Masterchef fans may well remember Dhruv Baker, the winner of the 2010 series. His deft use of spice and astounding palate were often commented on by judges John Torode and Greg Wallace. Baker has now put that experience and his love of flavour between the covers of his first cook book, Spice.
Split into practical sections, based around ingredients, Baker demystifies spices, saying that spice is about flavour, not heat. This book shows you how to get the best flavour from ingredients that are easily available from the supermarket and many of which may already be in your kitchen cupboard.
It would be a mistake to think of this as just another Asian cook book. Influenced by his multicultural background with an English father, Indian mother and having lived in Mexico, India, Tanzania as well as Great Britain, the dishes span as many continents. Slow Roast Pork Belly With Fennel And Coriander, Aubergine Crisps With Truffle Honey, Braised Duck With Star Anise And Galangal and my favourite, partly because it is fairly simple, but mainly because it packs a punch of flavour – Mushroom Pilau. A side dish or a main, full of fragrance from the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, rich in texture from the earthy flavoured mushrooms and a sweet crisp crunch from the fried onions. This has quickly become a Glam favourite. With over a hundred recipes, there’s still many more to explore.
Unlocking The Spice Cupboard at the back of the book is an alphabetical list of spices with clever descriptions of flavour and uses, from Ajwain Seeds to Vanilla Pods. It includes the different ways that spices can be used beyond the obvious: making flavoured oils, dry roasting, marinades, rubs and flavoured butters.
The section on Drinks is a innovative addition and again steers away from the mundane, with recipes for a Cardamom Martini and Pear And Prosecco Spritz.
This book is an all rounder with great dishes, it instills a confidence with spices in the cook and has some new and out of the ordinary dishes to experiment with and Baker wants his readers to do just that. “Once you have tasted some of the recipes…you might want to add more or less spice, or add or take away ingredients…..however you use them, I hope that you will make them your own.”
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