29 July 2021


Aaron Cezar: Welcome to our mid-summer delivery of Family Lunch!

Our summer season at Delfina Foundation is in full swing, with our new residents from Hong Kong, Jordan, Peru, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan now settled in. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Delfina Foundation remains committed to building a global community, bringing together practitioners from different parts of the world to explore common ideas. Through public programming we share our residents’ work and ideas-in-process, but it is not always possible to formally capture their experience of being in-residence. It is the informal and behind-the-scenes activities that often happen around the kitchen, which define their time in London and the life-long friendships that are made along with the way.

Our video presentation this month comes from Kenya, from Syowia Kyambi who speaks about her own experiences in-residence at Delfina in 2016 and how they inspired her own initiative Untethered Magic in Nairobi. We get an insight into her latest work and interventions, which also touch upon some of the themes of our recent Collecting as Practice programme.

For our recipe this month, we once again invited Irem Aksu – who has become a bit of an ‘associate chef’ at Delfina – to contribute a dish. Her recipe for a Spicy Aubergine and Tomato Orzo is one that responds to summer in all its abundance, reminding us of its seasonal treats and taste – and to savour such precious moments.

Part 2 | The Food

Spicy Tomato and Aubergine Orzo

Irem Aksu, one of our associate chefs, shares a simple orzo recipe which showcases tomatoes – given we are in the season when they are at their best – with spices adding depth and tang to the dish.

Orzo is a short-cut pasta shaped like a grain of rice. In Italy, Greece and Turkey it is commonly used in soups, stews and salads. These tiny pasta shapes can be cooked in several ways, but in this recipe they are cooked just like many other types of pasta, in a little spicy summery sauce. To be honest I did not choose this sauce myself, the gorgeous summer tomatoes and aubergines on my kitchen counter called for it themselves. At this time of the year tomatoes are at their best and the spices in the dish add a depth and tang.

Serves 2

100g orzo pasta
500g tomatoes – pink ones are best, but cherry tomatoes will also be fine – roughly chopped
90ml good olive oil (6-7tbsp), plus extra for drizzling
2 medium aubergines – cut into chunky cubes (about 2cm thick)
1 medium onion – diced
2 garlic cloves – diced
A few stalks of fresh thyme
A squeeze of a lemon
1tsp coriander seeds
1tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp hot chilli flakes
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
A handful of fresh parsley, coriander, dill – finely chopped
Goats cheese (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Lay out the aubergine cubes on a large oven tray lined with baking paper. Brush with two to three tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with salt, a good grind of black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon. Toss well, then roast for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. Leave to cool.

Put the rest of the olive oil in a large saute pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and temper for a minute. Add the onions and cook for about 6-7 minutes until golden brown. Next add the garlic, fresh thyme, bay leaf, chilli flakes, paprika and cook for two more minutes, then add in the roughly chopped tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and turn down the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, just stirring once in a while. When it reaches a soupy sauce consistency add the roasted aubergines and stir gently.

While the sauce is cooking bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add your orzo, cooking for 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of your orzo).

Drain the pasta and then add to the saucepan. Cook together for another minute.

To serve, add a drizzle of olive oil, chopped herbs and smooth goats cheese (or curd) or a nice big chunk of labneh on top.

Note: If your tomatoes are not particularly juicy, reserve some of the orzo cooking water and add a splash of it to make the sauce more liquid. 

Part 3 | The presentation

Syowia Kyambi – Artist-in-residence, spring 2016

Presenting from Untethered Magic, the collective she helped found in Nairobi, Syowia discusses the space and her recent works involving Kaspale, a character she devised as a tool to intervene in colonial spaces and to speak about difficult subjects.

Video shot by Kibe Wangunyu, Untethered Magic. Edited and produced by Kibe Wangunyu and Syowia Kyambi.

Related Content

Performance as Process: Syowia Kyambi

Navigating questions of communal identity, the state, self-censorship


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Our tradition of Family Lunch continues, but now freshly delivered to your digital device

Family Lunch