Our Exclusive Interview with Jordanian Chef Yasmin Abu Hassan
When did you start your culinary journey?
Cooking was never a dream. I stumbled upon my passion for food coincidentally later in life. I studied cinematic makeup in Hollywood, that was my childhood passion, the ability to transform someone’s physical appearance fascinated me.
I never found myself drawn to cooking or the kitchen. But when I got married, I temporarily stopped my work as a makeup artist, as my husband didn’t like the idea of me being a makeup artist. I put it aside, convincing myself that one day I would go back to the vocation I loved.
I used to cook whenever I was bored and to my surprise, people would enjoy the food I had prepared. They happily ate and fell in love with my cooking. My friends and family’s reaction to my cooking soon became an addiction and seeing everyone enjoying my meals was very satisfying. It built my self-confidence in the kitchen and kept me trying new recipes and cuisine until I built a reputation as an avid cook. Then I started posting my recipes on social media. I was shy when I started and the circle of my followers tended to be family and friends, but through word of mouth, my followers increased.
I woke up one day and decided I would dedicate myself to my newfound culinary talent.
Why did you begin with social media as your primary recipe-sharing platform?
I found that social media is a great way to reach people. If one can provide the platform with good content, that evokes a sense of trust with your viewers one can reach large audiences. Since my field is within the culinary world the visual elements can easily entice appetites.
What is your favorite cuisine and why?
Arabic Middle Eastern cuisine is my favorite. It’s full of rich tastes, spices, and aromas. It is also a challenging cuisine to perfect. As I am a big fan of challenges, I always take it upon myself to cook our traditional dishes.
What inspired you to create “My Cookbook” and what makes it unique compared to other cookbooks out there?
I have never been a fan of cookbooks. Since we live in an era where social media and technology dominate our day-to-day. Instagram and YouTube channels were always my go-to when looking for recipes or sharing my own.
One day I was at the “user” of my own recipes (on my Instagram page) I found the process tedious; the watching, listening, pausing, and at times the rewinding of the recipe video seemed to be impractical. Having an open book with clear simple instructions and measurements was a natural evolution to my social media presence.
How do you go about selecting the recipes that are included in the book, and what is your process for testing them?
I choose the recipes that have been popular among my followers. Once the recipes have been selected, they are tested multiple times to ensure that they work, are accurate, and taste good. The testing involves re-creating the recipe in different kitchens with different types of equipment and ingredients to ensure that the recipe is replicable.
I am confident that my recipes are delicious and easy to follow.
What type of cuisines does your cookbook feature?
“My Cookbook” will be an international book featuring global cuisines, Arabic Middle Eastern, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Swedish, Asian, and Indian.
Do you have any tips for readers who are new to cooking or are hesitant to try new recipes?
If you’re new to cooking, you need to take a leap of faith and get into the kitchen and give cooking a go. You will also have to purchase “My Cookbook” since it’s a user-friendly guide to the kitchen ensuring delicious final results.
What ingredients do you consider essential for a well-stocked pantry, and how do you recommend readers approach grocery shopping?
The things you need in the pantry are the basics you tend to find in every household rice, flour, olive oil, vegetable oil, spices, salt, and sugar.
Are there any tools or appliances that readers might find useful when cooking the recipes in your book?
The tools I have found helpful have been a hand blender, food processor, garlic masher, good quality knives, chopping boards, wood spoons, lemon squeezer, measuring cups, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, whisker, can opener, and colander.
Are there any recipes in the book that are particularly meaningful to you, and if so, why?
They say, “food is the way to the heart” a recipe that is close to mine is “ghalayet bandoora” It is a simple Jordanian/Palestinian dish made of tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, olive oil, and salt. My “ghalayeh” recipe is close to my heart since it’s my father’s. He makes it to perfection, and we used to enjoy it as a family at the dinner table or watching TV back in the day when we used to have a single TV station to watch (no streaming). I relate my recipes to good memories; I wish I could go back to some of the moments when life was simpler.
Can you share any tips for meal planning or prepping ahead of time to make cooking easier and more efficient?
You can find all the necessary tips in the “my favorite” section of My Cookbook.
What do you hope your readers will take away from your cookbook?
I hope my book will instill a love and joy of cooking. That it will build a novice cooks’ confidence in the kitchen.
Once my recipes are tried, tested, and mastered, I hope the food will bring people together creating special moments and memories.
Do you have any plans for future food-related projects?
I see ready-made food in my future. Stay tuned!
For more details about Yasmin’s Cookbook, click here.