Some cooks are driven by instinct, the emotion of food and the urge to nurture those they love; for others cooking is a daily demonstration of science in action. In this cookbook, Nik Sharma – molecular biologist, cook, food writer and photographer – presents a package that marries the brain, the gut and the heart to explain how and why his food just tastes so good. While we instinctively recognise when we taste something delicious, Sharma explains the why behind the ‘mmmmmmmmm’, analysing flavour into the elements of emotion, sight, sound, mouthfeel, aroma and taste and how these come together into every deeply satisfying mouthful. Quite simply, knowing how and why our ingredients behave makes us better cooks. Yes, it’s a science-based cookbook with a lot – and I mean a lot – of technical stuff going on here, charts and diagrams many of which went way over my head, but don’t for a  minute think that this is a Blumenthal-style world of lab coats and test tubes, foams, gels and spherification. Rather the recipes, which draw on his Indian upbringing and Californian experiences, are a delight of crafted but eminently approachable flavours – does it say something about me that my favourites all came from the ‘bitterness’ chapter: think sweet potato honey beer pie, a coffee miso tahini drizzle for roasted fruit, charred asparagus with gunpowder nut masala, spiced coffee kulfi, though the potato and roasted corn herbed raita from the ‘brightness’ section and the masala cheddar cornbread from ‘sweetness’ also snuck on the list. The photos in Sharma’s signature shadowy, moody style are magnificent. For cooks who want to understand the science without losing the heart. TRACY WHITMEY