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To celebrate the release of the new cookbook from Ottolenghi and his test kitchen team, Shelf Love, we chatted to Yotam Ottolenghi and co-author Noor Murad about the book and its inspiration.

What was the inspiration behind Shelf Love?

Noor: An Ottolenghi Test Kitchen cookbook has been a long time coming, but recent events made the narrative easy to come by. The past two years have really changed how we think about food and recipe creation. With so many factors outside our control during the pandemic, we had to roll with the punches, so we’ve inevitably adopted this mentality into our cooking style and the language used around our recipes: flexible, adjustable and open to change. Our main aim with Shelf Love is to encourage people to rummage through their pantries, using up what they have and making substitutions where they see fit. Although the book was born as a response to the pandemic, it highlights a skill which is timeless: navigating your way around your kitchen from cupboard to fridge, freezer to veg box, cleverly using up what you have and learning to make a recipe your own.

What are some of your favourite dishes from the book?

Yotam: My favourite dish is the confit tandoori chickpeas. I’ve found over the years that some of our most popular recipes involve just one pot or tray. This chickpea dish is exactly that – you basically throw everything into a pot and let it all break down gently, resulting in a dish full of spice, with a flavourful oil that’s perfect for mopping up with plenty of bread.

Noor: Mine is the tamarind greens and mung beans as it’s something I could easily eat every day. It’s herbaceous and full of punchy flavours but it’s also super warming. For me, this reflects the premise of the book, where you can make ‘wow-factor’ dishes using humble ingredients.

For you, which flavours and ingredients encompass autumn?

Noor: Beautiful sunset shades and warming sweet spices encompass autumn for us. There’s a roasted butternut squash dish in the book with a caramelised honey orange syrup and toasted pumpkin seeds which really reflects those autumn hues.

Yotam: We also have a recipe for baked mushroom rice with star anise and cinnamon and it’s one of those dishes that fills your kitchen with the ‘scent’ of autumn.

How did you pick the dishes for the Dishpatch menu?

Both Yotam and I grew up in the Middle East and the book very much reflects the familiar flavours that we know and love.

Noor: We both agree that our favourite way to eat is to have lots of different dishes that you can share with friends and family – it not only gives you the opportunity to taste a bunch of different things, it’s also a great, interactive way to gather everyone around a table.

We picked dishes that are veg-focussed and aren’t what you’d expect of a typical ‘mezze’ experience. We also made sure to include dishes with lots of different textures (like the fried pine nuts and garlic in the aubergine mezze) and unique flavours (like the black lime marinade in the skewers, which, by the way, is a traditional marinade from my hometown Bahrain). The menu is also super vibrant and colourful, which is reflective of the recipes in Shelf Love.

Shop the menu here.

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Units B12-B14, Poplar Business Park, London, E14 9RL


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