There’s something very touching about the way Nisha Katona explains, in her introduction to The Spice Tree, about how she first came to write this book on Indian spicing. It is, she says, an important legacy for her daughters, a way she can pass on something essential of their ancient heritage. “This is something they can open like a book of spells, or prayers, and conjure the taste of their mother’s love, the smell of their grandmother’s kitchen, the ferocity of flavour of nights around the home fires.” It is a poetic concept, and yet this book is also immensely practical, from the spice tree infographics of the title - “the flow chart that maps the neural pathways of an Indian cook” - to the inspiring, accessible collection of recipes that follow. It is a rich compendium, and I agonised over which recipe to choose for you - my copy is enthusiastically littered with post-it notes - but eventually, and happily, settled upon her Aubergine with Nigella and Poppy Seed.
Extracted from The Spice Tree by Nisha Katona (Ebury Press, £20)
Photography by James Murphy