Friday, October 28, 2016

Malpua Rabdi Panna Cotta

Diwali lamp, simi jois

Malpua Rabdi Panna Cotta

Diwali brings back so many memories. The aroma of sweets, the earthenware lamps...the smell of fire clothes. For me Diwali is about family, togetherness and food that brings us together.

Indian desserts are such a unique presentation of techniques and skills. Caramelizing sugar in chikki (sugar brittle) to frying jalebis and soaking them in syrup, to spongy rasgullas, to shrikhand , to Mysore paak, to ghevar, to kheer, to laddus, to barfis...its unimaginable variety with different techniques. None of this is done using expensive equipment and each of the recipes have a rich history behind it. 

Techniques like candy making, caramelizing, cheese making, clay pot cooking, curdling, creaming, sugar panning, deep frying, ricing, reduction, poaching, parboiling, dredging and infusion are not new to Indian cuisine and specially desserts. 

I usually try and make traditional dessert for Diwali, this time I wanted to try a fusion of an Indian classic - malpua. Malpua is a cross between a syrupy doughnut and a pancake. It is shallow fried pancake soaked in sugar syrup with saffron and cardamom flavor. The combination of saffron and cardamom is commonly used in Indian desserts.   I kept the malpua - traditional recipe and made a panna cotta rabri to pair with the malpua - served with a drizzle of saffron syrup. The result : something I fell in love with. For me, gulab jamun is my favorite dessert of all times...I think this is a close contender. 

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Colors of fall - nature's stained glass strokes



The rustling of leaves on a nippy fall the sun kisses the leaves and they fall to the earth with a whisk from the wind. Is there a stillness in the moment or a restlessness.

There is a sound in is the wind, it is the is the leaves rustling a secret. If I could spend my lifetime looking at the leaves, the trees, the pebbles, the water, the sky - the light would be a life well spent.

Life is really in the moments....and it's this experience that makes it a lifetime. The money, the fame, the accolades..are all the by-product of life. It is the moment when you really realize who you are and you are true to that...that is the moment when you really live. I owe everything I am to my dad...he shaped my intellect and taught me to see beyond the obvious....

This one for you dad.....where ever you are!



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Friday, September 30, 2016

Traditional Spice blend - Vangibhat powder

Aromatic spices roasted to release the essential oils to make a spice blend - vangibhat powder.

It was a hot day and the sun was scorching down on us, around late afternoon, thick black clouds announced rain. I ran to the terrace where the red chilies were drying on an old bed sheet on a makeshift folding bed. Mom ran behind me followed by bosky - our pet dog. Goma, our house maid was slow to follow, thank fully the three of us carried the spice downstairs - treasuring it like gold.

The red chilies were put in a gunny bag and dispatched to the nearest chakki (flour mill), with strict instructions. Mom, would make her own spice blends but the red chilies were sent to the chakki to be ground into fine powder - it was usually in bulk. Then she added the red chili powder to her blends and kept the rest as is or used for pickling.

Goma usually helped mom roast all the other spices, the red chillies were always sun dried. Roasting was done on a low flame - to get an even roast. when Goma was off to Nepal for her vacations, I assumed that role, I have fond memories of mom, peering over my shoulders and instructing me. Cinnamon, gets burned too easily, black pepper fumes can send you in a bout of cough.. Coconut flakes goes in last, turn off the heat for that.

Spices brings back so many memories...

Spices are the soul of a dish, adding flavor, aroma, taste, color and texture. History tells us that spice let to the birth of trade between nations, leading to the discovery of new continents.  We owe more to spices than just its culinary uses. Migration of food culture started with spices.  

The use of spices in the Indian kitchen is not new.   If we go back to the spice route, India has played a major role in the spice trade, we have always been know for our rich spices. Even today there are variations of spice blends in every house. Even though branded spice blends have infiltrated the market - every household will create a variation from the branded spice-mix. Every chicken curry  is different from region to region and household to household.

Family recipes are heirlooms, passed from generation to generation. The secret to most of the Indian curries are in the spice blends. This vangibhat recipe is a traditional recipe from my husband's side of the family. It is a very versatile blend that can be used to make flavored rice (will blog soon) or added to vegetable to make a dry veggie curry.  It is different from the one my mother makes - small variation but alters the flavor completely.  Vangibhat literally translated is - fried eggplant  rice, but definitely not limited to it. It is a blend that originated in Karnataka (southern state in India) and has traveled all over the country.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Saturday Stills - it's dark and moody


This week I have literally done nothing, I have been a lazy  good for nothing slacker. I had to make some spice blends, I took all week to do that...usually takes me a day. Dragged my feet to the gym as though I was doing the world a favor, no walks on my favorite trail....don't ask me why..oh yes! it has been raining - I have an excuse.

But in all this I did one think... I had this urge one cloudy, dingy afternoon to create a moody image with rich colors.

I have always been draw to colors and if you see my work you will notice deep colors. even the monochromatic images are not understated...they have strong deep pigments of color. Light, color and texture is the way I visually express myself. Some days the urge to create is stronger and God help my family if I am not able to make a decent image.....they come home to a very crabby me. Lol! (true story).

I am almost happy with these images...there is always room for improvement, even if you are visually expressing yourself. It did satisfy my urge to create for that day and moment when I felt one with my camera. This is probably one of my favorite images from this I felt at peace making it.

I  did post a styling video on Instagram, of this very same image - here is the link. This is my third video on Insta about food/still photography. I am loving all the interaction  and feedback.

I won't let you go before you tell me which one is your favorite image of the three.

sending you love and hugs! have a fabulous weekend...!


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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sunday Stills and social media ramblings

As I walked in my garden which has been abandoned for the last couple of  three weeks, I felt so guilty about the dried flowers, the weeds and a rather unkempt look.  A couple of hours well spent, cleaning up and watering the poor dried plants.

I got some hydrangeas and autumn joy sedum with some morning glory leaves ...that was growing as weed. Put it together for this still life. I wanted to play it on a purple board but changed it to a blu-green and I think I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.

I have posted a video on Instagram, it shows you the light source and how I shot this, so if you are interested do take a look - link. I will be doing more videos like this, so do subscribe to my Insta feed if you like it.

I think it is time to do some experiments with colors and textures...stay tuned for the next video and still life. Right now I have little idea of what I am talking about ...but an idea is forming in my brain.


My ramblings on social media ....

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Watermelon ginger slushy with chaat masala and some exciting news !!

Delicious sluuuurpy slushy with a hint of spice.Deep yellow and delicious - love that color.


In the moments of deep thought but lack of words ( an oxymoron, I guess), I pick up my camera and walk the usual trail, by my home. It is the same trail, each time I walk, I see it different - the flowers, the grass, the colors, the is never the same. Here are a few images from my contemplative walk...

Read on I have exciting news !!


This week was special, Monica Bhide launched her debut novel : Karma and the Art of Butter Chicken. Shooting the cover was a fascinating experience.., it was a fulfilling and memorable.

When Monica told me I was going to be shooting the cover..I asked her for a brief and the brief was, " read the book." I'm not a reader and very very slow...I asked her to send me a synopsis - no response. Oh well, I might survive skimming through the pages.So on a Sunday night after I had finished all my chores, I sat down to read the must have been 9pm ....I JUST COULD NOT PUT THE BOOK DOWN. My eyes were like must have been 3 am when I slept..

I am so glad I'm not a fast reader, chewing it slowly and relishing every nuance... when finally the book was over, I called Monica and I was upset with her..." The book is over, what am I supposed to do? What happens to Eshaan ? Have you started writing the sequel ? Can I read it ? " I can see Monica smiling as she read this, because after I chewed the book, I chewed her brains..."

I love the story, and this is not because I shot the is because it has love, vulnerability, failure, hope, dreams, courage, struggle and more.. The vulnerability of the leading characters touches your heart and some where in their vulnerable moments you make a connection. You want to shake them and tell them to make the right choices, but just like life you cannot and you have to let go. Set in India the book has a rawness to it, for those who are from India you can relate to it and for those who are not, it is probably a notch more mystical and intriguing.

I asked Monica if I could do a giveaway for my friends and she was generous to offer one copy to one of the readers of TNS, with a note from her. So, we have 2 books for the giveaway, one a signed copy from Monica and the other from yours truly.  Leave me a comment here to participate and I will have Monica pick the winner. Here is a link to amazon if you want to order it - Link 

About those mystical hands on the many of you have asked me about...ummm! well, it could be George Clooney  ;) lol!

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