Spices are stars in this angel’s dishes

Butternut squash with red onion, feta and coriander
Butternut squash with red onion, feta and coriander

He was described as having ‘the palate of an angel’ when he picked up the MasterChef trophy in 2010, and Dhruv Baker is putting that to good use in his new book, ‘Spice: Layers Of Flavour’.

“The word spicy seems to have morphed into meaning something hot. It’s doing food an injustice – to me, it means so much more,” says the chef. “I want people to look on them as ingredients in their own right,” he adds.

Here’s one to try:

BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH RED ONION, FETA AND CORIANDER

(Serves 6 as a starter/4 for lunch)

1tsp coriander seeds; 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 4cm cubes; 3tbsp vegetable oil; 2 sprigs fresh thyme; 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled; 1 red onion, finely sliced; 150g feta, cubed; Juice of 1 lemon; 50ml olive oil; Small bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped; Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. In a small pan, dry roast the coriander seeds, over a low heat, until they release aromas. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder with pestle and mortar or spice grinder.

Put the cubed butternut squash in a roasting tray with the vegetable oil and salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add the thyme sprigs and garlic cloves and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes. After 10 minutes, stir through the ground coriander – if added too early they can burn and become bitter. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and set half the garlic aside.

Mix together the red onion and cooked butternut squash, then carefully stir in the feta cubes, taking care not to break up the cheese too much.

To make the dressing, squeeze half the garlic from the skins into a bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil; whisk together. Pour the dressing over the butternut squash and scatter with the chopped coriander.