Three months of living in a closed-down London, and it’s official. I am well past ready to have a delicious meal outside of my own home, prepared by someone else. I say this with every safety caveat required—I’m not rushing to run out and breathe on strangers! I just could use a real change of pace while I stuff my face, and I live for the day where we can dine in instead of take out.
But until that day arrives, I, like we all, must settle. I must settle for food that merely tastes like it was prepared by someone else, because it comes from a cookbook written by a professional so renowned in their field that they also own their own restaurant.
It’s safe to assume, if you were dreaming of a London adventure that’s now TBD, that you, too, could use a change of epicurean scenery at home. Fortunately, inside the stunning pages of some of London’s best cookbooks, detailed below, we’re finding ways to bring London restaurants into our homes… and not just via delivery. I mean, we’re doing that, too. But one cannot live on our local’s chicken tikka masala alone! (My 4-year-old insists that is not the case, no matter how many times I try to convince her otherwise).
10 cookbooks from beloved London restaurants that will dramatically improve your interior aesthetics, your kitchen tables, and your lockdown food game…
Dishoom: From Bombay With Love
Chances are high, if you’ve been to London in the last five years, you’ve eaten at Dishoom. The black daal is on nearly every must-eat list, and, much to my queue-hating chagrin, for very good reason. (“How to eat at Dishoom without waiting outside for 3 hours and filling up on chai” is another post I’d like to write, call me, L&L editors).
This cookbook is less of a straightforward guide to mastering this London staple’s staples, and more of a stunning coffee table book that takes you on a journey through Bombay, plus recipes. The one possible downside? Many of the meals require ingredients that, depending on where you live, might take some legwork. Use it as an excuse to familiarise yourself with and support your local Asian market, or do some online research on where to order things like deggi mirch chilli powder, amchur, and garam masala. It’ll be worth it.
Monica’s Kitchen: Exciting Home Cooking for All Occasions
If you’re a MasterChef fan, then it’s likely that Monica and David Galetti’s French and South Pacific-inspired restaurant, Mere, is on your list of must-visits in London. But since this Fitzrovia hotspot is temporarily shuttered, Monica’s cookbook is an extremely suitable substitute.
While Mere is best described as contemporary and upscale, Monica’s Kitchen offers a more relaxed take on her signature style, inspired by her Samoa and New Zealand upbringing. The photography alone will have you drooling, and with a section literally dedicated to leisurely weekend dining, your new at-home menu will be in very good hands.
Get the Monica’s Kitchen cookbook at Waterstones
The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem
Ok, ok, so first thing’s first: we’re well aware that Red Rooster is a Harlem staple, and calling it a London restaurant is somewhat of a stretch. Yes, they have a Shoreditch location, but its heart and soul is purely New York. Having said that: we love that Red Rooster has introduced American-style soul food to our fellow Londoners, and its nearly instant status as a London icon really represents just how open to outsiders London truly is.
Now! Alexa, please play a gospel playlist while we attempt to recreate our dream Shoreditch Sunday brunch plans at home.
The Incredible Spice Men
Cyrus Todwala and Tony Singh are two restaurateurs with one joint goal: to spice up Britain. After a successful run on the BBC with a TV show of the same name, they released a cookbook that takes signature British meals and, quite literally, spices them up. Think roast fish with spicy butter, ginger chicken escalopes, and bread & butter pudding with orange cardamom. CHA, YEAH.
And whenever your London trip is back on, you can have a visit to Cyrus’s Café Spice Namasté or Tony’s intimate and exclusive The Supper Club to look forward to.
The Monocle guide to Drinking & Dining
If any part of your London trip planning has come from Instagram scrolling, then it’s safe to assume you’re familiar with Monocle Cafe’s black and white striped awning in Marylebone, situated just around the corner from their shop.
Like the café, the shop is tiny and charming and a living embodiment of the word “curated.” Their Guide to Drinking & Dining stays impeccably on brand, and honestly, you’ll feel worldlier just opening the front cover. Along with global recommendations from some of the most discerning voices, you’ll also find some extremely upscale recipes. Think pea-and-panceta croquetas from the Oldroyd, and solomillo pork with pobre potatoes from Lurra.
This is the book you need if everything else I’ve written about seems like culinary child’s play.
For our plant-based foodies, Ella Woodword’s eponymous brand is here for you. The Deliciously Ella deli is the perfect pitstop for an Oxford Street shopping break, and there’s no reason you can’t recreate the calming, zen vibe she promotes in your own home.
If you’re not normally a plant-based eater and don’t want to splurge on a full cookbook right away, her website and app offers tons of free suggestions to get you started.
Also of note: her website tagline might be the best we’ve seen in a while. “Live better. Be useful. Make vegetables cool.” SOLD.
Strolling Portobello Road with a Gail’s coffee in one hand and one of their decadent chocolate chip cookies in another might be the best possible way to start a London day. (Yes, in Gail’s world, cookies for breakfast are totally fine). The cookbook is chock full of their best baked goods, but you’ll find plenty of recipes for lighter fare to get you through the rest of the day, too.
This is the book to buy if you want a sourdough starter that didn’t come from a late-night Google.
Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen
Ideal for summer, Martin Morales’s first cookbook is full of the types of recipes meant for balmy evenings in your garden, pisco sour in hand. Bonus points if you live somewhere that is not London and actually has balmy nights.
The star of this book is, somewhat expectedly, the chapter that highlights 10 different ceviche recipes, each revolving around a different main ingredient. But you’ll also find stunning photography, personal tales from Morales himself, and a general desire to zip off to Peru ASAP. (After your trip to London, of course).
Once you’ve cooked your way through this one, pick up his next book—Andina: The Heart of Peruvian Food, which offers recipes and stories from the Andes, and visually complements Ceviche particularly perfectly.
Honourable mention: Nadiya’s British Food Adventure: Beautiful British recipes with a twist
Nadiya isn’t technically a London restaurateur, but if you’re a Great British Bake-Off fan, then you know why this made the list. The book offers 120 recipes that can best be described as comfort food with a twist—they all rely on local ingredients, and you’ll spot an occasional nod to her Bangladeshi roots.
Really, what better meals to cook while you binge GBBO once more?
Honourable mention: Original Flava
This Caribbean-inspired cookbook was written by London-based brothers Shaun and Craig, of Jamaican descent. There are tons and tons of small, mom and pop shops all over London that serve incredible Caribbean and West Indian food, and these authentic dishes will give you a good idea of what makes these pockets of London and their local spots extremely special.
Fortunately, thanks to these books, our quest for more culinary adventures in quarantine is not lost. It just starts, as all good things do, with closing Instagram and opening a book instead. Let everyone else debate whether Alison Roman is cancelled while also making their eighth batch of her shallot pasta! Other people can name and nurture their weird little sourdough starters! We’re going a more refined route, and we hope you’ll join.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, I personally, am exhausted thinking of all the food I want to make as a result. If you do decide to splurge on any of the above and whip up a feast, do us a favour and let us know. Feel free to tag us on Instagram @loveandlondon and @lazytravelers and make our bellies jealous.
- How to Do London While You Can’t Visit London (tons of ideas)
- How To Keep Planning Your London Trip (Even If You Don’t Know When You’ll Visit)
- 11 London-themed Movies + TV Series to Watch While Stuck at Home
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