Shan Foods is ‘Squashing’ Traditions on Diwali

by Soni Satpathy-Singh

The following post is brought to you by our newest sponsor, Shan Foods, producer of premium  spices, mixes, and ingredients from all over the world.

Bust out the mortar pestle!  Pound it. Grind that. Blend this. Mix those two together and then dry roast. Oooh wee! I remember my mom, perennial hostess with the mostess, going through the rigmarole of making a bevy of homemade masala mixes to be used for her grand Diwali dinners. She practically invented the concept of DIY.

As a seasoned cook and a cook who seasons well, I, too, appreciate homemade spice mixes. I’m all about that DIY life! Rather, I tend to say that  in fear of experiencing the wrath of Pinterest gods.

But real talk, friends? Sometimes I don’t want to do it myself. Sometimes I’m all about that GSETDI (get-someone/something-else-to-do-it) life. And this attitude of mine will get me far this Diwali season, just you see. Better yet, join me!

So check it: Every Diwali, my friends and I get together to celebrate, complete with themes and the whole shebang. This year, it’s Indian street foods. Friendsgiving has nothing on us!

Our annual celebration comes with a caveat though: No one person should be weighed by the daunting task of feeding a huge crowd—there is typically about 15 of us in our group. And so as potluck traditions go, each of us is in charge of bringing one dish and a libation of our liking.

[Read Related:  How NOT to Throw An ‘Auntyji’s’ Diwali Party: Spreads, Puffs, and Puris]

Now look, I don’t usually shy away from making more involved dishes. However, I already anticipated—between a demanding work schedule this season, along with over committing myself to numerous other social obligations—that I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to spend a lot of time in the kitchen on an elaborate dish. So early on, I had called dibs on bringing pav bhaji, as I was well aware of it being easy to cook and transport, not to mention being an efficient dish in feeding a large crowd.

Sure, I only have to cook one dish but even so, I’ll have to rely on some tricks up my sleeve to save time but not skimp on taste. I’m not about that mortar pestle life this year. Ssshh, don’t tell my mom.

When I find myself short on time and energy, I always turn to Shan. This line of spice mixes makes my food taste like I put my back into it without me really having put my back into it!

Shan is also helpful in that it has a foolproof recipe on the back of the box to help create the dish the spice mix is for. But I wanted to deviate from the traditional aloo-gobi pav bhaji. I wanted to think outside—or in this case—off the box. I wanted to “squash tradition” if you will and so I opted to make a butternut squash version of my favorite!

shan foods

What you’ll find is that Shan’s pav bhaji masala actually enhances a lot of vegetables. If you simply follow the box directions, you will not be misled. But for those of you looking to break from tradition, I recommend you use this spice mix to make pav bhaji with squash, beans, or even tofu for a unique spin on a classic.  

Other shortcuts to take is using frozen squash. Cutting squash and pumpkin can be quite cumbersome and my mantra this season is save time, save sanity!

You can still be creative when saving time. For instance, you’ll notice my recipe uses fresh basil rather than the more conventional coriander leaves. Basil’s brightness and nuanced peppery sweetness go well with butternut squash and other masalas.

[Read Related: Brown Girl’s Guide On ‘How To Wear A Samosa’]

Don’t have traditional pav? No worries! You can always use slider buns or mini potato rolls. I used Hawaiian style rolls because the slight sweetness rounds out the spiciness of my bhaji.  Other genius options are focaccia or ciabatta rolls, which pair wonderfully with the butternut squash and basil!

Whether you go the traditional route or squash tradition this year, turn to Shan to help you create your favorite dishes.

Happy Diwali! Live that spicy life!

shan foods

Butternut Squash Pav Bhaiji

Makes 12 to 16 pavs

shan foods


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon garlic paste
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 pound frozen butternut squash, thawed and diced
  • 1 scant Tablespoon Shan Pav Bhaji masala
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Handful fresh basil, leaves only
  • ½ teaspoon ghee
  • Pav of your choice


Heat butter in a skillet over high heat for approximately one minute or until butter is browned. Add onions, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Next, add garlic and ginger paste; cook for 1 minute.

Add butternut squash to skillet and stir. Reduce heat/flame to medium and coarsely mash squash. Cook for 3 minutes. Add pav bhaji masala and salt, stir, and cook for 3 more minutes.

Meanwhile, stack basil leaves, roll them tightly and slice it perpendicular to the roll.

Remove skillet from heat/flame; stir in ghee and cut basil. Serve hot with buttered pav.

shan foods

shan foods

If you’re looking for more inspiration on how to use Shan masalas, be sure to join us, Shan, and Aarti of Aarti Paarti on Diwali for our Twitter Party 5pm to 6pm PST and 8pm to 9pm EST this Sunday, October 30. #Shan #TasteHappiness. Tune in here!

To see more of Soni’s original food articles and comics, visit

shan__56384Shan Recipes’ offer unparalleled expertise in taste of traditional cuisine. Procuring the best-in-class spices and ingredients from all over the world, Shan ensures
pure and premium quality through manufacturing practices such as ‘Cryogenic Grinding’ and ‘V-lock technology’. This enables the consumers to get the product in its purest form with the natural freshness, taste and aroma of the spices.

soni satpathy, sketchy desiSoni Satpathy-Singh is a recipe writer and developer who resides in Manhattan. She is either always cooking or eating be it for work or simply because she loves to! She is working on her own cookbook and also recently created “Sketchy Desi” which provides daily humor, greeting cards, and apparel that celebrate brown culture. To see more of Sketchy Desi’s work, visit or stay tuned for upcoming posts on Brown Girl Magazine.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›