Sabrina Ghayour's favourite vegetarian Middle East-inspired recipes

Persian-inspired chef Sabrina Ghayour shared some of her favourite recipes to mark the launch of her new book Bazaar.

The book celebrates vegetarian and plant-based Middle Eastern dishes. British-Iranian chef Sabrina has recently moved to Yorkshire after being inspired by the region's produce, and will be teaching courses at the new cookery school at the Grand Hotel in York.

Grilled halloumi flatbreads with preserved lemon and barberry salsa

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This is my version of a taco, but with all the punch and vibrancy you would associate with Middle Eastern flavours. You can substitute the halloumi for Indian paneer or tofu. The flatbreads alone are incredibly moreish – you may never buy shop-bought flatbreads again!


2 x 250g blocks halloumi cheese

2 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt

5cm piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated

1 garlic clove, crushed

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lime

good squeeze of lime juice

vegetable oil

pul biber chilli flakes, to garnish

Maldon sea salt flakes and black pepper

For the flatbreads

30g unsalted butter, melted

175g plain flour

100ml semi-skimmed milk

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic granules

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the salsa

Small packet (about 15g) of fresh dill, roughly chopped

4 preserved lemons, deseeded and very finely chopped

1 tablespoon dried barberries

1 avocado, peeled, stoned and roughly diced

2 teaspoons Nigella seeds

For the harissa yogurt

250g Greek-style yogurt

1 heaped tablespoon rose harissa


Cut each block of halloumi into four thick, equal slices. Put the yoghurt, grated turmeric, crushed garlic and lime zest into a bowl, add the lime juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Leave the halloumi slices to marinate while you’re making the flatbreads.

Put all the flatbread ingredients, except the oil, into a mixing bowl and mix until a firm dough has formed. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

To make the salsa, mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside. To make the harissa yoghurt, mix the ingredients together in another bowl, season with salt and pepper, and chill until ready to serve.

When you’re ready to cook the flatbreads, preheat a large frying pan over a medium heat. Divide the dough into four equal portions and roll out each piece into a thin round, about 25cm in diameter.

Brush the hot pan with olive oil and cook the flatbreads, one at a time, for about 45-60 seconds on each side, or until lightly browned.

In the same frying pan, heat a drizzle of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat. Add the marinated halloumi slices and fry for about one minute on each side, or until nicely browned.

Divide the halloumi between the flatbreads and dollop a generous amount of the harissa yoghurt on top. Add the salsa and then sprinkle over some pul biber. Roll up and serve immediately.

Sumac, tomato and garlic toasts with labneh

I’m obsessed with tomatoes on toast either in the Spanish style of pan con tomate or the Italian bruschetta. I used to make mini versions of these for clients as canapés, which proved so popular that I was asked to serve them as starters rather than finger food. The addition of sumac gives the tomatoes a citrusy note, and I never need an excuse to add coriander to tomatoes. They are incredibly moreish and I am happy to eat several of these as a meal by themselves.



1 large ciabatta, cut into 12 slices

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, peeled

4 large, ripe vine tomatoes, very finely chopped

A small red onion, very finely chopped

2 teaspoons sumac, plus extra to garnish

A small packet (about 15g) of fresh coriander, finely chopped (reserve some for garnish)

olive oil

4 heaped tablespoons labneh or thick

Greek yoghurt

Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


Chargrill the bread in a griddle pan on both sides or use a toaster. Lightly rub the surface of each slice with the raw garlic.

Mix the tomatoes, onion, sumac and coriander in a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Divide the tomato mixture between the toasts, spreading it across the surface of each piece. Top each with a teaspoon of labneh or yogurt and garnish each with a little pinch of sumac, the reserved coriander and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Turmeric, spinach and sweet potato fritters

There are very few things that aren’t improved by frying, and that includes vegetables – especially sweet potatoes. Turmeric is underrated as a spice, but I like it to be a main player in my cooking, just as long as it is not too overpowering and strikes the perfect balance with the other ingredients in a recipe. Eat these fritters with a few dipping sauces on the side – sweet chilli sauce is my personal favourite pairing.



300g sweet potato, peeled and coarsely grated

150g baby spinach leaves, finely chopped

3 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

3 large eggs

100g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

vegetable oil, for frying

Maldon sea salt flakes and freshly ground

black pepper

sweet chilli sauce, to serve


Put the sweet potato, spinach, turmeric, chilli flakes, eggs, flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and mix well. Season generously with salt and pepper, then allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a large, deep frying pan or saucepan to fill to a depth of about 5cm. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat and bring to frying temperature (add a pinch of mixture: if it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough). Line a plate with a double layer of kitchen paper.

When the oil is ready, stir the batter well. Using 2 dessertspoons, form quenelles of the mixture: scoop up the mixture with one spoon and use the other to press down and shape it. Lower the quenelles carefully into the hot oil and fry in batches, six at a time – it is important not to overcrowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop and your fritters will not be crisp. Fry the fritters for one minute, then turn them over and fry for another minute or so, or until nicely browned all over. Remove the fritters from the oil using a slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-lined plate to drain.

Serve hot with sweet chilli sauce.