5 recipes from Islington Faces

Estimated reading time:5 minutes, 53 seconds

Everyone has a story but some also have a significant dish they love to cook. Here are some tasty recipe ideas collected from some special friends of Islington Faces by Nicola Baird. What will you try?

(FYI: noodles, peanut sauce and spicy tofu as seen in the pic are not listed here, sorry!).

    SUNDAY CAFE INDIAN DAHL SOUP from Priti Pedersen (who makes delicious honey cake too)
Sunday Cafe at Gillespie Park run by Priti Pedersen during summer Sundays (Easter-October when the clocks change) so long as Arsenal is not playing at home.

Sunday Cafe at Gillespie Park is run by Priti Pedersen during summer Sundays (March-October so long as Arsenal is not playing at home. She makes fab cakes and also a delicious lentil soup flavoured with herbs she buys in India.

Priti Pedersen (interview on Islington Faces here). The Sunday Cafe at Gillespie Park, off Drayton Park, is masterminded by Priti. And now it is March, it is in action again. Try the cafe on Mother’s Day, or any Sunday. Islington Faces’ favourite is the spiced lentil soup. Here’s her recipe, inspired by Indian dahl:

Spiced lentil soup 

  • Soften onion, garlic, ginger in a little oil
  • Add mustard seeds, masala, grated carrot
  • Add red lentils, water and creamed coconut, salt and chilli sauce
  • Just before ready, add some chopped spinach or coriander.


WARMING STEW HERB MIX from Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth Jones: “I can hear people coming and I know they’ve gone by. But you don’t know who they are. Very rarely does someone say hello. I’d like them to, especially if outside my house. In the old days everyone would talk. Sometimes I’m walking along the pavement and I hear people saying ‘hello’ and then I realise they’re on the phone. You feel an idiot! But you have to have a sense of humour.”

Elizabeth Jones shares a warming stew herb mix.

Here’s Elizabeth Jones’ recipe for a herb mixture for winter stews. Shred leaves from sage, basil, thyme, rosemary and bay (Elizabeth grows all these in her garden). Put in the microwave on a low setting for 3 minutes. Let the steam go off, then microwave again, several times. As the leaves begin to be crunchy shred them more. Eventually they are dried – then I mix them together for winter stews. Read the Islington Faces interview with her here.



Siwaiya (vermicelli pudding) cooked in Finsbury Park.

Nicola with Saira. (c) islington faces

Saira cooked Siwaiya, a delicious pudding, for me and my family, and we loved it.

She then kindly spent a whole afternoon with encouraging her nursery-school aged youngest son to type the recipe out.

Roasted vermicelli can be found in shops selling Pakistani and Indian ingredients, eg K Store at Finsbury Park.

How to make Siwaiya

  • 500g Roasted Vermicelli Siwaiya
  • 50g Butter
  • 1ltr Milk (can be more if you want more syrupy)
  • 75g Sugar
  • 20g Pistachios ( preferably crushed or chopped)
  • 2 drops kewra water
  • 20g raisins (preferably soaked and washed)

Method: Take butter and cardamom, heat it in a pan for 30 secs.Add Siwaiya ( break it, take only a quarter from the pack) saute it a bit.  Add milk and let it boil. Once the siwaiyan are done (one boil of milk will soften them) add kewra water, pistachios and raisins. Simmer for 5 mins (don’t let the milk boil over). Enjoy warm or cold!

Read the interview with Saira’s husband, Faisal Ahmed Mian, on Islington Faces here.

There’s also a fantastic video which features their family, see below.


Holly Peterson (interview on Islington Faces here) is the founding president of Gothic Valley WI which started life in The Shaftesbury Tavern between Hornsey and Holloway Road (read more about it here). Her speciality is baking. Here’s the recipe for her prize-winning cake, a war time vegan recipe passed down from her Granny. She’s also ace at jam.

(c) Holly Peterson

 to make the Mexican version: add ¼ tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients. You can also make this cake wheat free by using a different flour.

  • 1 1⁄2 cups (190g) plain flour
  • 3⁄4 cup (160g) sugar
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1⁄4 tsp baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240ml) cold water

Method: Mix dry ingredients together.
 Make three indentations; add oil, vinegar and vanilla.
Pour water over all; stir quickly just until the lumps are gone.
Pour into a greased and floured cake pan (9”x9” tin or a bundt pan).
 Bake at 180 C for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Enjoy.


ANNA COLQUHOUN – THE CULINARY ANTHROPOLOGIST runs fantastic secret suppers at her N5 home (read the interview with her on Islington Faces here). As she’s off to Croatia for two years to finish her field work and run a B&B her last secret suppers in Highbury for a few years will be in June. Thankfully she and the co-founder of Toast, Jessica Seaton, have just produced a delectable looking cookbook we can use while she’s away (or even go and stay with her).

Here’s Anna’s take on her new book Gather Cook Feast (on sale from 6 April 2017) from her website 

Anna says: “Gather Cook Feast (Fig Tree, 2017, £19.99) celebrates the connections between food and landscape. It is the result of several years of collaboration between Jessica Seaton (co-founder of clothing brand Toast) and myself. Together we developed ideas and over 120 recipes which evoke the landscapes of the British Isles (and similar climes) – freshwater, saltwater, home gardens, field & pasture, woodland and uplands. Those familiar with my cooking style and culinary mind will recognise the strong seasonality, the international influences, the preserving, smoking, sourdoughs, infusions, cured fish and charcuterie. Developing recipes for this project was a lot of fun, and it is so rewarding to see them alongside Jonathan Lovekin’s stunning food photography and Jessica’s thoughtful words on the relationship between food and place. The book includes plenty of soups and salads for easy weekday meals through the year, and more ambitious weekend feasts such as mutton baked in hay, venison with pine jelly and herbed rice with saffron carp. Plus there are lots of DIY projects to delve into – breads, ice creams, pickles, liqueurs and cordials, salt-curing and hot-smoking to name a few. I hope you enjoy it!”

Most of us have to cook occasionally so hope these ideas inspire, intrigue and delight you. Let me/them know!

Over to you

If you want to share a recipe that you’ve cooked many times in Islington, please let me know. BTW I didn’t include a recipe for the vegan Chinese spicy tofu noodles with chard, homegrown sorrel and nettle tops in a peanut sauce in the pic at the top. But it was very tasty!

If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola