There, sitting with her aunts and cousins on the kitchen floor, she chopped vegetables and rolled out chapatti bread dough — which the adults cooked on small coal-burning stoves.
Flash forward twenty-plus years, after American TV brought The Food Network to India. Darshana describes watching for hours in amazement. She was hooked.
Soon she was bustling around in her own kitchen testing the unfamiliar cuisines, ingredients and cooking techniques. And in 2001, she moved to the United States. Two years later, she met her first vegan.
When he shared that vegans embraced a diet in which “no animal was harmed or exploited in any way,” she was hooked once more.
After adopting a vegan lifestyle, Darshana eventually discovered her gift for creating delicious plant-based, oil-free versions of traditional animal-based recipes. As she writes in her 2018 Forks Over Knives—Flavor:
“I take delicious treats such as samosas and empanadas, favorites that are typically fried, and transform them into yummy delights that don’t have the heaviness and greasiness of the originals.”
By recreating comfort-food staples like enchiladas and even ice cream with plant-based ingredients, Darshana enjoys them all without feeling weighed down.
One example? Her Corn and Mushroom Empanadas with Chimichurri Dipping Sauce. The secret of their crispy, flaky oil-free crusts lies in the mashed potatoes she adds to the dough before baking.
Each of the Forks Over Knives: Flavor! cookbook’s 12 chapters (and more than 100 other recipes) reveals how delicious vegan eating can be! And the man who steered her into the vegan lifestyle back in 2003?
He was Brian Wendel, the filmmaker responsible for 2011’s epic, vegan-promoting Forks Over Knives. He asked Darshana to create recipes for the film and the two fell in love.
Brian reveals in the cookbook’s preface that by 2012 he knew “There is only one thing better than Darshana’s cooking: that is Darshana herself.” The couple have been life partners ever since.
This, of course, means Brian has had the opportunity to try every single meal in Forks Over Knives: Flavor! And for that, I have to confess, I’m a bit jealous of him!