Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Moment with my sketchbook!

There is something mysteriously beautiful about sketching...
sketching with a normal pencil, or a graphite pencil or especially more so with charcoal...
the freedom, the liberation of just letting go...
and blurred...
but very fluid.
here is a peek into my sketchbook.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

First illustrated Recipe on my Blog: Ramadan Special

Been toying with making an illustrated recipe for a long time...
making, discarding and yet making again...
But this one came out just right!
So I thought why not share with you all...
so here's my take on a CUCUMBER COOLER:
Its cooling+healthy+full of alkalising properties to restore yr natural PH and its best to be had on an empty stomach.  (hence Ramadan special)
you can even add a small piece of ginger for added benefits- I am not too fond of ginger so I omitted it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Honey-Lemon Glazed Roast Chicken with Root Veggies.

Is it just me or do most people who are fasting during Ramadan get obsessed about food?
I spend sooooo much of my valuable time just scrolling through recipes, good food pictures and generally obsessing about what to cook for today's Iftar that is not too oily or too heavy...
Food that won't make you feel bloated after not eating for the whole day...
and this chicken seems to just fit the bill!
Its not too heavy on the masalas so you wont get all burpy after binging on it, its roasted- so very little oil, and served with roasted yummy root vegetables!
Its crispy and mildly sweet+sour on the outside and juicy and succulent on the inside.
It may not be very popular if you and your family are a die-hard fan of Tandoori chicken and all things spicy and robust, but its a nice light, mild alternative once in a while!


1 whole chicken
For the marinade :
3 tbsp olive oil, 
1 n 1/2 tbsp roasted chilli flakes
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp soya sauce
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder-(optional)-u can used crushed garlic instead
1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
4 tbsp honey
salt to taste

To put inside the chicken:
7-8 cloves of garlic-quartered
slices of 1 lemon

Root Vegetables to be baked (all cut the same size):
3 potatoes with skin on, and cut into cubes
2 carrots-cubed
2 onions-cubed
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
Mix all of the veggies with salt+pepper+oil and keep aside

1- Wash the chicken well, especially the inside cavity. Pat dry, and rub a little salt inside the cavity.
2- Mix all the ingredients of the marinade (you can increase the chilly flakes if you want more heat) except for the honey- just add 1 tbsp. 
Rest of the honey we will be using in the final basting and glazing of the chicken.  
3- Make slits with the knife all over the meaty part of the chicken- the thighs+legs+ breasts.
4- Rub the marinade generously all over the chicken with your hands- getting into all the crevices and cuts. Keep aside rest of the marinade for the basting and glazing while cooking.
5- Leave covered for marination for at least a couple of hours.
6- In the meanwhile generously grease your baking tray- Add the vegetables in it and spread them in a single layer. Set aside for later.
(This vegetable tray I will be putting in the oven at a later stage because chicken cooking time will be more than the vegetables)
 7- Now take the chicken and into the stomach cavity-put the slices of lemon and quartered garlic cloves.
8- Lay the chicken flat on its back on a roasting rack, so the wings go underneath and the breast stays on top. Tie the chicken legs together with a thread as shown in the pictures.
9- Cover the chicken tray loosely with tin foil and then put the roasting rack with the chicken in the oven with a drip tray beneath it.
(Cooking the chicken on a roasting rack allows the heat to circulate all around it for even cooking.)
10- Cook the chicken for 30 minutes at 180C.
11- Now take the chicken out- remove the foil. Generously slather on the remaining marinade in which you have added the remaining honey. make sure to cover both the top and the bottom of the chicken with the glaze.
12- Put the rack back in the oven on the middle rung, and under that (on the lower rung) put the vegetables tray and bake again for 20-30 minutes at 200C.... Keep n eye open on the chicken so that it doesn't burn.
It should be nice and golden with a crispy top!

My chicken was done in just about 20 minutes in the second round, while I roasted the vegetables for another 7 minutes to get them crispy and golden.
Serve the piping hot Chicken and veggies immediately with onion rings dipped in Apple Cider Vinegar and crushed+chopped mint leaves....

My take on the #100SareePact via illustrations!

Hello everyone...
Sarees seem to be flooding the social media....
Everyone seems to be pulling out thier formal silks and chiffons and grandmother's classics and mom's hand me downs, looking real pretty.
We Army wives have a love-hate relationship with the saree...
We love to wear them but we hate to be forced into wearing them, and thats what usually happens in Fauj, coz no formal function is complete without all of us flaunting our chiffons and silks and crepes.
New wives struggle with the pleats or with the saree being too tight or too loose or tied too high up...
Or the pallu being too long or too short!!
I had never ever tied a saree before getting married- other than the usual farewell party in the school where everything was taken care of by mommy dearest!
So when I got married to my Prince Charming in combat boots and was told to drape a saree for our introductory party- I was lost!
There was no mommee to help me out of my dilemma of which side go the pleats and which side do we take the pallu!
I visualised the saree in front of the mirror and tied it to the best of my abilities... with safety pins all over the place!
And when I tentatively stepped in front of my all ready and crisp Fauji...
he told me to my horror that the entire saree was tied ulta!
The mirror image had fooled me!
So both of us pulled the pleats apart and tied it all over again, giving panic glances at the clock and harried looks in the mirror!
God only knows how we made it to the party in the nick of time because in Fauj- you cannot be late or early... but dot on stipulated time!
Now 12 years down the line of being married, I can get ready in 15 minutes flat, complete with the hair and makeup in place!
but those initial fumbling years where I took more than an hour to get ready still leaves me with a smile...
So here's to the beautiful saree and its wonderful ability to adapt to all body sizes and shapes and give it the elegance that only a saree can give!
I will not be posting any pictures of myself in saree- though God knows I might even have enough!
But my #sareepact will only be of lovely saree illustrations done by me...
along with a series that deals with beautiful and different draping styles and different blouses that give the classic saree an edge!
If you are following my page on Facebook:
I have been uploading my saree illustrations on and off...
but for those who havent... here is a round up of the illustrations already posted:

#1/100 image:

#2/100 image

3/100 image

4/100 image

5/100 image

That's all folks!!
Keep an eye open for more illustrations in the famed #100sareepact .
Will keep you all updated, but you can also drop in on my Facebook Page to follow the latest in my art and illustrations.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

(Ramadan Special) Indian Street Food: Vada Pao

This is one of the simplest and yummiest North-Indian street food that we can make at home...
And its one that is quite a crowd pleaser on picnics and a very good chaat option at the Iftar table, other than the staple dahi bada and the aaloo tikki which I love to make at Iftaar.

So today's offering for your Iftar table is Vada Pao!
In simple words...spicy potato mixture that is batter coated and deep fried, then dunked between small buns(pao) that have been generously slathered with sweet and tangy tamarind chutney and spicy coriander chutney and gobbled down in just two mouthfuls!
Oh and usually these vadas sold on the streets are without peanuts- but I love the crunch of peanuts so have added some!


The Potato filling ingredients:
(makes 10 vadas)
3 boiled potatoes(large)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp toasted and ground cumin (zeera)
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1-2  green chillies (depending on how much spice you need) chopped finely
1/2 cup roasted and coarsely smashed peanuts

Ingr. For the batter:
3/4 cup gram flour or besan
1/4 cup rice flour or cornflour
salt to taste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp hot oil
 water as per requirement
oil for deep frying.

for assembling Vada Pao
10 paos or small buns 
2 tbsp butter
1 cup green corianter chutney (recipe given at the end)
1 cup sweet tamarind chutney (recipe given at the end)

1- Peel and mash the potatoes well so that they are not lumpy, but smooth
2- Add the other ingredients of the filling, mix well
3- Form small balls about 8-10 and flatten them slightly, and keep aside.
4- Now take the ingredients for the batter-mix them in a small bowl.
5- Add water little by little (maybe around 1/2 a cup or less).
The batter should not be too runny or thick, rather like a thick sauce consistency.
6- Dip the individual flattened balls of potato into the batter to coat completely, and deep fry them in really hot oil (but on medium heat otherwise they will become too brown, too quickly) 3-4 at a time till crispy and golden.

7- Now for assembling- slice the pao through, then toast with a little butter on a griddle (tawa) till it becomes hot and slightly crisp. 
8- Slather on the green chutney on one side of the pao and the tamarind red chutney on the other side of the pao.
9- Slide in the vada (potato balls) into the bun or pao
10- you can even add a fried green chilly for added oomph.
11- Serve hot with extra chutney to dip in if required!
12- Enjoy with a piping hot tea on your terrace or like I am going to do today- for my Iftar!

Green Coriander Chutney:
Take a cup of thoroughly washed and chopped coriander, 2-3 green chillies, salt to taste and 1 tsp of roasted zeera powder.
Grind together in the blender/mixie. Add juice of one lemon and mix well. Enjoy!

Sweet Tamarind Chutney:
soak a small ball of tamarind in warm water.
once soft and gooey- strain it with the strainer squeezing out all the pulp you can.
now take this tamarind paste in a frying pan, add a small ball of jaggary or if you dont have jaggery, then 1/2 cup sugar- give it a boil.
while its simmering- add salt to taste, roasted cumin powder, and a pinch of chilly powder.
If its too watery then cook till it becomes a little saucy.
Keep aside to cool and then enjoy with all kinds of chaat!

Another variation is where you can add about 8 dates, 1-2 tsp of raisins and grind with the tamarind pulp along with the jaggery powder and salt to taste- this requires no cooking.

both the chutneys have their own distinctive flavour!

July 2015 calendar- for your TABLET!!

hey! on popular demand will also be making a tablet version of my monthly illustrative Desktop Calendars.... i.e other than the landscape option that I usually upload-
here is my portrait version that you can download and use as a wallpaper on your tablet!
now isn't that just groovy??   ;-)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 2015 Desktop Calendar

Summer Break is over (at least in the Indian subcontinent)...
the kids are back at school and I am catching my breath and getting back to work...
but this scene of the calendar is something that is very dear to me...
"look Mommy is sitting peacefully and reading a book..."
We can't have that, can we?

that was my story of the summer break just gone by... not a moment of peace!
and for all of you whose kids are in the middle of thier summer break... well, I am sure you are going to relate to this image too!!

just right click, save and set as desktop image.

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