My Two Souths

Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen


By Asha Gomez

By Martha Hall Foose

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From award-winning chef and restaurateur Asha Gomez comes this collection of recipes that fuse together the “Two Souths” that are near and dear to her heart: the beloved cuisine of Southern India, and the downhome tastes of the American South.

My Two Souths takes you on a culinary journey with Chef Asha Gomez, from her small village in the Kerala region of southern India to her celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, and on into your kitchen. Her singular recipes are rooted in her love of Deep-South cooking, as well as the Southern Indian flavors of her childhood home. Recipes include:

  • Kerala Fried Chicken and Waffles
  • Black Cardamom Smothered Pork Chop
  • Vivid Tomato and Cheese Pie
  • Masala Lamb Burgers with Mint Chutney
  • Three Spice Carrot Cake

Written with James-Beard award winning cookbook writer Martha Hall Foose.



day starters





















My mornings start around 5:30 a.m. with a cup of black Assam tea, a quick look at my e-mails, and a quiet moment to myself.

Soon, my precious Kira Girl, my frail fifteen-year-old King Charles spaniel, comes padding up to spend some time with me before I wake my child and get his day started. On weekdays, it’s a bit rushed in the mornings getting Ethan ready for school, so I make a quick breakfast bowl of grits or an egg appam. An egg appam only takes a few minutes to cook once the batter is ready. Sometimes he just opts for a bowl of cereal, or we both grab smoothies as we scoot out the door. After dropping Ethan off at school, I can get my workday started.

Many mornings begin with me cruising through one of our local farmers’ markets. The DeKalb Farmers Market is a favorite for fresh traditional Georgia crops, and the Buford Highway Farmers Market offers the wares of a collection of small farmers providing the produce of their homelands far from the shelves of megamarkets. On weekends, the Peachtree Road Farmers Market, where many of the local specialty farmers gather, is a joyous neighborly affair. A couple of times a month, I visit the Burundi Women’s Farm, a co-op affiliated with the Global Growers Association. Some of these women dress in the traditional Burundi pagne, a wraparound garment of colorful geometric prints, and wear remarkable, intricately tied headdresses. They farm a swath of land across from a metro station, with trains and busses arriving and departing. It is a sight to behold! I get a real charge out of living in this city of Atlanta and seeing a world of flavors and folks all around me.

Once the marketing is done, I stop by a favorite neighborhood café, Octane, for a much-needed cup of coffee. Refreshed, I head for my office at Spice to Table. My staff and I look through the finds from my farmers’ market runs and peruse the bounty our friends, farmers, and purveyors bring our way to decide what will be showcased on the day’s menu. We end this collaborative time filled with inspiration, motivation, and excitement to create delicious offerings for our guests. With my pantry full, the day’s cooking begins.

Weekends are more laid back, with Saturday mornings starting later than our weekday routine. Ethan often joins me at Spice to Table or Third Space, working as a scene booster and DJ. He keeps the tunes flowing for diners and kitchen crew alike with his singular mix of Led Zeppelin, Bollywood, and a bit of Lynyrd Skynyrd thrown in to keep the vibe going.

With the restaurant closed on Sundays, Ethan, his dad, Bobby, and I enjoy cooking together at home, preparing a family breakfast feast. We three agree it is our favorite day of the week. Sometimes we find ourselves inviting a houseful of friends of all ages for a fun-filled brunch. We really love making an elaborate breakfast or brunch for our friends and neighbors. I do adore an all-day brunch!


egg appam

AN APPAM IS A BOWL-SHAPED, fermented rice-flour crêpe made with coconut milk. It has a spongy, cake-like bottom and lacy crisp edges and is often featured as a breakfast item or served alongside stews. The batter keeps for a week in the refrigerator, so a single batch can yield several mornings’ worth of breakfasts. Kerala’s lush green landscape includes swaying coconut palms and curving, undulating rice paddies. These two familiar crops are essential sources of income and provide the necessary ingredients for this common, yet elegant, dish. It is traditionally cooked in a two-handled, round-sided, shallow bowl-shaped pan called an appachatti, which is commercially available in cast-iron or nonstick metal varieties.

For this recipe, I prefer a larger, open version of the appachatti pan, but any deep, rounded pan with a cover will suffice. My mother made these frilly-edged crêpe bowls for our family many mornings at our Carmel Compound home. The early morning sounds of ladies chattering amid the clatter of pots and pans in the kitchens and the clamor of fishermen pulling their nets in the salty sea air mixed deliciously with the appam’s yeasty aroma to welcome the day. The softly set egg centered in this delicate crêpe reminds me of sunrises along the beaches I roamed as a child.



2 tablespoons semolina flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar

½ teaspoon active dry yeast

2 cups white rice flour

2 cups coconut milk

¼ teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch for the egg yolk

8 large eggs



In a 2-quart saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and the semolina. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the semolina has the consistency of porridge and the water is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix 1 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and allow to proof until foamy, about 15 minutes.

In a 4-quart bowl, combine the rice flour, cooked semolina, yeast mixture, and 2 cups of the coconut milk. Stir the batter until it is well combined. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 3 hours to ferment. Batter can ferment overnight or up to 8 hours.

When ready to cook the appam, stir the batter thoroughly. Add the tablespoon of sugar and the teaspoon of salt and stir. If the batter seems too thick stir in water 1 tablespoon at a time until the batter has the consistency of a pancake batter.

Spray an appachatti pan or any rounded pan with oil. Heat the pan over medium heat. Ladle 5 to 6 tablespoons of the batter into the pan and rotate the pan to coat the bottom; form a shallow bowl slightly thicker at the bottom and thinning toward the top edge. Cook for 1 minute. Crack an egg into the center of the batter. Cover and let cook until the egg is just set and the edges are slightly brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining pinch of salt on the egg yolk. Using a spatula, gently remove the egg appam from the pan. Repeat with the remaining batter and eggs. Serve warm or hot.

NOTES: This batter may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Stir the batter thoroughly before using after refrigeration.

spice to table date oatmeal

THIS IS BREAKFAST CEREAL GONE GLOBAL. Steel-cut Irish oatmeal is cooked in coconut milk, seasoned with Indian spices bloomed in butter, and graced with North African Medjool dates. This seems a fitting dish for Atlanta, the truly international city I now call home. One of my Saturday morning routines is to head out to a Middle Eastern market, Shahrzad, in Roswell on the outskirts of Atlanta to buy spices, Medjool dates, and nuts. Ethan loves to come along on these visits as he finds them to be mini international field trips. Medjool dates, prized for their large, juicy sweetness, are an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. Look for dried dates that are plump with no spots. They are often more expensive but offer the richest flavor.

1 tablespoon ghee

6 green cardamom pods, crushed

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1½ cups steel-cut Irish oats, toasted (see notes)

1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups coconut milk

½ cup thinly sliced pitted Medjool dates



Heat a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the ghee, the cardamom, and the turmeric. Cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add 2½ cups of water and the oats and bring to a boil. Add the brown sugar and salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the coconut milk and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the oatmeal is creamy, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the dates over each serving of oatmeal.

NOTES: To toast the oatmeal, bake it at 375°F for 5 to 7 minutes or until light golden brown. This adds a unique nutty, toasty flavor to the oats and makes them a perfect match for the sweet Medjool dates.

Steel-cut oatmeal is simply whole oat groats—husked, whole grain, which includes the cereal grain as well as the fiber-rich bran portion—that have been cut into tiny pieces, as opposed to the more common rolled oats found in the United States. McCann’s Irish Oatmeal is a widely available brand and comes in a cool-looking, classic metal tin for storage.

nutmeg scented crêpes filled with coconut and jaggery

GROWING UP, CHURLLAPPAM, or “curled bread,” was the name I knew for what are more widely known as crêpes. In this recipe, sweet little fragments of shaved jaggery intermingle with strands of fresh coconut and gratings of sweet-smelling nutmeg, which are swaddled in tender crêpe parcels.

1 cup frozen, grated fresh coconut, thawed

¼ cup shaved jaggery

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided

¾ cup whole milk

1 large egg

4 teaspoons melted ghee, divided

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup cane syrup

Additional nutmeg for dusting, if desired



In a small bowl, combine the coconut, shaved jaggery, and ½ teaspoon of the nutmeg and set aside while preparing the crêpes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, 2 teaspoons of the ghee, flour, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of nutmeg. The mixture will be the consistency of a thin, lump-free pancake batter.

Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ teaspoon of ghee to the pan and swirl to coat the pan. Ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and swirl to spread the batter evenly to ensure a very thin crêpe.

Cook each crêpe for 30 seconds, and then flip the crêpe over. Place 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture in the center of the crêpe and fold in each side, as if folding a letter, then remove from pan. Repeat with the remaining batter and filling.

Drizzle finished crêpes with cane syrup and dust with nutmeg, if desired.


egg bhurji

WHEN I WAS IN THE TENTH GRADE, my cousin Johnny left our compound to go to medical school in Bangalore, India. After getting settled, he invited me to visit him. He lived in an apartment with a few roommates close to campus. The first morning I was there, I woke up to my cousin telling me he was going to make bhurji for breakfast and just how very delicious it would be. I had no clue what he was talking about. The term was not something with which I was familiar. Lo and behold, egg bhurji—or, as it is sometimes called, anda bhurji—basically turned out to be scrambled eggs with shallots, chiles, tomatoes, herbs, and spices. It is a very common street food throughout India. I don’t know why I did not recognize its “official” name; though, in my defense, it is known by different names in different regions. India has twenty-two different languages and hundreds of different dialects. No wonder this name for dressed-up scrambled eggs had escaped me. I remember having a good laugh when I realized that all he was doing was making me scrambled eggs. But his take on the dish turned out to be so much more. The added spices and fresh ingredients took his egg bhurji to a whole other level. To this day when I make bhurji in the morning at home, I find myself smiling at the memory of discovering the name of this incredible version of simple scrambled eggs.

8 large eggs

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

1 medium Roma tomato, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ teaspoon kosher salt



Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, add the milk, whisk together, and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the shallots in the canola oil until they are translucent, about 1 minute. Add the jalapeño, tomatoes, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juices of the tomatoes evaporate. Turning the heat to low, add the eggs and fold in the ingredients gently, stirring until the mixture curdles, about 1 minute. Increase the heat to high then vigorously stir the mixture, taking care to break up any large lumps and scraping the sides of the pan. Cook until the scrambled eggs are no longer runny, about 30 seconds. Serve warm.

skillet chicken hash pie

VARIATIONS OF SAVORY MEAT pies are found throughout the world. When I moved to the American South, I discovered there were numerous regional versions of meat pies there as well, each one sporting its unique twists with ingredients and presentation. In this recipe, I have combined elements to create a tribute to these mouthwatering provincial favorites. Garam masala and turmeric pay homage to Kerala, while the cream cheese crust adds a southern tenderness. Both the dough and filling for this hearty breakfast pie can be prepared the night before and then assembled and baked in the morning.


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

18 tablespoons (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

7 ounces (just under one 8-ounce block) cream cheese, chilled and cut into small pieces

¼ cup very cold water



In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer running at low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, mixing until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Add the cream cheese and mix until the cream cheese gets incorporated and starts forming a shaggy dough. Gradually drizzle the cold water over the dough and mix until the dough clears the side of the bowl. Form the dough into 2 flat disks; wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or up 2 days. Roll the dough into two ¼-inch-thick and 10-inch-round circles.

NOTES: Take this advice: when making piecrust, prepare two and freeze one! With a homemade piecrust in the freezer, whipping up a tasty treat for drop-in company or an effortless brunch on a lazy Sunday will be a snap. Roll the extra crust up between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper, and slip it into a freezer bag. I store mine in the freezer door where it is less likely to get smashed or lost among the shelves.


2 tablespoons canola oil

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 pound cooked chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup fresh or frozen green peas

2 small gold potatoes, peeled, boiled, and smashed to pieces or roughly chopped

5 large eggs, beaten

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for garnish

½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes, for garnish



Line a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with one circle of the dough. Place the dough in the skillet and chill in the refrigerator while preparing the filling. (Reserve the other crust for future use.)

In another large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and ginger and cook until the onions are golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking and stirring for 2 minutes. Add the garam masala, turmeric powder, and salt, cooking and stirring for an additional 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and ½ cup of water, stirring well to fully incorporate all the ingredients. Add the chicken and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all of the liquid evaporates. Add the peas and potatoes and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is coated and well combined, for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Stir the hash filling into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake until the top is a light golden brown, approximately 25 minutes. Garnish with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and dried parsley flakes. Cool for 15 minutes and serve it right out of the skillet.

NOTES: This pastry dough is quite forgiving and, consequently, my favorite. Some folks are intimidated by the idea of making pastry dough. This cream cheese piecrust has a bit of baking powder, which yields extra flakiness, and cream cheese, which ensures tenderness. I’m sure you will adore working with this dough. But I’m a working mom and understand that if you want, or need, to whip out a refrigerated crust from the market, do what you’ve got to do.

blueberry lime muffins

I ALWAYS HAVE FRESH LIMES IN THE KITCHEN. For this delightful day starter, I have added the delicate spice mace. Mace is an underused seasoning. It is made from the brittle, ruddy-orange web-like coating on the outside of a whole nutmeg seed. Mace is often relegated to pumpkin spice—quite a shame, considering how wonderfully it flavors fresh fruit.


1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

½ teaspoon mace powder

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


3 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons for greasing tins, softened

1¼ cups white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon lime zest

1 large whole egg plus 2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries



For the crumb topping, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and mace. Drizzle the butter over the dry ingredients and mix with a fork to make a crumbly topping. Set aside.

For the muffins, heat oven to 375°F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and lime zest until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined. Reduce speed to low; alternate adding reserved flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin pan cups. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter in each cup, and press the crumbs lightly into the batter with your fingers.

Bake until the crumbs on top are deep golden brown and the muffins spring back lightly when touched, about 20 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan on a cooling rack for 5 minutes before turning them out. Serve warm or at room temperature.

puffy ginger hoecakes

THE SPIRITED ZING OF FRESH GINGER ENLIVENS MY PUFFED VERSION of country-style fried cornmeal cakes, which southerners call hoecakes.

Although I grew up eating uttappam, a rice pancake seasoned with shallots, ginger, and chiles, I had never encountered homemade cornmeal hoecakes until I was having brunch at a friend’s home here in Georgia. Her crispy hoecakes reminded me not only of Indian uttappam but also of Venezuelan arepas. Like many of the traditional dishes here in America’s southern states, my friend’s hoecakes evoked memories of my other South in India. So, the next morning, I couldn’t wait to replicate them with some of the same ingredients used in an Indian uttappam. The resulting puffy ginger cakes have become a favorite breakfast and brunch menu item both at work and at home. I like to serve these crispy cornmeal cakes in the morning with Spicy Syrup (page 69).

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup yellow self-rising cornmeal

2 large eggs

1¼ cups buttermilk

2 teaspoons white granulated sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

2 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

2 cups canola oil



In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the oil, stirring thoroughly and making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to mix uniformly.

Heat the canola oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Drop the batter, about 2 tablespoons at a time, into the hot oil. Fry each hoecake until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, flipping once with a spatula. Using a slotted spoon, remove each hoecake and drain in a single layer on a paper-towel-lined plate. Serve warm.



  • "Certainly worthy of all the buzz... I love taking something familiar and switching it up and creating a dish that is new and exciting... a must have." blog

    "Asha Gomez bridges the gulf between the two regions' food cultures with ease, all the while pushing the border-blurring recipes way beyond fusion-a kind of F word to many in the food world...But credit to the authors for simplifying, explaining, and telling you how to make dinner in one page or less." blog
  • "It is her command of the Indian spice box that emboldens her to kick up the heat in ways that Emeril never will. Hers is Southern cooking, through and through."—-The New York Times
  • "The author's sure hand and Kerala roots make for a stunning fusion of culinary traditions."—-The Washington Post
  • "Food that remaps the geography of home and heart."—-Atlanta Journal Constitution
  • "Gomez is all about storytelling: Diners at Spice to Table get the histories behind the dishes...That same depth of history and personal connection appears on the pages of My Two Souths."—
  • "It's Asha's real life that makes the food in her book so pleasant. It's food that hugs you back."—-Food52
  • "A South Indian cook moves to the American South and deliciousness ensues."—
  • "Blends her two culinary worlds of India and Southern food with delicious results."—-Shelf Awareness for Readers

On Sale
Oct 11, 2016
Page Count
320 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