Some like it hot

Up the flavour – and flavonoid – credentials of your dinner with these recipes from the Mighty Spice Cookbook by John Gregory-Smith (£20, Duncan Baird). From burning fat to aiding recovery, each dish has a specific benefit. All recipes serve four.

The Spice Rack

Cumin
Taste: Earthy, nutty
Benefit: Aids digestion by increasing enzymatic activity

Chillies
Taste: Mild (larger/red) or hot (smaller/green)
Benefit: Curbs cravings and boosts calorie burn

Turmeric
Taste: Earthy, slightly bitter  
Benefit: Has powerful anti-inflammatory properties

Paprika
Taste: Hot, sweet, smoky
Benefit: Helps to stimulate the burning of fat

Coriander
Taste: Mild, celery-like
Benefit: Avoids spikes in your blood sugar levels

Cinnamon
Taste: Sweet, warming
Benefit: Helps to keep your energy levels stable

Click through to discover four deliciously spicy recipes for runners.

Falafel burgers with tahini dip

Cumin + chillies +  tumeric = Anti-inflammatory

  •  1⁄2 red onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 green chilli, deseeded, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 handful of mint leaves
  • 400g drained tinned chickpeas
  • 1 tsp each cumin and turmeric
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

1 Pulse the onion, green chilli, garlic and mint in a food processor for a few seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz into a smooth paste; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2 To make the dip, mix the yoghurt, tahini paste and lemon juice, season and set aside.

3 Mould the falafel mixture into eight burgers. Scatter sesame seeds on to a plate and press the burgers on top to coat on both sides.

4 Fry for three minutes on each side over a medium heat until golden and crispy.

Fish tacos with smoky salsa

Paprika = fat burning

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4x120g red mullet or sea bass fillets, skin on
  • 120g mozzarella, chopped
  • 8 chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 cos lettuce, finely chopped
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, skins on
  • 1 red onion, halved, skin on
  • 1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄2 tbsp honey
  • Sea salt and black pepper

1 To make the salsa, char the tomatoes, garlic and onion on all sides in a smoking hot frying pan for about five minutes, until charred and tender. Remove from the heat. Once cooled, peel the onion and garlic. Season and blend until smooth in a food processor. Pour back into the frying pan over a medium heat; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

2 Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat; add the fish, skin side down. Cook for two minutes, then flip over, turn off the heat and leave for another two minutes to finish cooking.

3 Flake the fish into the salsa, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, spring onions and lettuce; divide between the four tortillas. Roll into cones.

Vietnamese chicken

Coriander + chillies = food cravings cured

  • 6 lemongrass stalks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded, chopped
  • 500g boneless, skinless chicken thighs in bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Rice noodles, to serve

1 Remove the really tough outer leaves of the lemongrass and cut off the ends. Roughly slice into rings. You should see a purple band in the rings: stop slicing when there is no more purple and discard the rest – it will be too tough to eat. Give the slices a quick blast in a mini food processor.

2 Stir-fry the lemongrass, garlic and red chilli for 10 seconds in a wok over a high heat. Add the chicken, stir-fry for three to four minutes.

3 Tip in the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, and stir-fry for another 30 seconds, then add the coriander. Serve immediately with rice noodles.

Grilled lamb with bulgar wheat

Tumeric + coriander + cinnamon = sustained energy

  • 1 red chilli, deseeded
  • 4 garlic cloves 
  • 2 tsp cumin 
  • 2 tsp coriander 
  • 1⁄2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 4 tbsp olive oil 
  • 800g boned, trimmed lamb leg, cut into 2.5cm cubes 
  • Sea salt and black pepper 
  • Natural yoghurt, to serve
  • 190g bulgur wheat 
  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 red onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 
  • 1 handful of dill leaves, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve 
  • 1 large handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lemon 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

1 Grind the chilli and garlic into a paste using a mini food processor. Add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and olive oil, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the lamb and coat the meat well. Cover with cling film and marinate for 30 minutes, or overnight if possible.

2 Soak four wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes. (This stops them from burning.)

3 For the bulgur wheat salad, boil the bulgur in water for eight to 10 minutes, until tender but with just a little bite. Sieve, rinse with cold water and drain. Tip into a mixing bowl and add the remaining salad ingredients, tossing until well combined.

4 Preheat the grill to a high heat. Divide the lamb chunks between the four skewers. Grill for three to four minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown on the outside and juicy in the middle.