Spirit & Spice by Ghillie Basan: Recipe inspired by world flavours set against the wild landscapes of Scotland

Combining global flavours with the whiskies and natural larder of Scotland, Ghillie Basan’s new book Spirit & Spice takes readers on a culinary journey around the world and back again – to Ghillie’s home in the Highlands of Scotland.

The author of more than 40 cookbooks, Ghillie grew up in Africa and has travelled extensively throughout Turkey, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, researching the links between culinary cultures forged by trade routes, colonisation and migration.

Learning from locals in remote villages, she ground coconuts and pineapples on a stone in Kerala, stuffed pounded pork, ginger and spices into the hollows of bamboo stems in Saigon and picked argan nuts out of goat droppings to be pressed for oil in the Sous Valley.

On returning to Scotland, Ghillie moved to a deserted croft in the wind-battered hills of the Cairngorms.  Here she brought up her two children, grew vegetables, foraged for fungi and berries and cooked wild rabbits from the glen, while using the flavours, spices and techniques picked up on her travels to shine a new light on Scottish produce.

With expert insights on pickling, preserving, smoking and outdoor cooking, Spirit & Spices features beautifully presented recipes detailing Ghillie’s fascinating life story and painting an inspirational, heartfelt picture of her family life in one of Scotland’s wildest and most beautiful corners.

Taking inspiration from the notes of spice lingering in the air from nearby distilleries, she has become an expert in identifying which whiskies enhance the flavours and spices of her recipes and in Spirit & Spice she explains how to pair the perfect dram to a dish.

Recipes include “Body-warming, Midge-busting Dhal”, a spicy, nourishing lentil-based dish, perfect for camping in Scotland; “Whisky and Spice Cured Venison Fillet with Juniper Berries and Wild Thyme” and “Fresh Fish on Sticks Over the Fire”, which Ghillie makes in her garden using fresh trout from Rothiemurchus Estate.


  • Flavour and Spice – how to concentrate and enhance flavour in spice mixes, preserves, pickles and flavoured spirits
  • Breakfast in the Bush – inspirational ideas for cooking outside whether you’re camping in the glen or hiking through the mountains
  • Wild Food & Foraging – making the most of Scotland’s natural larder
  • Feeding Family & Friends – family favourites to savour and share
  • Sweet Contentment, Sugar and Spice – treats from all over the world, from Ghillie’s kitchen to yours
  • Spirit and Spice – a user’s guide to pairing food with whisky