On Food and Eating

“The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi


There’s just no easy way to tell you this, so I’ll just say it – the old “Darjeeling Dreams” is gone. It’s swirled away with the strange false sweetness and security of my former life, with hopes and dreams that were not truly mine, but rather the shape I thought my hopes and dreams should take. I really did try to like buttercream, I even tried to make it less sweet and more palatable to me. Yes, it’s pretty and photogenic, but its like those old hopes and dreams. And there, in the last few months before I began graduate school, you can see the real me – or maybe the new me – beginning to emerge, experimenting with coconut palm sugar, whole wheat flour. More a fruit scone than a fondant-covered cupcake. I think some of you share those needs, for a sort of real-life-ness. A lot of things of have changed in my life. So here’s to chapter two.

It started with my becoming a full-on vegetarian a few years before the blog. For years, I had reluctantly consumed meat – reluctantly because I didn’t enjoy eating it. When I was a teenager I avoided meat and eggs 28 days of 30 because my parents wouldn’t allowed me to quit it completely (and they only cooked white meat twice a week anyway), and when I was in college I was a vegetarian except for when I visited home or was with the (now former) boy. It bored me, gave me stomach aches, and made me feel physically dirty. So I finally decided to quit. It suits me, I think I’ll stick with it.

Whatever you chose to make, vegetarian or not, the important part is that you know what you put inside you and your loved ones.  And in doing so, you are part of this – “whole foods” thing.  I hate those terms, that this is thought to be to be a yuppie or hipster thing. We don’t need the trendy “foodie” phrases. Let’s just to remember that this is how (busy, overworked) generations before us ate and fed their families and friends. In short, food (more trendy phrases!) that is (more or less) seasonal, natural, and wholesome.

We’re hungry, not only our bellies, but beyond that, for connecting with others who share our values, reflected in what we put on the table. And so yes, food is important, as important as any other fight in the myriad of issues the world is facing. Wars are being fought over it, people are dying from a lack of it, and greed holds it captive. Too many of us humans don’t have access to clean water and good food that most of us in this world are blessed to take for granted, while ignorance is slowly poisoning others with mysterious combinations sweetened or salted to the point of having the barest resemblance to food. When we go into the kitchen to create, we fight against this. Let’s keep fighting the good fight, continue to cook and eat with economy and grace, and appreciate that we can do so.

Asparagus and Whole Wheat Penne with Walnut Crema
Serves 2 – 3 || Adapted  from A-16 Food + Wine, see HERE for something closer to the original

For this dish, I wanted there to be a little spear of asparagus per piece of penne. The nuttiness of whole wheat fits the sauce and springy asparagus, and the salty, tangy cheese is heavenly with the decadent sauce and fresh flavors of the dish.

2 bunches of thick-stemmed asparagus, about 25 stalks>
zest of one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz whole-wheat penne, cooked according to instructions on package
1 cup raw walnuts
1 large shallot, diced
1 -2 clove(s) garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
Pecorino Romano/Parmesan for serving

For the asparagus – Begin by preheating oven to 500°F.
Cut off the tough ends of the asparagus spears. Coat a heavy baking pan (or pans) with the 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Roll them around, so that the spears become coated with the oil. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Bake for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan once. The asparagus should be just a bit charred (tip – I sometimes finish charring on the stovetop ’cause my oven runs cold).
Remove from heat, and wait before cool enough to handle before slicing pieces that are roughly the same length as the penne/pasta you using.
For the walnut crema – Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add just enough from the 1/4 cup of olive oil to coat the pan. Turn down the heat to low, and add diced shallots. Cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic, and cook together for 5 minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add walnuts, and simmer for 10 – 12 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. When cooled enough to handle, put the remaining olive oil, walnuts, cooking water, shallot and garlic mixture, and thyme leaves into a food processor and puree until relatively smooth. It should be about as smooth as hummus – you want it to have a little texture. Season with more salt if needed, and with pepper to taste.
To serve, toss together penne, cut asparagus, and walnut crema. Top with cheese.


  1. divya,

    super,super am drooling over here…

  2. Change and growth is a good thing, my dear! And so is your pasta and asparagus dish …

  3. A lovely pasta dish with asparagus. I had some green asparagus stir-fry yesterday too and it was really delicious.
    I love to see the beautifully piped buttercream frosting sitting on a delicious cupcake and those fondant cakes..my…..so elegant and pretty…but I don’t eat them at all.

  4. tigerfish,

    Have been enjoying asparagus and I use them in stir-fries and easy pasta dishes like this. The walnut crema sounds really good!

  5. This has come at such the perfect moment. I’ve been considering and re-considering going vegetarian. I don’t know if I’ll do it, but I love the thought of drastically eliminating my meat intake.

    I’m loving chapter two. It’s already fabulous.

  6. Oh wow, walnut cream sounds amazing on pasta. Gotta give this a try.

  7. Wonderful post and thanks for sharing how you feel. It’s about authenticity and I think everyone loves reading all about how people really feel :D

  8. Foodycat,

    What a lovely post – such a thoughtfully written piece and such a beautiful dish!

  9. Super tempting pasta, makes me hungry..well done dear.

  10. Welcome back – beautifully written post.

  11. Hey Joyti – so glad you visited my space because that got me introduced to your beautiful blog. I will be a frequent visitor now :)
    Lovely post – so well written and the pasta looks drool worthy :)

  12. Priya,

    I have been wondering about the silence here at the blog Joyti. So glad to see a new post.

    And what you have said is so true. Seasonal, natural and wholesome is the way people had food for centuries. When I see some of these prepacked things and those that are churned out by numerous food joints, I wonder whether people would buy if they know what actually goes into them.

    Great start to Chapter two :)

  13. I love that you’re finding the true *you* more and more every day – i think that’s a wonderful thing. And I’ll take a fresh, healthy fruit scone over a fondant-covered cupcake anyday! =) This pasta is absolutely my type of meal – it looks wonderful!

  14. Love this plate Joyti I adore asparagaus, and this look delicious and love the pics.
    oh dear Jpyti dont worry all of us find this something special in ours blogs, I think mine is try to make more natural and healthy food and this is my road, that I try:)
    Love your blog always!!!

  15. I’m looking forward to Chapter Two, Joyti. Life is a journey and you are on a good one.

  16. Anna,

    I know what you mean, a lot of the time I find myself leaning towards savory versus sweet, and I have been trying to be healthier recently, but I always come back to pastry :D Good luck in your journey!

  17. Dixya,

    Joyti I am so happy that you are choosing a path that speaks nothing but you, yourself, Joyti and thats the most important thing. I loved reading about your approach to cooking because given the amount of preservatives, diseases, etc etc happening – i really am thankful to a functioning kitchen, able to afford decent food, and energy/passion to cook food. On a different note – i loved this idea of walnut crema.

  18. Wonderful post, my dear! It is so important to hold fast to your morals, especially on the internet. I do agree with you that it is easier to make a pretty pictures of sweet food vs. savory, but that doesn’t mean savory food can’t look pretty either ;)

    This recipe looks amazing and the photos are gorgeous, as always. I look forward to more recipes from you. I’m more of this type of eater than sweets anyway :)


  19. Beautiful, heartfelt post today. You are morphing into your own woman right before our eyes. Thank you for sharing your food and eating philosophy. Eating is something we have to do to sustain us, but it is so much more than that. I admire you putting yourself out here and staying true to yourself and how you are evolving. I am even more excited about your future posts! With love, Tamara

  20. It sounds like you have finally discovered your true self and have made a decision to be that person. What beautiful photography and I love the sound of this pasta with the roasted asparagus and walnut cream sauce – I’d like to try this xx

  21. Wow I love the last paragraph – so powerful and so well written! I love that I see new you. Readers here love to support you (and your blog) and we experience and share the moment here together. I love this pasta. Simple, yet really nice flavor. Not to mention, your photography is just gorgeous!

  22. Congrats! Great post. I love the vegetarian pasta!

  23. What a beautiful slice of web! This pasta looks delicious- I have trouble figuring out what ingredients will truly GO with whole wheat pasta, and this one is a perfect flavor and texture combo. Hope to have some asparagus popping up in the garden soon!

  24. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of soul searching and your new blog focus is now a true reflection of where you are right now. I’m loving the walnut cream pasta with asparagus — although it sounds rich there’s something wholesome about it too.

  25. Amelia,

    Hi Joyti, excellent posting, very well written. Whether we live to eat or eat to live we should count our blessing and appreciate what we have. :)

    Your pasta with asparagus look inviting and awesome. Nice click, 2 thumbs up for you.

    Have a nice week ahead, take care.

  26. HI Joyti, it is wonderful to follow you on your journey–your personal unfoldment. And I applaud you on your commitment to a plant-based diet. I am not quite there–I live with a vegetarian, but on occasion will eat meat or fish.

    Your pasta-asparagus dish looks superb, and I recall that delectable walnut crema from a pear tart that you made a couple of years ago–so, so good!

  27. I’m surely on a journey as well. In the last few years I started to eat mindfully and natural. I still enjoy an occasional sugar-bomb of unhealthy goodness but who doesn’t, right? This post totally speaks to me on so many levels and asparagus is my spring-favourite. I’ll be trying your recipe for sure. Thanks! (Also, I just wanted to tell you that your posts are beautiful and your photos are simply stunning). Cheers to a great day and see you soon:) Di

  28. Life is indeed a journey and we are constantly being molded, shaped, and sculpted. I love the way you write and express your views and beliefs. Food is essential to everyone and for those who don’t care what they put on their plate – they are missing so much. Bravo and congratulations on your next step :)

  29. Sissi,

    I totally agree with you (apart from the meat part ;-) ). So many people are ignorant about how they torture their bodies with what they consider ‘delicious’. Your pasta looks fantastic. I love asparagus so much, I think it makes every dish extraordinary.

  30. A beautiful, wholesome and scrumptious pasta dish! I try to eat mindfully and always blog about the things I like.



  31. M D,

    I have lived a vegetarian life throughout, so I can’t probably relate to how it must be to move out from being an ex-meat eater to vegetarian life. I guess its tough if you love meat, and probably easier if you abhor. Living veg life is amazing though, you feel physically better, spiritually superior and morally positive. Loved your simple yet hearty dish. Nice clicks.

  32. kankana,

    I am not a vegetarian but eat meat rarely. Can never give that up! But i know what you feel, eating right is my mantra too and I have learned it over the period of time. Whole wheat pasta tastes better than the white ones. It is more flavorful and love the nutty bite!
    Loving the new look :)

  33. Joyti: you said so many things that are often on my mind. Most of all one thing: mindfulness. The world has come to a point of giving what we eat for “granted”. But Nature’s resources are only limited and we need to be thankful for the goodness she provides, especially plants. Oh, and this asparagus dish sounds wonderful!
    Welcome to the new you: I like her tons (mind you, I liked the former you a lot too)

  34. Monet,

    Beautiful post, and I couldn’t agree more. Eating and food are spiritual experiences. Thank you for sharing your meditation.

  35. Being true to yourself and finding out what you are really made of are difficult, but so worth it. I love the food blogging community for their acceptance of all the efforts made and the support they provide.

  36. Joanne,

    I adopted a totally plant-based diet and have never looked back. I’m so excited for this new you and new blog focus! This pasta is totally my kind of food. So healthy and delicious!

  37. BON+JOUR,

    Beautiful and inspiring – both words and photographs :)!

  38. Joyti, your asparagus to penne ratio sounds wonderful and so does your walnut crema. But most of all, your “Chapter Two” is inspiring and thought provoking. Best, best wishes to you on your blog journey and hooray for knowing your own mind, spirit, and body!

  39. Amy,

    Great post and well said. I love your new discovery and awakening. :) An inspiration to all of us, food blogger and home cook. Love your penne. The asparagus shot is stunning!

  40. Anonymous,

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  41. I discovered your blog while searching for a recipe for spinach-dal – I not only discovered a delicious recipe and gorgeous accompanying visuals…but posts which made me introspect about eating, the process of eating, and how and what we eat is not just contributing towards physical nourishment, but an overall one.

    Look forward to your blog journey!

  42. Cakelaw,

    Hi Joyti, I am glad that you are discovering what you really want. It is definitely a journey, and I think that I am still on that journey myself. This asparagus dish looks wholesome and delicious – I adore asparagus and I am sad that it has all but disappeared from the shelves here as autumn takes hold.

  43. Athena,

    Such a lovely, introspective post. I wish you much luck in your ever-evolving journey and I look forward to Chapter 2, Joyti!

  44. Such a beautiful post, Joyti.

    I love asparagus and your pasta looks delicious.

  45. Loved reading your perspective on food and eating. I’m a huge believer on seasonal, fresh and healthy cooking. So glad you are finally honing into what’s works best for you and your health-being :)

    ps: Love the use of walnut crema here. So healthy and full of flavors :)

  46. Anonymous,

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  47. Ashley Bee,

    Absolutely beautiful and thought-provoking post. Like you, when I had early experiments with vegetarianism my parents were NOT on board. I was a skinny youth, and they assumed me wanting vegetables was some sort of flirtation with an eating disorder. It wasn’t, but the habits of eating meat are hard to kick these days. I’m trying instead to focus more on local, sustainable things, where I can afford them, and including meat in that category as much as possible. This recipe shows that you can make a perfectly delightful dish sans-animal product as well :)

  48. Even I’m not a complete vegetarian, I do agree totally with you on going back to basics, enjoying seasonal and ethically produced food.
    It’s good for our bodies and souls and for future generations as well.
    Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

  49. Anonymous,

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  50. Eating mindfully and to heart content is always good, loved reading you heartfelt post, love your new beginning of 2nd chapter. And yes change in life is always good and welcoming! And the plate looks tantalising Joyti…i’m back after long time but still feel the same freshness!

  51. Debs,

    I am going to enjoy your vegetarian dishes as much as I adored your baking recipes. And because both hubby and daughter are vegetarians, they will thank you also. Congratulations on your bravery and I wish you all the happiness and love on your personal journey. Chapter 2 of Darjeeling Dreams looks to be a good one. xxx :)

  52. Mari,

    Joyti, it has ben a pleasure reading you today. Your pasta dish looks appetizing, it’s definitely something I’ll love to prepare and to eat. Look forward for your future healthy recipes.

  53. Love this post Joyti. So many of your words and I feel exactly the same. Our food as a family is always slowly evolving and I still find it incredibly exciting to put something on the table that is good and wholesome, made with love and care.
    We’re incredibly lucky that we get to chose to eat like this aren’t we.

    Gorgeous sounding dish.

  54. Nupur,

    Hi Jyoti, glad to see that you are actually discovering and realising all this in one life.. it takes many lives to understand the core :)

    recipe looks just the perfect !

  55. Diana,

    I have such a huge amount of respect for you with the choices you have made. It is so important to be strong with your beliefs and not carve yourself to suit others. I love the way you wrote this post also, your strength and moral character really comes through.

    Now this dish… looks absolutely delish!! Asparagus is one of my go-to staple pieces in the kitchen and I have never tried it this way. Just with oil, salt, pepper, garlic and a bit of lemon on the stove top. I will def give this one a try.

    Hope you are having a wonderful spring, and I hope you have many reasons to smile.

    ~ Diana

  56. Suzanne,

    Love to check in
    on you and find a
    post that I have missed.

    You are on such a
    lovely journey–the
    one that takes you
    to YOU. I hope all
    is going well in law
    school. I admire your
    ability to strive for
    good eating as a student.
    That is really terrific!

    I will absolutely try
    this recipe and will
    toast to you and all of
    your future successes,
    as I do!

    xo Suzanne

  57. Pia,

    I’m not a vegetarian, no. But you’re right about choices, and being free to make them. Food has as much to do with feeling right in the mouth, as in the mind. Lovely post, Joyti. The best for chapter two.

  58. Louise,

    Those pasta look absolutely delicious!

    Ps: i’m doing a fashion-related survey for my dissertation, 5 mins, much much help ♥ https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2WNTNCY

  59. Hi Joyti, I enjoyed your post. I don’t like asparagus but could easily substitute.

    I like to juice frequently and eat raw plant-based foods often.

    Best wishes to you.

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  61. Hi Joyti, Life is a journey and being true to yourself is very important. This dish is so fresh and lovely a new beginning you always wished for. & me too as pretty and photogenic as they are I am not a huge cupcake fan.

  62. We are not really meat eaters, but the thought of letting go fish is quite difficult. We usually consume 90 % vegetarian foods most of the time anyways :)

    Delicious and comforting pasta!

  63. sonia,

    Hi Jyoti,
    This recipe is looking so appetizing and beautiful ! Thanks for sharing awesome recipes!Hope to see more of your creative endeavors in the New Year.
    Have a wonderful Holiday Season and stay Warm !
    Best Regards, Sonia

  64. KgReciPe,

    Wow what a nice post. I love this recipe. Hope every body in my family will love to eat this.

  65. As always its a pleasure to read your posts. Lovely dish for a lovely beginning. The one thing that is constant in life is change. Hope you had a lovely holiday season. I am so loving this recipe this is going to be in my son’s lunch box. I am loving the idea of adding walnut cream cheese

  66. gloria,

    This look pretty delicious and Im so happy to see you again, thanks for stopping by!!

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