Vidya Vox’s music blends western pop sounds with Indian notes

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Vidya Vox (Vidya Iyer) is an American-desi with over six million YouTube subscribers. Her mashups featuring western pop hits with Indian notes. In July 2019, Vidya Vox released her album Mad Dreams.

After I accidentally stumbled upon Vidya Vox (Vidya Iyer’s) videos on YouTube, I went on a devouring spree if you will, of her music for weeks afterward.

Every song I listened to demonstrated her incredible ability to meld western pop hits with Indian sounds. What’s more, her music is deeply rooted in her training as a classical musician. She sings in an array of languages: Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, etc.

Even though this blog veers away from the geographic mandate of Toronto Desi Diaries, I hope I can get away with it.

Let’s start with the basics, so, who’s Vidya Vox?

Vidya’s an Indo-American artist and YouTube sensation. Her videos have amassed huge followings (600 million views and over six million subscribers). She made her debut on YouTube in 2015, since then she has had dozens of chartbusters. In 2017, Vidya dropped her debut EP of original songs in Kuthu Fire.

While on a pre-med track at George Washington University, Vidya began to indulge in her passion for music. She did so by posting YouTube videos. Upon graduation, Vidya took the leap and decided to pursue a music career full time.

With over 153 million views, one of Vidya’s most successful videos, Be Free, is an original song from Kuthu Fire. This song is mixed with the Malayalam folk song “Pallivaalu Bhadravattakam.” Vidya’s mashups have since gained worldwide recognition from the likes of Major Lazer, Diplo & Hrithik Roshan.

This Kerala boat song is my favourite. It evokes memories of my childhood.

What’s new with Vidya’s music?

In July this year, Vidya released Mad Dreams. This album features five original songs (songs written by Vidya and composer Shanker Tucker) that exhibit the American desi’s ease in both worlds —U.S. and India.

In her own words: Vidya Vox

About Mad Dreams

Growing up in the west as a first-generation Indian-American, I always felt like I was living a double life.

At home, I was immersed in a traditional Indian culture, eating dosas, singing Carnatic music, and listening to A.R. Rahman, and the second I stepped on my school bus, I would eat pizza and listen to Destiny’s Child and Backstreet Boys. At school, I was an outcast and felt embarrassed about being different. Mad Dreams represents a pivotal time in my journey to reclaim and embrace my bicultural identity while sharing messages of hope and empowerment.

Here’s what she says on each of the five tracks

Appadi Podu Di

Is incredibly personal. As only 1 of 2 Indian kids in middle school, the other kids had many questions for me. ‘Does your house smell like curry?’ ‘Why are your elbows so dark?’ All questions were about why I looked different. To this day, we are sold products and images to cover these “differences.” I took all the things that were said to me and reclaimed them in this song. My favorite line is Dark knees, dark eyes, no powder, my sun-filled skin holds power. The lyric Appadi Podu Di, in Tamil literally translates to “Give it back!” and my uncle often said it to me growing up as a reaction to one of my snarky comebacks. As a South Asian woman, this song is an anthem about loving the skin you’re in.

Indo-American singer/songwriter has amassed some six million followers on her YouTube channel. Vidya Vox released Mad Dreams, an intensely personal album featuring five songs. Image courtesy, Vidya Vox.com

Mad Dreams

was inspired by the story of Indian goddess Parvati, who was doing penance to gain the affections of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer and Lord of Dance. The mridangam and chalanga dance bell sound in the chorus are traditional sounds used in traditional Shiva songs. Hearing this story growing up, Parvati’s concentration always amazed me. I always wondered, would this infatuation and chase drive her mad? She’s in her world of mad dreams. 

Butterfly

is about the process of taking risks and finding your footing, which is difficult but always worthwhile. I always feel better in the end. I tend to hide in my cocoon when the going gets tough. However, it’s important to be proud of who you are, take a leap of faith and find your wings!


Lose the Night

is about a particular memory of when Shankar and I were visiting New Delhi many years ago. We were in an auto-rickshaw driving around at night. It was hot and hazy, and although the streets were crowded, it felt like we were the only two people in the city. 

Look at the Lights

Brings me back to when I was living with my mom. I had big dreams of moving to Los Angeles. Some days, I felt that I’d never be able to leave home. Other days, I was more hopeful. Making the move to Los Angeles was life-changing, but once the lights went out, I still missed home. The instrumental sarangi line that echoes throughout the chorus represents a longing for home, wherever you may be. 

Mad Dreams is available on iTunes, Spotify, and all streaming platforms.

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Happy Dussehra, Thanksgiving, and Diwali 2019, Toronto

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Hindus across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA will celebrate Dussehera 2019 and Diwali across various venues. Photo: Pixabay

Saturday, Oct. 5

Event: Navratri Raas Garba 2019

Details: Saptak Musical Group will host a Navratri Raas Garba at the Mississauga Secondary School, 550 Courtneypark Dr., Mississauga from 6:30 p.m. onward.

Contact: For tickets, contact here

Event: Diwali Razzmatazz

Details: Indo-Canada Arts Council will host Diwali celebrations at Mississauga’s Celebration Square from 2 p.m. There will be dance performances, musical concerts, artistic displays and more.

Contact: For more information, visit here

Event: Bhangra and Gidda in the 6ix

Details: Shaan Punjab Dee will host its annual Bhangra and Gidda competition at the Living Arts Centre (Hammerson Hall), 4141 Living Arts Dr. in Mississauga at 2 p.m.

Contact: For tickets, etc. visit here

Sunday, Oct. 6

Event: Shaan’s Love in concert

Details: Well-known Bollywood singer Shaan will be at the Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Dr. Mississauga at 7:30 p.m.

Contact: For more information, visit here

Event: Aaru Padai Veedu

Details: The Shilompoli Shethra Dance Academy will present Aaru Padai Veedu, a dance drama based on the six holy places of Lord Muruga. The event is happening at the Chinese Cultural Centre, 5183 Sheppard Ave. E. Scarborough at 5 p.m.

Contact: For more information, visit here

Event: Hariharan Concert

Details: Padmashri Hariharan, a Ghazal, classical and Bollywood singer will perform at Brampton’s Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. Brampton at 7:30 p.m.

Contact: For tickets, visit here

Friday, Oct. 11

Event: Garba with Gujju Rocks

Details: Jagruti Bhatt presents Garba with Gujju Rocks at the Brampton Soccer Centre, 1495 Sandalwood Pkwy. E. at 7 p.m.

Contact: For tickets and more, visit here

Event: Sugar Sammy – Canadian tour 2019

Details: Montreal’s tri-lingual comic – Sugar Sammy (Samir) will perform at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 7:45 p.m.

Contact: To purchase tickets, visit here

Saturday, Oct. 12

Event: Svarita Garba

Details: Harita Desai and Rajan Desai will perform at the Svarita Cultural Forum’s Garba. The event will take place at Bramalea Secondary School, 510 Balmoral Dr. Brampton from 8 p.m. onward.

Contact: Cost of tickets is $18/person and can be purchased here

Saturday, Oct. 12-13

Event: Navratri Garba 2019

Details: Ma Ambe Entertainment presents the Sri Atul Purohit Navratri Garba 2019 at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd., Mississauga Saturday, Oct. 12-13 at 7 p.m. on both the days. There will be an Indian food festival hosted by Veggie Planet at the venue.

Contact: Cost of tickets is $25 + service fee ($0.75) and can be purchased here

Wednesday, Oct. 16

Event: Mandala

Details: Sampradaya Dance Creations will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Living Arts Centre with a kinetic work that bridges the gap between Tibetan Buddhists and Hinduism through music and dance. The event runs at the Living Arts Centre, 4141 Living Arts Dr. Mississauga at 7p.m.

Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, Oct. 18

Event: Diwali Dhamaka 2019

Details: K.C Group will host a Diwali Dhamaka 2019 at Bombay Palace Banquet Hall, 200 Advance Blvd. Brampton at 6 p.m.

Contact: For tickets and more, visit here

Event: Sid Sriram

Details: Chennai-born, San Francisco native Sid Sriram blends eastern and western sounds with his pop/soul, alternative music. He will perform at the Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., Toronto at 7 p.m.

Contact: For more details, visit here

Hindus will celebrate Diwali 2019, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. Image: Pixabay

Thursday, Oct. 24

Event: Festival of Lights/Queer-wali celebration

Details: The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention will host its Queer-wali celebration at 459 Church St. (2nd floor), Toronto at 5:30 p.m. There will be drag performances by Seema Dikshit, a bazaar and more

Contact: For details visit here

Judging by this long list of Aug ’19 events, South Asians Toronto have some great entertainment choices

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Flower City Bhangra will be presenting its annual competition, Saturday, Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. Brampton. This popular event attracts teams from North America. Photo: Flower City Bhangra

Thursday, Aug. 1

Event: Red Carpet, Mosaic International South Asian Festival (MISSAF)

Details: The Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) returns for its 7th year from Aug.1–4. This year, the festival will showcase women-centric films as well as stories of familial struggles, love, etc. The red carpet/opening gala will take place at Cineplex, 309 Rathburn Rd., Mississauga at 6 p.m.

Contact: For the full schedule, visit here.

Friday, Aug. 2

Event: Thyaga Panchakam

Details: Head to the Toronto Public Library – Fairview Branch, 35 Fairview Mall Dr., North York at 6:30 p.m. to listen to Nrutha Kala Kendra’s Thyaga Panchakam, a dance odyssey inspired by the Pancharatna kritis. This dance and music extravaganza celebrates Saint Thyagaraja and will take the audience on a spiritual journey.

Contact: For more information visit here.

Sunday, Aug. 4

Event: Taste of India

Details: “You have around 10,000 tastebuds, kill them all,” says the teaser for this sumptuous food festival taking place at the Nathan Phillips Square. The event will run from noon to 10 p.m.

Contact: For more details, visit here.

Thursday, Aug. 8

Event: Berklee Indian Ensemble

Details: the Berklee Indian Ensemble, along with Grammy-winning vocalist Vijay Prakash will perform at the Long & McQuade Performance Hall, 4 Pardee Ave. Toronto, for an intimate and interactive live to Air performance on Thursday, August 8 at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more contact 1-800-811-2400 or email events@jazz.fm

The Berklee Indian Ensemble will be in Toronto to perform a couple of shows. On Thursday, Aug. 8 the ensemble along with Grammy-winner Vijay Prakash will perform at the Long and McQuade Performance Hall at 7 p.m. The artists will also perform at the TD Mosaic Festival, Aug. 9-10. Photo: Submitted

Event: Qaawali

Details: The Qaawali Music in Contemporary Pakistan with Umair Jaffar will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., Toronto at 1 p.m. Umair will explore the changing face of qawwali, a devotional genre of music thought to have originated in Sufi shrines. Is the soul of qawwali fading? Umair delves into these questions and unravels the various interpretations of qawwali music in contemporary Pakistan.

Contact: For tickets and more, contact here.

Friday, Aug. 9-10

Event: Eid Bazaar

Details: There will be an Eid Bazaar at Pearl Banquet Hall, 1638 Aimco Blvd, Mississauga, ON L4W 1V1, with food, music, jewelry, clothing, etc. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Contact: For more information visit here.

Event: TD Mosaic Festival

Details: The 14th Annual Mosaic Festival is taking place at the Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Dr., in Mississauga at 7 p.m. This year’s performers include: Ali Sethi, Vijay Prakash from India, Berklee College of Music Indian Ensemble from Boston, Shiamak Toronto Dance, Irshad Khan ensemble. and more. The festival runs from 5-10 p.m. on both days.

Contact: For the full festival schedule, visit here.

Saturday, Aug. 10

Event: Flower City Bhangra

Details: Dubbed as one of the most popular events in North America, the Flower City Bhangra is taking place The Rose Theatre in Brampton. The festival is hosted by Saath Foundation, a registered not-for-profit whose aim is to raise awareness about social problems. The competition will kick off at 1 p.m.

Contact: For tickets, contact here.

Event: Mississauga’s Tamils Got Talent

Details: The Positive Youth Development Committee and Mississauga Tamil Association will be hosting this talent show at the Meadowvale Theatre, 6315 Montevideo Rd. at 5 p.m.

Contact: For more details, contact here.

Sunday, Aug. 18

Event: Panorama India Festival and Grand Parade

Details: This annual event commemorating India’s Independence Day will take place at the Nathan Phillips Square from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Panorama India is hosted with the support of Consul General of India. Bollywood actress Lara Dutta will be the parade grand marshal.

Contact: For more details, visit here.

Event: Teeyan East End Diyan

Details: Navjot Thakural present Teeyan East End Diyan at The Brighton Convention & Events Centre, 2155 McNicoll Ave., Scarborough at noon.

Contact: For tickets visit here.

Thursday, Aug. 22-26

Event: Idol Ke Diwane Cruise 2019

Details: Enjoy five days and four nights of the cruise on a private chartered ship from Palm Beach, Florida to Grand Bahama and Nassau Bahamas. The cruise will feature Bollywood music, a meet-and-greet with artists and more.

Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Friday, Aug. 23

Event: Jonmashtomi

Details: Celebrate Jonmashtomi, birth Tithi of Lord Krishna at the Bangladesh Canada Hindu Mandir (Bangladesh Hindu Temple in Canada) at 16 Dohme Ave., East York at 7:30 p.m.

Contact: For more information, visit here.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Event: Sairam Dave live in Toronto

Details: International folk artist Sairam Dave will perform at the Sringeri community centre, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke, at 6 p.m.

Contact: For tickets and more contact here.

Sunday, Aug. 31

Event: Maithry Onam

Details: Maithry’s Onam 2019 will be held at the Campbell Community Centre, 1050 Sandalwood Pkwy. W. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Here’s a sneak peek at the highlights of the 2019 Mosaic International South Asian Film Festival (MISAFF) running Aug. 1-4 in Mississauga. Video courtesy, MISAFF

‘Why this Kolaveri Di’ actor Dhanush will test international waters in The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir

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The film based on Romain Puértolas’ best-selling novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, will hit the theatres in Canada, June 21.

South Indian actor Dhanush’s upcoming film, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir, directed by Ken Scott, a Canadian filmmaker will hit the theatres in Canada including a few across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films

South Indian superstar Dhanush plays Ajatashatru Lavash Patel or Aja in the soon-to-be-released, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir.
Directed by Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott and co-produced by France, India, and Belgium, the film also features Berenice Bejo, Barkhad Abdi, Erin Moriarty, and Abel Jafri as well as Gérard Jugnot, Ben Miller, Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, and Stefano Cassetti.

Distributors A-Z Films will release the much-anticipated film in theatres across Canada, June 21.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir won the audience award for “Best Comedy” at the Barcelona Sant-Jordi International Film Festival recently and was part of the 2019 IFFSA Toronto.

Scott adapted the film from Romain Puértolas’ best-selling novel, The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe.

 In The Extraordinary Journey, Dhanush plays a goofy street hustler from Mumbai who embarks on an extraordinary voyage across Europe in search of his estranged father.

During the sojourn, he finds love in a Swedish furniture store in Paris, but danger ensues when he also finds trouble with Somalian migrants. Though other twists and turns, Aja ends up in London and stumbles upon some fortune in Rome.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir by Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott features Indian superstar Dhanush. The film will be distributed by A-Z Films will be in theatres June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films.

“This film is a universal story that is a joy ride for every member of the family,” says A-Z Film’s Antoine Zeind. “Director Ken Scott has done a remarkable job bringing together many parts of the world and mixing in plenty of emotion through laughs, storytelling, and social commentary. I know Canadians will be very taken by The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir and I’m excited to bring this adventure to them.”

Here’s a bit of Dhanush trivia:

  • His first film was Thulluvadho Ilamai, a 2002 coming-of-age film was directed by his father, Kasthuri Raja.
  • Dhanush has starred in over 25 films and received the “Best Actor” award at the 58th National Film Awards for his performance in Aadukalam (2010).
  • In 2011, Dhanush received international attention for his song Why this Kolaveri Di

Read on as Dhanush speaks candidly to his fans and audiences about:

The screenplay


“It had a fantastic message to send out to the world, combined with irresistible humor. It was also the promise of a journey I hadn’t yet dared to take in my career. You rarely get the chance of being offered a role like that.”

On his character Aja

“He is a street magician. He is charming and can get out of sticky situations most of the time. But he is also a character who most viewers can identify with because he is truly philosophical about life – and doesn’t hesitate to take off on a mind-blowing adventure.”

Tamil superstar Dhanush (r) seen here with Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott during the making of the upcoming film, “The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir,” which will hit the theatres in Canada, June 21. Photo: Golden Ratio Films.

Film’s director Ken Scott

“He is an extremely pleasant director and at the same time, he has a very clear vision of what he wants. It’s fantastic to be directed by someone who knows how to take you exactly where he wants you to go, yet allows you to make the character your own. He encourages real teamwork; with him, I felt like we were building scenes together, getting inspiration from both his approach and mine. I learned a lot with him.”

Work method

“I didn’t have time to do readings or rehearsals, but in retrospect, I’m really happy about that. Because I was able to keep a certain freshness and spontaneity that I wouldn’t necessarily have had if we had rehearsed.”

Dancing

“It’s an art that is an integral part of Indian culture. I’ve done more than thirty films in India, and in most of them, I had dance scenes. Since I’m used to dancing on a regular basis, I didn’t really need to do any preparation for that.”

A different world

“Probably the most difficult thing for me was adapting to a world so radically different from what I am used to. I had to get accustomed to different work methods and a different shooting style. During the first week, it was pretty tough for me, but after that, I really had a blast!”

 You can check out a couple of tracks from the film including Jaadu Ka Pitaara and #Madaari song sung by Vishal Dadlani and Nikhita Gandhi and music by Amit Trivedi at https://youtu.be/-UPuJATvHmc.

Merry Christmas Toronto Desis. Here’s a list of Dec. ’18 events happening in your city

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Toronto Desi Diaries wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a dhamaka year ahead. Check out these Dec. 2018 events curated just for you.

A photo of a blue autorickshaw

Gerrard India Bazaar will be hosting a walking/food-tasting tour, Saturday, Dec. 22.

Saturday, Dec. 22

 

Event: Gerrard India Bazaar Walking and Food Tour

Details: This one-hour tour will start at 5:30 p.m. outside the Dollar Tree entrance doors near Coxwell and Gerrard Streets in the neighbourhood known as “Little India.” The walkers will get fascinating insights about the area’s history as they stroll down the lanes dotted with storefronts displaying colourful items such as clothing, jewelry, art, religious artifacts and more. The tour will also include a sampling of Indian and Pakistani food.
Contact: For more information visit here 

Monday, Dec. 24

Event: AR Rahman: A spiritual Music Experience

Details: Indian maestro AR Rahman’s name is synonymous with numerous chartbusters but what many people don’t know is that the legendary singer/composer has a spiritual side. This will be at the forefront at the Metro Convention Centre, 222 Bremner Blvd. at 5:3- p.m. The concert will also feature Javed Ali. The audience will be able to listen to Sufi compositions and Bollywood hits such as “Khwaja mere Khawaja, maula and others.
Contact: For tickets visit here

“The philosophy and teachings of Sufis brought a change in my life,” Note Rahman. “It has influenced my music. It has made me look at my inner self and meaning of my existence in more depth.”

 

Tuesday, Dec. 25

Event: My Jolly Bolly Christmas

Details: Once you have unwrapped the presents and tucked into a hearty lunch, afterward, why not head to 866 Bloor St. W. at 7 p.m. to celebrate, “My Jolly Bolly Christmas” with The MAD Band as they belt out some cheery Bollywood and Christmas classics, then laugh as Zain Ali, a standup comic performs his sketches, all this while enjoying delicious food and drinks.
Contact: For more details visit here.

Thursday, Dec.27

Event: One Mic Nights

Details: This event hosted by Broadening Horizons is happening at the Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln. in Brampton at 7 p.m. It will feature Brampton’s dynamic artists, musicians, changemakers and trendsetters. The evening will feature hard rock, hip-hop, R&B and more.
Contact: For tickets and other information, visit here.

Monday, Dec. 31

Event: PGA International: NYE 2019

Details: You may want to head to Bovaird Banquet Hall, 190 Bovaird Dr. W. for this New Year bash by PGA International.
Contact: For tickets and other information here.

**There are several NYE happening in and around the GTA*** it wasn’t possible to list them all here.

 

This Toronto love story has Farah the Jatti yearning for her Jatt

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This blog post has two stories of exceptional Toronto desis.

A snow-woman created to look like a South-Asian bride

This desi snow-woman created by Jassu Kingra, 19, Daljit Warraich, Navi, 15, and Bini, 9, created quite a stir on social media on account of the unorthodox take on Frosty the Snowman. Photo: Jassu Kingra (@jamsbyjassuk)

It’s winter and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) has had some snow activity, including one a few weeks ago when Ma Nature dumped several centimetres of white stuff on unsuspecting folks, Remember that one? Creativity is when you take the raw ingredients nature throws at you and you turn it into a viral work of art.

Everyone, meet, Farah the Jatti aka Saddi Juliet, snowwoman extraordinaire.

Rotund Saddi Juliet was decked in wedding finery. She wore an eye-catching crimson dupatta, accessorized with heavy gold (fake, obviously) jewelry, including a necklace, earrings, and maang (forehead) tikka and even fake eyelashes.

Her creators? A couple of enterprising Brampton teens– Jassu Kingra, 19, Daljit Warraich Navi, 15, and Bini, 9.

It was Daljit’s first winter in Canada. She wanted to stack the packed snow into a winter-tradition—a snowman so that she could show off to her relatives in India. Except, the empowered girls decided Frosty the Snowman was passé.

There’s a hint of mystery to the whole exercise that will only likely be revealed when Brampton gets another substantial showering of snow (at least enough to build, I presume a desi “Jatti” a male counterpart). We can’t wait.

The desi snow-woman literally broke Twitter (84,000 tweeps “liked” her and hundreds of others showed love on Instagram and Reddit).

Art is art, even when it’s fleeting.

Here’s to the girls who warmed the hearts of everyone with their cool creation.

                                              ****

A Mother’s Love: This cookbook has South Asian recipes with a flavourful twist

Jasmine Dayal, Toronto lawyer and cookbook author

Jasmine Dayal, a Toronto lawyer’s recently published a cookbook, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys features several South Asian recipes with East African flavours.
Photo submitted by Jasmine Dayal

Jasmine Dayal, I imagine, is always happy to swap the black robes—she wears to court as a lawyer— for an apron.

In her book, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, released some months ago, Jasmine shares Indian appetizers with East African influences.

There are several familiar and some unfamiliar starters and entrees such as samosas, spicy crepes, beet and arvi bhajias, and others.

“As an experienced home cook, I have always loved collaborating in the kitchen with my mother, Shan,” Jasmine admits. “My mother is a creative and inspiring cook
and I learned my way around the kitchen by looking over her shoulder. It was a no-brainer to join forces with her to produce my first cookbook that reveals many of our family recipes. I cannot wait for everyone to get a taste of all the flavourful and delectable meals I grew up eating.”

Jasmine is also the founder of a lifestyle website JD in the Kitchen. Here you can check out recipes, learn about the spices that make Indian cooking bold and flavourful, and browse through an online store where you can buy her three books, yes, she has three of them, and some of the fresh spices she uses in her recipes.

A photo of skewer of kababs.

Jasmine Dayal’s cookbook: JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, features several appetizers and starters with East African flavours. These skewers of Ismaili Bhajia made with chickpea flour, potatoes, and other spices are a true definition of comfort food. Photo supplied by Jasmine Dayal.

JD in the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys, is a slim 81-page cookbook with recipes that are not elaborate. They are ideal for both novices as well as aspiring cooks.

Jasmine started JD In the Kitchen website, as a portal to shares her love for cooking. Despite juggling a hectic schedule, it appears Jasmine carves time to make meals for her family. What’s more, she’s generous enough to share the recipes.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Jasmine’s career as an articling student started in 2005 at Fireman Wolfe LLP. She became an associate at the same firm and is now a partner in the firm that now carries her name – Jasmine Daya & Co., Impressive no?

JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys is now available on Amazon and on her website.

A bowl of green chutney

This green chutney prepared with cilantro and green chilies is a perfect dance partner to almost all appetizers. Toronto lawyer, mom, and cooking enthusiast Jasmine Dayal creates several recipes in her just-published cookbook, JD In the Kitchen: Indian Appetizers and Chutneys. Photo supplied by Jasmine Dayal.

Here’s the recipe for the Ismaili Bhajia (featured above)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons of green chili puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch round slices
  • Oil for deep frying

Method

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the potatoes and oil to create a smooth batter.
  2. In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Note: There should be enough oil for the potato slice to sink to the bottom and become submerged.
  3. Take one potato slice at a time, dip it into the chickpea batter, coat well and then place it gently into the oil. Cook for about a minute and then flip it to cook the other side.
  4. Remove, place the Bhajia on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  5. Enjoy it with green chutney (recipe in Jasmine’s book).

Wishing you a very Happy Diwali, Toronto!

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A copper idol of Goddess Lakshmi in midst of red flowers

Hindus worldwide will celebrate Diwali on Nov. 7. The festival is marked by prayers to Goddess Lakshmi.

Friday, Nov. 2

Event: Diwali Dhamaka

Details: Celebrate Diwali Dhamaka with the KC Group. Celebrations are happening at the Bombay Palace, 200 Advance Blvd. in Brampton at 6 p.m.
Contact: For tickets to Diwali Dhamaka visit here

Saturday, Nov. 3

Event: Diwali Dance Night

Details: Head to the party room at the Greenbriar Recreation Centre, 1100 Central Park Dr. at 7:45 p.m. Organizers are promising music, food, and fun to celebrate the Festival of Lights.
Contact: For more information visit here

Event: Hindu Heritage Month Celebrations

Details: November is Hindu Heritage Month. Commemorate the month at the International Centre, 6900 Airport Rd. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more details visit here

Event: Anokhi Media anniversary event

Details: Anokhi Media will celebrate its 15th anniversary in a two-day event taking place at the Sheraton Centre, Toronto Hotel at 123 Queen St. W. on Saturday, Nov. 3.
Contact: For more information visit here

Friday, Nov. 9

Event: Standup Comedy Live

Details: Indian comics Rahul Subramanian and Kunal Kamra will perform at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, John Bassett Theatre, 255 Front St. W. Toronto at 7 p.m.
Contact: For tickets visit here

Saturday, Nov. 17

deepavali

Hindus and Sikhs in Toronto will celebrate the festival of lights, Diwali, Nov.7.

Event: Music Festival

Details: The Vraj Canada Intercultural Music Festival will celebrate Canada’s multiculturalism through performances by several artists. The event will take place at the Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr. Toronto at 6:30 p.m.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Sunday, Nov. 18

Event: The Kishore Kaka Show

Details: Kishore Kaka aka Smit Pandya is an actor, radio jockey, comic and YouTube sensation with more than 100,000 subscribers. The well-known standup will be performing at the SVBF, 80 Brydon Dr. Etobicoke at 6 p.m. Sanjay Raval is the special guest.
Contact: For tickets and more visit here

Event: SOCH workshop

Details: Supporting Our Community’s Health (SOCH) an initiative aimed at educating and creating awareness about mental health will be hosting its workshop, “Addictions- A Rising Concern in the South Asian Community,” at the Cyril Clark Library (20 Loafers Lake Ln.) in Brampton at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18
Contact: For more details visit here

Wednesday, Nov. 28

Event: Mental health conference

Details: Supporting the Mental Health of South Asian Youth and Families: Navigating Intergenerational Challenges within the South Asian Community, a one-day conference will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the YWCA, 87 Elm St.
Contact: For more information visit The Collaborative for South Asian Mental Health

All month-long

Event: Plays/workshops

Details: Under Artistic Director Ravi Jain, Managing Director Owais Lightwala and Executive Producer Kelly Read, Why Not Theatre presents a season of award-winning, pioneering, and thought-provoking theatre, created in Canada and around the world, for 2018/19.

In November, Mouthpiece will begin the final leg of its international tour. The award-winning play recently premiered as a feature film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2018/19 theatre tour begins in Halifax and ends in Berkeley, CA!
November sees a new incarnation of Like Mother, Like Daughter, a funny and emotional show where real mothers and daughters create and perform it, using their own lives and stories in an improvised format. Originally conceived in Montreal by Why Not Theatre and Complicité London UK, Like Mother, Like Daughter is being produced all over the world with local mothers and daughters. There will be eight performances of Like Mother, Like Daughter at the 918 Bathurst Centre, each one culminating in a communal meal, presented by the Koffler Centre of the Arts.

For more information visit Whynot Theatre, visit here.