Vandy Cooks: ‘Biryani and Raita for the South Asian Soul’ Nov. 29

The Vanderbilt David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center presents the next installment of Vandy Cooks featuring South Asian Cultural Exchange leaders Gayatri Aluri and Min Kalasikam and Culinary Club leader Mark Raj on Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Join these students at the Rec Center’s teaching kitchen as they share their cultural cuisine history and expertise in preparing traditional South Asian foods: biryani and raita.

Biryani is a long grain rice dish involving layers of vegetables, spices and meat. It is traditionally prepared in a pot, which is then sealed and cooked over a low flame. There are many different types of biryani that vary depending on the region of India in which one is trying the dish. However, the different types are equally spiced and delicious.

Raita is a cooling yogurt side dish traditionally eaten with biryani. It contains South Asian yogurt, cucumbers, tomatoes and other seasonings. Its cooling properties perfectly complement the heat of a biryani dish.

Aluri is a junior at Vanderbilt studying English, child development and gender and sexuality studies. She serves as the outreach co-chair for South Asian Cultural Exchange, Vanderbilt’s South Asian student organization. Cooking and sharing food are her favorite ways to relax, connect with culture and engage in community.

Kalasikam is a junior double majoring in biochemistry and medicine, health and society. Along with Aluri, she serves as outreach co-chair for SACE. Additionally, she is part of Spectrum A Cappella and SARRA on campus.

Raj is a senior and the chief operating officer of Vanderbilt’s Culinary Club, where he helps lead weekly lessons. He’s been home cooking for about 10 years and has cooked for many family events. Recently he made a brisket for a wedding. He loves to cook all cuisines, especially Italian and Indian, and is very excited to teach biryani.

Vandy Cooks is provided monthly by the Vanderbilt David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center to support healthy eating through cooking presentations featuring the many aspects of food preparation.

For more information, contactMarilyn Holmes at or 615-343-2638.