Saturday, October 08, 2022

Weekend Cooking: In Bibi's Kitchen by Hawa Hassan and Julie Turshen

Did you know that Jamie Oliver has a Cookbook Club that runs as a group on Facebook? I only found out this week and it feels like it is something I should have known about. 

I am not sure how much I will participate in the group as there are some very good cooks amongst them who present their dishes so beautifully as opposed to someone like myself who serves dinner on a plate or more likely splodge the dinner on the plate. I do, however, like the idea of the group, so I might at least take a look at the cookbooks that are chosen.

The thing that I like is that they are choosing different cookbooks from around the world. This is the list of the cookbooks that have been chosen so far:

  • Vietnamese: Simple Vietnamese to Cook from Home by Uyen Luu
  • Zoe's Ghana Kitchen: An Introduction to New African Cuisine by Zoe Adjonyoh
  • Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant by Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich
  • Take One Fish: The New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland
  • East: 120 Easy and Delicious Asian-inspired Vegetarian and Vegan recipes by Meera Sohda
  • Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas by Anja Dunk
  • Mississippi Vegan: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Boy's Heart by Timothy Pakron
  • Sambal Sheok: The Malaysian Cookbook by Mandy Yin
  • Thali:A Joyful Celebration of Indian Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan
  • Nistisima: The Secret to Delicious Vegan Cooking from the Mediterranean and Beyond by Georgina Hayden
  • All Day Baking: Savoury not Sweet by Michael James and Pippa James
  • Cuidad de Mexico: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Mexico City by Edson Diaz-Fuentes
  • Dominique's Kitchen: Easy Everyday Asian-Inspired Food by Dominque Woolf
  • Home Food: Recipes to Comfort and Connect by Olia Hercules
  • Big Has Home: Recipes from North London to North Cyprus by Hasan Semay

The cookbooks are chosen early each month and there are some tester recipes shared so that people can try some recipes out while they are waiting for the book. Many of these books sound very tempting, I am very very tempted by the Josh Niland book. He is an Australian chef who does very interesting things with fish and has been on Masterchef Australia several times. I am also tempted by the Festive German Bakes book, and the cover for Cuidad de Mexico is just so colourful I might see if I can find that one too!

Now I am not naive enough to fail to recognise that there is some clever marketing at play here. For example, Dominique's Kitchen is written by the winner of one of Jamie Oliver's competitions, and Big Has was employed at Fifteen, which was Jamie Oliver's social enterprise, many years ago. But I like that there are a variety of regions, food preferences and stories being told through the pages of these selections.

Which brings us to this month.

This month's collection is In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmother From the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean by Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen. That subtitle just made me want to pick up this book straight away. Luckily, my new library system had it so I was able to request it and pick it up straight away.

The book is organised so that we start in the north of Africa in Eritrea and then work our way south via Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique to South Africa and then to two islands located in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar and Comoros.

In each country, we meet one or more bibis (grandmothers) who shares her story by answering several questions such as do your children and grandchildren cook, what does home mean to you, how do you define community,  and what was your favourite meal growing up. Not all the grandmothers still live in Africa. Several of them now live in the US, but they still feel the ties to their homelands. Very often the recipes they share are for relatively simple dishes, the food that they served to their own families and so there is a mix of everyday, dessert and celebration recipes. 

One thing that the recipes show is the impact of trade and colonisation on the food of a region. For example, did you know that pasta is quite common in Somalian cooking thanks to the Italian colonisation of southern Somalia. Similarly there is a recipe for lasagne from Tanzania, whereas in Mozambique there is a Portuguese influence. This east coast of Africa also played a pivotal role in the spice trade, and you can definitely see the evidence in some of these dishes, including with some Middle Eastern flavours

You may recall that husband was born and bred in South Africa (of Dutch descent) so it was inevitable that the first chapter that we would look at would be that chapter. Here, we meet Ma Khanyisa, who lives in Cape Town in South Africa. She has lived in Melbourne but has now returned home. Ma Khanyisa shares a recipe for Imifino which is Wild Greens with Corn Porridge. The recipes in the South African chapter include Chakalaka, a spciy vegetable relish, Denningvleis which is Sweet and Sour Braised Lamb with Tamarind, a flavour that comes from the Cape Malay community. There are also recipes for  Chakalaka and Cheddar Braaibroodjies which are grilled cheese sandwiches and Malva Pudding Cake. The chapter finished with a recipe for Iced Rooibos Tea with Orange, Cloves and Cinnamon.

My husband was very excited to see a recipe for Malva Pudding Cake. I tried it when I visited South Africa a few years ago and thought it was really good, soI think this is going to be the recipe that I try first out of this book.

For the recipes that are shared by the bibi's the photos were all taken in situ, so the food is served as it would be in their homes.

This is a lovely cookbook, one that I don't believe that I would necessarily have come across if I hadn't stumbled across it as part of the cookbook club!

I have shared this post as part of National Cookbook Month.

 Weekly meals

Saturday - 
Sunday -  Pork Mince Pie
Monday - 
Tuesday - Baked Prawn Nasi Goreng
Wednesday - 
Thursday - Family dinner
Friday - Out for dinner

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. I had no clue either that Jamie Oliver had a cookbook club. I'll have to go check it out -- cause I don't have enough cookbooks 🤣 But seriously, clever marketing aside, that's a really great line up. You may recall that I reviewed the Zoe book a couple of years ago. It's a good one.

    Also HAHAHAHAHAHAHA on the photos and plating. This is **exactly** why I have so few photos of the dishes I make from cookbooks I try. Another reason: Mr. BFR is hungry and digs in before I can pick up my camera.

    1. It is a really interesting list of books I think. And none of his which is nice too!

  2. So interesting to find out about the Facebook Group- thanks. I am jealous of those that have amazing photo skills for their food photography. Thanks for hosting Weekend Cooking!

    1. Me too. I just don't think I have enough accessories to make everything look pretty.

  3. Bibi’s Kitchen was widely reviewed here when it was published (around 2 years ago) and I’ve had it on my list ever since. You make me want to return to my idea of buying it! The recipes you describe sound good.

    Thanks for hosting Weekend Cooking!

    best… mae at

    1. I got this from the library. I may consider buying it later.

  4. I will definitely check this out! We should be home tonight!

  5. I didn't know about the Jamie Oliver cooking group but I'm not on FB so... I do like the books of his I own. Lots of interesting cuisines in the listing.

    1. It is a very interesting list isn't it.

  6. I didn't know jamie had a cookbook club on FB. I'm already on a FB cookbook club and an IRL one so i don't think i have time for another ... :=)

    1. I am not in any FB cookbool clubs. Going to have to check some more out.

  7. There is also Lambs' Ears Cookbook Club on Facebook. It is Australian based - this month is anything from Australian Women's Weekly.