Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Wednesday WOW: Sweet and Sticky, Balsamic Lamb Chops

I have been wanting to make the right lamb chops for a really long time now, with no success!
The first few times I tried... esp with the recipes off the internet didn't really turn out the way I expected... like searing them on the pan, or broiling them or grilling them.
They were chewy and just not juicy enough...
This time I added our Indian way of pressure cooking them first to make them tender, and then searing them on the pan... and they came out with just the right tenderness and juiciness.
This one is unbelievably finger-licking delicious!!
Cooked in the aromatic balsamic vinegar sauce... sweet and spicy and just right!

So here is the quick and easy recipe that will be a hit with your guests or just for your loved one for a special dinner rendezvous... 

Mutton/ Lamb Chops in a Balsamic Reduction
(serves 4)

8 lambchops
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
salt and pepper to taste
(marinate the above ingredients for 4 hours minimum)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced, crushed garlic
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1.5 tsp cayenne pepper (I used my trusted Deghi Mirch powder)
fresh chopped parsley or basil leaves for garnish

  1. After marinating the mutton/lamb chops for a few hours, just pour everything, marinade and meat into a small pressure cooker and cook for two whistles... continue on low flame for another 5 minutes.
  2. Keep aside till pressure drops.
  3. Once open, take out the pieces of meat from the pressure cooker and reserve the stock.
  4. Heat a frying pan and add the oil. 
  5. Once hot, add the mutton chops and sear on hot pan for 1 minutes each side while sprinkling a little salt and pepper.
  6. Remove the chops from the pan and set aside.
  7. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  8. In the same pan as above, on low heat, add the crushed garlic.... taking care not to burn it.
  9. Add the whisked vinegar +sugar concoction to the pan, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and keep stirring on medium heat till sugar melts and the sauce thickens.
  10. Add the chops back in the pan and cook the lamb on medium heatfor another 5-7 minutes, turning on both sides, till you think they seem done. They would be tender because they have already been cooked in the pressure cooker.
  11. Remove the lamb chops from the pan and onto the serving dish... pour the sauce over it.
  12. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs like basil or parsley... and serve hot with potato wedges and garlic bread.
And thank me later for a finger licking, good looking, scrumptious dish!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2018 Calendar: Graphic Ertugrul

Hey guys, I am not much of a TV person....
as in, when I am free from my chores and work commitments, I'd rather read a book or sit out in the rains with music and daydream, than watch non-stop TV.
And I am especially sceptical about other language series/movies that have English subtitles.
I always thought it was too much of an effort to read as well as make sense of the video alongside!
But I have to confess, the last 2 months, me and my husband have been binge-watching a Turkish historical series that my sister-in-law introduced to us- (about Ertugrul, the father of Osman who founded the Ottoman Empire...)
The seasons had all been devoured by her and now that they were over, she was experiencing withdrawal pains.... lol...
So out of curiosity and her egging me on, we just casually watched a couple of episodes...
And we. were. hooked!!
Its beautifully made, the characters are so well fleshed out... and the story is extremely engaging...
And the fights.... oh the sword fights are out of this world!
In my home I have a lot of testosterone floating around, being a mother to two boys and my army man...
So you can imagine, I have had my fill of all kinds of fight sequences...whether live or on the screen!
But in this series, they are sooooo well choreographed, the horse riding is superb, the twists and turns of the plot are mind blowing!
And of course the main characters are so good looking and swoon-worthy that it's a pleasure to watch them emote on screen.
So now that the 4 seasons have been done and dusted and I can finally breathe and get back to my normal life...
I thought I'd make this month's calendar dedicated to the series!
The costumes and the sets are so gorgeous that the artist in me has been itching to draw them since I started watching the series.
So here is Dirilis Ertugrul, a montage of two of my favorite characters: Halime Sultan and Erugrul.
In case anyone's curiosity is piqued... the series (the first 2 seasons) is available on Netflix.

I am continuing with my black and white sketching spree, but this one is more in genre of comic book (graphic novel) style.
The series has enamored me quite a bit so don't be surprised if I come up with sketches of other characters as well, esp the main villains...
Dying to flesh them out.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Art for Kerala! Donation Drive.

I have been busy the past week trying to get people involved my buying portraits made by me so that I can collect enough to donate to the Chief Ministers Fund for Kerala.
This was the image I had made for the people, urging them to contribute for the Drive for Kerala:

There were quite a few takers and alhamdolillah, and we (the generous contributers and me) were able to make a sizeable contribution of nearly 30,000/- I certainly wasn't expecting this much.
And I am extremely thankful to all of them, and I really hope that they liked their portraits!
Here are a few samples for you all to have a look.

If any of you are interested in having something made for yourself or your loved ones....
Please feel free to get in touch with me on my gmail address:

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Heavenly Get-Away in the hills, packed with adventure!

An amazing weekend get-away in the clouds........

We went for a fabulous, short and sweet holiday last weekend in the hills and I can't resist sharing with you all, this little gem of a place that our friend recommended to us.

The Pep Turf Heaven's Retreat nestled high up in the hills in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, is a must place to visit, esp. if you are looking for a breath of fresh, energising air, beautiful scenery and amazing adventure activities!
This resort is very accessible by road, esp. to people from Chandigarh, Delhi-NCR and Haryana/Punjab and the north belt. 
For the others- the nearest airports are at Chandigarh or Delhi and then you can drive down to Solan and ahead.
Its an 8 hour drive from Delhi, or a 3 hour drive from Chandigarh- a little ahead of Kasauli. 

The best and easy, hassle-free holiday, would be to tie with Pep-Turf, (and like we did) they will take care of all the logistics!

The Pep Turf Heaven's Retreat is at a place called Dharon ki Dhar, also referred to as the water capital of the Solan District. It also has the distinction of being the second highest peak in the district. (7000ft above sea level)
After leaving Solan behind, its a narrow road amidst thick, lush forest, going higher and higher till one sees the gates of the Heaven's Retreat peeping from the clouds.... literally!

It's a pretty decently sized adventure resort with quaint little individual cottages at different levels on the hill and meandering pathways among pretty flowers, that made the exercise of going up and down to the rooms a very pleasant affair.

These cute little cottages are beautiful wood structures that give the feel of being in a log cabin, with all the amenities of TV, wifi, balcony and large picture windows from where we can look out and have a feeling of floating in the clouds.

The food at their in-house restaurant is absolutely delicious and their package is all inclusive of a sumptuous breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as tea and coffee.
The owner of the resort, Mr Jagmohan Thakur was completely involved in making us as comfortable and well fed as possible.
Kudos to his positive attitude and cheerful demeanor!
What more can one want, esp when you can have a bonfire with music in the evening while gazing at the stars or dancing away your blues!

Their main USP of course (going by the reputation of Pep Turf) is that they have amazing adventure activities that really got our adranaline pumping...
With a 112 metre long zipline over a deep gorge!

Or a jaw dropping valley crossing that gave us quite a rush.
And all of these activities are so well conducted that even my little 10 year old had a great time doing them and felt like a champ!!

And I shouldn't forget to mention the hike to Jung Bahadur Thapa fort where we saw a breathtaking view of the valley below, all the way to simla.... peeping through the soft billowing clouds.... it was beautiful.

The hike upto the fort was just perfect, neither too long nor too short, just the right steepness of the slope to get us a wee bit breathless, with the sight of the ancient fort greeting us at the end!
The resort also has rock climbing, a rope course or Burma Bridge-where u can try out your balancing skills, and of course try pony riding, which is always a big hit with the kids.

Believe me, I have two boys aged 14 and 10 and they just couldnt get enough!

Another thing to mention which is on their itinerary of activities, is a hike down to the nearest village to see how they live off the land as well as to learn about carnation polifarming that is done there. Its quite an eye opener for the kids as well as their parents.

My little one is learning about poli-farming this year in school, so he was thrilled!

Heaven's Retreat is just 70km from Simla, and its highly recommended that one must plan an overnight stay there as well.
Though for us... we didn't want to move from out our heavenly cloud-covered abode, and thoroughly enjoyed our 2 night stay up there!
My advice would be to pack a couple of great books, a board game or two in case it suddenly starts raining and you are stranded indoors.
They are planning a decently equipped library, pool tables and a few other indoor activities to do soon, but my favourite was looking out at the swirling clouds around us and daydream!

The resort also conducts Wellness Retreats with Yoga and meditation and Zumba, as well as Art Retreats etc.
The rates, if doing group bookings are pretty negotiable and all the details and rates can be discussed at this website of Pep Turf (link)
This adventure company is run by Col Manoj Malhotra and his team and they are phenomenal in all kinds of adventure sports like skiing, white water rafting, paragliding etc. with superb and well trained instructors. 

And the official website of the Pep Turf Heaven's Retreat is here (link) and is efficiently run by Mr Jagmohan Thakur.
The best time to visit this resort is of course, in the summers, but you can avail thier off-season discounts as well.

And here are a few photos of the lovely resort in winters...
It looks absolutely surreal!

 DISCLAIMER: This is not a sponsored post.
I am sharing an absolutely fantastic holiday that I had with my readers so that they can avail it too.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

August 2018 Desktop Calendar... vibrant and happy!

As usual been busy with a lot of things on my plate and unfortunately not all of them art related....
but it definitely kept me away from my blog, my own little piece of my space which is the first thing to get neglected!
We also went for a quick getaway in the hills which I will be talking about in detail in the next post.
but in the meantime, before the month ends, here is August 2018 Desktop Calendar.
This was made as a pitch to a children's book publisher client who was looking for an illustrator who can do this kind of work.
I think a watercolor rendition would have been more beautiful and whimsical, but I do like the bright digital version of this illustration... quite different from my usual style of children's illustration.
So yes I have kind of worked out of my comfort zone for this one!
Do let me know how u like it!

And here is the phone/tablet version to download...

Friday, July 20, 2018

"Make this Artwork in your style" challenge plus a video

There is a trending hashtag on various social media platforms of the art circles...
Wherein you take an existing artwork of an artist, and try and make the same character/ scene in your particular style.
I took a cute artwork by Samantha Germaine Sim (Instagram: violet1202) and and made it my own and I am loving how its come out!
I was also itching to try out some photoshop brushes to see how they work and the texture they can give...
still working around making them a part of my multilayered style.

and here's a peek into the original illustration and my spin-off!

I also made a small 4 minute video of the coloring process of the illustration.
I do hope you like it and it inspires someone to try thier hand in photoshop.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Need a vacation... now that I am back from a vacation!

Who feels me on this?
Esp when you've just come back from a break which technically was NOT a break coz u were pandering to the needs and requirements of others...namely your own kids!
so now u feel u need a vacation away from everyone!
just to be you, and pander to the needs of just you!

p.s. This illustration has been made digitally on a Wacom Intous tablet and is slightly different in style than what I usually make for myself in the loose sketchy fashion.

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