I’ll try anything once. It’s an attitude that has served me well over the years. This is especially true when it comes to trying new foods – though it only extends so far. If you give me mushrooms, we’re liable to fall out. But, as someone raised on my mother’s very basic home cooking, the chance to broaden my culinary horizons is one I will always take.

It’s with this in mind that I’ve signed up for the Home Supper Club. Given how limited and boring my diet has become during lockdown, the opportunity to try dishes from all over the world is one I could not afford to miss. This week, I was privileged to enjoy a dish called tepsi baytinijan from Iraq. It’s a casserole, in which slices of aubergine and potato are fried, layered in a dish with meatballs, tomato slices, garlic, and a dash of cumin and coriander, covered in a mix of tomato paste and water, and baked. Simple enough, but absolutely delicious. The portions received were large enough to make leftovers, which I am delighted to inform you were just as delicious when reheated the next day as they were fresh from the oven.

It’s here I should make a confession: I have no sense of smell. Or rather, I have one but it’s so weak as to be functionally non-existent. This means that subtler flavours are completely lost on me, and that the texture of the food I’m eating becomes much more important than it might be to someone else. None of that mattered with this dish. The vegetable and meat juices merged with the spices exquisitely. Still a subtler flavour than something I might make for myself, but strong enough that I could still enjoy it. The veg and meatballs themselves melted beautifully in my mouth – even the vegan meatballs did. As someone who has never yet managed to enjoy an aubergine, this was a revelation. The same goes for the slices of tomato: as a child, eating a piece of tomato used to make me wince. So it was with some caution that I approached the large slices of tomato in the casserole. I needn’t have worried. They went down just as easily as everything else. 

The Arab Rice it came with was equally delicious, if in need of a touch of salt (I am something of a salt fiend). Lightly toasted vermicelli pasta and basmati rice are then boiled in a mix of vegetable stock and water. Delicious. Even the side salad was lovely: the few side salads I’ve had in my life have either been disappointing pub affairs, or morose add-ons to a takeaway, both of which I have consistently ignored. Not so this time. Whatever the garnish or salad dressing was on this salad, it was incredible. I’ve never wolfed down greens so quickly. This all came with Khobez Flatbreads that were perfect additions. 

Did I have room for dessert? Just about – and I’m glad I did. This week it was kleicha: a pastry roll filled with a paste made of dates and cardamom. Subtly spiced, with nigella seeds dotted through the pastry itself, the roll was delicious. I can actually feel my mouth watering as I write about it! 

The inclusion of recipe cards with the takeaway pack is a great idea, as I will definitely be re-making tepsi baytinijan in the future. I’m sure I won’t do it as well as the chefs at The Plate, but that’s just a testament to their skill at their craft. Bring on the next dish!

Written By Nick Dunn