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

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.

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!

Thanks for visiting.

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 roti.

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.

Thanks for visiting.

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

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rajma, Kidney Beans Stew: Creamy and Flavorful Without Cream or Spice

Rajma is one of my favorite curries and it is my go to accompaniment to rice and roti when I am feeling lazy. Except for the advanced preparation of soaking the beans (not needed if you are using canned beans), it is a very simple and quick dish to make. The version I make is creamy and flavorful but low-fat without the addition of cream or without any exotic or hard-to-find spices. Purists may look askance at my concoction but I would have it not any other way :).

The key to my recipe is the sauce. I use a blend of tomatoes, coriander leaves, mint leaves and yogurt. I add this blend to the beans and simmer with salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Finally, a drizzle with hot oil or ghee. Eat it with rice or any Indian bread.


Kidney beans (dry or canned). Small one if using canned.
A small can of diced tomatoes (canned)
Sprig of fresh coriander
Sprig of mint
Low fat plain yogurt, 4 table spoon
Pinch of salt, turmeric, chilli powder and asfoetida
Olive oil, coconut oil or ghee

1. If using dry kidney beans, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Once they are well soaked and swollen, cook them in either pressure cooker or over the stove top till they become tender. If you are using canned beans, you can skip this step.

2. Meanwhile, add half a can of tomatoes, fresh coriander, fresh mint, all of yogurt into a blender and puree using pulse setting. When done, the sauce will look like this.

3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Add the beans and pour the sauce over the beans. With a spatula, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.  Heat it thoroughly on low heat. Do not simmer the mixture as it will cause the yogurt to curdle and separate.

4. In a separate pan, heat 1-2 tablespoon of olive oil, coconut oil or ghee. Drizzle the hot oil over the bean mixture.

5. Eat with cooked sticky rice or flat Indian bread.

Thanks for visiting.