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Meghan Markle's mother Doria joins her and Harry at Kensington Palace

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'Hi, I'm Meg's mom': Meghan's mother Doria meets Grenfell survivors with her daughter and Prince Harry as they are seen together for the first time since the royal wedding at charity cookbook launch

  • Meghan and her mother appeared together in public for first time since her wedding in Windsor in May
  • The Duchess of Sussex is supporting the publication of a cookbook helping Grenfell families and others
  • Meghan has written foreword to new book produced by cooks from Hubb Community Kitchen in London 
  • 37-year-old said the project had been a 'tremendous labour of love' and praised London for its 'diversity'
  • The book, Together: Our Community Cookbook, is available in stores from today and is priced at £9.99

By Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent for the Daily Mail and Mark Duell and Martin Robinson for MailOnline

Published: 08:24 EDT, 20 September 2018 | Updated: 10:18 EDT, 20 September 2018

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The Duchess of Sussex's mother Doria Ragland made a surprise appearance today at the launch of her daughter's new cookbook at Kensington Palace, telling guests: 'Hi, I'm Meg's mom'.

In an unprecedented move, Meghan invited her to the event, and they appeared together in public for the first time since May's royal wedding. It is unheard of for family members to attend official royal engagements.

During the event, which Prince Harry also attended, Meghan spoke of how important the multi-cultural Grenfell kitchen was in making her feel welcome in London, saying she was 'proud to live in a city with so much diversity'.

The duchess, 37, who hosted a lunch for the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen and their families, said she had felt 'immediately embraced' by the women of the kitchen who made her feel welcome on a personal level.

Joined by Ms Ragland, she helped make chapatis and turn koftas on a grill as she launched the Together cookbook in a tent. In a speech to guests, she said the project had been a 'tremendous labour of love'. 

Ms Ragland embraced each of the women with a warm hug, telling them: 'It's amazing. I'm just as excited as you are. Speaking of the duchess's experience at the kitchen, she said: 'She felt very much at home.'

The Duchess of Sussex arrived with her mother Doria Ragland and husband Prince Harry this afternoon at Kensington Palace

Meghan arrives with her mother and husband to host the event at Kensington Palace to mark the launch of the cookbook
Meghan arrives with her mother and husband to host the event at Kensington Palace to mark the launch of the cookbook

Meghan arrives with her mother and husband to host the event at Kensington Palace to mark the launch of the cookbook

Meghan helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with  recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell fire
Meghan helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with  recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell fire

Meghan helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell fire

Meghan was reunited with the Grenfell community group who provided the dishes for Together, the fundraising publication
Meghan was reunited with the Grenfell community group who provided the dishes for Together, the fundraising publication

Meghan was reunited with the Grenfell community group who provided the dishes for Together, the fundraising publication

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'I have just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen, by your kindness and to be in this city and be in this room and see how multi-cultural it was. 

'On a personal level I feel so proud to live in a city with so much diversity. This whole country is represented by the people in the kitchen. It's pretty outstanding.'

The duchess and her mother, have not been seen in public together since the royal wedding in Windsor on May 19 and looked relaxed in each other's company.

'It truly took a village to see this through': Meghan's speech in full

'I'm so privileged to know you. Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love. I have just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen, by your kindness and to be in this city and be in this room and see how multi-cultural it was. 

'On a personal level I feel so proud to live in a city with so much diversity. This whole country is represented by the people in the kitchen. It's pretty outstanding.

'There's so many people to thank - I'm extremely grateful because this is my first project and I appreciate your support. It truly took a village to see this through. Everyone has embraced this so fully because it has been a passion project for us all.

'As I said this is more than a cook book and what I mean by that is the power of food is more than just the meal itself it is the story behind it. And when you get to know the story behind the recipe, you get to know the person behind it and help us celebrate what connects us rather than divides us. That is the ethos of Together.

'Thank you so much for letting me be part of this and letting me be on this adventure with you and I'm so excited to see the projects we will continue to do in your community and also how you will inspire people globally by sharing your stories and your recipes. It's so impactful. You can see that in just a few days alone what's happened and the book's not out yet.

'What you have been able to do is a testament to what that means to people. I'm so proud of you.

'So on that note I know that some of you have started eating, as you should. I'd be the last one to want to let the food get cold so please enjoy your beautiful lunch and give another round of applause for the Hubb Community Kitchen. Thank you.'

Ms Ragland was the surprise guest at the lunchtime event on Perk's Field, outside the Palace.

Sitting in the front seat of a Land Rover Discovery with her daughter and son-in-law in the back, she stepped out the greeting waiting guests including Hubb coordinator Zahira Ghaswala, with the words: 'Hi, I'm Meg's mom.'

Baroness Gail Rebuck, chair of publisher Penguin Random House, told Ms Ragland she must feel 'very proud' of the Duchess and her work on the cookbook. 'Head over heels,' she replied.

The Duchess embraced her friends at the kitchen warmly with three kisses, visibly excited at the success of the book this week and the day of the launch.

The trio, who at one point stood with their arms around one another in a line, made their way around four food stations, with the Duchess getting stuck in to help cook while her mother and husband watched on proudly.

At the first stop, Ahlam Saeid showed off an enormous bowl of green rice.

'Oh I love that,' said Ms Ragland. 'That was the first thing I asked about' [after learning of the cook book].

'Everyone's just hungry', said the duchess, laughing, as she added fresh mint and olive oil to the dish.

As they made their way through tables of salad, chapatis and kofta kebabs, Ms Ragland quizzed the cooks about the ingredients, listening carefully to the herbs and spices they described.

One of the cooks promised to set food aside for the Royal couple, with the duchess telling her: 'Oh thank you, I'll take that home and have it for dinner.'

She appeared to be an old hand in the kitchen, flipping chapatis confidently and turning koftas on the grill.

The duke was careful to follow several steps behind, making small talk with guests and watching proudly as his wife took centre stage.

After guests were seated to tuck in to enormous plates of food, their hosts took a moment to look around the kitchen, based in the field's club house for one day only, before the duchess made a short speech.

After lunch, the duke, duchess and Ms Ragland posed for a group photo with the women of the kitchen and their children before staying to chat.

The idea for the book came after Meghan was told the kitchen was only open two days a week because of a lack of funds
The idea for the book came after Meghan was told the kitchen was only open two days a week because of a lack of funds

The idea for the book came after Meghan was told the kitchen was only open two days a week because of a lack of funds

The duchess joined the women as they cooked the dishes and assisted with the preparations at Kensington Palace today
The duchess joined the women as they cooked the dishes and assisted with the preparations at Kensington Palace today

The duchess joined the women as they cooked the dishes and assisted with the preparations at Kensington Palace today

Guests included members of the local community, representatives from Ebury Press and the Royal Foundation
Guests included members of the local community, representatives from Ebury Press and the Royal Foundation

Guests included members of the local community, representatives from Ebury Press and the Royal Foundation

PrinceHarry beamed at his wife as she stood with her arm around a participant
PrinceHarry beamed at his wife as she stood with her arm around a participant

PrinceHarry beamed at his wife as she stood with her arm around a participant

The Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with  recipes from women affected by the fire
The Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with  recipes from women affected by the fire

The Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from women affected by the fire

Ms Ragland said: 'I'm so glad I can put the face with the recipes. I'm going to tell everyone, I met her (each of the cooks)! I'm going to make everything, I'm serious.'

Standing with a small group of Hubb kitchen cooks as she said goodbye, she also gave an insight into where Meghan's own beliefs have come from.

Guests enjoyed the home-made dishes including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis
Guests enjoyed the home-made dishes including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis

Guests enjoyed the home-made dishes including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis

'The power of women,' she said. 'We make things happen. We're curious, we say yes, we show up. I'm inspired.'

Meghan was reunited with the Grenfell community group who provided the dishes for Together, the fundraising publication aimed at supporting the local kitchen where the cooks meet in West London.

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 showcased their own personal recipes featured in the cookbook, many of which have been handed down through generations.

Guests enjoyed 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. 

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. 

Together is a fundraising publication backed by Meghan which is aimed at supporting the local kitchen where the cooks meet
Together is a fundraising publication backed by Meghan which is aimed at supporting the local kitchen where the cooks meet

Together is a fundraising publication backed by Meghan which is aimed at supporting the local kitchen where the cooks meet

Meghan talks to one of the cooks as she helps to prepare food at the launch of the book, with recipes from a group of women 
Meghan talks to one of the cooks as she helps to prepare food at the launch of the book, with recipes from a group of women 

Meghan talks to one of the cooks as she helps to prepare food at the launch of the book, with recipes from a group of women 

Harry watches on as the Duchess helps to prepare food at the launch of the cookbook in Kensington Palace
Harry watches on as the Duchess helps to prepare food at the launch of the cookbook in Kensington Palace

Harry watches on as the Duchess helps to prepare food at the launch of the cookbook in Kensington Palace

Meghan and her mother have not been seen in public together since the wedding and looked relaxed in each other's company
Meghan and her mother have not been seen in public together since the wedding and looked relaxed in each other's company

Meghan and her mother have not been seen in public together since the wedding and looked relaxed in each other's company

Meghan Markle and her mother Ms Ragland beamed as they got out of a car at Kensington Palace this afternoon
Meghan Markle and her mother Ms Ragland beamed as they got out of a car at Kensington Palace this afternoon

Meghan Markle and her mother Ms Ragland beamed as they got out of a car at Kensington Palace this afternoon

The prince stood with his proud mother-in-law at the event
The prince stood with his proud mother-in-law at the event

The prince stood with his proud mother-in-law at the event

Mom and daughter, reunited at last, looked thrilled to be back in each other's company
Mom and daughter, reunited at last, looked thrilled to be back in each other's company

Mom and daughter, reunited at last, looked thrilled to be back in each other's company

Dishes are handed out to those attending in the outdoor reception at the Palace, where Harry and Meghan were present
Dishes are handed out to those attending in the outdoor reception at the Palace, where Harry and Meghan were present

Dishes are handed out to those attending in the outdoor reception at the Palace, where Harry and Meghan were present

The tables are laid for Meghan's Kensington Palace reception for the new cookbook, for which she has written a foreward
The tables are laid for Meghan's Kensington Palace reception for the new cookbook, for which she has written a foreward

The tables are laid for Meghan's Kensington Palace reception for the new cookbook, for which she has written a foreward

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.

Meghan and her mother in public for the first time since the royal wedding

Meghan and her beloved mother Doria Ragland were together in public for the first time since the royal wedding today.

The 62-year-old yoga instructor and social worker from California was the sole member Meghan's family at her wedding to Harry at Windsor Castle in May this year. 

Meghan arrives with her mother Doria Ragland for her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on May 19
Meghan arrives with her mother Doria Ragland for her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on May 19

Meghan arrives with her mother Doria Ragland for her wedding to Prince Harry at Windsor Castle in Berkshire on May 19

She had tears in her eyes as her daughter was married to the sixth in line to the throne by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a sign of how she has been accepted by the Royal Family, Doria left St George's Chapel on the arm of Prince Charles, who gave Meghan away.

Doria's ex-husband Thomas, the Duchess of Sussex's father, had failed to walk her down the aisle after a heart attack and a paparazzi scandal that cast a shadow over the biggest day of his daughter's life.

Mr Markle, 73, married Ms Ragland in 1979 but they were divorced nine years later when Meghan was just six. 

They had no other children, but Hollywood lighting director Thomas Markle has two more from his previous marriage.

Meghan is understood to cut off contact with her father, who lives in Mexico, who has given a number of incendiary interviews about his youngest daughter and Harry.

In contrast Ms Ragland has not spoken about Meghan's relationship and is understood to be a regular visitor to Kensington Palace.

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. 

'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.

'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 revealed 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. 

Meghan cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London
Meghan cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London

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
Their partnership has resulted in the publications of Together: Our Community Cookbook, which features personal recipes

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
The Duchess of Sussex cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire

The Duchess of Sussex cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire

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.

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.'    

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. 

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.

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.

(From left) Hiwot Dagnachew, Aysha Bora, Halima Al-huthaifi, Ahlam Saeid and Munira Mahmud cooking in the kitchen
(From left) Hiwot Dagnachew, Aysha Bora, Halima Al-huthaifi, Ahlam Saeid and Munira Mahmud cooking in the kitchen

(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
Intlak Al Saiegh and Ahlam Saeid cook in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre

Intlak Al Saiegh and Ahlam Saeid cook in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre

Halima Al-huthaifi and Ahlam Saeid enjoy the food in the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London
Halima Al-huthaifi and Ahlam Saeid enjoy the food in the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London

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 hugs a girl at the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire

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
Halima Al-huthaifi and Zahira Ghaswala
Munira Mahmud
Munira Mahmud

Halima Al-huthaifi and Zahira Ghaswala (left) and Munira Mahmud (right) in the community kitchen in West London

'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
Food on the table in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in West London

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
Meghan has written the foreword to the new book produced by cooks from the Hubb Community Kitchen

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
The Grenfell disaster in North Kensington, West London, took place on June 14 last year and claimed the lives of 72 people

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
All proceeds for 'Together: Our Community Cookbook' will go back to the Hubb and the book will be available this wee

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.

 

Serves 4 

  • 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

When I was growing up I hated cooking. 

My family is from India and preparing big meals for the extended family was part of our culture, but I used to beg for any job other than cooking. T

hen I got married and moved to Africa and suddenly everything changed – I began calling my mother and asking her for recipes. 

She told me: 'Cooking for someone you love is what makes you a good cook.' 

This curry is a particular favourite of my family in Tanzania. 

 

Serves 4 

  • 1 large chicken, jointed into 8 pieces, excess skin trimmed away
  • 1 large ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 15g fresh root ginger, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 serrano chillies, stems removed and de-seeded (use fewer if you prefer milder curries)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled and halved
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 10g fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
  • rice, chapatis or flatbreads, to serve

Score each piece of the chicken in two or three places, slicing about 1cm into the meat.

Put the tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, chillies, cumin, coriander, turmeric and some salt and pepper into a food processor and blend to a rough paste. 

Rub one third of the paste all ove

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