Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Map-Cut Art

I love maps and even more I love crafting with them. One of my favorite map cutting, especially old city grid maps. I find the art of map-cutting very meditative. Even though it involves the use of knife, the task of cutting each little grid on the map into a lacy whole is both calming and reflective. What I have discovered is that as one cuts along the various lines, sometimes new shapes and images reveal themselves. The maps of Sofia, Bulgaria and Rome, Italy are transformed into birds in flight here.

I start with a city map that is in a square grid format. (I find these maps on Wikipedia.) I cut out each of the square little by little.Then I colorize the open grids. Now the fun begins: I turn it around this way and that to see if I could see any interesting shape within the cutout. I snip away little pieces here and there till I come with an image. I glue a backing paper to the cutout and sometimes as a final touch I coat it with wax (last photo).

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cauliflower Tikka: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Today is the beginning of a five-day Thanksgiving break. However, at least for today, rain and snow have kept me tethered to home. A good thing because it gave me the time to try out this recipe: baking a whole head of cauliflower in the manner of chicken or paneer tikka masala which I have wanted to do for a long time. I took a deep breath and plowed ahead.

What you will need:

1. Whole head of cauliflower (I picked a small one because I was going to bake it in the toaster oven)

2. Store bought Tikka masala to taste (I used achari masala mainly because it was free of garlic as I don't use garlic in my cooking). Use masala sparingly as it can be overpowering.

3. Yogurt, enough to smother the vegetable completely

4. Tomato puree (optional) 1-2 tablespoon

5. One lemon to give additional tartness to the yogurt (optional)

6. Salt to taste

7. Coconut or olive oil, 1 tablespoon

8. Cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon

9. Chopped fresh mint leaves.

Note: If you are using tomatoes, you may want to reduce the amount of yogurt and lemon correspondingly.


1. Cut off the stalk and other green parts from the head leaving only the flower. When done, the head should sit flat.

2. Cook the whole flower in a pot of hot water. Do not cook it too soft, just al- dente. Remove it from water and drain it in a colander. Leave it for a while till it is completely dry.

3. In a bowl, mix yogurt, masala, tomato puree, lemon juice and salt. Dunk the cauliflower into the  yogurt mix till it is completely covered. Let it marinate for 1-3 hours. Transfer it to a baking dish.

4. Bake it at 350 deg for about 45 minutes. After that, broil it for another 15 minutes. As it cooks, water from the yogurt will collect at the bottom of the dish. Use a little bit of it to moisten the top to prevent the cauliflower from drying out as it is cooking, Remove it from the oven when the top of the head is completely dry. Transfer it to a plate.

5. Heat coconut or olive oil in a small frying pan. Roast the cumin seeds in the oil till it begin to crackle. Pour it over the cauliflower. Sprinkle it with chopped mint leaves.

6. Cut into wedges and enjoy with salad, rice or roti. You can eat it by itself with a dipping sauce like chipotle mayo, coriander/mint, or date chutney or any dressing of your liking.

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yarn Bombed Mixed Media Altered Cigar Boxes

Plain wooden boxes are like catnip to me. I have to paint, sketch, scrap, embellish and alter them in any direction my muse takes me. This was a $5 cigar box.

It has been sitting in the attic for several months. I brought it down to my studio a few days ago with no idea as to what I wanted to do with it. I decided that I would yarn-bomb it. Currently, I am on a yarn-bombing spree.  I do not knit or crochet but  wrap knitting yarn around objects in a variety of ways using glue to hold it in place. You could call it yarn-bombing redux :)

In the photo above, you can see the design with yarn and fabric. I gave the box a funky look by adding tall legs which were also yarnbombed.  Now the humble box is a magnificent gallery stand for all kinds of objects!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Art on Wood with Paint, Yarn and Inca Gold

Art on wood--my favorite medium. Materials used: wood boxes, acrylic fluid paints, yarn, Inca Gold by Viva Decor. Can you tell my favorite colors?:)

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Curried Cauliflower

Cauliflower, which is becoming a trendy vegetable, got a shout-out from the New York Times in a recent article. The article called cauliflower "a feisty vegetable that can take a punch" and recommended cooking it with bold spices in high heat. It goes on to say "Asian spices marry well with cauliflower". Well indeed. In northern India, cauliflower (Phool gobi) is one of several winter time vegetables eaten with roti or Indian flat bread.

One of my favorite ways of making gobi curry is the one I learned from my mother. What my mother used to do was to add a tablespoon or two of gram flour (besan) when the curry is almost cooked and give the curry to good toss and saute it for a few extra minutes. What one gets is a texture and taste of pakoras without the oil and the deep frying.

Here is how to do it:

1. Cauliflower
2. Usual spices (salt, turmeric, chilli powder, masala)
3. One tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon coconut oil
4. 1-2 tablespoon of besan (gram flour)
4. Black mustard for tempering


1. Cut the vegetable in medium sized chunks. The vegetable should be able to retain its shape after cooking.

2. In a pan heat oil and add the mustard.
3. After the mustard has finished popping, add the cut cauliflower.
4. Add the spices and saute in low heat till cauliflower is cooked. Cook it al dente. That is, it should still retain its shape and crunchiness.

5. Add the coconut oil now and sprinkle the besan on top. Toss with spatula so that the oil and besan coat the cauliflower uniformly.

6. Turn up the heat little and continue to saute till the besan turns brown.

7. Remove from heat and transfer to a dish. Serve with rice or chapati.

Enjoy. Thanks for visiting

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sabudana Vada Tapioca Sago Patties

Sabudana (sago or tapioca pearls) vada (patties) is not a south Indian food. It is a Bombay snack but has become very popular in Chennai. I never had it when I was growing up in Delhi. But, my mother made it when I visited her after I had moved to the US. I learned this recipe from her. 

What you will need

Sago (Sabudana or ஜவ்வரிசி or साबुदाना): 1 cup

Baking potatoes: 2
Raw peanuts: 1/2 cup
Green chillies (optional)
Salt (to taste)
Chickpea or gram flour: 1 tablespoon
Oil for frying

1. Soak sago in water overnight. It will become spongy and puffy. Drain it completely in a sieve to remove all water.

2. Cook the potatoes till they become soft. Remove the skin and mash thoroughly.

3. Crush the peanuts coarsely.
4. Mix in sago, potatoes, peanuts, ginger, chillies, gram flour and salt.

5. Take a spoonful of the mix and flatten into a patty. 

6. Heat oil in a frying pan. When it reaches appropriate temperature. drop patties into the hot oil, two at a time.

7. Remove from heat when they turn golden on both sides and drain on a paper towel to remove extra oil.

8. Serve with mint or tamarind chutney.

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Artwork on New Surface

Wood is my new substrate of choice for painting. It began when I spotted small, inexpensive 4"x6" wood panels at Michaels. I bought a whole bunch of them to paint. It was pine or balsa wood and not the best surface to paint. But it was a good experimental surface to try out inks, paints, pencils, markers, pens etc. to see how they preformed on wood. From pine, I switched to birch wood and simply loving the effect! In the last two weeks, I have completed several paintings and put them up for sale on my Etsy shop. Take a look

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