Eating Better

Watch back: Simple ways to cook good food webinar

By Negat Hussain

Negat Hussain

Earlier this month Negat Hussain, community cook and Refugee Women of Bristol outreach worker, hosted a #BristolFoodKind webinar giving practical tips about cooking from scratch. Try her recipe for Alicha, an Eritrean vegetable recipe for all the family, and watch the recording of her cookery demo.

I was excited, if not a little nervous to be hosting the #BristolFoodKind: Simple Ways to Cook Good Food webinar as part of the Bristol Refugee Festival. I’ve done lots of workshops and demos before, through my work with Refugee Women of Bristol and 91 Ways, but I’ve never done cooking online in this way. But, as with any kind of cooking, being prepared got me through it! Having said that you need to be prepared, you really don’t need to follow a recipe 100%. Remember, it’s your own food, you’re the one who’s going to be eating it.

Cooking from scratch can seem to come naturally to some people, but often that’s just because they’ve started early. Growing up, I was always invited to take part in the kitchen with my six siblings. Peeling, making bread. The kitchen was the main focus. Although I have to admit I wasn’t a decent cook until I actually started in my own kitchen! Now, I always let my kids in with me and that’s the time we have a good chat and make it fun. There’s nothing wrong with saying “I can’t cook. I don’t know what I’m doing”. The more you do it, the more you build your confidence. Just cook what you like and please, please don’t be scared.

Start with something small that you’ve wanted to do for a long time but never had the chance to. Making an omelette, making pasta. There are so many people you can follow on social media for inspiration – and don’t worry about judgement! Continue, even if you go wrong. Skills come with building confidence. You’re the boss of your own kitchen – that’s what I always say.

So, despite the nerves on the day, once the webinar was finished, I felt so good with myself for doing something challenging and new. That feeling afterwards was great. And that’s why when you cook from scratch, you get that feeling of the success, of providing something for yourself.

Cooking from scratch saves money, you know what’s going into your food and it can be something you can really enjoy.

Here’s the recipe I cooked (it’s an Eritrean dish called Alicha) and I hope you enioy it!


Alicha is one of the most common vegetable dishes made in Eritrea. It can be made with meat as well, but I prefer to do it without. Serve on injera (fermented teff flour flatbread).

Serves 4

¼ cup vegetable oil (yes, it’s a lot, but the veggies will stick!)
1 onion, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped in circles
2 potatoes, chopped in 1 inch pieces
½ lb green beans, trimmed and chopped into around 1-2 inch lengths
½ tablespoon freshly ground coriander seeds
½ tablespoon freshly ground cumin seeds
1 jalapeño, minced (or other hot green chilli pepper)
1 tablespoon turmeric (powder, or slightly more if grated fresh) (you can also use sweet curry powder)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp fresh grated ginger 
½ cup parsley or coriander, chopped
1.5 tsp salt (or to taste)

Heat the oil in a large pan enough to accommodate all the ingredients (plus water). Fry the onion until soft and golden. Add celery, carrots, and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the green beans and stir to mix. Add the spices, chilli pepper, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Add salt, to taste, and mix thoroughly.

Add three to cups of water and cook at a low boil for around 25 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are soft and the liquid reduces to a thick sauce. Add the herbs.

This is traditionally served with injera bread, but in the webinar we served it with rice. This would make a great side dish or vegetable main for many meals.

Watch Negat’s webinar and the other #BristolFoodKind webinars and read the write-up to the first webinar of the series with Going for Gold Public Engagement Coordinator, Florence Pardoe, ‘Who Owns Our Food?’.

The next #BristolFoodKind webinar will take place at 12:30 on Wednesday 1st July and is all about making the most of the food you have in the house with handy storage tips, clever recipes and loads of other tips to save from having to throw anything away!

Visit Bristol Food Network for more information and resources on Bristol’s Good Food response to the pandemic. There are also more resources relating to cooking on the Bristol Food Network website.

#BristolFoodKind is a collaboration between Bristol Green Capital PartnershipBristol Food NetworkBristol City Council and Resource Futures. See our #BristolFoodKind food waste highlightsgrow your own highlights and support local food highlights.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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