Our student Jay Bharj contributed personal recipes to a charity cookbook launched last month with the support of Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex.

The book, Together: Our Community Cookbook, celebrates the power of cooking and sharing food to bring communities together.

Jay, seen fifth from left in the photo above, is a PhD student at St George’s and, as a Resident Adviser at Horton Halls, also helps new students settle in to their accommodation.

A Londoner herself, Jay was introduced to some of the residents of Grenfell Tower several years ago by a friend who lived nearby and became close to several families who lived there.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, many residents were rehoused in temporary accommodation including hotels and bedsits, where they didn't have facilities to cook. A local mosque, the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, opened its kitchen to the community so that a group of women could prepare fresh food for their families, friends and neighbours, together with the women who worked at Al Manaar. As they cooked together and shared recipes, word spread and more women joined in. Jay started going along to help out.

In the book, Jay explained: “I was born and raised in west London but am ethnically Indian. When I was growing up, cooking was one of the ways I bonded with my mother. [The kitchen] gives ladies a place to relax, make some home-cooked food and have a good girly catch up. “

The group began to call themselves the Hubb Community Kitchen – ‘hubb’ meaning ‘love’ in Arabic.

The Duchess of Sussex first visited the kitchen in 2018 and has continued to make regular private visits. The Duchess has championed the cookbook project as a way of ensuring the kitchen can continue transforming lives and communities through cooking.

All proceeds from Together: Our Community Cookbook will support the kitchen. The book features over 50 personal recipes from women from across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. The foreword was written by the Duchess.

Jay contributed two recipes of her own which are featured in the book; Jeera Chicken, and Toffee Apple Crumble. She said of the chicken recipe: “This is one of [my mother’s] favourites. Cooked in plenty of yoghurt with aromatic cumin, the curry is quick and easy to prepare and makes a delicious supper for all the family." And of Toffee Apple Crumble: “I’m not much of a one for making desserts, but I do enjoy them. This is a random concoction that I made up – it’s quick and easy…I like that!"

Click here to watch the video about the book and here for a link to various booksellers.