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Cook from the Book: Big Zuu’s Big Eats

by Genevieve Halbert

published on 9 June 2021

Celebrating flavour, family, and food, Big Zuu’s Big Eats is a cookbook with personality. The debut book from grime artist Big Zuu is packed with West African and Middle Eastern-inspired recipes, as well as plenty of vibrant fusion dishes and some seriously mind-blowing twists on comfort food favourites. With his flair for flavour, his no-nonsense instructions, and his refreshingly irreverent approach to the classics (jollof rice arancini, anyone?), Zuu puts the joy back into cooking. Every recipe in Big Zuu’s Big Eats is designed to be accessible to everyone from experienced cooks to total novices, proving that you don’t need to be an expert to whip up some seriously flavoursome eats. To road test Zuu’s recipes, we gathered a handful of volunteer home cooks who tried their hands at everything from chicken shawarma to Cajun-spiced lobster. Keep reading to find out how they got on . . .

Who: Grace Dellar – Key Account Executive, Adult Non Trade Sales, Ebury Publishing 

What I made: Bossman Chicken Shawarma

What I thought: This dish really delivered on flavour! The combination of the sweet-spiced Baharat, zingy pickled chillies, earthy hummus and cooling yoghurt was heaven. The recipe was straightforward, easy to understand, and quick to prepare. The longest step was the marinating (and I’d say do this for as long as possible). This would make an ideal sharing dish at a dinner party, but also a great weeknight meal that you could easily prep in the morning, leaving the marinade to work its magic throughout the day. I couldn’t find Lebanese pickles in my local supermarket, so improvised with gherkins and pickled onions. Baharat is a delicious spice that I’d not used/heard of before, and will definitely be using it again! It took me a while to decide which recipe to cook for this feature, so I cannot wait to try loads more from Big Zuu’s Big Eats

Who: Daniel Sorensen – Assistant Editor, BBC Books, Ebury Publishing

What I made: Jollof Rice Balls with Scotch Bonnet Sauce

What I thought: So this recipe is really difficult to make… Not because it’s tricky, no, the hard part is that it requires leftovers from Mumma Zuu’s Jollof Rice. I fully intended to save some leftovers for this recipe but not a single grain survived dinner. It was just too damn good. Only on my second attempt was I able to resist temptation but boy was it worth it. The Jollof Rice Balls are an awesome way to take those leftovers to the next level. Layer after layer it just keeps getting better: You start with that addictive deep-fried crunch, head into the fierce and vibrant flavours of the rice and finish with creamy, tangy cheese. Not only do they taste fantastic, but they look incredible too. Who can resist a golden sphere of spicy, ricey, mozzarella filled goodness? And for those that love heat, the Scotch Bonnet Sauce will blow your mind. Best served with an ice cold Supermalt, as instructed.

Who: Yvonne Jacob – Editorial Director, BBC Books, Ebury Publishing

What I made: Big Zuu’s Trap Box

What I thought: Go Big (Zuu) or go home, right? There is no messing about with the Trapbox. It’s not really one recipe, but six of Big Zuu’s iconic dishes combined – suya lamb ribs, sweet chilli chicken nuggets, cajun grilled lobster (YES! LOBSTER!), corn on the cob, mac ‘n’ cheese and waffles. Not exactly a meal to pull together quickly or on a budget, but great for a blowout that will score you massive points with family and friends. All in all, a day well spent in the kitchen and evening happily passed in a food coma.

Who: Alice King – Publicity Manager, Ebury Publishing

What I made: Saag Paneer Bhaji Bun

What I thought: This was such a fun recipe to make. Although there are lots of different components involved, it was still really quick and easy – you can prep ahead and it all comes together so well at the last minute. The coriander chutney was a real highlight, I could eat a bowl of it. I would have never thought to have a paneer burger but it works so well, maybe even better than halloumi! The bhaji was really crisp and the saag tied everything together perfectly – I’ll definitely be making this one again.

Who: Steph Naulls – Head of Campaigns, Ebury Publishing

What I made: The Fat Mo Salad

What I thought: Ah, this salad is perfection. I made it quickly in between (zoom) meetings and it was incredibly easy and fuss-free. I had most of the ingredients to hand, including an old aubergine that needed using up. The only thing I didn’t have was fresh chilli so I replaced with dried flakes. Now, my photo doesn’t look as beautiful as the one in the book, as sadly I don’t have a grill pan to char the aubergines – but that did not matter. This salad is SO full of flavour. I ate the entire thing in one go, much to my partner’s horror. In my opinion, aubergines are always an epic choice, and I’m always looking for new ways to use them, but they can often be done badly. The charring in this recipe, plus the dressing, makes them really sing. Zuu, I hope I did you proud. I’ll be serving this salad at so many BBQs this summer!

Who: Albert DePetrillo – Publishing Director, BBC Books, Ebury Publishing

What I made: Supermalt Short Ribs

What I thought: My wife Lara made this for us this week, and it was a total triumph. Such rich, smoky flavours and tender texture, and it was really simple to make. (The hardest part was finding the Supermalt – man, that stuff is delicious and should really be more widely available!!) We served it with Nigella’s New Orleans coleslaw, which was a perfect match.


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