Thursday, December 25, 2014

Spicy Thursday: Kerela Fish Curry (Meen Mulakittathu)

I had been craving good fish for quite sometime,  and my prayers got answered yesterday...
An Officer had just come back from an Army exercise laden with BIG yummy fish- for everyone!
and we had a paaarteeyyy!
Everyone made thier own versions...fried or curried or baked...
I tried my hand at delicious Tangy and Spicy Kerela Fish Curry!
Or in its own words: Meen Mulakittathu   (Meen meaning "fish")

Meen Mulakittathu (Kerela Fish Curry)

Fish 500 gms (rubbed with a bit of salt and pepper and lemon and left for half an hour)
Fenugreek seeds (methi)- 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves- a handful (2 sprig of leaves)
Ginger-(grated) 1.5 tsp
garlic (crushed) 1.5 tsp
chilli powder- (if using kashmiri chilli powder-2 tbsp, it gives a good color) 
(if using normal chilli powder use less or more than- 1 tsp as per your taste.)
coriander powder- 1 tbsp
turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek powder1/4 tsp
salt to taste
Shallots or small onions-sliced- 4 to 5 / 
or if using normal onions-1.5 (cubed)
tamarind soaked and then use its paste- 3 tsbsp
water 1 cup, use more if you need more gravy

1- Deep fry all the fish pieces till golden brown, drain on tissue paper and keep aside
2- Heat oil, add mustard seeds and let it sputter, then add fenugreek seeds-Saute.
3- Add curry leaves, shallots/onions and ginger and garlic...
saute till the shallots change color and turn golden.
4- Reduce heat and add the masalas: chilli powder, turmeric, coriander and fenugreek powder.
Saute for a few minutes, stirring constantly (taking care NOT to burn) till the masalas turn dark maroon.
5- Add 1 cup water and the tamarind paste, bring to boil.
6- Add the fish pieces and salt to taste
7- Simmer for another five minutes.
8- Cover and leave the dish for another half an hour to really let the flavors seep in.
9- Serve with Kerela Parotta or Rice.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RIP little angels...

I cant even begin to imagine the anguish of the parents and the loved ones left behind….

and what must've gone thru their little minds in the last few moments of their little lives…

Rest In Peace little ones- you are in a much better, safer place now-

And may the scum of the earth who did this be brought to Justice in this world and the 



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Tutorial: Watercolor Eyes...

Some time back I had painted an eye in watercolor and added a beautiful quote to it...
And also promised my readers that I would be putting up a step by step tutorial on how to paint it...
well here it is- 
P.S- if you'd rather learn how to sketch with a pencil first, before trying your hand at watercolor eyes- here is tutorial on how to sketch a pair of eyes along with some shading. (click here)  

A Step by Step Tutorial on how how to make pretty water color "eyes"...
So, take out your watercolor sketchbook, brushes and paint box...
grab a cup of coffee, tea, or whatever your poison is, crank up the music loud and pumping...
and get going!

Ok, before I begin, these days I am using Koi Watercolors (of Sakura brand) Field box set of pans.

I find these pan watercolors more long lasting than the tubes, because they dont tend to dry up, which is what happens to most of my tube watercolors, if I dont use them for sometime.
And I am moody, sometimes I am in a frenzy of oils- and I dont touch watercolors for like months, or sometimes I get too much of digital free-lance work load, and my watercolor tubes lie forgotten and dry up!
So for temperamental people like me- I think these pan sets work well.
and for YOU guys, I did my homework- its available on  Flipkart here in India!
But you can please go ahead and use whatever watercolors are available in your neck of woods!

please sketch in the eyes in simple lines- like shown here, with a very light pencil.

put in a slight wash of wet diluted color of (mix of vermilion and burnt sienna with a hint of blue) on the shadows of the eye.

Apply the same kind of wash on the other eye as well.
Add a darker shade of the color on the eyebrow.

Darken the eyebrows with a little more of the burnt sienna in the skin color mix- blend a little.
-Add deeper shadows in the eye socket.

Add a soft wash of blue in the eyeballs- leaving a little round dots in the centre blank- like shown.

While the blue wash is still wet- blend in the darker shade of blue leaving areas where its light like shown below.

Add a darker blackish-blue circle around the little dots left blank.

Here we go in a little closer and we work on one eye.
Mix a little black with burnt sienna and carefully draw a smooth line across the eyelid- much like an eyeliner. 

Taek a watery wash of the above color- (dark shade of brown) and give a wash under the eye, as well some soft lashes.

Dilute a bit of blue, mix it with very little brown and add a watery wash above and below the eyes to give some depth.

Add a soft wash of raw sienna mixed with some blue around the eye like shown.

Blend it right up to the eyebrows while still wet.

Now darken the eyebrows with a more concentrated (not so watery) brush of the burnt sienna and blue mix, as well the the shadow above the eyelids.
Take a thin brush- mix a concoction of brown and black and very carefully but with a loose hand, draw the eyeliner as well as the eyelashes.

use the same method and steps to make the other eye as well.
and voila!!  the lovely dreamy eyes are done!
Use them like I did with a lovely quote, :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wednesday Watercolors with December 2014 Desktop Calendar

I have been gallivanting around the countryside attending weddings, and meeting relatives, lots of hectic travelling-hence the absence from the internet...
but as many people have reminded me- I am as usual late in putting up my December Desktop Calendar...
Apologies my dear friends, but my New Year resolution is definitely to keep track of the days- esp my promised monthly Desktop Calendars...
So this time I tried a little harder...
made a cute little watercolor from a photograph off the internet, of a red vintage car with a christmas wreath...covered in snow..
Doesnt it give just the right christmassy-wintery vibe??
and goes perfectly with my December theme!!  :-)
I do hope you all like it and accept my apologies for the delay!
and of course Happy Holidays!

please right click, save and then set as desktop image...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Treat: Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese.

Spaghetti Bolognese is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes and I mean the authentic Spaghetti Bolognese that is meat based (preferably mince beef or mutton).
Bolognese is derived from Bologna, Italy where this sauce is served over Pasta- mostly tagliatelle pasta, or the flat fettuccini pasta, or penne pasta.
I love it with my thin Spaghetti Pasta.
Like I said earlier. traditionally its a meat based Pasta but I like to use the mince of Soya granules sometimes when meat is not available and me and my kids have a craving for the bolognese...
Not that my kids know that I am using Soya and not meat, because its disguised so well, so they are quite happy unknowingly munching healthy soya granules, which they wouldn't in normal circumstances...
So this recipe is for my hardcore vegetarian friends, even those who do not like the taste of soya.

So lets get started!

Spaghetti Bolognese with Soya Granules

Soya granules, approximately 2 cups
(soaked till soft, and minced in a grinder)
400 gms spaghetti
3 cups of nice juicy chopped tomatoes
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery-trimmed and chopped (if available)
it adds a different level to the sauce.
2 carrots finely diced
3 cloves of garlic- crushed or finely chopped
1 medium green chilli- finely sliced
2 tbsp Tomato Puree (out of a tetra pack)
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup grated parmesan cheese.
and 2 tbsp dried cheese powder (if available)
handful of fresh basil (tulsi leaves)+ some for garnish
2 tsp dried mixed herbs like oregano and rosemary 
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1- Add the garlic to hot oil, saute on low heat till fragrant but not brown, then add onions, celery and carrots. Cook the vegetables till slightly soft.

2- Increase heat and add the soya granules. Cook while stirring till slightly brown.

3- Add tomatoes, a pinch of salt and turn the heat on medium.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes till the tomatoes turn soft, crush them with the back of the spoon.

4- Add the tomato puree, herbs, chilli, vinegar and water...
Simmer gently, covered for about 30 minutes. Stir once in a while so it doesnt burn.

5- In the meanwhile, boil the spaghetti as per the instructions on the package, 
Drain, add a bit of olive oil, mix and set it aside to keep warm in a dish.

6- Now that you can smell the rich aroma of the nicely blended tomato sauce, check that the water hasn't dried up, because the soya granules tend to soak up the water.
In case the sauce seems dry- add some more water so that the consistency is saucy and if need be you can also add a little bit of (maybe 2 tbsp) of tomato ketchup to make it more saucy. 

7- Add the grated parmesan, and check the seasoning for more salt and pepper if needed.

8- Take the cooked spaghetti in a warm serving dish, spoon the sauce generously over the spaghetti and sprinkle with dried cheese powder or grated fresh parmesan.
Garnish with a few sprigs of basil (tulsi) leaves and serve just with warm garlic bread...yumm....

or if like me (a hard core meat-eater), serve with a crispy potato cutlet and a few succulent pieces of mint chicken.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A glimpse into my Work-Space!

I have been obsessing about some old incomplete paintings lying in my boxes waiting to be given a second chance... and a lot, I mean a lot of old oil paints drying up in my cartons...
And by old paints, I mean at least 6-7 years old and though oil paints last really long because of the oil in them, these have seriously started to dry out.
So busy bee that I am, I have gotten started on 2 of them at the same time and I am using a lot of paints...think application mostly with my palette knife and sometimes with a heavy loaded brush!

A peak into my little Art Studio :-) 
which is a work in progress and keeps changing with my moods!

Close ups of some oil portraits and figures...

A close up of a very old portrait... one of the first that I did after my marriage!

A few close-ups of the heavy knife work that I am into these days!

My bright window looking out into the garden!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Treat: Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies

I have been having a craving for some delicious, dense brownie that is not too sweet but rich and gooey enough to satisfy the chocolate craving...
and I loved it when I tried this recipe- the saltiness of the cream cheese is perfectly balanced with the sweet richness of the chocolate brownie.
My kids didnt like it much (they have an insatiable sweet tooth) but me and my husband loved it with our evening lemon tea! :)
So here is a recipe for a different kind of brownie-
Try it... I'm sure you will love it!


ingr. for the cream cheese mix:
100 gm cream cheese ( I used 1/2 the tub of plain Amul cream cheese)
2 tbsp butter-softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp all purpose flour/ Maida

ingr. for the brownie mix
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
200 gms chocolate-chopped (I used the dark chocolate bar)
 3/4 cup butter, at room temp.
2 and 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp almond extract/essence
some chopped walnuts.

1- Lightly grease your baking dish- preferably 13x9 ich with at least 2 inches depth.
2- Preheat the Oven to 160C
3- In a small bowl add the cream cheese and 2 tbsp of softened butter- beat with a beater at medium speed till the mixture becomes fluffy.
Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beat some more, then 1 egg and 1 tbsp flour till just combined.
Dont over beat. Keep aside.

4- Sift together 1 and 1/4 cup flour and baking powder and salt.
5- in a small bowl take the chocolate and 3/4 cup butter- zap in the microwave for 3 minutes so it melts, or you can even heat over medium heat till just melted. (dont cook) Mix well.
6- Transfer the chocolate to a larger bowl, gradually adding 2 and 1/4 cups sugar and beating at low speed till just combined.
7- Add 4 eggs, one by one, beating after each. Add milk, vanilla and almond extract and keep the beater on. Gradually add the sifted flour. Dont overbeat- just mix well with your hand.
8- Spread this chocolate mixture in the prepared baking dish, spoon the cream cheese mixture on top, and using a toothpick or a table knife, gently swirl the cheese mixture to make a marble effect.
9- Sprinkle the walnuts on top.
10- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven at 160C till a toothpick comes out clean.
11- Cool, then cut into brownies and serve.
12- you can even store it in a airtight container for 2-3 days.... Mine were finished in a jiffy! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My November 2014 Desktop calendar: "starry starry night..."

"Oh, so this is why you wanted to get me to see the sand dunes at night?"
hmmmm.... ( a smile and a twinkle)

"Its sooooo beautiful....the stars have never looked brighter..."
another enigmatic smile and a hmmmm...

"now I know what you mean when you said that its an experience to be shared...and-"
Sshh.... just look up and feeeel.... and keep quiet.
and then he smiles his slow smile.

To use this desktop calendar, just right click and save, and then set as desktop picture.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Food for the soul: Banofee Pie.

Thank God Its Friday and is the time for some indulgence...
....and there goes your plan for any kind of diet!!
Also, as I haven't posted any new food recipes for a long time, I'll start with a pretty looking dessert that apart from sounding exotic- is extremely easy to make.
Its also very delicious+calorie high and addictive...
I just had a teensie weensie bit and gave the rest to the kids who devoured it in no time!
be careful of the sugar rush side effects in the kids coz I had to deal with a hyper active 5 yr old till wee hours of the night!

This sweet dish is called "Banofee Pie" and you know why?
becoz its a combination of.........    
you guessed it- banana and toffee!!
and you know how this absolutely decadent toffee is made?
By double boiling a tin of condensed milk...
this tin of creamy condensed milk takes on a rich beautiful toffee color and flavor!
and is absolutely divine in this dessert and you can also use this rich toffee as a topping over your bowl of vanilla/butterscotch ice-cream  or even a cheesecake... ( I will be putting up a recipe for that combination real soon)
So here is the easy-peasy recipe for you:

1 tin of condensed milk- I used Milkmaid
3 bananas
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 small bar of plain dark chocolate

for the crust:
1 and half packet of digestive biscuit.
I stick(100gms) of softened (not melted) butter

1- First put an unopened tin of condensed milk in a pan of boiling water for an hour...
yes for an hour so that you can get the nice golden toffee color in the condensed milk.
2- while the tin is boiling... prepare the crust
 -put the biscuits in the blender and bled till coarsely blended.
 -take it out of the blender and mix the soft butter with the biscuits well, till it resembles breadcrumbs-should be well mixed with your hands.
 -Smooth the mixture into the pie dish.
 -Keep it in the refrigerator to chill and harden up for a couple of hours.
4- Now that the one hour of boiling is up, take the milk tin out of the boiling water and let it cool.
5- Once the chilling time of the pie crust is up- take it out of the fridge...
6- arrange layers of sliced banana on top of the crust.

7- Open the condensed milk tin.


8- Pour over the layers of banana in the pie dish.

8- Whip the cream till stiff peaks form.

9- Spoon over the banana n toffee mix- smoothen with a spatula.

10- Take a piece of Dark chocolate and grate it over the pie.

11- Put the dish back in the fridge to really chill and set- at least 4-5 hours.
12- Just before the guests come, run a knife all around the edges, and push up gently from the bottom of the pan so that the pie comes out of the pie dish cleanly.
13- garnish with some more chocolate wedges and serve chilled.

Doesnt it look just divine?? Especially if you have a sweet tooth or a craving for something gooey and yummy and sinful... this is just the right treat for you.
I dare you not to try it at least once!!

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