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Cook from the Book: SpiceBox

by Genevieve Halbert

published on 9 April 2021

If vegan twists on curry house classics sound like your idea of heaven, SpiceBox by Grace Regan is your new bible. Grace’s plant-based takes on dishes like butter chicken, vindaloo, tandoori, and keema stay true to the essence of the original recipes, while creating something entirely new. Her food is joyful, vibrant, and always bursting with complex flavour. Naturally we couldn’t wait to start cooking from this book, so we asked a handful of enthusiastic volunteers to test out some of the book’s standout recipes in their own kitchens. Scroll on to see how we got on.

From the book

Grace Regan

Who: Stephenie Naulls – Head of Campaigns, Ebury

What I made: Wild Mushroom Palak Gosht, Tofu Veg Balti, and Cauli Tikka Masala

What I thought: I couldn’t pick just one recipe to cook from this book, so I made a spicy feast. As soon as I saw the photo of the ‘Wild mushroom palak ‘gosht’’ I knew it would be the dish I had to make first, and build an entire meal around it. The mushrooms were so full of flavour, I know I’ll make this again and again, and double it next time so I can have leftovers the next day for lunch. Make sure to do as Grace says and track down a mix of wild mushrooms as each one has a different texture! I also tried the ‘Tofu veg balti’ – I have never made a balti before but I will absolutely be making this one again, the baby corns were delicious. Finally, I made the ‘Cauli tikka masala’ which was also incredible, we scooped all three dishes up with naan breads and were completely and delightfully stuffed afterwards! The perfect Friday night feast.

Who: Clara Triboul – Senior Data & Strategy Manager, Penguin Random House

What I made: Chana Masala

What I thought: I prepared this recipe at the end of a busy day, expecting something easy to make and flavourful, and it didn’t disappoint! I found most ingredients in my cupboard and followed the process relatively effortlessly: chopping a few onions, picking a few coriander leaves and there you go! Flavour wasn’t compromised, despite the easy process. I loved the blend of spices, and I tried to let the onions cook on a low heat for as long as possible, as recommended in the recipe. It pushed back dinner time a little bit but it was worth waiting for caramelised deliciousness. This recipe ticks so many boxes: easy, yummy and vegan. I can’t wait to try more from this book!

Who: Genevieve Halbert – Marketing Executive, The Happy Foodie

What I made: Cheat’s Veg Biryani

What I thought: Biryani is one of my favourite dishes, but isn’t something I’d usually attempt midweek as it tends to be quite time-consuming. The prospect of a speedy take on the dish was irresistible, and the recipe did not disappoint – it even got the seal of approval from my non-vegan family members. The base of roast vegetables and curried sauce was layered up with rice (soaked in golden, saffron infused milk), toasted nuts, and fresh herbs, creating a wonderfully aromatic and flavoursome dish. I think the recipe would be quite easy to adapt to suit whatever ingredients you happen to have to hand – I substituted oat milk for almond milk, made up the full weight of cashew nuts with a handful of pine nuts, and swapped regular broccoli florets for the tenderstem specified in the recipe. 

Who: Sophie Tudor – Senior Marketing Executive, Penguin Random House

What I made: Jackfruit Jalfrezi and Rotis

What I thought: My parents love Indian cuisine, so the fragrant aromas of a home cooked curry are both comforting and nostalgic. Once I found somewhere that stocked tinned jackfruit, this recipe was super easy to make. I really enjoyed being able to get my hands stuck into the preparation of the dish – it was a joy tearing up the jackfruit by hand and massaging the marinade into the fruit. The Jalfrezi had an amazing texture and was so rich in flavour but beware, it is spicy. I opted out of using the leftover green chilli as a garnish after a taste test left my tongue nearly on fire. A couple of rotis served warm on the side transformed this dish into the perfect Friday night feast.

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