Meghan’s mother joins her at the Palace: Duchess of Sussex arrives with Doria in Kensington to meet Grenfell families for her new charity book launch
- The Duchess of Sussex is supporting the publication of a cookbook helping Grenfell families and others
- Meghan Markle has written the foreword to new book produced by cooks from Hubb Community Kitchen
- Duchess first visited the kitchen in January and has made other private trips to centre to meet volunteers
- The book, Together: Our Community Cookbook, is available in stores from today and is priced at £9.99
The Duchess of Sussex arrived with her mother Doria Ragland and husband Prince Harry this afternoon to show off her culinary skills at Kensington Palace.
Meghan welcomed the women behind the cookbook she has championed to has been reunited with the Grenfell Tower community group who provided the dishes for Together.
The fundraising publication is aimed at supporting the local kitchen where the cooks meet. The idea for the book came from the duchess after she was told, during her first private trip to the Hubb Community Kitchen in North Kensington, the facilities were only open two days a week because of a lack of funds.
The women of the Hubb Community Kitchen will showcase their own personal recipes featured in the cookbook, many of which have been handed down through generations.
Guests will enjoy the home-made dishes including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis and sharing dips, as well as caramelised plum upside-down cake, and spiced mint tea.
The duchess will join the women as they cook the dishes and assist with the preparations, before the group and the duke and duchess sit to enjoy the freshly made food with their guests.
Guests will include members of the local community, representatives from Ebury Press – publishers of the book – the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, where the cooks are based, and the Royal Foundation.
Meghan Markle and her mother Ms Ragland beamed as they got out of a car at Kensington Palace this afternoon
Meghan cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London
Their partnership has resulted in the publications of Together: Our Community Cookbook, which features personal recipes
The Duchess of Sussex cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire
On Monday, as the duchess helped to release the new cookbook, it emerged that she made secret trips to a community mosque to cook with Grenfell Tower victims after the horrifying inferno that left 72 dead.
In her first solo project as a member of the royal family, Meghan wrote the foreword to the new book produced by cooks from the Hubb Community Kitchen, an initiative based near the site of the West London tower.
The duchess, who said she ‘immediately felt connected’ to the kitchen at the Al Manaar cultural centre, first visited in January and has made other secret trips to the centre to meet volunteers and learn more about their work.
One of the contributors to the book, Munira Mahmud, 34, told how Meghan donned an apron and mucked in with the cooking, including washing rice.
The duchess says in her introduction for Together: Our Community Cookbook: ‘I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen; it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together.
(From left) Hiwot Dagnachew, Aysha Bora, Halima Al-huthaifi, Ahlam Saeid and Munira Mahmud cooking in the kitchen
Intlak Al Saiegh and Ahlam Saeid cook in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre
‘Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy – in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy – something we can all relate to.
Royal reporter Phil Dampier says Meghan’s cook book had ‘palace approval’ but Australia tour will see her on world stage
Veteran royal reporter Phil Dampier, author of Royally Suited Harry and Meghan in their Own Words said: ‘It’s quite unusual to get involved with a project like this in such depth so soon, especially making several visits in secret.
But it’s certainly not unheard of royals to write forwards to books and support causes like this.
‘She would have to be careful not to get too involved in one or two causes and be seen to be personally involved with fund-raising.
‘If something went wrong then it could backfire, but I’m sure she has done this with the approval of palace aides, notable the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary Sam Cohen who has been allocated to guide Meghan.
‘I think with the big tour to Australia, New Zealand Tonga and Fiji next month Meghan will really arrive on the world stage as a royal and from then on we will see a lot more of her.’
‘Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive.’
It also emerged on Monday that two of the women who worked on the cookbook with Meghan saved the lives of seven people from different families.
MailOnline can reveal Hiwot Dagnachew was on the fifth floor and stopped her two great nieces from perishing in the blaze.
She phoned their mother, who was with them on the 19th floor to warn them about the fire – giving them enough time to get out of the building.
And Munira Mahmud, 34, also manged to escape the burning building, leading the rest of her family – including her husband, his father and their two children to safety.
An inquiry into the fire in June last year is still ongoing, and has prompted revelations that a ‘miscommunication’ between senior fire officers meant attempts to rescue residents on the highest floors stopped for an hour.
The inquiry, being held at Holborn Bars in London, has previously been brought to a halt as firefighters burst into tears when recalling the blaze.
Meanwhile a series of fraudsters have been jailed for trying to falsely claim they lived in the tower in the wake of the fire.
Work to finish covering the tower in white sheeting with green hearts was completed in June this year, and it still stands as a memorial to those who died.
However, a commission has been announced to enable the Grenfell community to decide the long-term future of the site.
The Hubb Community Project was created last summer by women seeking somewhere to cook fresh food for their families and friends following the blaze which engulfed the 24-storey social housing block.
Following the blaze – Britain’s deadliest fire on domestic premises since the Second World War – the group of friends approached the Al-Manaar centre to ask if they could use the kitchen.
Halima Al-huthaifi and Ahlam Saeid enjoy the food in the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London
Halima Al-huthaifi hugs a girl at the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire
Halima Al-huthaifi and Zahira Ghaswala (left) and Munira Mahmud (right) in the community kitchen in West London
In the new book supported by Meghan, some of the recipes are family favourites and all have been created by the cooks who support not only residents affected by the Grenfell fire but others in the community.
Royal commentator says Meghan Markle is a ‘huge foodie’ and predicts Grenfell book will be a ‘best seller’
Royal commentator Claudia Jospeh said she is ‘sure’ the new book will be a bestseller.
She told Sky News: ‘She’s a huge foodie and it’s a subject close to her heart.
She’s a foodie foodie, so this is something that’s close to her heart – she did this as a teenage in the soup kitchens in LA she went and helped, its not that different to when she was younger.
Grenfell is hugely significant for the country.
This is a very hands-on way to raise funds for them and to raise their profile.
‘We have seen with both Maghan and Kate, everything they wear, everything they do, sells out immediately. I’m sure this cook book will be a a best seller.’
In the introduction, the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen wrote: ‘Our kitchen has always been a place of good food, love, support and friendship.
‘We cook the recipes we’ve grown up with; there’s no stress, and the recipes always work because they have been made so many times – it’s proper comfort food… Swapping family recipes and moments of laughter gave us a sense of normality and home.
‘We named ourselves the Hubb Community Kitchen to celebrate the thing that we all feel every time we meet – hubb means love in Arabic.’
Meghan helped put the group in touch with a publisher and her Royal Foundation provided assistance with legal and administrative issues.
One of the contributors to the book, Munira Mahmud, 34, said she and her friends had approached Al-Manaar to ask if they could use the kitchen there and the Hubb project arose out of it.
‘Last summer, we were placed in a hotel and I had no kitchen to cook for my family,’ Ms Mahmud wrote. ‘It was very emotional for me to get in the kitchen. The moment I started cooking I was in tears.
‘I didn’t know why though. I was just excited to be back in the kitchen again.
‘Word started to spread – the mums from my son’s school came along and they told their friends, too. Soon there were women from different cultures all cooking, swapping recipes, talking and laughing together.’
The duchess is photographed on the front of the book helping out and Ms Mahmud said the royal had been happy to join in.
‘She wore an apron,’ she wrote. ‘I can’t believe I made her wash rice! After we said that we could only use the kitchen twice a week due to funding, she mentioned, ‘How about sharing your recipes with other people? And that’s how it happened.’
All proceeds will go back to the Hubb. Baroness Rebuck DBE, chair of Penguin Random House, said: ‘We were instantly caught up by the extraordinary vision for this project with the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen.
Food on the table in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London
Meghan has written the foreword to the new book produced by cooks from the Hubb Community Kitchen
The Grenfell disaster in North Kensington, West London, took place on June 14 last year and claimed the lives of 72 people
‘Every woman who has contributed a recipe to this book has also contributed a fragment of their lives and memories. Each dish tells a story of culture, family and a sense of home.
All proceeds for ‘Together: Our Community Cookbook’ will go back to the Hubb and the book will be available this wee
‘But most of all ‘Together’ is an homage to life and friendship and we hope it will act as a symbol to all communities and encourage cooking together for life and joy.’
The dishes described in the book are the women’s own personal recipes from across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.
The Royal Foundation is administering the transfer of funds from the sale of the book to the Hubb Community Kitchen and related projects.
Royal expert Charlie Jacoby told MailOnline: ‘After the wedding that wowed the world, the Duchess of Sussex is extending the royal brand again.
‘The royal family’s two most prolific authors are Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who has written diet books and Prince Charles who backed a Duchy Originals recipe book. Meghan is combining cookery and charity.’
Last week it was revealed that more than 1,200 people traumatised by the Grenfell fire received mental health treatment in the year after the blaze, according to figures from Central and North West London NHS Trust.
Another 126 patients with long-term mental health problems had their conditions worsened by the blaze in North Kensington on June 14 last year, which claimed the lives of 72 people.
Last June, the Queen and her grandson Prince William were met with applause when they dropped in to an emergency shelter in West London days after the blaze to meet the devastated survivors.
Why is the community kitchen called ‘Hubb’?
The Hubb Community Kitchen gets its name from the noun hubb (حُبّ), which means love in Arabic.
The women involved with the kitchen said they want to ‘celebrate the thing that we all feel every time we meet’.
‘Hubb’ is a derivative of the verbal root habba (حَبَّ), while the word ‘ishq’ (عشق) also means love in Arabic.
The royal visitors met volunteers, local residents and community representatives while visiting the Westway Sports Centre in White City, which became a focal point for efforts to support those affected by the deadly inferno.
Meghan is part of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and she made her first appearance with the organisation in April.
The foundation was launched in 2011 by Prince William and his younger brother Harry – and Meghan officially became its fourth patron after her wedding on May 19.
It had an income of £9million last year, and spent £9.7million – including £8.3million on charitable activities, of which £4.3million was made up of grant funding.
Together: Our Community Cookbook is published by Ebury Press and is be available for £9.99 in hardback here
What the foreword by HRH The Duchess of Sussex says
Extracted from Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, £9.99, hbk)
Together is more than a cookbook. This is a tale of friendship, and a story of togetherness. It is a homage to the power of cooking as a community, and the recipes that allow us to connect, share and look forward.
In January 2018, as I was settling in to my new home of London, it was important to me to get to know organisations working in the local community. I made a quiet trip to Al-Manaar, a mosque close to the Grenfell community.
In 2017, I had watched the Grenfell Tower tragedy unfold on the news; I was in Canada at the time, sharing the global sentiment of shock and sympathy for what this community was enduring, while also deeply wanting to help. Fast-forward seven months, and I was set to meet some of the women affected by the fire, at a community kitchen in Al-Manaar.
The kitchen was opened after the Grenfell tragedy, offering women who had been displaced and the community around them a space to cook food for their families.
Their roles as matriachs united them across their cultures; the kitchen provided an opportunity to cook what they knew and to taste the memory of home, albeit homes some had recently lost.
The kitchen buzzes with women of all ages; women who have lived and seen life; laughing, chatting, sharing a cup of tea and a story, while children play on the floor or are rocked to sleep in their strollers. Now I have come to know these women and this place well, here are a few things to note about the community kitchen:
- It is cosy and brightly lit, with scents of cardamom, curry and ginger dancing through the air
- It will take you about fifteen minutes to enter the room, as you will be joyfully greeted by kisses (cheek x 3) by each of the incredible women there
- You will find yourself in a melting pot of cultures and personalities, who have roots in Uganda, Iraq, Morocco, India, Russia and at least ten other countries
- You should undoubtedly arrive on an empty stomach because upon departure you will have been stuffed to the gills with samosas flecked with cinnamon, chapatis flavoured with carrots and onion, Russian Semolina cake, Persian teas and my very favourite avocado dip that I now make at home
- You will feel joyful in their company, and you will leave counting the days until you go back
On my first visit, I asked Munira, the resident chef de cuisine (so to speak), how I could help. An apron was quickly wrapped around me, I pushed up my sleeves, and I found myself washing the rice for lunch. Munira’s sister-in-law, who had flown in from Egypt after Grenfell to help the family, helped me divide the correct amount of butter and fresh thyme to pour into the pot of rice bubbling away on the stovetop. All the aromas percolating in a kitchen filled with countless languages aflutter, remains one of my most treasured memories from my first visit to the kitchen.
I have a lifelong interest in the story of food – where it comes from, why we embrace it and how it brings us together: the universal connection to community through the breaking of bread. Within this kitchen’s walls, there exists not only the communal bond of togetherness through sharing food, but also a cultural diversity that creates what I would describe as a passport on a plate: the power of a meal to take you to places you’ve never been, or transport you right back to where you came from.
One of my own favourite meals is collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread – a meal I would look forward to throughout my childhood: the smell of yellow onions simmering amongst a slow-cooked pot of greens from my grandma’s back garden; the earthy texture of peas; and a golden loaf of cornbread puff-puffing away to a browned peak in the warmth of the oven.
This was always eaten on New Year’s Day, a tradition steeped in ancestral history where each component has a meaning: the black-eyed peas for prosperity, the greens for wealth, the cornbread for health and nourishment. It wasn’t a new year’s resolution; it was a wish. It wasn’t simply a meal; it was a story.
I’ve spent many years away from my birthplace of Los Angeles and have found that travelling far from home highlights the power of personally meaningful recipes.
During my time at university in Chicago I would wait with bated breath to return to LA for the winter break and have a bowl of my mother’s gumbo. And while living in Toronto (seven years of being adopted by that beautiful place for work), I embraced poutine and several other Canadian culinary favourites, but the Southern California girl in me always craved fish tacos, and the memory of eating hometown fare infused with a strong Mexican influence.
We’ve all had that experience where you have a bite of food, close your eyes, and taste, remember and even feel the first time you enjoyed it. There is good reason that chicken soup is often credited with healing not just a cold, but the soul. There is something quintessentially restorative about a taste of something meaningful.
I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen; it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together.
Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy – in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture and commune through food, through crisis or joy – something we can all relate to.
During my visit I met Zahira, a working mum who oversees much of the coordination at Al-Manaar and whose infectious smile is enough to make you forget any troubles. Upon learning the kitchen was only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays I asked, ‘Why isn’t this open seven days a week?’
Her response: ‘Funding.’
And now just a few months later, here we are… Together.
Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive. With the support of dynamic women from all walks of life, we have come together with a united vision to empower other women to share their stories through food.
This cookbook is a celebration of life, community and the impact of coming together.
Our hope is that within these pages you will find new recipes and family favourites that you can enjoy in your own homes, because these recipes aren’t simply meals; they are stories of family, love, of survival and of connection. From a Thanksgiving supper to a Shabbat dinner or a Sunday roast, the meals that bring us together are the meals that allow us to grow, to listen, to engage and to be present. We invite you to do the same, together, in your home, communities and beyond.
Great thanks to everyone who made this book possible. And thanks to you, the reader, for supporting the good work of the Hubb Community Kitchen.
Now it’s time…
to gather, Together.
HRH THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX
Gurmit Kaur’s Aubergine Masala
It was 1976 and our mother was teaching me and my teenage sisters to cook – passing on her recipes.
I was the best at making aubergine masala, so she allowed me to call it my signature dish – I’ve made it ever since.
Back home in Uganda, I run a restaurant where I serve this along with other local dishes.
When I’m in London helping my daughter Munira with my grandchildren, I make it for them and for the women at the Community Kitchen.
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2 large aubergines, chopped into 4cm cubes
- 350g new potatoes, halved
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 dried curry leaves
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 4 vine tomatoes, finely chopped
- 200ml water
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
For the rice
- 600ml water
- pinch of salt
- 300g basmati rice
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan on a high heat.
Add the aubergines and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until well browned.
Tip the aubergines into a large bowl and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium–high and add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pan.
Add the potatoes and fry, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Add the fried potatoes to the aubergines and set aside.
Heat a large pan on a medium–high heat, add the cumin, mustard and fenugreek seeds and toast until fragrant, 2–3 minutes.
Then add the remaining oil and, when it is hot, add the onion and curry leaves and fry for 10 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the tomato purée and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic paste, ginger paste, turmeric and tomatoes.
Cook for about 5 minutes, until the tomato juice has evaporated and the mixture is starting to dry out in the pan.
Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Put the water and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
Add the rice, reduce the heat slightly, cover and boil for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, keeping the lid firmly on, and set aside for 10 minutes.
Add the fried aubergines and potatoes to the curry pan, along with the water.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid and simmer for 5–10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Add half the chopped coriander and stir through.
Remove the lid from the rice and fluff up with a fork.
Serve alongside the curry, sprinkled with the remaining coriander.
Extracted from Together: Our Community Cookbook (Ebury Press, £9.99, hbk). Photography by Jenny Zarins
Aysha Bora’s Kuku Paka – Coconut chicken curry