Saturday, November 20, 2010

My domain ..!!

The earlier kitchen was too tiny... the new extension will give double the space... Now all I have to do, is figure out how to fit in all the components to utilize space to the max...!!!

The kitchen window.... Hopefully will provide enough natural light. A sunny kitchen is most important...

Another nook that will be my own... my work-nook with the bay window...can't wait to see it finished.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The stages...!!

First - the demolition - the doorway of the kitchen gets widened... now we should be able to get a fridge through, easily !!!

Off with the old....!! the mosaic is cut out in neat little blocks ..maybe we can find some use for it later !!!

The columns for the first floor extension are being readied..

View of the ground-floor extended kitchen from the first floor..............

....and from below...

Sigh... so much more work to be done.... the waiting is tedious...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some pics of things that appeal ...

I like the gate... clean lines and no fuss... i especially can do without the scrolls and flowery patterns on the gates that are usually seen everywhere...

I would love to use these natural tiles as backsplash for the kitchen ...have not decided on the size or the shape of the tiles, though...!!!

Wonder why mosaics went out of fashion... I really like this one ...

Love the colour and the pattern of the tiles...
Want this tile for my kitchen floor.. love the colour, the glossy surface which is easy to clean and best of all, no two tiles are alike. This is natural stone....but all said, I may finally come across yet another great tile... it is very difficult to make up our minds ...!!!

So watch this space to see what we end up with...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Orange and cinnamon cake with Orange Icing

This is a Rachel Allen recipe with slight tweaking from me. It was quite easy to make, and the taste is amazing. I will definitely be making this cake again .

Butter - 100 g

Eggs - 2

Orange zest - finely grated, from one orange.

Castor sugar - 100 g ( or 1/2 cup)

Icing sugar - 100 g (Bit less than 1/2 cup)

Plain flour - 1 cup (125 g)

Cinnamon powder - 1 pinch (the powder I have has a very strong flavor so a little goes a long way )
Baking powder - 1 tsp

The cake

Preheat the oven to 180 C in a conventional oven. In a convection oven, 160 C will do.
Melt the butter. Grease and flour the cake tine and line the base with butter paper if needed.

Note - whenever icing sugar is used, take care to sift it before adding to make sure there are no lumps.
Whisk the eggs with the orange zest, caster sugar and the icing sugar till soft and fluffy. Add the melted butter to this, making sure it is near normal temperature.

Sift in the flour, cinnamon powder and the baking powder. Fold the entire mixture gently. Do not beat .
Pour into the cake tin, smooth the top, bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or more, till the skewer comes out clean.
Take the cake from the tin and cool it on a wire rack before icing the cake.

The icing
Icing sugar - 100 g (sift )
Freshly squeezed orange juice - 1 to 2 tbsp

Mix in the orange juice gradually, till the icing can be drizzled on the cake, but not runny. Make sure the cake is properly cooled or else the icing will not set.

The process of preparation is very easy... the difficult part is waiting for the cake to bake, cool, and icing before waiting to dig into it ...!!! Th aroma of orange and cinnamon is irresistible and the fresh taste is amazing ...

Try it and let me know if you agree ....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Demolition site....

Right now, this is what our house looks like... the back wall has been completely taken down, the floor has been elevated 4 feet and there is debris and construction material heaped everywhere...!!

Our home, standing empty, and a bit forlorn, and needing a lot of work ...

The debris ..of which there is an unending supply, though there is a lorry coming in to collect more, everyday!!!

The ground floor, with what used to be yellow and green bedrooms on either side, and the kitchen in the middle... The artwork on my sister-in law's kitchen walls is mine, and matched the tiled backsplash near the stove.

The first floor is ours....which had been rented out for the past years.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It has been so long since i blogged regularly, that it seems like almost another life...and yet , it is not easy to sever this link as it connected me to so many brilliant people. Right now, priorities are in doing up our home, and the research is taking up most of my waking hours....

So right now, I just had the urge to do a post and the rather bad pics I have put up are a stain-glass painting and a tanjore painting. The first one was done the traditional way, with the help of a tracing it is not my favorite of the series...

This one is absolutely beautiful, and it was done with the help of my instructor, who is the mother of two of my friends... I have not yet attempted another one of it's kind and this was done 10 years ago!!!

As for now, art is mainly on my mind, and procrastination being another 'art' I practice, it is remaining only in my mind... I guess it is past time I did something about that ..oh well...just have to wait till my daughter resumes going to school after her break ...!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Renovation dilemmas...

Our home in Chennai is ready for a big renovation, so all creative energies are being channeled into doing up Our dream home. It is not easy to go with just one thing, given the endless varieties of fixtures, fittings, tiles, paints, furnishings etc available in the market today...

Anyway, more than the fact that I cannot make up my mind about even something as basic as flooring... I would love to do up each room with a separate tile, while experts opine that it is better to stick with one so that the space looks bigger and more open.
And something in me balks at just buying stuff off the rack and fixing it here and there, since for me, bland never works as well as blend.
One thing I am absolutely in favour of, are things and colours that exude warmth and look timeless... not for me, the absolute modern and cutting edge ..(rather reminds me of sharp blades !!) many choices to be made...

For someone who hates shopping, i absolutely adore visiting endless shops and showrooms for that perfect accessory for our home...
And I find that for someone who has an artistic outlook, I adore if something that appeals to me has a practical use as well...!!!!

I never realised that putting together a home would reveal more of myself too...!!!!

The type of rooms I would love to be in ....warm, cozy and I absolutely love the flooring..taken from this site.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A fresh look for Krishna

This is the Idol of Krishna at our home in Kerala... we picked it up nearly 16 years ago in Guruvayoor... the serene eyes drew all of us in ..and it had pride of place in the drawing room for all these years..but after all these years of leaving the house closed, the paint had become flecked and faded in lots of places... so this time when I visited, I thought that it was high time it was given a fresh look. Since my mom is there full-time, she would make sure that it wouldn't be neglected.

The paint is not exact... but I have done my best to make it look even atleast in the face !! after 2 coats each of paint, I just used a spray to fix the hopefully, it would stay fresh and easy to wipe off cobwebs and dust that seems to be attracted to the idol as quickly as we can wipe it off.

I painted the chains and the crown with gold paint and highlighted with bronze powder.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kozhuva thoran - Kerala style anchovies

The picture of the fish is from net search.

Have been enjoying mom's cooking for a while now, with just a few of my own dishes for a change now and again. One fish that is used often in our diet is Kozhuva. It was only when I saw a picture, I realised that the (in)famous anchovies in pizza are the same fish !!!

We get them absolutely fresh , silver-coloured and glistening from the backwaters.....and the, smaller they are, the tastier the dishes. So here is my mom's famous kozhuva thoran.

Clean the anchovies by cutting off the head and the tail. they are very tiny and the bones dont matter.

Soak two pieces of tamarind (one used in fish curries/ kudampuli) in 1 cup of warm water.

Kozhuva / anchovies - 250 gms cleaned
Tamarind / kudam puli - 2 pieces
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Small onions/shallots - 3 nos
Green chillies - 2
Jeera/cumin - a pinch
Ginger - 1/4 inch piece (peeled)

In a kadai, add the fish, chilly powder, turmeric powder, the tamarind with the soaked water, salt to taste, keep on low fire and cook till all the water evaporates.

Lightly crush or pulse twice in a grinder - the grated coconut, small onions, ginger, cumin, and the green chillies. Add this to the fish.

For tempering

Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Boiled rice - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a handful
Dried red chillies - 2 (broken in half)

Heat the oil, put in the mustard seeds, dried red chillies, boiled rice , curry leaves and wait till the mustard seeds burst and the boiled rice turn light brown. Add the prepared fish and slowly mix till the tempering is mixed in well.
The taste is simply superb....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vaishnava Ganapati - Charcoal on paper

This is one of my creations done about 12 years back and has pride of place in the drawing room at my parent's home. There are a couple more of my works here.

This painting was done with charcoal powder and I had initially thought of doing some charcoal stumping when I came across picture of entitled Vaishnava Ganapati... I just thought I would try drawing it, and since I had the charcoal powder at hand, I used that.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Prawns and potato

Lots of things happening right now..

A shift to Chennai, hometown of my husband ...and ensuing chaos with getting late admission for our daughter, getting a flat for rent while renovating our home, meeting with contractors, visiting a lot of tile shops, showrooms, surfing the net for ideas, etc etc ...

And right now, both my daughter and I are in Kerala, with my folks while, hubby is winding up his stuff in the Delhi office..

So am having a lot of amazing dishes and a few experiments of my own also are going on... especially with a few more guinea pigs that usual, I am having a great time making new stuff...

This is a very easy dish and really foolproof... even beginners can make it.

Potatoes - 2 (medium ones cut in to cubes)

Prawns - 500 gms, (shelled and deveined)

Onion - 1 large

Tamarind - 2 pieces

dried red chillies - 2 or 3/4 sp chilly flakes

Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

Red chilly powder or even paprika for colour (1/2 tsp)

Soy sauce - 1/2 tsp

Oregano - 1/2 tsp

Boil the potato pieces with the turmeric powder and red chilly powder. When the water is nearly gone, add the prawns and the tamarind and cook for about 10 minutes till the prawns are done. take off the heat. throw away the tamarind pieces.

Now in a kadai/wok, add some oil - about 2 tsp, add the onions and saute till golden brown. Add the prawns, the soy sauce and stir at times till the oil shows. Sprinkle with oregano and serve hot.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Easy plum jam

I saw some great plums and could not resist buying them... I bought two kilos, and we managed to consume quite a few, but still there were just two days before we left for Kerala and i did not want to waste it.. so I searched for a recipe online and found lot of different versions... as usual, I adapted one that was the easiest and thus appealed to me ..especially due to the time constraint...

many of them were not ripened well, so the result was a bit sour. that said, I have to tell you that I absolutely adored it and my daughter also had a great time sampling the jam... in fact, I had to hide it away so she wouldn't keep 'testing' it ..!!!

Plums have natural pectin in them, which is a vital ingredient for making jams. So if you are using this recipe, please make sure that the fruit is either plums, or some other fruit that is as high in pectin.

Plums - 1 kg (ensure they are ripe and add a couple or so of unripe ones to add a slight tang to the taste)
Sugar - 1 and 1/2 cups (add more according to taste. I used less sugar , so as not to overpower the taste of the fruit.

Honey - 1/2 cup
Cloves - 6 (optional - please count the cloves before adding them so they can be easy to remove. This is my own addition to the recipe)
Water - 1 tbsp

Wash the plums well. Slit once lengthwise to the stone. In a thick bottom vessel, put the plums and the water and keep it on a low flame.

Add the sugar and the cloves after about 5 minutes. Stir well. After about 20 more minutes, the stones will separate .

Remove the cloves and the stones.

the plums will become a smooth paste consistency. Add the honey and let the liquid reduce and thicken.
Once the jam becomes the stage where it will coat a spoon easily, but won't run off of it, switch of the stove.

While it cools, it will thicken again. So if the jam is too thick , it will solidify and won't be easy to spread. Likewise, a runny jam won't be nice either.

This recipe yields a sweet and tang jam with a rich and fruity taste. It is easy to spread, but does not turn the bread soggy.

Try it and let me know how it turns out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mural work - 2

This is the second one of the three mural pieces that I had taken classes for. Though the earlier Jharokha had been done with a lot of help from my instructor, this has been done almost by myself. I just got the instructions and then I started work on my own.

Of course, it is a bit different from what my teacher would have envisioned, but I think for a first effort it is not too bad.

I was asked by a few of my friends for the instructions on how to do it . and I will be making the tutorials when I have some free time..
right now, life is a little busy with shopping and such for going to Chennai as well as Kerala ..... Not to mention the fact that my little one is at home and keeping her from being bored is taking all my time and energy..!!!!

So I would really like to know your opinion on this particular piece.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Prawn pickle

This was something we dreamed of, while in the hostels. When we went home, this was one item we would definitely ask our mom to make, to take back... and dinner times at the hostel with a bottle of prawn pickle always attracted more people to our table...

With this one thing, we need just rice and curd to make a perfectly satisfying meal....of course, most of the curries were unpalatable, so pickles were always the life-savers those days.

This recipe is my mom's - and the smaller the prawns, the tastier the pickles turn out..

Small prawns - 250 gms (shelled and de-veined)
Garlic - 100 gms (peeled and sliced lengthwise)
Red chilli powder - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Sweet Paprika/ kashmir chilli powder - 1 tbsp (this is for colour and consistency)
Vinegar - 1 cup
Water - boiled and cooled - 1 and 1/2 cups
Fenugreek seeds/ uluva - 1/4 tsp
Green chillies - 4 to 5 (slit lengthwise)
Ginger - 1/2 inch piece (sliced fine)
salt to taste

marinate the prawns in turmeric, salt and a bit of the paprika powder. Shallow fry the prawns till they are semi cooked. They should not be tough and crisp. Keep aside

Now in a little oil, add the fenugreek seeds, then the garlic, ginger and chillies over a medium flame till the raw smell is gone.
Now add the Chilly powder, paprika and saute in 1/4 cup of vinegar. Add the rest of the vinegar and sauté the prawns. take off the stove and add the water. Add salt according to taste.

When cooled, bottle and refrigerate. If you want to keep the pickle outside, add a 1/2 cup of warm vegetable oil .

The proportions of vinegar and chilly powder are a matter of taste. So reduce or increase the quantities accordingly.

Friday, May 21, 2010


This is one of the projects that kept me busy the past weeks.. I had been going to learn how to make the three dimensional art work.. this particular one is called Jharoka and is said to be very popular in Rajasthan , Jaipur etc

I have seen many versions made from wood, with stone inlays, as mirror frames, etc..

this one was made with plywood as base. It was great learning how to make it. I learnt many techniques and I really love the bronze color.

Let me know what you think..

Meanwhile, I have two more works in progress, and am really enjoying myself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home-made grape wine

I may never have had tried this without the help of my friend Rehna... She actually is an old hand at making this wine and her mother had been making this wine for decades...

When she said that she would be making it this year, I also wanted to join her and we really had a great time making it, and it also yielded good results.... I have no idea what the connoisseurs would say, but what we got was a sweet and great-tasting wine that could be given to our kids too.

I am sure that I would be making it often. So here is the recipe, that has been passed on in Rehna's family...

Grapes - 4 kgs

Sugar - 3 kg (If you want the wine less sweet, reduce about 250 gms)

Egg whites - 4

Wheat grains - 150 gms ( pulse them in a dry grinder to coarse bits)

Yeast - 2 tbsp (dry )

Water - 4 litres (boiled and cooled)

Five litre jars - 3 nos (to store the wine)

Crush the grapes well. Add all the ingredients into the grapes. Mix well. Pour the mix in the jars only upto 3/4th of the jars because the fermenting will cause the wine to froth over.

Stir daily for 21 days. On the 22nd day, strain and keep in the jars for three more days. On the third day, remove the wine into bottles...

We got about 8 bottles .

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Shredded chicken and green peas

These days, I seem to be just rushing in and out of the kitchen ... as I can't find the time to make anything very elaborate or time-consuming...

This was a very easy dish to make... you can make it with previously cooked chicken, shredded into bite sized pieces...or boil a few pieces of chicken with a pinch of turmeric, salt and a half tsp of chilli powder.

And you may use green peas, shelled fresh..Make sure that if you get someone's help in shelling the peas, that 'someone' understands that those are not tiny balls to play with , throw in the air or endlessly scoop up and let to escape through the fingers...!!! I shelled some 3 cups' worth, but finally had about 2 cups to cook with....!!!!!!

so to get to the recipe,

Cooked and shredded chicken - 1 cup
Green peas - fresh or frozen - 2 cups
Onion - 1 sliced fine
Tomato - 1 diced
Green chilly - 1
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt to taste

Sauté the onions till nearly brown in a little oil. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, garam masala powder and cook till the tomatoes are mushy.. now add the chicken and the green peas. If the peas are fresh, add about a 1/4 glass of water, put a lid on the pot and cook till done. If frozen, just sauté it with the chicken as they will already be cooked and just need to be steamed through.

Now add more salt if needed, and serve with chappatis, bread or any kind of pulao, curd rice etc...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spicy maida dosa (pancakes)

Wow.... life has not been smooth after coming back from Kerala....

My maid did a bunk a day after I returned... she called me up the next day to say she was ill...and the doctor has prescribed a week's rest.... after a week of reluctantly holding down the fort, she did not turn up and when i called, she very blithely told me to look for someone else....!

In between all that hubby left to Mumbai for a couple of days, and I had to deal howling and sobbing child till he came back...

There are dust storms blowing buckets of dust on to everything inside, so I cannot give cleaning a miss even for a day.....!! And of course, I have to plan healthy snacks for my daughter and do the daily cooking...and worse..................the dish washing !!!!

It has been three weeks and I still do not have a maid.....!!!

The highlight despite everything is that I am going to learn 3D mural art...

Meanwhile, i have been a bit lax in posting, but I have been taking pictures and I am still experimenting in the kitchen...this is proof of that..

These spicy pancakes were something I made for dinner a couple of days back...

Maida/ flour - 1/2 cup (for about 6 thin pancakes)

Egg - 1

Baking powder - 1/4 tsp

Water or milk - just to make a smooth and loose batter

Oregano - 1/2 tsp

Chilly flakes - 1 tsp (can add more or less)

Garam masala powder - 1/4 tsp

salt to taste

In a mixing bowl, take the flour, add the baking powder , the oregano, chilli flakes, garam masala and the salt and mix well. In a separate cup, beat the eggs with about a Tbsp of milk or water and add to the flour. Make a paste without lumps and then add enough water/milk to bring to the right consistency.

Now make the pancakes on a hot non-stick tawa.

We had it rolled around chicken sausages with some dips for added taste..

Also would be great in combination with chicken or vegetable stews.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mambazha pulissery - Ripe mangoes in curd

There are not many people who would dislike this preparation...

I had already posted the recipe in this blog about two years back, but after having my mom's pulisherry after a long time, i thought I had to link back to the recipe once more...

When made with the tiny mangoes you get especially for making this curry, it just becomes the tastiest treat ever..

My grandfathers used to rate any sadya/feast at weddings or any other functions by how tasty the mambazham pulissery or kaalan (as it is called in our area) was...

I remember my mom's dad always hurrying for his lunch if kaalan was on the menu...

This is the recipe

2 -3 ripe mangoes (if they are big, slice the outer flesh and put them, stone and all) If the mangoes are small, just peel and put them whole.

4-5 green chillies slit

200 gm ash pumpkin (kumbalanga) (Optional)

Grind less than half a grated coconut with 1/2 tsp of jeera.

Keep aside 2 cups of beaten curd.

Peel the mangoes, cut the flesh and put the mango seeds along with the pieces into a thick bottomed pan. Slice the chillies , cube the ash pumpkin. Add water till the pieces are immersed...add 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of red chilli powder and 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and cook till the pieces are cooked.
Add the ground coconut and simmer for a few this time, the liquid should have reduced to more than half the initial measure.

Lower the flame and add the beaten curd...add more salt to taste. Switch off the stove before the curd heats up.

Season it (tadka) with a spoon of mustard seeds, a pinch of uluva/ fenugreek seeds, a couple of dried red chillies, and curry leaves.

Have it with some spicy fish curry, rice and pappads, and find instant niravana....!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


i know that I had already shared a few snaps of our day, houseboating... but these are a few more snaps, that i felt were really amazing ... please check them out and judge for yourselves...

In the first picture, the water is so tranquil, reflecting the houses and tress, but as we neared the end of our trip, the sky became overcast, the waters too became grey and the movement of the water was more hurried ....

Another houseboat trying to get anchored before the rain started....
We just made it into our car , when the first drops may have been a different story if we had reached back about 15 minutes later...

It was a new experience for all of us.....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back again...

This is the inside view of our houseboat for the day

the trademark coconut palms.... lucky people in those homes who see this view every day

It has been a very eventful time for me, during my break from the blogging world...first, our move to a Dwarka, barely settled there, then a great week in my hometown in Kerala... it was good spending time with family, seeing my new nephew for the first time,celebrating Vishu with my folks,sister and brother-in-law, amazing food, and to top it all, a leisurely boat ride on the backwaters from Kumarakom...

I want to share a few snaps of the glorious view we enjoyed....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Kerala...

We finally got the internet connection on 9th of this monthat our new place in Dwarka.... it has been a 3-week wait...

Currently, am in Kerala, my hometown to visit my folks and also to celebrate Vishu, our harvest festival at home...

have lot of great posts in the making...

so watch this space.....

HAPPY VISHU, to one and all....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shifting time...

It will be atleast two weeks before I post.. will be busy shifting ...we are moving from Gurgaon to Dwarka..

Right now, have my hands full. with sorting, packing, cleaning and pulling my child out of the cartons, suitcases or from under our feet...

Hope to be back ASAP


Friday, March 12, 2010

Our tiny tot graduates from Montessori

It was a very special day today... our daughter graduated from her Montessori. All the parents were invited, and the tiny tots performed before a big audience for the first time in their life. All of them did a commendable job, and showed the time, effort and thought that the teachers put into organizing this special event.

The play was about saving our environment and my daughter was the tree... and these were her lines..

I am a tree, tall and round
I have lots of green leaves on my crown
I have a trunk, tall and wide,
Here birds and squirrels love to hide.....

and here are a few snaps, not in any order, though..

Our tree - second from left. The other tree is Rhianna, the Water is Vishesh and Soil, Arya

Joined by flower - Advaitha, Butterfly - Richa, Bee - Vedanth and the Ant ready to make his entry behind, is Sumer....

And finally, with their graduation certificates, mortar board hats and all...!!!