Holiday Recipes: a South Asian Twist

For a spin-off of holiday recipes, maybe a few south Asian recipes will fit the palate.

by Casey Hall / Garnet & Black

Why should you try a completely new type of recipe this holiday? Because what is life if you don't expose yourself to different food.

This article has two recipes that go hand-in-hand with each other: Ginger Chai & Fried Cauliflowers. As a person who grew up in an Indian household, I've had multiple cups of chai. There's nothing holiday "vibes" to them similar to how hot chocolate is presented as a Christmas drink. Chai is a warm beverage consumed on a day to day basis. And, fried cauliflowers are simply a snack that pairs well with chai; however, this would be the perfect combo for the cold months of holidays.

Ginger Chai

We have all at least had a sip of the Chai Tea Latte, but how many of us have had authentic chai? It’s time to add chai to the list of drinks for the cheery yet cold time of the year, Christmas. And, don’t you worry, there will be snacks to go with it!

Before we jump into the recipe, maybe a small history lesson might be appropriate behind the drink, Chai. The origin of Chai stems from Ancient India before 5,000 years, and it was created by a King who wanted to create an Ayurvedic (natural and nutritional) beverage. With the British colonization of India, tea became the center of trade for the British because of its popularity and quality. Currently, tea is enjoyed across cultures and continents in ancient methods and modernized ways. 

For a cup of chai, 


  1. ½ cup of milk 
  2. ½ cup of water
  3. ½ tsp of loose leaf black tea
  4. ½ tsp of crushed ginger
  5. ½ tsp of sugar

*Whole milk is the standard, but other alternatives can be used. However, the taste can’t be guaranteed. 

*Add sugar based on your preference.


  1. Mix milk and water in a pot. 
  2. Add the loose leaf tea and crushed ginger. 
  3. Set the heat to boil. 
  4. After the tea boils, leave the pot be for 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Use a strainer to filter the tea into a cup.
  6. Add the sugar and mix well. 
  7. Serve the ginger chai hot. 

Fried Cauliflowers

We’ve had so many fried foods, why not fried cauliflowers? As a non-veg lover, it’s hard to disagree that fried cauliflowers can put up a fight with popular fried foods. 

A history lesson for fried cauliflowers was hard to find because this is a dish usually made by my mom. However, fried cauliflowers have different recipes in varying cultures. From "Ghobi" in India to a tempura-style fry in Hibachi restaurants. 


  1. 1 cauliflower head
  2. ¼ tsp of turmeric powder
  3. 1 cup of gram flour
  4. 2 tbsp of rice flour
  5. ¼ tsp of asafoetida powder
  6. 1 tsp of chili powder
  7. ½ cup of water
  8. Oil to fry
  9. Salt to taste

*If turmeric powder is not available, then only add salt for the cleaning steps. 

*Substitute for asafoetida powder: ½ tsp of garlic or onion powder


  1. Cut the cauliflower head into florets.

To properly clean the cauliflower

  1. Add the florets into a pot, and fill it with water. 
  2. Add a bit of salt and turmeric powder into the pot, and set the heat to boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Drain the water, and set the florets aside. 

To make the fried cauliflowers

  1. Add the gram flour, rice flour, asafoetida powder, chili powder, and salt into the boiled florets.
  2. Add ½ cup of water. 
  3. Mix all the ingredients well.
  4. Add enough oil to a pan to fry the cauliflowers, and heat up the oil.
  5. Add the florets into the heated oil.
  6. Fry the florets until golden brown. 
  7. Serve the florets on a plate with the ginger chai on the side. 

This holiday, do try recipes from different cultures!