Cooking - Non-Fiction

Mindful Wellness Guides Meet Plant-Based Recipes in Radhi Devlukia-Shetty’s JoyFull

Radhi Devlukia-Shetty is a trained nutritionist, passionate home cook, and student of Ayurveda: “an ancient, though incredibly relevant, approach to mind-body wellness.” Her debut cookbook, JoyFull (Simon & Schuster, 2023) has a clear mission to provide readers with practical tools – recipes, guides, and introductory knowledge – to transform their daily habits and live more joyfully. Chock-full of over 125 plant-based recipes and over 50 pages of longer-form writing designed to help readers incorporate healthful habits, JoyFull is as much a cookbook as it is a lifestyle book.

“As a vegetarian of many years, I read JoyFull as primarily offering a bright, vibrant, and beautifully photographed collection of nutritious recipes that I have already been inspired by.”

Though the recipes are entirely vegan – a shift from her vegetarian upbringing that Devlukia-Shetty credits to reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals – the author is careful to assert that this book is not meant to prescribe or condemn any one way of eating or living. Instead, she merely seeks to share what she has learned and lived. She writes that “this book is not meant to be a checklist, and it’s certainly not meant to stress you out.” Though I see how Devlukia-Shetty’s book could be overwhelming for some readers (especially given its many arguments against mainstream Western eating and sleeping habits), it is primarily composed of plant-based recipes that centre whole foods widely available in the West (apart from a few recipes that call for things like commercial vegan cheese). JoyFull even offers an extensive list of swaps for nut-free, approachable, and accessible recipe-making. As a vegetarian of many years, I read JoyFull as primarily offering a bright, vibrant, and beautifully photographed collection of nutritious recipes that I have already been inspired by.

While the introduction describes that the practices the book proposes are rooted in the author’s degree in nutrition, science, and Ayurvedic teachings, it seems that only one of the more science-based claims is accompanied by a citation – see “But Will I Get Enough Protein” on p.32. Moreover, though the introduction – see “Live in Rhythm with the Day” on p. 23 – also gestures to a scientific study on the effects of singing on water molecules (which is admittedly fascinating), a citation for this information would solidify the claim’s credibility. Though it is clear Devlukia-Shetty is knowledgeable – her information on nutrient profiles, for example, feels verified by her studies, and her application of Ayurvedic knowledge is well-cited – the omission of complete references leaves this reviewer unsure of some of the information’s reliability.

In terms of the recipes themselves, they are fittingly divided to mirror what Ayurveda describes as the six phases of the day. Drinks, especially warm ones, kick off the book’s recipes followed by light breakfasts, hearty lunches, and light dinners. While Devlukia-Shetty writes that many lunch recipes might feel like dinner ones (and vice versa), she recommends eating the biggest meal in the middle of the day to maximize the ability to fully digest and make use of the meal’s energy. While the author writes that, in terms of digestion, sweets are best consumed at the start of a meal and in the middle of the day, she recognizes that sometimes you just need sweets to end the day. The book concludes with a lovely set of sweet treats including Devlukia family dinner staples (think Pear and Chocolate Crumble and Baklava Cheesecake) and a particularly gorgeous, and accidentally gluten-free, thumbprint cookie filled with jam. Enticingly photographed and approachably made, these cookies might just rank highest on my list of recipes to make this week.

As someone with a proud Middle Eastern heritage, I also gravitate towards the book’s eye-catching photos of falafel, tabouleh, and hummus. Yet as the book’s headnotes (the paragraph of text at the top of the recipes) describe, the recipes are often deeply influenced by Devlukia-Shetty’s childhood and the wealth of Indian recipes shared within her family. Recipes for curries, “proper good naan,” as the book describes it, and dals abound. Tofu and what is lovingly called “rainbow” grain bowls are also given their time to shine as the book offers a four-page spread on how to prep, marinate, and cook tofu. As for the “rainbow” grain bowls, they are accompanied by an extensive matrix of sauces, toppings, and components, making it easy to plan bowls ahead or visualize what combinations you can whip up with what you already have on hand.

At over 300 pages and containing over 125 recipes, this is the kind of cookbook that deserves a spot on your bedside table for nightly reading as much as a spot on your kitchen counter. As with many of the cookbooks lining the shelves in the past few years, essays, guides, and longer-format writing are abundant in JoyFull. Fans of Devlukia-Shetty’s friendly, conversational approach to teaching will surely recognize her voice throughout. For those of us who are new to her and her teaching style, the joy with which she approaches the knowledge packed in this volume is sure to inspire. 


About the Author

Radhi Devlukia is a plant-based cook, mission-driven entrepreneur and the co-founder of the adaptogenic tea brand JUNI. With her background as a dietitian and nutritionist and her studies in Ayurveda, Radhi shares everything from her recipes, health tips, wellness videos, natural skincare and beauty and how to live a conscious lifestyle. Radhi now lives between LA and London with her husband Jay. 

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ S&S/Simon Element (Feb. 27 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982199725
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982199722

Catherine Marcotte is an avid reader, writer, and editor. She is pursuing her MA in English Literature and Language at Queen’s University where she is writing about intersectional feminism and ecocriticism while interrogating the boundaries between personal and academic writing.

Catherine Marcotte

Catherine Marcotte is an avid reader, writer, and editor. She is pursuing her MA in English Literature and Language at Queen’s University where she is writing about intersectional feminism and ecocriticism while interrogating the boundaries between personal and academic writing.