Food & Cooking

‘Vegetarian Flavors’ cookbook author saw a need for easy vegetarian recipes

Kristine M. Kierzek

Alamelu Vairavan did not grow up cooking. In fact, when she got married and moved to the U.S., she didn’t even know how to make a cup of coffee. 

She craved the foods she’d grown up with in India, and if she wanted them, she had to learn to make them. Nearly 50 years after she moved to Wisconsin with her husband in 1971, she’s built a nationwide audience for her recipes and approach in the kitchen. 

She began by taking her electric skillet into her children’s schools in Whitefish Bay to demonstrate recipes. Eventually she gained audiences across the country with 32 episodes of her own cooking show with MPTV, later picked up by PBS Create. 

Now, she’s published her seventh cookbook, “Vegetarian Flavors with Alamelu: Wholesome, Indian Inspired, Plant-Based Recipes” (Hippocrene Books, November 2020). Photographs for the cookbook were done by Linda Smallpage of Whitefish Bay. Vairavan has cooked dinner at the James Beard House in New York, but most of all she loves hearing from home cooks and helping them to add vegetables to their meals.