Simple steps mixed with standout flavours is the recipe behind JD In the Kitchen: Indian Sweet Snacks, a new cookbook focusing on delish confections from Toronto-based personal injury lawyer and seasoned home cook, Jasmine Daya. We chatted with Jasmine about this, her third installment in a series of popular cookbooks in collaboration with her mom, Shan, and got her to share one of her fave recipes from the book! —Vita Daily
Personal injury law and cooking—how do these two passions fit together?
Although it may appear that personal injury law and cooking are an odd fit, it’s been nothing but a perfect pair to add harmony in my life. A few years ago, I was at a lawyer’s event and was chatting with a friend of mine. I was complaining about my neck pain from too many hours spent at my desk focused on one particular case I was working on. I recall saying, “I wish I could just cook!” I had the picture-perfect image in my mind of cooking for friends and just hanging out. The lawyer friend of mine who had been texting on his iPhone the entire conversation, which is very normal for him, looked up and said to me “So why don’t you?” I recall feeling enraged. Had he not listened to anything I had told him about the case I was working on? What did he mean, “Why don’t I?” Like everyone else, I also had bills to pay and I obviously wasn’t going to abandon my clients to cook. A week later while sitting at my desk, I rubbed my neck which was still sore as I continued to work on the same case. I looked up and said to myself, “Why don’t I?” In that moment, I smiled when I realized that nobody said you only have to do one thing or be one thing.
How has cooking figured in your life?
Cooking is a creative outlet for me. I truly believe that having a passion outside of my day job has made me a better lawyer because I am able to give my mind a break. I come back to the office with renewed energy and I often see a perspective to a case that I may not have seen because without a passion project to focus on, I would have continued to solely work on the legal issue at hand. I also really enjoy time with family and friends and I believe that good food adds happiness plays a huge role in bringing people together.
What was the impetus to write a cookbook? How did you find the process, working with your mom? Any challenges?
My mom and I had always talked about compiling her Indian recipes into a book as people have always asked for her recipes. The issue is that my mom is a culinary artist. She is not capable of measuring, testing, re-testing, writing the directions, scheduling photographers and working with editors and publishers which has been my role. Working with my mom on this project has provided us with the ability to share our passion for cooking while spending time together which we otherwise would not have had given the day-to-day routine of life. We have laughed, gossiped, messed up on recipes, gotten frustrated about measurements and basically overall had a blast. Admittedly, there has been a little bickering and on occasion my dad has had to play referee which only irritates my mom more because she thinks he generally sides with me. I think he is just siding with what’s right!
What will your cookbook teach us or help us to do?
My cookbook will introduce people to Indian cooking made easy. It was important to me to create simple steps to ensure that people realize that they are capable of making these flavourful foods in their own kitchen.
If you could tell people one thing about Indian desserts, what would it be?
Everything in moderation! Indian desserts are rich in flavour that will bring a smile to your face when it melts in your mouth but we also want to keep the mid section in check.
Your favourite sweet indulgence is what?
Burfi which is like an Indian fudge. Not only is it extremely easy to make but it’s so delicious. My mouth is watering just talking about it.
Can you give us one great recipe to try at home?
Absolutely! An easy dessert that will definitely prove to be a crowd pleaser is Kulfi, which is like an Indian ice cream.
1 cup whipping cream, 35% M.F.
1 can evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 tbsp ground pistachios or almonds
In a mixing bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and use a handheld electric mixer on high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, which will take about a minute. Add the evaporated milk and condensed milk and whisk on medium speed for about 10 seconds to combine the ingredients. Pour the mixture into a rectangular 9” x 11” cake pan or dish. Sprinkle the top with ground pistachios or ground almonds. Cover and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours or until frozen. Cut into squares and serve.