Hi, my name is Charu, I have worked as a food recipe developer for 7 years. Currently, I am a vegetarian food blogger and I cook vegetarian salads for dinner, they have good fiber content and help in weight loss. I do lots of other cool veggie dishes as well. Ask me anything!

Charu Tyagi
Jun 16, 2017

I am a vegetarian food blogger and I have an experience of 7 years as a food recipe developer. I started blogging after a break from work. I blog about vegetarian Indian dishes with my twist and healthy eating is something I really focus on. I love to mix different cuisines together to create a new flavor. My recipes are a colorful mix of vegetables, pulses, cereals and may be sometimes eggs. Ask me anything!


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What are some of your favourite recipes, that you cook regularly? I'm looking for more ideas using pulses :)

Jun 23, 10:50AM EDT0


I cook different kinds of dals or pulses, dry vegetables and kadi rice, rajma rice, sambhar idli...these are my favorite and which you will find in every Indian home in daily cooking. See for pulses we make liquid dal daily and eat with rice or chapati bread. Pulses like dal tadka, dal makhani, rajma, chole, dry moong dal, maharani dal ....these are really tasty and my personal favorites... :)

Jun 23, 1:23PM EDT0

What made you to stop eating meat?

Jun 18, 7:36AM EDT0


I never started... I belong to a community in India called Brahmins who don't eat meat and so its a matter of culture and background but I really like to know about non-vegetarian food and keep an eye on them since I cooked many meat dishes during my job.... :)

Jun 18, 8:38AM EDT1

Hello! what would be the ideal salad dressing for weight loss? I usually used cider vinegar, salt, pepper and onions. However sometimes i like to add some light mayonaise.

Jun 17, 1:34AM EDT0


Yes, apple cider vinegar is good. There is no harm in adding mayonnaise sometimes in a controlled amount if the overall calorie intake is under control. You can also try low-fat hung yogurt or greek yogurt dressing or low-fat sesame and ginger dressing or balsamic vinegar dressing, they are good options... :)

Jun 17, 6:05AM EDT0

How many people identify as vegetarians worldwide and in the US?

Jun 16, 1:42PM EDT0


I am not really aware of the actual number but I think it is not very high. From the data that I saw Israel has highest 13%. U.S is somewhere around 3% or so. Though in India it is as high as 40%.

Jun 16, 3:03PM EDT0

Are vegetarian diets completely safe for young kids?

Jun 16, 10:15AM EDT0


Yes, they are safe. My family and so many people in Indian culture are vegetarian and we feed the kids vegetarian food, so no unsafe food issues until it is unhygienic.

Jun 16, 3:05PM EDT0

What country has the greatest proportion of vegetarians?

Jun 16, 3:42AM EDT0


Hands down India :)

Jun 16, 3:06PM EDT0

How do you determine the calorie content per serving of a recipe?

Jun 15, 6:51PM EDT0


Well, I calculate using Nutritive value of Indian foods book which mentions the calories and nutrient content per 100g of each ingredient used. So depending on how much each ingredient is used in a dish we can calculate...:)

Jun 16, 3:08PM EDT0

Who are your test subjects when you develop recipes?

Jun 15, 5:31PM EDT0


When I was working as a recipe developer usually I used to call around 10 people or subjects who used to do a sensory evaluation on taste and visual parameters as a customer for each dish. Depending on the score I used to finalize the recipe or improve it.

But my blog is a personal blog so it is all on my personal taste preferences and dishes which I love! :)

Jun 16, 3:12PM EDT0

What are the biggest reasons that people choose a vegetarian diet?

Jun 15, 4:04PM EDT0


It is difficult to determine that but for India, it is a matter of culture and background we have so many caste and religions which do not touch non-veg food so that is the reason people are vegetarian. But otherwise, lot of people have opted for vegetarian because they think it is healthier. Many people out of empathy for animals. So, everyone has different reasons :)

Jun 16, 3:19PM EDT0

What are some tricks for converting anyone who claims to hate veggies?

Jun 15, 3:10PM EDT0


There are few simple tricks like focussing on presentation, it really matters. Then mixing veggies with their favorite food in form of purees or minced form. Add them to smoothies with their favorite fruits. But one needs to have a little positive approach to eat veggies and also practice is required. Then most of all one needs to educate them about the benefits. 

Jun 16, 3:25PM EDT0

How much could you earn developing a popular recipe?

Jun 15, 2:30PM EDT0


When I was working I got a decently good annual package as per Indian standard around 16000 US dollars a year. But it was in a corporate set up where I was a permanent employee, so not just one recipe I used to develop thousands of them.

Jun 16, 3:29PM EDT0

How do you find and retain readers for your blog?

Jun 15, 1:50PM EDT0


There is no thumb rule for this, my blog is relatively small right now because it's new. But to get more traffic to the blog you need to be very active on social media platforms like Instagram, facebook or twitter, keep posting good content and good pictures and that will eventually build traffic on your blog and if your content is interesting you will be able to retain readership. But most of all with blogging you need to be patient, do not expect some magic formula to work overnight to get the traffic and subscribers, it really takes time... :)

Jun 16, 3:34PM EDT0

What are the best health rewards of going vegetarian?

Jun 15, 11:24AM EDT0


There are so many benefits like good for heart health, digestive system, controls diabetes, keeps blood cholesterol in control, weight loss and great for skin. I mean these are basic few there are so many benefits of a vegetarian diet.... :)

Jun 16, 3:39PM EDT0

What can someone expect to earn as a food recipe developer?

Jun 15, 11:09AM EDT0


I am not really aware of the earnings around the world but yes I can tell about India, I answered this question above so I am pasting it for you here... :)

When I was working I got a decently good annual package as per Indian standard around 16000 US dollars a year. But it was in a corporate set up where I was a permanent employee, so not just one recipe I used to develop thousands of them. And yes, the earnings comes with experience initially it not that good.

Jun 16, 3:42PM EDT0

How do you go about getting a patent on a recipe?

Jun 15, 10:59AM EDT0


I have not really worked much on patent only once our company suggested for a recipe patent where we applied for patent with a lawyer, the paperwork is too much here in India it has our names written on it. To finally get a patent it takes 5 years in India. Once you have applied for patent you can write on that recipe 'patent applied' so that it is not copied till you finally get the patent.

But this is for India I think the process varies with every country... :)

Jun 16, 3:47PM EDT0

What is the value of preserving your family recipes?

Jun 15, 10:28AM EDT0


I think there is so much pride in preserving family recipe and something which only you and your family know. It runs through generations and the flavors can't be recreated by anyone else. They have specific taste and ingredients which only your moms and grandmoms know about. I think it binds a family with similar taste...it is a legacy :)

Jun 16, 3:51PM EDT0

How do you distinguish your blog in a crowded field?

Jun 15, 9:36AM EDT0


That is an interesting question. My blog is a fashion, food and lifestyle blog. There are few bloggers who do fashion blogs as well as create their own food recipes. So I think that is a distinguishing feature... :)

Jun 16, 3:53PM EDT0

How can you increase or decrease portion sizes for a given recipe?

Jun 15, 8:00AM EDT0


The conversion factor method can be used. There are certain formulas for the same used to determine exact portion size or required yield. :)

Jun 16, 3:57PM EDT0

How can families preserve recipes handed down through generations?

Jun 15, 7:52AM EDT0


There is no formula for this but just don't share it with people apart from your family and I think most of all it should only be with members of the family who actually cook in the kitchen...that is the only way of preserving it :)

Jun 16, 4:02PM EDT0

Who owns the rights to traditional recipes handed down for generations?

Jun 15, 6:37AM EDT0


I think there are no rights reserved for traditional family recipe but I think the eldest member who cooks for the family or the one who has created the recipe should own the rights :)

Jun 16, 4:04PM EDT0

How do you determine the nutritional yield of a recipe?

Jun 15, 6:10AM EDT0


I already answered this above just pasting here for you again :)

I calculate using Nutritive value of Indian foods book which mentions the calories and nutrient content per 100g of each ingredient used. So depending on how much each ingredient is used in a dish we can calculate...:)

Jun 16, 4:05PM EDT0

What are some of the most popular ingredients for vegetarian salads?

Jun 15, 6:05AM EDT0


I can tell this specifically as per India since I know about my country only. Lots of veggies like spinach, broccoli, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, beans, bell peppers, cottage cheese, quinoa, chickpeas, kidney beans, pasta, moong sprouts, and fruits as well can be used. Dressings like olive oil dressing or hung yogurt dressing. There are so many vegetarian ingredients to choose from....:)

Jun 16, 4:11PM EDT0

What are some unusual ideas for vegetarian salad toppings?

Jun 15, 5:45AM EDT0


I don't have many unusual dressings recipes as of now but I use two unusual dressing very frequently that is raw mustard oil dressing with chili flakes and dried oregano and Indian spices 2) Indian tomato gravy as a dressing.These have strong and Indian spicy flavors :)

Jun 16, 4:18PM EDT0

How do you prevent your original recipe ideas from being stolen?

Jun 15, 5:23AM EDT0


Seriously wish there was a formula for the same but there are none. Everything I write and create I put on my blog so it is very difficult to protect them. The only thing I have done is put a disclaimer on my website... :(

Jun 16, 4:20PM EDT0

What are potential health risks for those on a vegetarian diet?

Jun 15, 5:15AM EDT0


There are no health risks as such but vegetarian diets tend to be protein deficient. So that can be taken care off by taking yogurt or milk as additional food items in your diet

Jun 16, 4:22PM EDT0

How do you get hired as a food recipe developer?

Jun 15, 4:53AM EDT0


In my case, it was a matter of luck seriously because I chose cooking as my first job option so from then I started getting opportunities like that. Here in India, we need to take a hotel management degree or food and nutrition degree to establish a knowledge on food and cooking. That helps eventually in getting jobs. But this is a very niche profile as it was in my case... :)

Jun 16, 4:25PM EDT0

What are some easy ways to add protein to vegetarian salads?

Jun 15, 4:02AM EDT0


You can add cottage cheese or Indian paneer then also you can use soya chunks or chickpeas or kidney beans to add protein in vegetarian salad....:)

Jun 16, 4:26PM EDT0

Why does fiber content matter in your diet?

Jun 15, 3:52AM EDT0


Fiber is the roughage in your diet especially comes from vegetables, fruits and pulses. There are two types of fiber soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber is the one like the one found in oats and it helps in lowering bad cholesterol and controlling blood sugar. Insoluble fiber is the one that helps in the digestion and keeps it clean.

So I think that very much answers why fiber matters in your diet... :)

Jun 16, 4:29PM EDT0

What are some trade secrets you can share as a recipe developer?

Jun 15, 2:37AM EDT0


There are no trade secrets that I know of... you do what you do... just keep your knowledge updated on the new food trends, keep an eye what your favorite chefs are cooking, watch food shows,  keep experimenting and yes think out of the box to create new dishes..how you can combine different cuisines and ingredients together to create new flavors and practice matters... :)

Jun 16, 4:34PM EDT0

What are your tips for increasing the number of people a recipe can serve?

Jun 15, 2:32AM EDT0


Seriously telling Indian food habits are such that we do everything by estimation and I usually use that only to increase the food content. I cook for so many people at times at home but it is all practice and estimation that works for me. I have no experience in Institutional cooking so can't really give you an idea on that. As a recipe developer I standardized recipes for 4 family members at the most.... :)

Jun 16, 4:38PM EDT0

How do you deal with critics of your recipes and your blog?

Jun 15, 2:23AM EDT0


Till now I have not been critiqued on my blog but when I used to work as a recipe developer every now and then such issues came. The only thing I did was take a learning and find a way how to improve that recipe and create better taste... :)

Jun 16, 4:40PM EDT0

What are the laws surrounding publication of copy-cat recipes?

Jun 15, 2:20AM EDT0


Sorry but I have no clue about the laws :(

Jun 16, 4:40PM EDT0

What kind of companies hire food recipe developers?

Jun 15, 2:10AM EDT0


In India mostly five-star hotels, food products companies or kitchen appliances companies hire them.

Jun 16, 4:41PM EDT0

How can someone monetize their love of food and cooking?

Jun 15, 2:05AM EDT0


Start your youtube channel and if you get a good followership over time... you can earn well. I have seen so many people doing that... :)

Jun 16, 4:43PM EDT0

How can someone market the recipes they create?

Jun 15, 1:54AM EDT0


Well, I was in a corporate set up where there was separate marketing team who used to run ads, banners, and events to popularize the recipes. On individual basis, you need to come with a blog or a book to market yourself. Marketing can be done today easily through social media platforms so I think that is one way to do that :)

Jun 16, 4:45PM EDT0

What are some tips for turning any recipe into a vegetarian one?

Jun 15, 1:48AM EDT0


I usually replace chicken with potatoes or Indian paneer when I want to convert a non-vegetarian gravy to vegetarian gravy. Same can be done with salads replace chicken with paneer or chickpeas.

Just think of an option which will replace that one ingredient which makes the recipe a non-veg recipe... :)

Jun 16, 4:53PM EDT0

Do you have intellectual property rights on the recipes you develop?

Jun 15, 1:42AM EDT0


No not really I have no rights because they are owned by the company I used to work for and my blog is an open platform. I can only claim to have rights through the disclaimer.

Jun 16, 4:47PM EDT0

When cooking for yourself, do you follow recipes strictly?

Jun 15, 1:38AM EDT0


No, I follow my heart when I cook and not recipes. Yes, I do take some idea but not strictly step by step.... :)

Last edited @ Jun 16, 4:48PM EDT.
Jun 16, 4:48PM EDT0

How can parents add vegetables to their kids' meals covertly?

Jun 15, 1:34AM EDT0


I think it is important to mix vegetables in the favorite dishes of your kids in a way that it is not visible like a puree or minced form. Start by adding small quantities and gradually increase it after seeing the child's response. Present in an interesting way that it almost looks an exotic dish or his or her favorite dish... Presentation really matters :)

Jun 16, 4:56PM EDT0

As a food blogger, do you have tips for food photography?

Jun 15, 1:12AM EDT0


1) Always photograph in daylight but not in too much exposure. Maybe near the window during afternoon time.

2) Make the background dark using a black cloth or a cardboard.

3) Use interesting props around like a chopping boards, cutlery, spilled ingredients, table cloth or a rustic wooden board.

4) Use great filters. I use fotor software where I experiment with filters and adjustments. You can download it is for free!

I hope this helps :)

Jun 16, 5:01PM EDT0

What are some unusual substitutions to create vegetarian dishes?

Jun 15, 12:52AM EDT0


In India, we already have so many established veg dishes that we don't have to work for subtitutions. But you can use soya granules, texturized soya, tofu, paneer, chickpeas, kidney and various vegetable to create a dish. But again it depends on what you want to substitute and what kind of veg dish you want to create... :)

Jun 16, 5:05PM EDT0

What vegetarian recipe ingredients offer the best fiber content?

Jun 15, 12:41AM EDT0


Pulses with skin, Oats, Muesli, Vegetables, Fruits, Flax seeds, Millets and whole grains, they all provide good fiber content.

Jun 16, 5:08PM EDT0