Chef Palak Patel’s ‘Food Is Love: Plant-Based Indian-Inspired Recipes To Feel Joy And Connection’

“Food Is Love: Plant-Based Indian-Inspired Recipes to Feel Joy and Connection” is a cookbook by Palak Patel, an acclaimed chef and Food Network champion. This cookbook explores the powerful connection between how we feel and what we eat. Food not only nourishes us physically, but it is also a way to connect with loved ones, express affection for others, care for ourselves, and celebrate life. 

Have you ever experienced tears of gratitude and joy after eating something? Received a kiss from a dessert that left you breathless? Or tasted something so reminiscent that it brought you right back to a moment in time from your childhood? Chef Patel, owner of Dash & Chutney restaurant and two-time winner of Food Network’s famous shows “Chopped” and “Beat Bobby Flay,” believes that cooking is the ultimate act of love. 

Photo by Adam Milliron

Born and raised in India and trained at the French Culinary Institute, Patel is inspired by her heritage and global travels. In “Food is Love,” she invites us to take a journey through the emotional landscape of food with plant-based, Indian-inspired recipes organized by the feelings they evoke, from joy and comfort to nostalgia and love.

Photo by Adam Milliron

Plum & Cherry Salad

Fresh plums and cherries are the epitome of juicy sweetness in a summer salad. Their dark, moody hues provide a stark contrast to the vanilla yogurt underneath, creating a dazzling dish. The salad builds to a delicious crescendo with the addition of an orange spiced vinaigrette.

Ingredients (serves 4) 

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup fresh orange juice (from 2 medium oranges)

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)

Freshly ground black pepper

1½ cups Greek-style vanilla plant-based yogurt

4 ripe plums, pitted and sliced into wedges

1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced in half

¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill


In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, maple syrup, fennel, cardamom, and black salt. Season with pepper to taste.

To assemble the salad, spread the yogurt on a serving plate and arrange the plums and cherries on top. Drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds and dill.

Photo by Adam Milliron

Coriander South Side

There is so much to appreciate about this gin cocktail. A complex botanical spirit, gin is a surprisingly good match for coriander seeds. The clean, refreshing taste from the combination of gin, cucumber, lime, and mint can’t help but make you feel good, and wait till you see your friends’ adoring reactions when they take their first sip of this lively cocktail.

Coriander Simple Syrup 

1 cup coriander seeds

2 cups cane sugar

Makes 4 cups: In a medium saucepan, toast the coriander seeds over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 2 hours. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into airtight glass jars. Discard the coriander seeds. Store the simple syrup in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Coriander South Side (makes 4 cocktails)

1/2 cup Coriander Simple Syrup

8 to 12 mint leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish

8 cucumber slices

1 cup gin, preferably Jin Jiji 

Darjeeling Gin

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 5 limes)


8 ounces soda water

Pour the simple syrup into a shaker and muddle the mint leaves and 4 slices of the cucumber into the syrup. Add the gin and lime juice and fill the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Fill four Collins glasses with ice, then strain the gin mixture over the ice. Top each glass with the soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and the remaining cucumber slices.

Recipes reprinted from “Food Is Love” by arrangement with Harvest, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright © 2024, Palak Patel.

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