When someone mentions the internet, what images are conjured up in your mind?
Personally, I envisage a young woman, with an over-bright smile, whipping up a batch of Besan Barfi, while she delivers a talk for Google.
Hetal Vasavada could have just gone down in history as the “token vegetarian” (her words, not mine) from Master Chef America’s sixth season. But, such is the possibility of new media and tech, that coupled with a creative mind, they can evolve into a truly inspiring story.
When Master Chef, a rather legendary British cookery show, made its American debut, the overwhelming feeling was...mixed. Yes, it showcased the expected plethora of talented home cooks. But, unlike the understated and even demure UK variant, the American version was a cocktail of censored swear words, and food tossed into trash cans. And brand endorsements (but of course).
Enter Hetal, with her beaming smile and panache for flavours.
While her love for her native Indian flavours, was well-documented on the show. But it was the nod towards all things sweet and satisfying, which proved to be a sign of things to come.
It is certainly what has propelled her career since her stint at Master Chef. Unlike many of her peers, Hetal didn’t disappear into the world wide epicurean abyss. Instead, she shone out, like a diamond in the rough.
Using her experience in social media management, she was able to carve out a unique culinary footprint for herself.
First, with her rather delectable blog titled ‘Milk and Cardamom’ which combines her love for traditional South Asian dishes, and their Western counterparts.
And then with the release of a book, which carried that tradition forward.
Since then, Hetal’s journey has sprouted multiple branches. Currently, she continues to inspire countless by way of her blog, and has spoken about her food heritage multiple times, like when she hosted a recipe/discussion session for Google.
She has also partnered with, and develops recipes for various companies.
Take A Bite...
In essence, Hetal’s story is my hope for anyone brave enough to venture into uncharted territory. It is tough to take the first step, so when you do, I hope that you are able to carve out as joyful a niche as she has.
It cannot have been an easy journey, certainly, but if we were to take inspiration from Hetal, I’m going to argue that the climb is also not impossible.
And now that all of that is out of the way; let’s get baking!
I scoured the posts on her blog, in a bid to find something that best represents her brand of yum. And, by and large, nothing encapsulates her flavours better than this recipe for strawberry jam and Rooh Afza cookies.
If you hail from a South Asian household, then you know what Rooh Afza is, and why it is a tonic for most things. If you don’t know what it is; think rose petals, orange blossoms, cinnamon and the stuff dreams are made of!
Hetal’s combination of this quintessential South Asian staple, and familiar Western treats, represents Hetal perfectly. And it is sure to become one of your favourites as well.
Read the recipe here.