When it comes to express cooking, quick and exciting aren’t always synonymous but John Gregory-Smith’s new book, Mighty Spice Express, aims to change that. Inspired by the best street food from around the world and by his extensive travels to (deep breath!) Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, India and South America, Mighty Spice Express is full of delicious, exotic recipes that Gregory-Smith believes can easily and quickly be replicated in a kitchen back home. With most of the recipes in the book taking between 15 and 30 minutes to make and the longest a total of 45 minutes, it’s certainly appealing to the time-poor and gastronomically inquisitive.
But this is more than just a few gap year musings; a food writer,author and presenter, John Gregory-Smith has a extraordinary knowledge of spices and street food. Having started his career by launching a supermarket spice brand, Gregory-Smith has also written widely on his love of exotic foods made simple. He published his first book, Mighty Spice Cookbook, in 2011 to excellent reviews, and has recently launched an online food and travel magazine, Mighty Spice Kitchen. Throughout his jaunts in the Middle East, India and beyond, Gregory-Smith has clearly never met a spice he didn’t like and the anecdotes included within Mighty Spice Express as just as tantalising as the recipes.
For those who prefer to travel by way of a saucepan rather than a suitcase, John provides serious foodie insight into many different culinary styles. From Moroccan eats which include the Blue Gate Fez Sandwich (a juicy chicken roll packed with herbs and spices), as well as the delicious Essaouira Monkfish Tagine to Indian street food, based on John’s trips to Mumbai and Goa. We particularly loved the idea of Rana’s Keema Shepherd’s Pie, a spiced up version of the British staple that’s perfect for brightening up gloomy winter nights and the irresistible Goan Explosion Truffles, flavoured with cardamom and chilli and rolled in pistachios, which provide a sweet treat with a kick.
Sharing many recipes from Thailand and Laos, John also sheds light on the lesser-known cuisine of the Far East, including dishes inspired by jaunts to Korea and North-East China. The recipe for Korean Braised Chicken with Rice Noodles is simple but very satisifying and includes the intriguing tip that ‘all Korean food should have a balance of five colours- black, white, yellow, green and red.’
Easy to use, the book is neatly divided into six separate sections- Mighty Bites, Not Quite Lunch, Midweek Lifesavers, Nice & Easy, Something Spectacular and Naughty but Nice. The Midweek Lifesavers are a standout, dishes like the Cambodian Seafood Amok, an aromatic coconut curry, would work just as well for an extravagant dinner party as they would for a cosy night in. Reassuringly, there is also a recipe to suit every level of cook, from a zingy version of scrambled eggs to scene stealing dishes like Phuket Snapper with Hoisin Noodles and Herb Salad. Its clear that whatever your culinary ability, time frame and taste, John Gregory-Smith is determined to spice up your life.
John Gregory-Smith’s Mighty Spice Express is available to buy online here.