Photo of Hetal Vasavada
Photo of Hetal Vasavada

Hetal Vasavada

Hetal Vasavada is a cookbook author, blogger, and bakery owner who is an expert baker and is known for creating dishes with a unique combination of both her Indian and American backgrounds. She has a degree in Biochemistry and uses her scientific background to create her recipes.

Experience: Hetal Vasavada is a cookbook author, baker and blogger. Her first cookbook, "Milk and Cardamom", was about Indian-inspired desserts. The cookbook was listed as one of 2019's best cookbooks by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Washington Post. Her recipes have been featured in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and more.

Hetal owns and runs an online pop-up bakery, Milk and Cardamom Sweets. She also works as a recipe developer, food photographer, and social media consultant. In addition, she runs a popular blog and Instagram account where she shares her Indian-inspired desserts and Gujarati dishes.
A warming blend of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg bring festive flavors to Hetal Vasavada's tender, moist spiced carrot cake studded with golden raisins and crunchy pistachios. Brown butter ghee does double duty in this recipe: It enriches and flavors the cake batter, and the caramelized milk fat left over from making it adds a nutty flavor to the cream cheese frosting. 
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Kachumber Gazpacho
Rating: Unrated
1
When tomatoes are at their best, take a cue from Hetal Vasavada and don't cook them at all. "In the summer, Indian families often make kachumber salad. It's basically an Indian pico de gallo situation, minus the cilantro," says Vasavada. "My husband loves gazpacho—he's the kind of person who drinks salsa from the jar—so I thought this would be a nice, cool summer dish." Vasavada channeled her love for kachumber, a fresh, cucumber-based Indian salad, to inspire this exciting riff on the classic chilled summery soup. Warm spices and a hint of chile add flavor and heat without overwhelming the fresh tomatoes; sev, a crispy chickpea noodle snack, adds a pleasant crunch.
Jalebi
Rating: Unrated
New!
Anytime around Diwali, you'll find golden, translucent, crispy, sticky,  jewel-like jalebis in boxes stacked up high inside mithai shops and Indian grocery stores all around the world. Jalebi, a Persian-origin sweet that is popular in India, is a treat made from batter that's drizzled into hot oil to deep-fry it, and then briefly soaked in a fragrant saffron- and cardamom-infused syrup. Typically, jalebi is made with a fermented batter, or attho, but in more modern times cooks have found a quick shortcut by using baking soda, eno (fruit salt), or lemons to acidify the batter. While making jalebi, the most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the syrup is warm and to immediately drop the deep-friend jalebis from the oil into syrup so that the jalebis soak it all up. If the syrup is too hot or too cold, the jalebi will not absorb the syrup and you'll end up with soggy jalebis, which will still taste good but won't give you the crispy texture you want. I highly recommend eating them fresh—there truly is nothing like fresh jalebi right out of the syrup!
For Hetal Vasavada, blogger and author of Milk & Cardamom, vibrant petals are an essential in both savory and sweet treats.
Pista Burfi Bark
Rating: Unrated
2
Floral, fragrant cardamom shines in this rich and nutty dessert inspired by burfi (a type of fudgy, milk-based Indian sweet), so sourcing fresh, quality spices is a must. For her Diwali celebration, blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada tops her bark with edible flowers and gold leaf, making for a stunning presentation. Edible foil must be 24-karat gold or pure silver to be safe for consumption. They can be purchased from Slo Food Group. Order dried organic rose petals from Rose Dose or look for fresh calendula or pansies. (Petals from Whole Foods or other retailers will work as long as they marked as "edible.")
Chhundo, a pickled marmalade-like condiment that’s tangy and sticky-sweet, with light heat and fragrance from Kashmiri chile powder, tops these goat cheese crostini, which blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada serves at her Diwali celebration. Green mangoes are essential for this recipe—seek out large mangoes with light green skin and crisp white flesh.
Ombré Coconut Burfi Cake
Rating: Unrated
New!
Underneath the purple-and-white ombré coat of sweetened coconut, cookbook author and blogger Hetal Vasavada's slim, tall layer cake is bound with a cloud-like layer of Swiss meringue buttercream. But the best part is the chewy coconut filling, inspired by burfi, a type of fudge-like, milk-based Indian sweet. Coconut milk keeps the cake layers incredibly moist with a tender crumb.
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Adorned with edible flower petals and gold leaf, these spiced sandwich cookies, which blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada makes for her Diwali celebration, are an occasion unto themselves. Store-bought dulce de leche enriches a filling inspired by peda, a creamy Indian milk fudge flavored with cardamom. For the toppings, be sure to seek out 24-karat gold or pure silver, which is safe for consumption. (Purchase from Slo Food Group: Loose Leaf Edible Gold Sheets, $41.99 for 25 sheets; Loose Leaf Edible Silver Foil, $16 for 25 sheets; slofoodgroup.com.) For flowers, Vasavada likes to use calendula and pansies, and notes that fresh petals from Whole Foods or other retailers will work as long as they marked as “edible.”
Masala Chai with Green Tea
Rating: Unrated
New!
Though masala chai is more commonly made with just black tea, blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada adds green tea to give a nice earthiness to her version of the drink. Sourcing the proper tea is important for the best results; look for Wagh Bhakri brand or Typhoo Tea at your local South Asian grocer or online. Simmering the dry tea in a small amount of water allows it to fully infuse the scalded milk, which has subtle caramel notes.
Ombré Coconut Burfi Cake
Rating: Unrated
New!
Underneath the purple-and-white ombré coat of sweetened coconut, cookbook author and blogger Hetal Vasavada's slim, tall layer cake is bound with a cloud-like layer of Swiss meringue buttercream. But the best part is the chewy coconut filling, inspired by burfi, a type of fudge-like, milk-based Indian sweet. Coconut milk keeps the cake layers incredibly moist with a tender crumb.
Adorned with edible flower petals and gold leaf, these spiced sandwich cookies, which blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada makes for her Diwali celebration, are an occasion unto themselves. Store-bought dulce de leche enriches a filling inspired by peda, a creamy Indian milk fudge flavored with cardamom. For the toppings, be sure to seek out 24-karat gold or pure silver, which is safe for consumption. (Purchase from Slo Food Group: Loose Leaf Edible Gold Sheets, $41.99 for 25 sheets; Loose Leaf Edible Silver Foil, $16 for 25 sheets; slofoodgroup.com.) For flowers, Vasavada likes to use calendula and pansies, and notes that fresh petals from Whole Foods or other retailers will work as long as they marked as “edible.”
Masala Chai with Green Tea
Rating: Unrated
New!
Though masala chai is more commonly made with just black tea, blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada adds green tea to give a nice earthiness to her version of the drink. Sourcing the proper tea is important for the best results; look for Wagh Bhakri brand or Typhoo Tea at your local South Asian grocer or online. Simmering the dry tea in a small amount of water allows it to fully infuse the scalded milk, which has subtle caramel notes.
Hash Brown Chaat
Rating: Unrated
New!
Sweet, spiced apple butter chutney and an herbaceous green chutney, crunchy toppings, and plenty of spices and herbs make this potato-based snack, which blogger and cookbook author Hetal Vasavada serves at her Diwali celebration, a riot of texture and flavors that is so essential to chaat (a category of Indian cuisine that roughly means “snacks”). Don’t skip out on the black salt, which adds distinct funkiness to the dish. Save leftover green chutney to top scrambled eggs, tacos, or grilled chicken.