Open your kitchen and cooking to the spices of Malaysia. You’ll quickly discover that exotic flavors such as star anise, turmeric and saffron add a new level of complexity that the whole family will enjoy – and incorporating them into your meals is simple and straightforward.

In The Spice Merchant’s Daughter, Christina Arokiasamy shares her story of growing up in Kuala Lampur where her mother ran a spice stall. She also shares the secrets of her family’s spice recipes and advice on how to build flavors layer by layer. While Arokiasamy trained as a corporate chef (she currently runs a cooking school in Seattle), she also understands the daily task of cooking for a family using American ingredients.

Though many of the 100 recipes are dense with flavor (such as Braised Pork in Caramelized Soy Sauce or Rice Noodles with Seafood and Basil) they are also relatively easy to make. Arokiasamy is an excellent teacher and offers tips and guidelines, including make-ahead spice rubs, pastes and other seasonings and a discussion of essential pantry items.

What makes The Spice Merchant’s Daughter especially wonderful though is Arokiasamy’s evocative memories of growing up surrounded by the sights and smells of her native country. You’ll want to checkout this book for the recipes, but you’ll also want to read it for it’s window into another, exotic world.