Anna Jones x Diaspo: Takeover

This week, we had the absolute privilege to take over Anna Jones' newsletter. Every month, Anna hands over her newsletter to a voice in food she thinks needs shouting about, and we're honoured she picked us!

Anna Jones is an incredible cook and author: you may have read her Guardian column, seen her on Saturday Kitchen, or cooked from her award-winning cookbooks like The Modern Cook’s Year.

Have a read of the takeover below - it includes Anna's kind words about us, our story plus a list of food, drink, and community initiatives to check out:

Takeover No2: Harish Malhi from Diaspo

It is a great joy to have Harish take over the newsletter this month. Harish is the founder of the cookery school platform Diaspo, and it's the most genius idea. Diaspo taps into the wealth of knowledge, culture and experience of cooks who have been making recipes from their countries and traditions for years and years.

When so much of this food heritage has been lost, it is so precious that Diaspo has found a way to pass on generational skills and recipes. Sharing and spreading the joy of food, culture and experience, handing down recipes and techniques.

I know this is how I like to learn to cook - from the people who have these recipes in their DNA and who cook them with as much class and muscle memory as a ballerina.

Diaspo: a new way to learn about new dishes

I’m Harish Malhi, the founder of Diaspo - an online platform where you can learn heritage recipes from home cooks with decades of experience, live. I’m British Indian, and food is the one thing that really connects me to my heritage. I learnt so much about my heritage from my parents and grandparents and it’s all come via food, whether it was cooking or eating together. I realised how powerful food was in connecting cultures and generations. But for some reason, all that experience, knowledge and skills from the older generation just wasn’t being passed down. Those recipes, and the stories that came with it, were just too good to lose. That’s why Diaspo was created. Each class is led by skilled home cooks, with more than 30 years experience of making their traditional, generational recipes. You can cook along live, learning their steps, stories and secrets plus you can stop them with any questions. TimeOut called us ‘cyberspace culinary specialists’. We have cooks from Martinique, India, Morocco, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Libya, Italy, Mexico and more...We’ve helped them preserve their recipes, teach and share their tips, tricks and techniques, those you can’t get in a cookbook. We’ve got incredible vegetarian classes coming up plus gift cards to make your loved ones love you a little more.


Meet five of our brilliant teachers:

Karim - Born and raised in Libya, then move to Italy. His words of wisdom: “If you don’t cook with passion, then don’t cook. I shut the door, put my music on full, grab a glass of wine and cook”

Christiane - Born and raised in Martinique, teaching Creole food. She says: “When I’m cooking, the smell brings me back to the Caribbean, the images and sounds of steel drums, zouk music, festival dancing and home.”

Sunita - Born in Punjab, Northern India, teaching her family famous home-cooked Punjabi recipes that she’s been making for over 40 years that she learnt from her father and uncles.

Lilian - Made it her mission to preserve Bukharian cuisine, and every time she makes a Bukharian dish, she wants those childhood memories, smells, and tastes.

Loretta - Born and raised in Penang, Malaysia, Loretta wants to preserve Nonya recipes, the combination of Chinese and Malaysian ingredients.

Things I love (in time for the festive season):

  • Chai & Spice: hand-made fusion barfi (Indian fudge), you’ve got to try the black sesame

  • Saft: the nicest craft cordial that tastes of real fruit, not sugar

  • Ffern: organic, seasonal, artisan perfume


Initiatives/communities to look up:

  • Untangle: community support network: making it easier to rebuild life after loss

  • Kwanda: A modern collection pot for black communities

  • Mobilise: community support network for carers

  • Beam: a brilliant crowdfunding platform to support homeless people through training and into stable, paid work

  • onHand: volunteering made simple


5 Songs to check out: I asked our teachers their favourite songs to listen to when cooking (there's a playlist of them all together here.) Aicha: Marsoul al Hob "My parents used to love this song. In their time, it was sung by the original singer. Marsoul al Hob means the love courier (Cupid) and it is loved by every Moroccan young or old. This is the modern version, it is amazing and gets you to dance.” Laura: Nunca Es Suffciente "Too many to choose but I picked Nunca Es Suffciente because it's fiesta music! Mexicans take the fiesta everywhere they go" Amrita: Abhi Na Jao Chhod Kar by Rafi from Hum Dono "I've loved this since I was a kid. I think it's the BEST song, it's a huge family favourite amongst all my cousins, all of my generation. Anyone who grew up in India will recognise it immediately. Very often I play it when I'm cooking. The composition and the way he sung it is so beautiful. There is lots of singing training, classical and non-classical, going on in India at the moment, lots of singing competitions, but very few people will attempt this song. They almost always fall flat on their faces, you just can't sing this, it's such a gorgeous composition. Just the way he sung it...perfection" Karim: From the Italian side: Anche per te - Lucio Battisti. From the Libyan side: ناصر المزداوي : عني و لا عن حالي - "I'm also a radio DJ so if I'm not cooking, I'm playing music. These songs make me cook with passion." Christiane: Zouk-la by Kassav "I grew up listening to this song from one of the most famous bands in my island, Martinique"

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