Chef Josh Katz has seven or eight barbecues at home, he works with fire day in, day out at his London restaurants, but he’s adamant he’s no “pit master with 20 years’ experience”.

And his food? Sure, it’s cooked on grills over glowing coals, but “we didn’t want this to feel like ‘dude food’”, he adds.

Katz runs Berber & Q, a duo of restaurants in London – one a grill house, the other a shawarma bar – but now, thanks to his debut cookbook called Berber & Q, you don’t need to live solely in the capital to enjoy his lamb chops doused in anchovy butter, or blackened corn on the cob with harissa aioli. You can simply get the grill on at home and experiment.

While meat – huge, thickly spiced slabs of it – are on the menu, true to Katz’s non-dude food claims, the book isn’t an ode to your typical, macho steak barbecue.

“This is barbecue food with a lighter touch,” says Katz, who is keen to get people to step away from standard sausages and burgers. In fact, the London-born restaurateur, who trained with Yotam Ottolenghi, is all about “pushing vegetables”.

“They’re not a side dish,” says Katz. “I naturally and instinctively cook vegetables. I’d like to do a vegetarian restaurant because vegetables can be amazing – a barbecue just elevates them to a whole other level.”


Take what is arguably one of his signature dishes, a whole cauliflower charred until crispy and golden on the barbecue, brushed with shawarma-spiced butter and drizzled with nutty tahini, hot chilli, jewel-like pomegranate seeds, toasted pine nuts and rose petals. Who even needs a side of chicken wings after that?!

“It’s rustic, it’s punchy, it’s bright and colourful,” says Katz of his style and flavours, and adds: “We’re not making overly complicated food.”

And this is one of his most crucial points; that putting stuff on a barbie shouldn’t be tricky or intimidating, and it shouldn’t be an activity we only get round to once or twice a year when the sun decides to cooperate.

“I’ve always wanted to get people up, out and cooking outdoors and on fire,” says Katz. “If you can get into the habit of barbecuing and cooking things over fire and practising, it’s an enjoyable way to cook, and makes food taste a lot better.”

It’s just a matter of practice and keeping a cool head in the face of flames. “I’ve seen people lose all rational common sense when you put them in a kitchen. They just panic. And controlling fire is just an added complexity,” says Katz. “It’s multitasking within a multitasking environment. Fire is intrinsically quite dangerous.”

But if you’re not put off by potentially setting your house on fire, cooking outdoors has a kind of charm your oven just can’t emulate.

“A lot of what we do in adult life is about trying to get back to being a kid, when we were young and free and having fun,” says Katz, who spent his summers in Canada as a child, visiting his godparents. “We would cook outdoors every night – that smell of cooking on wood and making marshmallows, grilling our own steak at 13 years old, that was a special time for me,” he says. “The moment I smell burning wood, that’s what I remember.



Ingredients: (Serves 4-8)

1 whole cauliflower

For the shawarma spiced butter:

40g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Juice of 1 lemon

1 garlic clove, minced

1½ tbsp finely chopped coriander

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp ground sumac

1½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground allspice

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch of ground cardamom

Salt and pepper

To serve:

4 tbsp Tahina Sauce (Pour 100g tahini paste into a bowl and add 1tbsp lemon juice and 1 minced garlic clove, gradually whisk in100ml iced water until the sauce is the consistency of honey - makes 220g)

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1½ tbsp pine nuts, toasted

1 small green chilli, finely chopped

2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

1 tsp dried rose petals

1 tbsp roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Extra virgin olive oil (optional)


1 Make the butter. Combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and mix using the paddle attachment. In the absence of a mixer, whisk in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated. The butter should be aerated, slightly stiff and one colour (as opposed to streaked). Set aside until needed. It can be kept in the fridge for several weeks, but must be brought to room temperature before being used.

2 Trim some of the outer cauliflower leaves, but leave some stragglers left behind – they taste delicious and look great when burnt and crisped. Set a large saucepan of salted water on high heat and cover with a lid so as to bring the water up to the boil. Once the water is boiling, gently lower the cauliflower into the pan, being careful not to let it drop from a height and thereby avoiding the potential of burning yourself with the splash-back of boiling water. Bring the water back to the boil, then turn the heat down to medium so the water has a gentle roll. The intention is to par-cook the cauliflower before finishing it in the oven or on the barbecue. It should be removed from the water when tender to a knife, yet retain some resistance – “al dente”, as they say. We’ve found it to take seven minutes from when the water comes back to the boil.

3 Set the cauliflower on a cooling rack over a roasting tray and allow to drip-dry. Brush liberally all over with the spiced butter, and where possible, try and get beneath the floret canopy to reach the inner sections. Retain some of the butter for brushing at a later stage. Season generously with salt and pepper.

4 Preheat the oven to its highest setting (240°C/220°C Fan/Gas mark 9) and blast the cauliflower for five to seven minutes, until blackened all over. (You want it to lightly char, not to form an acrid burnt crust.) Once sufficiently oven-roasted, transfer it to finish on the barbecue for a few minutes (if you have one going) for a final hit of smokiness, basting it periodically with any leftover butter.

5 Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon over the tahina sauce and pomegranate molasses, and finish by sprinkling over the pine nuts, green chilli, pomegranate seeds, rose petals and parsley. A drizzle of olive oil adds a nice glossy finish. Serve immediately - the cauliflower tastes so much better when hot.


INGREDIENTS (serves 2-4)

100ml buttermilk

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp garlic or olive oil

1 tbsp hot red pepper paste (biber salcasi)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp coarse ground black pepper

½ onion, sliced

8 chicken thighs, deboned, skinned and quartered

2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks

2 red peppers, deseeded and cut into chunks

1 red onion, peeled and quartered

4 thin metal skewers, approximately 40-45cm long

To garnish and serve:

Pitas or flatbread 2 tbsp garlic or olive oil, plus extra to brush

1 tbsp thinly sliced spring onion

1 tbsp picked oregano leaves

12 confit garlic cloves

1 tbsp Quick-preserved Lemon Pickle (zest of 3 lemons sliced into thin strips, cooked in the juice of the 3 lemons for 12-15 minutes until tender, then cooled – makes 30g)

Garlic sauce Middle Eastern slaw (or standard coleslaw)


1 Make the buttermilk chicken shish. Put the buttermilk, spices, garlic, garlic oil, hot red pepper paste, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and onion in a bowl and stir together to combine.

2 Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and massage the mixture into the chicken to ensure it’s evenly distributed and well coated. Cover the bowl and leave in the fridge for four to six hours or preferably overnight.

3 Skewer the chicken pieces intermittently with the red and green pepper and the red onion. Set a barbecue up for single-zone, direct grilling (this basically means you place your meat on the rack directly above a large bed of burning coals; open the bottom vents if your barbecue has them) – ensuring that you are cooking on medium-hot embers. Grill the skewers directly over the burning coals, turning frequently to ensure both sides are well coloured and the chicken is cooked all the way through when checked with a knife (or to an internal temperature of 70°C or above when probed with a thermometer).

4 Brush the pitas or flatbreads with a little olive oil mixed with a few drops of water, and warm through briefly on the grill. They can be placed directly on top of the skewers if there isn’t sufficient room in the barbecue.

5 Remove the pitas and transfer to a serving platter. Place the skewered chicken thighs atop, brushed with olive oil. Scatter the spring onion and oregano leaves liberally over the skewers, along with the confit garlic cloves and lemon pickle. This kebab is great served with garlic sauce, coleslaw and pickles of choice.



8 giant black tiger prawns, or any large prawns you can find, the bigger the better

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced or grated

1tbsp chopped dill

1tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

For the pil-pil sauce:

100ml olive oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ tsp salt 1tsp cumin seeds, lightly toasted

1tsp ground coriander

Pinch of cayenne

8-10 cherry tomatoes, quartered and deseeded

3tbsp Confit Chilli Salsa (see below)

For the Confit Chilli Salsa: (makes 150g)

12 red chillis, stems trimmed and discarded

4 sprigs of thyme

5 large garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

Olive oil, to cover

To serve:

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 basil leaves, finely sliced

2 slices of sourdough or ciabatta, lightly grilled on both sides (optional)


1 Make the Confit Chilli Salsa. Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas mark 2. Place the chillies in a deep baking dish, along with the herbs, garlic and bay leaves and add oil to cover. Tightly cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chillies have softened but not dried out. Remove and allow to cool. Then remove the chillies and chop finely, store in a kilner jar in oil for up to a week in the fridge.

2 De-shell the prawns, leaving the heads and tails on for aesthetic appeal. Use a small knife to create a slit and cut out the vein that runs down the back of each prawn. Season the prawns with salt and pepper, toss them in olive oil, garlic, dill and chilli flakes, and put in the refrigerator to marinate for two to four hours.

3 Make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based (preferably cast-iron) frying pan and gently saute the garlic for two to three minutes, until softened and translucent but not coloured. Remove the garlic from the oil with a slotted spoon (take out all of it, don’t leave any stragglers behind) and transfer to a mortar and pestle, leaving the cooking oil in the pan. Add the salt, cumin seeds, ground coriander and cayenne to the garlic and work the mix until it forms a paste.

4 Return the pan and oil to the stovetop and warm over medium heat. Add the confit chilli salsa, cherry tomatoes and garlic mix, and cook for few minutes to heat through. Turn the heat down as low as it can go and let the sauce gently bubble away and intensify in flavour while you finish the prawns.

5 Set a barbecue up for direct grilling ensuring that you are cooking on hot embers. Set the prawns on the grill rack directly over the burning coals, turning once or twice to colour both sides well, until the prawns are cooked all the way through, about two to three minutes on each side depending on the strength of your fire. Alternatively, heat a cast-iron pan over high heat until smoking hot and grill the prawns until done.

6 While the prawns are grilling, have the pan with the pil-pil sauce set on the outer edges of the barbecue or grill to warm through.

7 Once cooked, transfer the prawns to the pan of pil-pil sauce and finish with the lemon juice. Garnish with the basil leaves. Serve immediately. Some lightly grilled bread of any sort will be needed to mop up the pan juices.

Berber & Q by Josh Katz, photography by James Murphy, is published by Ebury Press, priced £25. Available now