Temperatures aside, ’tis officially summer time, and with these longer, brighter, and ever-increasingly warmer days, comes a craving for something a little lighter; preferably eaten alfresco, avec a glass of something crisp and cool. Saffron Soul, the debut cookbook by Mira Manek, is perfectly aligned to this, with almost 200 pages dedicated to healthy Indian food. The aromatic ingredients and vibrant palette inherent to the cuisine are there, but her approach feels very modern and fresh.

British-born of Gujarati heritage, Mira promotes healthy Indian cooking through supper clubs, classes, collaborations with restaurants such as Holborn Dining Rooms, and combined with yoga at wellness events. Her book is an extension of this. Mira’s recipes in Saffron Soul, brought to life with a generous smattering of glossy imagery and little stories, are inspired by her mother and grandmother’s traditional Gujarati cooking and the basic principles of Indian cuisine, with twists on those family recipes as well as her own modern interpretations.

She draws attention to the healthy ingredients that are used in day to day Indian cooking – lots of vegetables, grains and pulses, and of course spices – in a bid to challenge the common misconception that Indian cooking is a rich, unhealthy guilty pleasure for Friday nights, packed with cream, oil, sugar and colourings. It’s a misconception hat Mira held herself as a teenager ‘obsessed with losing weight and becoming skinny’. The book goes in to detail about the turning point in her rediscovering the food of her childhood, and the journey that took her to where she is today.

The recipe book is split into eight sections, kicking off with My Favourite Ingredients, touching on the ones used in the book, and their uses and health benefits – for example, cumin and fennel seeds to aid digestion; jaggery (an unrefined sugar) for joint pain; ghee for the immune system, protein and fibre-rich millet flour, and so on, as well as combinations for pastes and garnishes, such as maple chillied seeds, which I plan to make in bulk and use as a salad topper. Mira’s chutney repertoire is also inspiring, with the usual mango or lime replaced with various takes using avocado, tamarind, dates or coriander.

The Soulful Morning section includes a daily tonic, Mira attributes to her grandfather reaching the grand old age of 91, and there’s a saffron porridge I just know will be one of those chilly morning go-tos. You’ll find nods to Ayurveda, classics with a twist to lighten them up, or ways turn an everyday ingredient such as cauliflower or tin of kidney beans into a nourishing meal. Anytime Favourites is an inspiring chapter of unusual recipes, from a twist on traditional Gujarah vegetable cake to charred masala corn cobs.

You may have noticed the omission of meat – something I’d forgotten while I was poring over the book and is testament to how enticing the recipes sound, but (and I hope Mira doesn’t mind me saying this) a lot of these recipes would adapt well with the addition of fish or meat, though they absolutely don’t need them. There’s plenty for vegans too, as well as the gluten intolerant – but Mira doesn’t bang on about any of this. Saffron Soul is a celebration of simple ingredients and a show of how versatile they can be. There are dishes that make me pine for hot days, such as the quinoa bhel on chilled watermelon, ones I would crave if I was feeling under the weather, such as the cleansing mung bean soup, and ones I would tweak to make my own, such as the multigrain spinach parathas, I just know would go so well with poached eggs and feta for a weekend brunch.

The layered lentil and sweet potato jars would travel well to the office for lunch, and the Thalis, a tapas-like meal of curries, dals, rotis, rice, chutneys and snacks, are made for having people over for dinner. The tumeric milk makes for a slumber-inducing bedtime beverage, and the coconut, orange and chilli refresher is one to whip up in a big jug and serve with a BBQ. Desserts include a gluten-free mango shrikhand cheesecake, a fig crumble, and spicy grilled maple pineapple with paprika and chilli.

Courgetti makes an appearance; cauliflower rice too. But this isn’t some obnoxious attempt to recruit you to a clean-eating cult, Saffron Soul is a collection of really refreshing and interesting dishes and drinks, which just so happen to be meat-free and packed with healthy ingredients.

Published by Jacqui Small, Mira Manek’s Saffron Soul is available to buy online here.