Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tangled Valentine!

Happy Valentine's Day to those who care about these things!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Matar Paneer Curry (Dry)

Dry matar paneer is one of the easiest and ridiculously quickest dish to prepare. That is, if you use frozen peas and store-bought cheese. Except for the time, it takes to thaw the peas and the cheese, prep time is almost zero. Cooking time is just about ten minutes. If you already have bread in the refrigerator, in about 15 minutes you can have a tasty and filling meal.

Ingredients (Serves two)

Frozen green peas 5oz
Indian paneer (available in the freezer section of any Indian grocery store) 3oz
Olive oil one tablespoon
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
salt to taste
chili powder 1/4 teaspoon
turmeric 1/4 teaspoon
garam masala 1/4 teaspoon

1. Thaw peas and paneer to room temperature.
2. Crumble thawed and softened paneer into little pieces
3. Heat oil in a skillet and roast the cumins till they brown.
4. Add the peas, salt and the spices. Toss the mix thoroughly with a spatula that the peas are completely coated in spies. Cook till peas turn soft.
5. Add the crumbled paneer and blend into the peas with the spatula. Cook the peas and the paneer for an additional  minute or two. Do not cook longer than that because paneer will  overcook and turn chewy, unless you like your paneer chewy.
6. Remove from heat and transfer to a dish. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and ginger. Serve with Indian roti or make a sandwich with wheat bread.


Thanks for visiting.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Poha Aval Uppuma: RIce Flakes Breakfast Dish

Poha is a breakfast dish popular in the western state of Maharashtra, India. At its basic it is rice flakes cooked with little salt and green chilies. It can be enhanced with addition of vegetables such as  green pepper, potatoes, onions and green peas. If you want your poha crunchy, you can add some peanuts. Whichever way you  make it,  it is a dish with calorie count and minimal preparation..


poha or aval (thick): 1 cup
green chilies : 3
gurry leaves: a sprig
shelled and skinned raw peanuts:  as many as you prefer
mustard: 1 teaspoon
salt to taste; turmeric: 1/4 teaspoon; a pinch of powdered asafoetida

1. Soak poha in two cups of cold water for 30-45 minutes. Poha will absorb all the water and double in size.

2. Drain the soaked poha in a colander to remove any residual water.

3. Heat oil in a deep skillet. Add asafoetida and mustard. Let mustard pop. Add curry leaves and green chilies.

4. Add peanuts and roast till they turn gold brown.

5. Add poha, salt and turmeric. With a spatula turn over the mixture completely. Remove from heat when poha is cooked completely.

Serve hot with coconut chutney or pickle.


If you vegetables in your poha, cut them finely and add them along with green chilies. Cook till they become tender and then add the poha. Adjust the salt accordingly.

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pongal Season, Chennai January 2015

January is absolutely the best month to be in Chennai. The weather is incredibly balmy, trees are leafy and green, the mosquitoes behave themselves and the entire city is colorful and in a celebratory mood for the Pongal festival.

It is the season for music festival, arts and crafts shows, textile exhibitions and weddings.

It is the celebration of nature's bounty, winter harvest and the beginning of Sun's northern ascension. In a country where still seventy-five percent of the population lives in villages, Pongal brings farmers and their livestock to the center stage in a grateful acknowledgment of their labor and toil in feeding the country's billion people. Pongal itself means an overflowing cooking pot and every Tamil kitchen at the appointed hour witnesses the milk and rice boiling over the cooking pot. Unsurprisingly, the three-day harvest festival  is also celebrated with varieties of food preparation based on rice and vegetables.

Just before the start of the festival, roadside are filled with carts and stalls of fresh winter vegetables, sugarcane, raw turmeric and fruits.

It is the time for families to do things together.

Even the birds get to partake in the feast!

If cultures reveal their heart and soul in what they celebrate,then Pongal festival is Tamil culture at its best.

Happy Pongal!

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Art of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

St. Peter's Baldacchino, Cathedra Pietri and Gloria

An odd confluence of sightseeing choices exposed me to many works of Bernini and what a wonderful experience it turned out to be! Bernini was the architect responsible for creating the vast piazza with its perfectly aligned colonnades of St. Peter's Basilica and much of its interior decoration including the Baldacchino, Cathedra Pietri and Gloria. He was also the principal architect of Piazza Navona. His sculptural masterpieces were renowned for their multi-dimensionality, dramatic tension and psychological intensity. Many of his sculptures (Rape of Proserpina, Apollo and Daphne and David) focused on that single dramatic moment when a major action is about to happen-in the Rape of Proserpina, it is when Persephone is grabbed by Pluto and we are witness to Persephone's resistance and despair and to Pluto's very ungodly and unattractive mien. In Apollo and Daphne, it is exactly at the point when leaves begin to sprout from Daphne's feet as she turns into a tree to escape Apollo's clutches.  I am posting here photos of some of these great art. Enjoy.

Rape of Proserpina, Borghese Gallery, Rome

Rape of Proserpina

Paulette Bonaparte

David about to fire the slingshot

Apollo and Daphne

Four Rivers Fountain, Piaza Navona

Piazza Navona
Left Colonnade of Piazza San Pietro, Vatican

St. Peter's Baldacchino

Statue of St. Peter on the Piazza

Right Colonnade 

St. Paul and Other Angels

Monday, December 22, 2014

No Sew No Glue Sari Journal

It was my favorite sari. Handwoven from the finest softest silk cotton, it was one of the best specimens of the Oriya hand loom weaving style. I brought it with me to the US thirty years ago. When the number of suitcases I could bring with me was limited to two, I gave away several of my saris to my sister, but not this one. But quickly it became obvious that the very same qualities that made it so lovely in India made it an impractical garment in the US. It slowly sank to the bottom of the pile and languished there for thirty years. I could not bear to throw it away. Then one day,  as I was making my rice bag journals it came to me that I could make cloth journals out of it. I cut the six yards into three parts, washed and starched each one individually. I tore them into roughly equal sized pieces and using the slot and tab technique created the journal you see above . I used the pieces as they were which led to some interesting variations among the pages. The top page above , for example, comes from the end piece of the sari and has fringes while the two below come from the border and the body sections.

I was very pleased with the way it come out. I decorated, wrote on it, painted---oh, the possibilities were endless. On one of the pages I wrote a little message "Bloom where you are planted" which is what this old sari  and I have done.

Last summer, I submitted this journal for publication. It can now be found in the Winter 2014 edition of Cloth Paper Scissors Pages issue. This sari has reinvented and replaced itself in such creative ways. I wonder where and what it will be next, I wonder.

Thanks for visiting.

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).

Thanks for visiting.