Hetal Vasavada of Milk and Cardamom
It's safe to say the world is pretty obsessed with food blogs and Instagram pages these days. Have you ever wondered: "who runs these pages and how do they end up making amazingly beautiful food and recipes for a living?" Meet Hetal! After burning out on her career in health care, she ended up as a contestant on season 6 of Master Chef, which launched her into the world of food media. Since then, she has published a cookbook of Indian-Inspired desserts that’s been featured in the New York Times, and runs a truly delightful blog, Instagram, and online bakery called Milk and Cardamom that’s well-worth a follow. In our thought-provoking conversation dig into:
- What it's actually like to be on a food competition show and how shows heavily edit, manipulate and type cast their contestants
- Why Indian cuisine often gets misunderstood or oversimplified in the United States
- The most fun and most overlooked parts of what it's like to run a food blog and Instagram as part of your business
- What principles, ingredients, and gear Hetal recommends for all home bakers
- How Indian desserts differ from European desserts
- What she's learned as mother about the importance of writing down recipes and getting children involved in cooking
Whether you're already a fan of Hetal's or just a curious cook looking to learn more about baking, spices, Indian cuisine, reality TV, and food history, this discussion will satiate your appetite.
Episode Show Notes:
- You can learn more about Hetal, see her recipes, order her cookbook, sign up for a cooking class, and even order her desserts on her website.
- Hetal helpfully clarified that most Indian food you can find in the United States is Mughal-influenced. The Mughal empire controlled India for 300 years and left a strong mark on the cuisine.
- Some of Hetal's favorite Gujarati Indian restaurants in the US are Ghee in Miami, Tailor in Nashville, and Besharam in San Francisco.
- Indian desserts use a lot of cardamom, which Hetal dubs "the Indian vanilla" because of how common it is in sweets. She also noted that ghee is used as a key baking fat, along with toasted flour and nuts for their distinct flavors.
- One of Hetal's signature dessert recipes is Gulab Jamun, which she's also reinterpreted as a miniature bundt cake.
- Hetal recommends always using a scale to weigh out ingredients while baking. Other go-to baking gear for her is her stand mixer, and infrared thermometer.
- For parents worried about picky eaters, Hetal's top tips are to get your child involved in the cooking process. She's also a huge fan of the Daniel Tiger PBS program for kids.
- Hetal's waste fighting tip is to save your onion and garlic skins and make a rich and aromatic stock that you can then freeze in silicone ice cube trays!
- Hetal's go-to karaoke song is "Rumor Has It," by Adele