I Cook in Color

Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World


By Asha Gomez

By Martha Hall Foose

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This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 6, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Expand your recipe collection with dishes that focus on cross-cultural flavors, rainbows of vegetables, gem-toned desserts, and spice-forward twists from the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook My Two Souths.

Best known for her easy mix of cooking traditions from the American South and her homeland of Kerala in Southern India, Chef Asha Gomez continues to evolve her unique cooking style.

In this next vibrant cookbook, I Cook in Color, Asha embraces dishes from around the globe, celebrating international flavor profiles and the melding of culinary traditions that reflect both her cherished memories of her mother’s Kerala kitchen, as well as her extraordinary travel experiences. Recipes include:

  • Thai Green Papaya Salad with Dried Shrimp
  • Catalonian Paella
  • Passion Fruit, Lime & Grapefruit Grouper Ceviche
  • Grilled Meyer Lemon Chili Corn
  • Pomegranate & Date Molasses Chicken
  • Mango Cardamom Cake



colorful drinks to sip and savor

Virgin Fresh Tomato Watermelon Mary

Morning Sunshine

All-Day Herb Water

Rosemary Lemonade

Emerald Potion

Golden Haldi Dood: Turmeric Milk with Honey

Mango Yogurt Madness

Fig and Cashew Milk Shake

Ruby Red Beet Juice: The “Mommy Boost”

Dreamy Spiced Hot Chocolate

Assam Tea Time

Pretty in Pink Rose Milk

Cold Georgia Peach Sweetie

Clove Negroni Cocktail

Virgin Fresh Tomato Watermelon Mary


I love fresh tomato juice. It’s my summer jam! There is a famous salad made with watermelon and tomato that pops up on the recipe sites every summer. I thought, “This would make for a delightful cocktail.” So here’s my take on a Bloody Mary with a hint of sweetness from watermelon—perfect for those lazy summer afternoons.

For the Cocktail

6 large fresh plum tomatoes, peeled

1 cup watermelon, cut into small cubes

2 cups water

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Pete’s hot sauce or your favorite brand

1 serrano chili, seeded

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For Garnish

4 cornichons

2 small, thin watermelon wedges

2 tender celery stalks with leaves

Blend all the cocktail ingredients in a blender. Pour into two tall glasses.

Garnish each one with cornichons, a watermelon wedge, and a celery stalk.


Use whatever variety of ripe tomato catches your eye at the market.

Serve these “cocktails” with little cubes of feta cheese for snacking.

Morning Sunshine


Every time I gain a few pounds, I resort to juicing to get back to my fighting weight. It seems to work well for me. I also just love juicing at least one meal a day when I can, usually breakfast. This carrot, cantaloupe, fresh turmeric juice is one of my all-time favorites. I can just about put it together while I’m still half asleep.

4 large carrots

4 cups cubed cantaloupe

1-inch piece fresh turmeric

Put all the ingredients through a juicer and serve.


You definitely need a juicer to make this drink.

If you can’t find fresh turmeric, mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder into your juice.

All-Day Herb Water


I drink a lot of water throughout the day, but, let’s face it, after a while, plain water can get pretty dull. One of my first tasks of the day is to prepare my jug of herb-infused water by clipping some of this and that from my windowsill garden. The herb flavor intensifies as it sits throughout the day. As my strength wanes, the water gains potency, helping me keep up the pace of a busy day.

1 gallon room-temperature water

3 stems lavender (with or without flowers)

3 sprigs rosemary

6 sprigs thyme

6 sprigs mint

½ English cucumber, chopped

Combine all ingredients is a large jug. Refrigerate for more extended storage or if you prefer cold water. I take mine straight up.

Rosemary Lemonade


My home is a bustling place. Most weekends, if I’m not working or traveling, I have guests over for cocktails on a Saturday night or an early Sunday supper. My guest list is ever-evolving, but my dear friend George and his teenage kids have a standing invitation. My son, Ethan, loves this time with friends. This lemonade, saturated with rosemary, is a little stylish, which the teenagers seem to enjoy. It also takes well to a shot of vodka, something the grown folks appreciate.

7 cups water, divided

1 cup granulated white sugar

6 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

⅔ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 cups crushed ice

Make a simple syrup by boiling 1 cup of water with 1 cup of sugar and the rosemary for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a large pitcher. Let it cool before chilling in the refrigerator.

Once the syrup has chilled, add the lemon juice and the remaining water. Serve over the crushed ice and garnish with rosemary sprigs.


You can make so many different flavors of simple syrup. One of my favorites, which I always have on hand, is cardamom simple syrup. Use about 10 pods of crushed whole green cardamom pods, instead of the rosemary, and follow this recipe.

Emerald Potion


I’ve never been a big fan of most green juice concoctions because most don’t taste, well, all that tasty. But here’s my version of a green juice with plenty of fruit to sweeten it up. I don’t know if it will detox you, but I do know I always feel better after having a glass!

1 cup peeled, roughly chopped

Granny Smith apples

2 cups chopped cantaloupe

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

2 cups baby spinach

Juice of 1 lime

2 cups cold coconut water

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour and drink.


Sometimes, I add a few dates to this revitalizing, blended beverage.

Golden Haldi Dood: Turmeric Milk with Honey


A few years back, on one of my trips to New York City, while walking the streets, I came across a sweet little tea shop. And since I am a tea lover, I decided to take a moment to have a cup of tea. Scrolling through the menu, I came across Warm Turmeric Milk, priced at $9 a cup. Sticker shock at first, but I just had to indulge. One sip, and it took me back to my childhood. When we were growing up, Haldi Dood was a staple elixir for a sore throat. The warm, sweet milk and turmeric were a welcome panacea when we weren’t feeling well. Somehow over the years, I had forgotten about this golden milk, but after that pricy reminder, it is now a warming delight at home, even when I’m not under the weather.

2 cups whole milk

1 teaspoon turmeric powder, plus more if desired

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

2 tablespoons raw honey

In a small pot over medium to low heat, whisk together all the ingredients. Heat for 5 minutes, whisking often until the milk is warmed. Be careful not to let the milk boil over.


You’ve probably already heard of the health benefits of turmeric, as the spice is becoming tremendously popular in the States. It is hailed as one of the most therapeutic spices in the world, with its antibacterial properties.

My mother used it much the same way as many mothers use Neosporin, swabbing powdered turmeric into all our scrapes and scratches and then bandaging us up. Trust me when I say it works!

Mango Yogurt Madness


The sight or smell of mangoes sweeps me up into a nostalgic dreamland. One of my fondest memories from my teenage years in India is making midnight runs to the lassi shop down the street during summertime. It was our neighborhood equivalent of an ice cream parlor serving up shakes made with tangy yogurt.

I don’t always have access to the best fresh mangoes here in the United States. But the one thing that is readily available all year round is mango pulp in cans from India. The Alphonso or Kesar mango works best for this shake.

2 cups prepared mango pulp, or fresh or frozen diced mango

2 cups plain yogurt

2 teaspoons cardamom powder

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

In a blender, mix all the ingredients together for a minute or two until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for a half-hour or serve over ice.


The serving size on these is 8-ounce portions. It’s a creamy shake, and I think that is just the perfect size.

Fig and Cashew Milk Shake


Somehow when I think of fruit shakes and smoothies, I always associate them with summer. However, this is a perfect shake for fall and winter months when the markets aren’t exactly overflowing with fresh fruits. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and, frankly, it’s a meal in itself. This fig and cashew milk shake is a perfect breakfast on the go, filled with fiber and protein. It also contains vitamins A, B1, B2, and D, and potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorus.

1 cup Kalamata crown (goumas) dried figs, about 12, roughly chopped

2 cups water

½ cup raw cashews

2 cups cold whole milk, divided

½ cup raw honey

Soak the dried figs in 2 cups of water overnight or for at least an hour, or until they are rehydrated. Remove the figs from the water and discard the water. In a blender, combine the figs and cashews with 1 cup of the milk, and blend to make a smooth puree. Add the remainder of the milk, along with the honey, and blend to the consistency of a smoothie. Drink immediately.


I have found the best quality dried figs at Persian markets. Soaking the dried fruit is very important; if you skip this step, the texture of the shake is not as smooth.

Ruby Red Beet Juice: The “Mommy Boost”


This juice gives me life every morning! I’ve been a regular morning juicer for about a year and a half, and have never felt more energized. Beets are a great source of vitamin B6, folate, manganese, and iron. I like to start with all the ingredients chilled, so this invigorating blend is refreshing right out of the juicer.

2 medium beets, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 inch fresh turmeric

1 inch fresh ginger

2 green apples, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

Juice the beets, then the turmeric and ginger. Follow by juicing the apples and carrots. Stir well and serve.


This juice can also be made in a blender by adding 1 cup of water, blending, then straining the juice through a fine-mesh sieve.

Dreamy Spiced Hot Chocolate


In my kitchen, the only way to make hot chocolate is to use unsweetened cocoa powder and condensed milk, along with a trio of spices. An intricately carved wooden whisk, called a molinillo in Latin America and a btirol in the Philippines, is a tool designed specifically for frothing hot chocolate and a perfect gift for culinarily inclined friends. You use it by rubbing the handle back and forth between your palms. It’s a fun little ritual. You could also use a small whisk to whip up this richly spiced, dreamy chocolate warmer, but it is not quite as exciting.

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

2 star anise

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

4 tablespoons unsweetened, dark, Dutch-process cocoa powder

In a 2-quart pot on low heat, pour the milk, water, and condensed milk, and mix well. Add the star anise, chili powder, and cardamom, and let the liquid simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes to infuse all the spices into the milk mixture. Add the cocoa powder and mix well, using a small whisk or molinillo to create a nice froth on top. Pour into cups and serve piping hot.


Feel free to add more condensed milk if it’s not sweet enough for your palate. The condensed milk makes this hot chocolate really velvety.

Assam Tea Time


Tea gardens in Assam do not follow Indian Standard Time (IST), which is observed throughout India and Sri Lanka. The local time in Assam’s tea gardens, known as “Tea Garden Time” or Bagantime, is an hour ahead of the standard time. The system was put in place by the British, and the reasoning behind it was that the early sunrise in the far eastern part of the country necessitated an hour jump in the region to get to work at an earlier hour on the clock.

In my culinary event venue, Third Space, I started making this tea for my guests who were lactose intolerant and couldn’t enjoy my chai. Now I sometimes serve this clove tea instead of chai, which usually accompanies dessert at our dinners. It’s an excellent way to end a meal.

4 cups water

4 tablespoons black Assam tea

4 cloves, coarsely crushed

4 teaspoons powdered or shaved palm sugar or light brown sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a kettle. Pour the water into a teapot. (I use a teapot with a built-in strainer.) Add the tea and cloves and let the tea steep for 3 minutes. Strain and pour into cups. Sweeten each cup with a teaspoon of palm sugar. Drink hot.

Pretty in Pink Rose Milk


As a kid growing up in India, there was no chocolate milk or strawberry milk, but there was always rose milk. And, boy, did I love it. One way my mother could get me to drink milk was by adding sweet rooh afza. The bright red syrup, flavored with rose essence and other botanicals, turns milk a lovely, princessy, shade of pink, which I found especially appealing when I was little. My mother also added sabja, which are sweet basil seeds, to boost the nutritional aspects of this blushing beverage. The tiny black seeds add a good bit of calcium, magnesium, and iron.

Rooh afza means “refresher of the soul” and this drink is truly a delight.

4 cups chilled whole milk

6 tablespoons rooh afza syrup

4 teaspoons basil seeds, soaked in ¼ cup water for a few minutes until plump

Pour the milk into a glass pitcher and mix in the rooh afza syrup. Add the basil seeds and serve over ice or chill in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it.


You can find rooh afza and basil seeds at most Indian or South Asian grocery stores, or you can buy both online.

Cold Georgia Peach Sweetie


Southerners are known for their love of sweet iced tea. I like to make this fruity, mint-spiked tea with peach ice cubes. It is just the thing for garden parties and afternoons whiled away in a porch swing.

4 cups fresh or frozen peeled, sliced peaches (about 6 peaches)

9½ cups water, divided

5 tablespoons black Darjeeling tea

1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves and stems, plus mint sprigs for serving

6 to 8 tablespoons raw sugar

Several hours before you intend to serve this tea, puree 1 cup of the peaches with 1 ½ cups of water and freeze in ice cube trays.

Bring the remaining water to a boil in a kettle, then transfer the water to a teapot. (I use a glass teapot with a built-in strainer.) Add the tea and the chopped mint, and let it steep for 3 to 4 minutes, but no longer. Strain the tea into a glass pitcher and stir in the sugar. Let the tea cool, then add the remaining peaches. Refrigerate the tea until well chilled. Serve the tea in tall glasses with the peach ice cubes and sprigs of mint.


I like using black tea for this recipe, but it would be equally delicious with a green tea like oolong or a white tea like silver needle. So feel free to experiment. When you’re steeping tea, make sure you don’t steep it for too long or the tea will be bitter.

Clove Negroni Cocktail


First served in Florence, Italy, in the 1920s, the Negroni has become popular again thanks to the “hipster crowd.” The new devotees of the classic aperitivo have good reason to love this drink. It is bitter in the best way, bracing served before a meal, and lends even the most informal gathering an air of refinement. As is my wont, I add crushed cloves for a bit of warmth and to round out the oil from the twist of orange.

I like to keep some frozen globes of ice in the freezer when there is an urgent need for quick sophistication.

Ice cubes (I also like to use 1 large cube or a globe for serving)

1 ounce Campari

1½ ounces gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

2 cloves, crushed

Wide slice of orange zest

In a shaker, place the ice cubes, Campari, gin, vermouth, and cloves. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a glass with ice cubes. Take the orange peel and rub it along the rim of the glass.

Top the glass with the orange peel.


bright salads

Mango Pineapple Raita with Labneh and Jalapeño Mustard–Tempered Oil

Midsummer’s Salad

Thai Green Papaya Salad

Bombay Boiled Peanut Salad with Black Salt

Caramelized Fig Salad with Radicchio and Hazelnuts

Sourdough Panzanella Salad

Nice Salmon Salad

Jade Salad

Crying Tiger Grilled Beef Salad

Mango Pineapple Raita with Labneh and Jalapeño Mustard–Tempered Oil


Most Indian meals are served with some kind of raita on the side. Raita is essentially a yogurt-based salad. I like sweet and savory raitas, like this one, which I make all the time. Serve it alongside a grilled bird or roasted fish or just eat it by the bowl full, as I do.

1½ cups labneh (see Notes)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1½ teaspoons pink Himalayan salt, divided


  • "The author's sure hand and Kerala roots make for a stunning fusion of culinary traditions."—The Washington Post
  • "It is her command of the Indian spice box that emboldens her to kick up the heat in ways that Emeril never will."—The New York Times
  • "Take one look at Asha Gomez's Instagram feed, and it's easy to want to disappear into her technicolor world filled with stunning floral arrangements and lush platters of food that you can almost smell through the screen. Her approach to life is vibrant and full, and this cookbook shows you how to bring that exuberance into your life via your kitchen. Nothing is boring or monochromatic, and she embraces spices in everything from a seafood-laden paella to a leg of lamb smothered in za'atar and crowned with stewed dried apricots. They say you should 'eat the rainbow'-Gomez will introduce you to colors you didn't even know existed."—Khushbu Shah, restaurant editor, Food & Wine
  • "Over the years, Asha has been my personal guide to a world of flavors and techniques I knew too little about. I Cook in Color is packed full of recipes for things you want to be eating right now."—David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku
  • "Gomez's voice, sense of humor, and love of food's place in culture come through in all aspects."—Booklist
  • "Her deep connections to her roots appear in ways subtle and bold - be it the "Asha treatment" she gives a simple slab of wild salmon with a drizzle of mustard seed-spiked olive oil, or a rose-scented pound cake topped with saffron-poached quince honoring the baking prowess of her mother. The common thread that ties this eclectic recipe collection together is the spirit of a chef who can find the bright spot on the gloomiest day by turning on her stove."—The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
  • "Food that remaps the geography of home and heart."—Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • "Drawing on an eclectic palette and knowledge of global cuisines, these recipes will delight food lovers of all stripes and cooks of all skill levels."—Publishers Weekly
  • "As the title suggests, Atlanta chef Asha Gomez's second cookbook is a feast for the eyes....Cooks looking to spice up their kitchens this fall will do no better than this vibrant book."—Southern Living
  • "'I Cook in Color' is a testimonial of love, through food and friends, passed on from generation to generation, from continent to continent."—Brekke Fletcher, CNN.com
  • “Gomez has created a feast for the eyes and a how-to for the world traveler who likes to cook at home.—Kendra Nordin Beato, Christian Science Monitor
  • “The book is a melting pot of all sorts of deliciousness, be it a rich Vidalia Onion Soup with Aged Gruyère, Duck Confit with Pan-Seared Georgia Peaches, or her a Sticky Pandan and Date-Toffee Pudding Cake. Warmth suffuses this book.”—Better.net

On Sale
Oct 6, 2020
Page Count
224 pages
Running Press

Asha Gomez

About the Author

Asha Gomez is the author of the award-winning cookbook My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen, and runs The Third Space, an Atlanta culinary studio where she hosts her streaming cooking classes and YouTube channel Curry and Cornbread. Asha also works as a Global Ambassador for CARE specifically in the area of food insecurity. She’s also involved with the James Beard’s Foundation’s Chef Boot Camp for Policy Change.

Martha Hall Foose is the author of Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook, the best-selling homage to Southern cooking that won both the James Beard Award for American Cooking and the Southern Independent Booksellers Award. Her other titles include A Southern Course and the upcoming A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

Learn more about this author