to bring people together around a table for a shared moment in a hectic world.
The recipe we have chosen is ijjeh – green-tinted omelettes stuffed in pitta with labaneh and chopped salad. These are popular throughout the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and you can find them on roadside stands and falafel shops throughout Israel. We used to call them ‘Popeye’, as everything green was instantly associated with this cartoon. We later learnt they are called ijjeh, and are made with herbs rather than spinach. You can add any soft herb you like, and as much of it as you want; there really isn’t such a thing as too much for this. At our restaurant we serve ijjeh hot for breakfast. Any leftovers end up in some pitta with labaneh and salad, as staff lunch.
Ingredients for 4 people
- 2 leeks (about 300g)
- ½ tsp + ½ tsp table salt
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 eggs
- 100g/ml double cream
- 1 large bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (about 40g)
- 3-4 sprigs of mint, leaves picked and chopped
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 80g feta cheese
- Slice the leeks finely and wash them in plenty of water to get rid of any grit. Drain well, then place in a good non-stick frying pan with the first half-teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and oil and fry on medium heat until the leeks soften entirely. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
- In the meantime put the eggs, cream, parsley, mint, black pepper and remaining salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Increase the heat to high and pour in the egg mixture. Allow 1 minute for the eggs to start cooking around the rim, then use a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to push the mixture from the sides into the centre, all around the pan. Leave to soak for another minute, then repeat.
- Crumble the feta into rough pieces and push them into the soft egg, then smooth the top and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 2 minutes, then use the lid and pan combined to flip the ijjeh.
- Carefully slide it back into the pan to finish cooking on a low heat for 5 minutes, before transferring to a plate to serve. You can eat this hot, but it also keeps well for a packed lunch or picnic and is just as delicious cold as it is hot.
Photos © Patricia Niven