“Milk & Cardamom: Spectacular Cakes, Custards and More, Inspired by the Flavors of India” by Hetal Vasavanda, Page Street Publishing, 176 pages, paperback, $21.99

As a fan of cardamom, the aromatic spice used in Scandinavian and East Indian cooking, I couldn’t pass up a cookbook with the title, “Milk & Cardamom: Spectacular Cakes, Custards and More, Inspired by the Flavors of India.” I just knew it had to have recipes worth exploring. I was right.

Food blogger and recipe developer Hetal Vasavanda, who competed on Season 6 of the FOX reality cooking competition series “MasterChef” hosted by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, offers a collection of both traditional Indian desserts and new and unique ones.

Side Dish: Recipe for Orange, Almond and Date Bites

Growing up as a first-generation India-American, Vasavanda said she wanted American-style cakes and cookies, but instead got Parle-G biscuits and sweetened semolina pudding. It wasn’t until she was older and living across the country from her family that she realized she missed those traditional sweets.

“Later on,” she writes, “I started taking pieces of my American childhood and mixing them with my Indian upbringing, creating dishes that represented me. Not quite 100% American and not fully Indian.”

Her book’s recipes range from Semolina Pudding and Lemon Fennel Spritz Cookies to Orange and Cardamom Cinnamon Rolls and Watermelon and Basil Seed Sharbat, a crunchy-textured drink.

The recipes, illustrated with full-color photographs, are divided into six chapters: Creams, Custards & Puddings; Small Bites; Cookies & Bars; Cakes & Tarts; Breads & Jams; and Drinks.

The result of Vasavanda’s exploration of her food memories is a cookbook filled with unique, tasty recipes that she admits aren’t totally authentic but do capture the accent of delicious Indian sweets.


Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Email her at sonnierfood@gmail.com; and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.