We’re full into the holiday season now. That means shopping, friends and family, and of course, lots of great food.
As we all come together to share time and meals, we’re spotlighting one of our favorite cookbook authors this month.
Meet Jasmine Daya, author of JD in the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers & Chutney.
Check out our Facebook Live with highlights from JD in the Kitchen and Jasmine’s quick list of kitchen must-haves:
Read the full interview here:
Lulu: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
JD: I am a wife, mother of three children ages 6, 9 and 13 and a full-time practicing civil litigation lawyer.
Lulu: When did you first fall in love with cooking?
JD: I started experimenting in the kitchen when I was in high school with simple recipes like chocolate chip cookies being a favorite. It wasn’t until I went away to university that I really started to cook proper meals and that is when I fell in love. I loved trying new recipes and watching other people enjoy eating what I had cooked. To this day, it gives me great pleasure to cook for my friends and family.
Lulu: How did you learn to cook?
JD: My mother was always cooking and I was always hanging around the kitchen. Whether I was chatting with her, doing homework at the kitchen table or just simply starving and waiting for dinner to be ready, I was always present. When I was really young, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s place and she too was always in the kitchen and I was always present in the kitchen back then also. Looking back, I think I learned how to cook by just being around fantastic cooks in the kitchen!
Lulu: Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?
JD: My Indian cooking is inspired by my grandmother and my mother but with a slightly North American touch. Other cooking is inspired by my cravings and what I have in my fridge! One of my favorite things to do is use whatever ingredients I have on hand to create a new meal for dinner. My kids will then give me a rating out of 10 with very entertaining commentary. There is only one new creation that my daughter gave a 1 and my son gave a 10 – baked coconut chicken strips but likely because she claims to not like coconut except when it’s in coconut cream pie. I made up for it the next day with her favorite dish – spaghetti with meat sauce and I was back up at a 10 from my daughter, where I belong!
Lulu: Why do you love cooking?
JD: Aside from enjoying others derive pleasure when they taste what I have cooked, I love cooking because it enables me to disconnect from my job as a lawyer. I am blessed to say that I wake up every morning excited to go to work because I absolutely love advocating for my clients as a lawyer. The fast pace and never-ending stress in litigation however is not for the faint of heart. Cooking gives my mind a break from work. After I cook and return to lawyering, I feel reenergized and ready to again aggressively pursue the best result for my clients.
Lulu: Why did you decide to publish a cookbook?
JD: I decided to publish a cookbook to share family recipes that would have been lost if they were not properly put onto paper. It would be a shame to see that happen. Collaborating with my mother on this project has been an added bonus as we have spent an immense amount of quality time together testing recipes that we otherwise would not have had given that we both have such busy schedules.
Lulu: What is your favorite recipe from your cookbook?
JD: Ismailia bhajia, hands down! It’s like eating fresh, deliciously spiced French fries. The only problem is that you may have difficulty stopping yourself from reaching for more.
Lulu: What are your must-have kitchen tools, especially for cooking Indian food? Do you have favorite brand you’d recommend?
JD: The essentials are a good knife, chopping board, pots and a metal slotted spoon to remove food from hot oil. I often use a citrus squeezer as I believe fresh lemon juice is a must and my wrists are too sore after typing at the office all day to then come home and squeeze lemons by hand. A good blender or bullet is essential for making perfectly pureed chutney.
Lulu: Do you have any advice for those just learning to cook Indian food?
JD: Don’t be afraid to experiment with the large variety of spices. Initially, it may seem overwhelming but once you have tried them, you will discover an entire new world of intense flavor that will heighten your senses and leave you feeling pure bliss.
Lulu: When you’re not cooking, what do you like to do?
JD: I love trying new restaurants, cheering on the Toronto Raptors, watching Netflix on the sofa with my kids, giggling with my girlfriends about anything and everything and during the winter months, I can often be found daydreaming about being in Miami sitting poolside under palm trees!
Lulu: Any fun facts you’d like your readers to know about you?
JD: I eat a small bowl of potato chips almost every night before I go to bed. I’ve tried so hard to kick the habit but then I go to sleep very unhappy!
Lulu: Where can people get in touch with you?
Lulu: Do you have any future projects on Lulu planned?
JD: I have numerous future projects planned including more cookbooks! I’m actually so excited about the road ahead. My only issue is that there are only 24 hours in a day and I actually need sleep. Stay tuned!
Cook up Something Amazing
We’ve all got that tattered book stuffed with handwritten recipes and torn out pages from our old Betty Crocker© cookbooks. Take those recipes you and your family have been cooking for years and turn them into something truly unique.
Make your own cookbook from the recipes you’ve been using for years. It’s the kind of simple and original gift anyone would love. Learn more about making your own cookbook on our Cookbooks page:
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Paul is the Technical Writer at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). He also manages the community site – http://connect.lulu.com/en/ – and in his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.