Saturday, March 29, 2014

On the Campaign Trail #5 ATTITUDE!

to see the reason behind these series of election posts... please click here

picture via Safoora Hasan

Now this is called attitude!

Friday, March 28, 2014

On the Campaign Trail: #4 Cant get more Organic and natural!!

 to see the reason behind these series of election posts... please click here

The whole world is screaming to go organic...
and India- the rural India, the real India cant get more organic than this:
Use whatever is available... especially as there is no gas and no electricity to help you out...
Cowdung put to best use... for fuel:


Nature's bounty... our treasure!

All dried and ready to burn as fuel...

we dont need cement and bricks... its just mud and cowdung and nothing an be more eco friendly!

(all pictures taken by Safoora Hasan)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On the Campaign Trail...#3 (Potato Diggings)

(To read about a bit about who and why of the campaign please click here)

This is the season for digging in the potato fields...
Every village we visit- the entire family is out in the fields except the very old and of course the men (they prefer lounging on thier charpoys  and smoking beedi rather than sweating it out with the potatoes)
Catching up with them in the middle of their work, squatting with the kids- joking with the women...
doesn't really seem like a lot of work, especially of you have children running behind you yelling the slogans that you teach them...
"Hamara Neta Kaisa ho?"
"Abid Bhai jaisa ho"

"why should I care who wins and loses? I just want my only daughter to marry well"

Anyone for freshly dug potatoes?

Piles and piles of the favorite vegetable...

All gathered in sacks- ready to move!

"Ammaji show your face- you HAVE to take her picture coz she is still the most beautiful woman in the village"

(pictures taken by Safoora and Maryam Hasan)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On the Election Campaign Trail: #2

 to see the reason behind these series of election posts... please click here

...She refused to come out and didnt want me to come in,
So we met somewhere in the middle...

Monday, March 24, 2014

On the Election Campaign Trail: the REAL India!

Been away from my little corner in the blogging world for a long time, in fact been away from a lot of things...
....reason being that we, (all five sisters) have been rallying around, turn by turn, behind our only brother and mom after our father passed away in December.
My brother is standing for his first election on his father's seat that got vacant in December and about whom I had written in some details in an earlier post.
(to read about my father and our family's political lineage please click here)
My little brother has some very big shoes to fill- all the more apparent when we go village to village, door to door and each lackluster response to our entry changes when we introduce ourselves as being Syed Qasim Hasan's daughters/son.
The love, affection and high esteem that we are greeted with is all at once humbling as well as fills us with immense pride, and is like a shot of adrenaline to our tired, dragging feet!
Notwithstanding the positive vibes that we are getting, campaigning for elections is real hard work and we return home at the end of a long day with stiff backs, sore muscles and hoarse voices.
My dear camera accompanies me on these long, winding, bumpy village roads and wheat and sugarcane fields... and tries to capture the emotions that are running high, the enthusiasm, the simple needs and aspirations, the complaints and even the grumpy moods of the old lady disturbed in her afternoon siesta...
I might not have the energy to draw+ write much in the coming one and a half months, because the pace of the campaign is only going to pick up and get more exhausting, and the summer heat more daunting, but my faithful camera will try and get you as many different facets and expressions of the rural India as we go village to village, door to door, field to field....
I will be sharing all this with you all in the "On the Campaign Trail" series of posts which might not come everyday, but as frequently as possible!
Enjoy the bumpy, dusty, ride!

"...Find out where joy resides,
and give it a voice far beyond singing.
For to miss the joy is to miss all!"
- Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Chicken in home-made Bar-b-que sauce... simple and yummy!

I miss the smokey flavor of the barbecue chicken that we used to have in the States...
Oh our kinda Indian barbecue/tandoori/afghani chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices is absolutely divine too, but the tangy+ spicy+with a hint of sweetness of the barbecue sauce that I am talking about takes the humble chicken  to a new height!
Try it!
believe me- its a go to chicken recipe if you are in a hurry...
just make this sauce and keep in the fridge and when ever you feel like having a quick home-made dinner with no fuss- marinate in the sauce+cook+drizzle a bit on top and u are done!
Serve with either creamed cheesy potatoes (basically mashed potatoes cooked in milk+cream+cheese (any kind) or steamed veggies on the side.
Or like I did- make a yummy mix-vegetable pancake (of potatoes+carrots+beans) and serve the chicken on top with a drizzle of the delicious sauce!

 Chicken in Home-made Barbecue Sauce

For the sauce:
3 tbsp butter
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 tbsp garlic- finely chopped
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp chilli flakes- or crushed dry red pepper
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar or sugarcane sirka(vinegar) like I used
1 cup gur or brown sugar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup burnt caramel syrup to give the smokey flavor or if you are lucky- molasses
1 cup tomato puree.

1- Heat butter, add the onion and garlic and salt.
cook on low heat till the onion changes color but doesn't brown
2- Add the crushed pepper, pepper powder, and chilli powder- cook for a minute.
3- Add water, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce and simmer.
4- Stir in the caramel syrup and whisk in the tomato paste.
5- Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes... till slightly thick, stirring on and off.
6- Taste for seasoning and remove from fire.
use about a cup and a half for the chicken store the rest in the Fridge.

7- Marinate 1 kg chicken lightly with the sauce for half a day or 24 hrs in the fridge.
8- Heat oil in a shallow frying pan and working  in batches, few pieces of chicken at a time with a little water...cover and simmer for 15 minutes, till nicely brown on both sides.

TIP: if cooking boneless chicken it will get cooked in 20 minutes and the chicken on bone will take longer- cover and simmer so that the steam cooking makes sure that the meat gets done.

Place the chicken on a platter of either creamed potatoes or steamed veggies on the side.
Drizzle the barbecue sauce on top and serve hot.

Option-2: is you can glaze the chicken with bone generously with the barbecue sauce (after steam cooking for 10 minutes over low heat) in a baking dish covered with parchment+foil, and then bake in the oven at 180C for 1 hour.
then uncover+glaze again and then bake open for 10 minutes... its absolutely to-die-for!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spring time March Calendar for your Desktop!

Like I showed in my last post full of nature's bounty and pretty flowers (here) that I am enjoying Spring finally and the pretty blooms are the inspiration behind today's calendar...

Please right click+save and then set as desktop picture.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Moods... Spring in the Deserts!

I didnt have very high hopes of anything colorful blooming in my garden after we got ourselves posted to the dry sandy desert of Rajasthan...
I had to really rack my brains to do up a rock garden last summer (which came up rather well and is described here) because I thought that rocks and cactus are the only things that are made to survive in this desolate land!
But in October I was pleasantly surprised when we had lotus blooming in my little garden..
you can see the beauty (here) where its a nicely lighted view of the cute little pond.
And that is what encouraged me to think... why not take a chance with some flowers as well...
who knows, with proper loving care and lots of organic manure (camel poop, anyone?)
I might still be able to welcome spring in my garden...
And as usual the desert never ceases to surprise me!
A bit of mixing the sand with good soil and lots of organic manure.... the desert turned out to be where you could grow practically anything!
I am growing pretty poppies to sunflowers to hollyhocks and fragrant sweet peas!!
and lo and and behold other than my regular herbs, even my broccoli is surviving!
My son is one happy boy (he could eat broccoli the whole day during our stint in the U.S and he missed it terribly since we came back)
Who knows... now I am being ambitious enough to think of growing assortment of Salad leaves and exotic herbs, next season.
And hope for the best!
Here are a few pictures of "spring" in the deserts!

Sunflowers on my study table!

Poppies galore...

And This my friends is an amazingly pretty "hybrid poppy"

a look at the pretty cornflowers... purples and blues!

Flowers that bloomed the first in my garden and are still going strong! Cosmos...

Fragrant Sweet Peas...

Bright Yellow California poppies...

Elegant Hollyhocks...(just a few plants survived but we'll plan better for the next spring)

My fresh seeds are all being hoarded for the next season! 

Luscious Pomegranate in my backyard.

And surprises of surprises... Broccoli in my vegetable garden!  Yaayyy!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Art School: How to Draw Chota Bheem

Chota Bheem is not one cartoon that I particularly like...
not that I have anything against the concept...
its just that with my animation background- and after growing up with the Disney and Pixar style of animation, its very difficult to reconcile yourself with what passes for animation on the home grown Indian circuit!
I see the flaw in the character design and the wooden animation technique and the sad- sad story line and I wish that the animation industry in India grew up.
People might disagree with me but seriuosly we have a long way to go...
But nevertheless- kids absolutely adore Chota Bheem (my little one included) and as I have had a lot of requests to post a chota Bheem tutorial... here it is...
Broken down in real simple steps.
Oh and draw the initial lines where we are drawing the placement of the body and its parts+feature placement with a very light pencil...

and FYI, if your little girl wants to draw Chutki... here is a simple tutorial: (click here)
Aaaaand bumper surprise!! if you want to throw a smashing Chota Bheem Birthday Party... with games ideas and free printables (cards etc) you can click here














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