‘The honest truth was that I was sitting bored at my desk and my wife said stop being a child and apply for MasterChef. I thought it was the stupidest idea I had ever heard, but I put down the phone and filled out the application form. The rest worked out well after that!’
It worked out well indeed. After smashing it on MasterChef 2010, Dhruv Baker has gone on to do great things in the world of food. He used the opportunity to work in some of the world’s finest kitchens, including le Gavroche, The Kitchin in Edinburgh and Benares with Atul Kochhar, who has become something of a mentor.
Dhruv honed his skills and set up his own business, a catering company called Earlsfield Kitchen. And more recently he has launched his long awaited first cookbook – Spice Layers of Flavour, a reflection of his cooking styles that have been influenced from India to Mexico, where he grew up as a child.
‘The offers came in thick and fast after MasterChef, but I was a home cook and no-way had the right amount of recipes for a book. It has taken me four years, but I now have the right knowledge and understanding. I have really been writing this book since I started cooking; there is the food I loved as child, dishes I love now and everything in between. “
Spice Layers of Flavour is a stunning collection of mouth-watering recipes that are simple to make and rely on different spices as seasonings. ‘I want people to forget geography when they think of spice and just think of them as an amazing ingredient.”
Chapters cover most cooking occasions, with recipes for small dishes, fish, meat, veg, desserts and drinks. We love the delicately spiced butternut squash salad with red onion, feta and coriander; and the ever so simple chicken laksa recipe. The mix of influences means that you can use the recipes on more occasions than most cookbooks.
We caught up with Dhruv Baker on a much-needed holiday. Well him, not us. Dhruv was on holiday in Portugal and rather favoured his smokey harrisa sardines, cooked on the BBQ and his incredible pork pibil tacos; slow cooked pork shoulder spiced with cumin black pepper and fennel, and served with tangy onions and avocados and coriander. With recipes like that we will all be waiting for our dinner invitation!
Spice Layers of flavour by Dhruv Baker Published in hardback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson £25/ eBook £12.99 available to buy on Amazon