10 quick ‘n’ easy (and cheap) recipes for students

On 8 February, celebrated food writer Claudia Roden will be delivering the next in the School’s popular run of Centenary Lectures.

So the Study at SOAS Blog team thought this provided a rather wonderful opportunity to put some mouth-watering recipes together to inspire our student body to frequent their kitchens with the same gusto that they hit the books in the SOAS Library (figuratively speaking – some of those books are very old).

Claudia, who herself has authored 10 popular cookery books, has kindly offered up 6 of her scrumptious dishes. Helping us reach a piping-hot 10 is Stories on our Plate (SOOP), a social enterprise providing culinary incubator programmes for refugees. Along with some very nice food photography which is sure to get those salivary glands working overtime.

Claudia’s Centenary Lecture will be streamed live from our Facebook page from 7pm on Wednesday 8 February.




Safsouf is a Lebanese salad from the Bekaa Valley.

Serves 6

  • 200g bulgur
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Juice of 2½-3 lemons
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x 400g tin chickpeas
  • Large bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 250g), chopped
  • Large bunch mint (about 90g), chopped

Soak the bulgur in plenty of cold water for 20 minutes until tender, then drain and squeeze out the excess water. In a bowl, mix the garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Soak the drained chickpeas in this for 10 minutes then stir in the bulgur.

Chop the herbs finely and mix them in when you are ready to serve.


Rishta bi adds can be eaten hot or at room temperature, like a pasta salad.

Serves 4-6

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 6–7 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g large green or brown lentils
  • 100g dry tagliatelle nests
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Large handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

Fry the onion in 2 tablespoons of oil until brown and caramelised, stirring often. It is a good idea to start with the lid on – this allows them soften more quickly.

Rinse the lentils and boil them in plenty of water until they are only just tender. Some qualities take as little as 10-15 minutes, others take much longer.

Break the tagliatelle into pieces by crushing the nests in your hand and drop the pieces into the pan with the lentils – there should be enough water to cover them. Add salt, stir and boil vigorously until the pasta is cooked al dente. Drain quickly, and toss with the remaining olive oil, a little salt and pepper, the fried onions and the parsley.


A layer of chickpeas, spread over bread soaked in their cooking broth, smothered in yogurt with an elusive taste of tahini, and a pine nut topping is the much-loved fattet hommos bi laban. The bread must be the very thin flat bread known as khobz halabi which is sold by Lebanese bakeries in London. You need either 1 large one measuring about 30cm in diameter, or 2 smaller ones; or 1 pitta bread could be used instead.

Serves 6-8

  • 250g chickpeas, soaked for 2 hours or overnight
  • Salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large or 2 small very thin Lebanese flat breads (see above)
  • 2½ tbsp tahini
  • 1kg natural (full fat) yogurt, at room temperature
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a pan with water to cover, then simmer, covered, for 1¼-1½ hours until they are very soft. Add water so that the level remains about 1cm above the chickpeas throughout. Add salt when the chickpeas have begun to soften, and the crushed garlic towards the end of the cooking.

Toast the bread in an oven pre-heated to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 until it becomes crisp. Then place it at the bottom of an ovenproof dish and break it up into smallish pieces by pressing down on it with the palm of your hand. Pour the hot chickpeas and much of their cooking liquid over the pieces of bread so that they are well soaked. If you are not ready to serve, you can reheat this in the oven when you are.

Before serving, beat the tahini into the yogurt, and pour it over the chickpeas. Quickly fry the pine nuts in the oil, stirring, until lightly browned, and sprinkle over the dish.

Variations – fry the pine nuts in 3 tablespoons butter until lightly coloured, and then add 2 tablespoons crushed dried mint and ½ tablespoon wine vinegar.

Stories on our Plate – SOOP

Dolma with Jajik – by Natalie’s Armenian Kitchen

Dolma (stuffed vine leaves) are a delicacy commonly associated with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, but in fact also found in different variations from the Balkans, to Russia and Central Asia.  Likewise, cucumber and yoghurt dips such as yajik (featured here) are beloved accompaniments to many meals across different culinary traditions – truly a transcultural phenomenon. Natalie is inspired by her Armenian heritage to bring you these recipes, straight from her kitchen to yours.

  • 1 large jar or vacuum pack of vine leaves (approx. 500g)
  • 1 kg minced lamb
  • 1 large bunch each of coriander and parsley
  • 1 small bunch each of mint and dill
  • 5 spring onions
  • 1 leek
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder
  • 1 lemon, grated rind and juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Butter

(Variation: use cabbage leaves instead and cook in a sauce of tomato, sugar, vinegar and prunes.)

Wash and soak the vine leaves preferably overnight to remove the salty brine flavour. Finely chop all the herbs, spring onion and leek. In a large bowl combine the chopped herbs with the lamb, rice, lemon rind, garlic, olive oil, curry powder and good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mix well.

Take the vine leaves and carefully wrap each one with a small ball of mixture. Note the glossier side of the leaf should be on the outside and trim any stems off. Place the dolma compactly in pan and fill with cold water so to cover all the dolma. Pour the lemon juice on top and place a few knobs of butter between the dolma. Place a small plate on top of the vine leaves and cook on a low heat for a minimum of 2 hours. Take care to add more boiling water if the water reduces too much. Serve with rice and jajik.


Versatile, delicious, explanation is superfluous…

  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 2 tbsp dried mint
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Peel and grate the cucumber and pass through a sieve to remove any excess liquid. Combine the cucumber with the yoghurt, mint, dill, garlic, salt and pepper and top with a dash of olive oil.

Buck-ouleh – by Katrina Kollegaeva of RussianRevels

(Like Tabbouleh but with buckwheat!)

Buckwheat, or kasha as it is often confusingly referred to in English (in Russian kasha is a generic work for a porridge, or a savoury stew), is as commonplace in post-Soviet countries as, say, rice in Asia. Where in London this nutty, gluten free grain has only been ‘discovered’ recently, most Russian kids eat grechka almost daily – with milk and sugar for breakfast, with burgers, frankfurters for dinner, or just as is with a few pickles. This way of eating the grain, cold, as a salad, is certainly not the norm though. But mixing the middle eastern tradition with eastern European really makes sense here. Buckwheat likes the company of other strong flavours, and to contrast with fresher, crunchier playmates. So feel free to play around with what veggies you add here, depending on the season. During colder months you could add kohlrabi, kale, even cabbage.

Serves 20-25, tapas style

  • 4 red peppers
  • 500g buckwheat
  • A small bunch of spring onions
  • 10-15 radishes
  • Large bunch of parsley


  • 4 tbs coriander seeds
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 3-4 tbs runny honey
  • 4 tbs capers, chopped
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • Olive oil, salt pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C, roast peppers until they’ve collapsed and blackened (about 30-45 mins). When done, put them into a plastic bag and cool a little. Then peel off the skin, take seeds out and tear strips away of about 1-2 cms wide. Whilst the peppers are doing their business, rinse buckwheat in plenty of cold water. Cover with about 3cm of cold water, bring to boil, add salt and simmer until all water is evaporated (about 15 mins). Cool. Chop spring onions and parsley. Slice radishes into halves or quarters.

Make the dressing by grinding coriander well. Mix with all the other ingredients well. Toss buckwheat, with peppers, radishes, herbs and the dressing. Taste and add whatever you feel is missing, or you like more of!


Dutch Apple Pie – by Jolien Benjamin, Co-Founder of SOOP

My mother always said that one could wake her up in the middle of the night for two things: soup and apple pie.

You will need…  

  • 1 round cake tin (28cm)
  • 1 brush for your eggy wash
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 1 chopping board
  • 1 veg peeler
  • 1 knife
  • 1 rolling pin


  • 1kg seasonal apples (a mixture of different British varieties with different levels of acidity and sweetness like Russet, Cox, Red Pippin and even a pear is what you are looking for)
  • 125g raisins
  • 125g currants
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (unwaxed)
  • 75g of almonds or walnuts (optional)
  • 250g salted butter (diced and room temperature)
  • 225g white caster sugar
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar or use 1/4 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • 400g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Preheat the oven on 180 degrees celsius. Soak the raisins and currants in lukewarm water. Add the butter, 200g of sugar, vanilla sugar and a pinch of salt to a mixing bowl and mix them together; add the egg until it forms an equal mixture. Gently fold in the self-raising flour and start kneading the mixture until you’ve created a beautiful dough ball. Try some, it will put a smile on your face! Wrap it up in cling film and let it rest in the fridge.

Peel the apples, take the core out and cut the apples in 4 quarters that you want to cut in rough chunks with a 2cm cross cut. Add all the chunks to a mixing bowl and add the drained rasins & currants and the chopped nuts together. Add the zest and juice of a lemon to taste and add the remaining sugar and the cinnamon and stir the mixture together. Have a spoon full just to get you in the mood. And another one. It will only get better!

Grease your baking tin. Now it’s time to get the dough out of the fridge. Divide it in two halves; one slightly bigger than the other. Roll the smaller part of the dough into a ball and with a rolling pin roll it out in a circle and cover the baking tin with the dough. You want to make sure the whole tin is covered with the dough. I usually start in the middle of the dough and with the tips of my fingers gently move the dough further out  and upwards until the dough is divided equally everywhere. This process could take some time as you may need to do it a couple of times.

Now that you have covered the baking tin you can actually start putting the filling in! Press the filling in with your fingers, but it should not exceed the edges of the baking tin.

Cut the remaining dough in two halves. Here, we get to work our fingers a little bit as we want to roll small dough balls into strings that we will lace the apple pie with. You need bigger strips crossing the pie diagonally and they should get smaller the closer they come to the edge. Here you want to lace a check pattern on top of your pie. If you have any dough left over roll it into a string and cover the pie rim with it.

Brush your lace work with some beaten egg and your apple pie is ready to go in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Keep checking up on your pie and if it browns too quickly bring the temp down to 150 C. The top should be golden brown when ready!

Serve with cream and a nice cup of fresh mint tea! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

To find out more about Stories On Our Plate (SOOP) and to support their work helping refugees in the UK:

Follow: facebook.com/soopstories; @soop_stories (Twitter/Instagram)

Eat with SOOP: grubclub.com/stories-on-our-plate-soop

Donate: https://soas.hubbub.net/p/soopstories

A few more from Claudia Roden…


Serve with crisp toasted flat bread, black olives, cucumbers cut into little sticks, plum tomatoes cut into wedges, and spring onions.

Serves 6-8

  • 250g feta cheese
  • 250g thick Greek style yogurt
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Crush the feta cheese with a fork, then add the yogurt and mash together. Spread the dip in a shallow serving dish and dribble over the olive oil.


This tangy aromatic soup is Egyptian.

Serves 6-8

  • 2 litres (3 1/2 pints) chicken stock (you may use 2 stock cubes)
  • 3 leeks cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) slices
  • 1 head of celery with leaves, cut into 2 cm (3/4 in) slices
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Salt and white pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Juice of 1 – 3 lemons, to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar, or more to taste
  • 4 courgettes, cut in 1 cm (1/2 in) slices
  • 2 tbsp dried mint

Bring the stock to the boil in a pan. Put in the leeks, celery, and potatoes. Add salt, pepper, garlic, lemon and sugar and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Add the courgettes and mint and cook 15 minutes more.

Find out more:


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