I've been alluding all year to a secret project that's been in the works, and I'm excited to finally share it with you! I had the pleasure of photographing a cookbook by the immensely talented Asha of Food Fashion Party. Masala & Meatballs releases in early January and it's brimming with Asha's vibrant food and loads of colorful photographs.
Recipes meld American comfort food with Indian tastes – think omelettes seasoned with chaat masala, spiced lentil shepherd's pie, naan pizza, and cardamom-kissed funnel cake. Indian cuisine can feel intimidating to Americans with laundry lists of spices and unfamiliar flavors, but Asha makes her recipes accessible by using easy-to-source ingredients. There are recipes for every time of day, from breakfast treats to snacks for company to soups, curries, mains, desserts, drinks, and lots of spicy sauces and chutneys. There are even Indian-inspired tacos!
I got to eat every recipe after (and sometimes during) our shoots and was constantly blown away by Asha's cooking. Every recipe bursts with flavor and vibrance, leaving you nourished and energized. Spices dance around the palate while fresh garnishes and sauces add punch. The way Asha has melded the cuisines of India and the US is sheer genius. I didn't want the project to end and neither did Jay, who got used to bingeing on delicious "Asha Food" after every shoot. I can't wait to get a copy for myself so I can relive my favorites, such as the carrot peanut dip shown above, seasoned with caramelized shallot, lime, and chile. Hummus only wishes it could be as tasty.
Collaborating with a stylist as creative as Asha was a dream. While Asha chopped, sauteed, and plated, I got to nerd out on the technical aspects of the images – light, camera settings, editing, and composition. I cherished the afternoons when her two sweet boys were home from school, often helping out in the kitchen or posing as hand models. And let's not forget the infamous Waffles who helped clean the floor after shoots! But with food as vibrant and beautifully styled as Asha's, the photos practically took themselves. The book has a photo for most of the recipes, and we managed to sneak in some action shots as well. We're so pleased with the result of this collaboration and we can't wait for everyone to see it!
In addition to shooting stunning food prepared by the warmest hosts I could ever imagine, I got to learn a ton about Indian cuisine, pestering Asha with a million questions about ingredients and cooking techniques as I snapped away. Despite the title Masala & Meatballs, the majority of recipes are naturally vegetarian and there are loads of gluten-free options as well. One of my favorite recipes is the no-bake pumpkin halwa pie, below, which boasts a date and nut crust filled with spiced pumpkin stovetop custard and chilled until firm. Heaven on a plate.
I'm beyond honored to have been a part of Masala & Meatballs. Hugest congratulations to you, Asha, on this achievement, and thank you for all the hours of collaboration, creativity, and delicious snacks we got to share. Many more to come I hope! <3
Preorder a copy of Masala & Meatballs and it will arrive in your kitchen on January 9th, perfect for cozy winter cooking sessions. Plus if you order now, Asha will send you a delicious BONUS RECIPE along with one of my favorite photographs I've ever taken. (Hint: it's vegetarian and full of cheese – not to be missed!) Just email your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll send over the goods. Read all about Asha's journey to becoming a cookbook author and see more sneak peeks of the book over at Food Fashion Party. And order the book at any of these outlets:
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