Friday, September 30, 2016

Traditional Spice blend - Vangibhat powder

Aromatic spices roasted to release the essential oils to make a spice blend - vangibhat powder.
RasamPowder-800PXWM-SimiJois-2016

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.












Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, September 23, 2016

Saturday Stills - it's dark and moody

StilllifeApplesPomegranate-800PX-simiJois-2016

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 season...as 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...!

BrightApplePomegranateStill-800PX-SimiJois-2016

Print Friendly and PDF

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.

HydrengiaStillLife2-800px-SimiJois-2016

My ramblings on social media ....

Print Friendly and PDF

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.





wildpinkflowers-800PX-SimiJois-2016


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 light...it is never the same. Here are a few images from my contemplative walk...


Read on I have exciting news !!

WildGrass-800PX-SimiJois-2016



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 book...it must have been 9pm ....I JUST COULD NOT PUT THE BOOK DOWN. My eyes were like lead...it 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 cover...it 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 cover...so many of you have asked me about...ummm! well, it could be George Clooney  ;) lol!



Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Still Life

This week I have some kale for #SundayStills


FreshKale-800PX-SimiJois-2016



Kale-800PX-SimiJois-2016

Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Hibiscus Raspberry Lemonade Iced Tea

The aroma of hibiscus and the rich deep reds with raspberry, lime and black tea...served chilled. Make sure you have some fresh raspberries to serve with. A mint leaf always does the trick with presentation.
RAspberryLemonadeTea2-800PX-SimiJois-2016
HydrengiaOnWindow-800px-SimiJois-2016

As the nights become longer and days shorter....am kind of sad that summer is almost over. I cannot imagine it getting dark at 4 pm...oh well, it's still August and we still have beautiful autumn before I start the rant about dark, gloomy winter afternoons.

It has been a couple of weeks since I have really posted a recipe...Just been busy with family and a couple of projects. I'm having a hard time falling into a routine. It's been two weeks since teen is back in school and I thought that would help....ummm! not really. There is so much on my to-do list and all I'm doing is procrastinating. I just dislike it when I'm so unproductive, it just brings out the worst in me....like a downward spiral ...I keep thinking about all the time I have wasted and end up wasting more time.

Teen loves iced-tea... challenged me to make one that she will love. Teenagers are critical people.... to say the least, at-least mine is. And because she can cook, she will give a detail feedback on how it could have been done better (sometimes you don't need a feedback lol!) . I incorporated all her feedback ....and I do have to admit that adding more hibiscus, some lime juice...did make it delicious.

I bought these gorgeous dried hibiscus from this cute spice store in down-town Geneva, since both teen and her dad are not crazy about spending three hours in a spice store, I hang out alone....Just love walking around the quant town. I will be definitely going there with my camera soon...will share pictures. Sometimes you just need that me-time and for me it is shopping at a spice or antique store...


WildPInkFlowers-800PX-SimiJois-2016

Hibiscus Raspberry Lemonade Iced Tea by Simi Jois



Print Friendly and PDF
Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
SITE DESIGN BY DESIGNER BLOGS