I think of cumin and coriander as ying and yang, two different but intertwined spices. The one brings out the best in the other. This is what makes the North African chermoula so very irresistible. Here, the addition of fresh herbs ensures that this spicy, zesty sauce raises the humble potato to new heights. More to the point, I thought of this potato dish as a North African cousin to the Spanish patatas bravas.
In 1492, when King Boabdil of Granada, the last of the Nasrid rulers, was ousted by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he fled south, stopping briefly in the Valle de Lecrín, before fleeing to Fez. Fed by the waters from the Sierra Nevada that dominate the skyline, the Lecrín Valley is rich in citrus, olive and almond groves. This tapenade combines all three flavours in equal balance, and so I think of it as a homage to this truly beautiful part of the world.
I first tried okonomiyaki in a small cafe in Brixton Village called Okan. Nestled alongside a Brazilian cafe and opposite an Italian cafe, it’s possible to sample the street food of Osaka. We were instantly taken with the dish and set about trying to recreate it. But it was Atsuko, a brilliant Japanese chef based in Shoreditch, who really showed us the tricks of the trade and this recipe is very much inspired by her cooking.
Okonomiyaki is a versatile dish – quite literally, it means “grilled as you like it”. So in this recipe, we simply used some leftovers we had as toppings, but you should feel free to vary this according to what you have to hand.