UK Curry Scene Editor : David Smith 23 October 2000


Raising The Heat by Paul Gayler

published by Kyle Cathie Ltd
ISBN 1 85626 373 8
Raising The Heat by Paul Gayler


Having my e-mail address on The Curry House Web site means that I get more than my fair share of the dreaded "spam" (why do they think I need Viagra anyway?). Most of this unsolicted mail is worthless but, once in a while, a real gem appears in my mail box. A short while ago I got a very nice message from the publishers Kyle Cathie asking if they could send me a new book of theirs called Raising the Heat. Now this is more like it I thought. "Of course" I said. What self-respecting Chile-Head could refuse?

Paul Gayler
Paul Gayler

The book is by chef Paul Gayler. Now, Iím not usually keen on "cheffy" books; they are often more a showcase for the chefís talents than a practical cook book. But in this case I neednít have worried. Paul Gayler knows his stuff alright and is obviously a great fan of the mighty chilli pepper. Definitely not another trendy chef jumping on the "ethnic food" bandwagon. He clearly has a passion for hot and spicy food and this comes across in his writing. A dozen pages into the book and I was already feeling I had discovered a kindred spirit. I love his description of himself as "a culinary tart"!

Paul Gayler has travelled widely and his eclectic style shows it. He explains in the introduction how he likes to combine, for instance, a Cajun cooking technique with Asian spices to create a brand new fish dish. If you are sceptical about this sort of "fusion food" then join the club but after reading this book I am more convinced that, in the right hands, it can be done successfully. Chef Paul is also wary of the sort of mess that can result in an unhappy combination of ingredients but he clearly has the experience and feel for spices to produce some stunning new recipes.

The book is subtitled cooking with fire and spice which just about sums it up. Not just heat for heatís sake but to bring out the all important flavour in the other ingredients. If you want a taster of the sort of recipes in the book then how about chilled smoky tomato soup, braised duck in tamarind sauce, roasted jalapeno sweet potatoes or Asian-style foccacia? The first recipe I am going to try is slow-cooked lamb shanks with tchermila and spiced aubergines. This is lamb given a Middle Eastern treatment and Moroccan spicing. The tchermila was new to me and is a spicy paste made with chillies, saffron, oil and spices. The photograph alone makes me feel hungry!

slow-cooked lamb shanks with tchermila and spiced aubergines

The recipes are clearly written which is what you would expect from an author who has already won prestigious awards for his other cookery books. There are plenty of extra cooking tips and ideas for attractive (but not fussy) presentation if you are out to impress your guests. Gus Filgateís photography is sumptuous and, even if you never made any of the recipes, you could look at the book for hours.

When you write your letter to Father Christmas I suggest you ask him nicely to put Raising the Heat in your stocking. The book would make an excellent present for anyone interested in spicy food.


Copyright David W Smith, 2000
This article may not be reproduced electronically or in print without the permission of the copyright owner


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