Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Indian Folk Art - Madhubani

This post is going to be my first in a series pertaining to Indian art and craft. India is a melting pot of different cultures, art, people, religion and cuisine. Even every state in India has a variety of crafts, culture and cuisine. In this series I am sticking to art and craft. Although gaining popularity, not all the art forms are known worldwide. As one of my foreign friends said "India is so fascinating, vibrant and full of colour"
In this post I am showcasing Madhubani art, also called Mithila Art. The literal meaning of Madhubani is "forests of honey". This art form was practised traditionally by women of villages around Madhubani and Mithila in Bihar. It was done on walls and mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs and dieties. Now it has evolved and is done on fabric, handmade paper, pots and canvas.

I had attended a course on Madhubani painting in delhi and this is one of my first pieces that I did on fabric during the course. It consists of motifs done on the dupatta and the kurta. Madhubani paintings are filled with fine lines or dashes or coloured. There are paintings which are just "black and white" and the coloured ones too. Even madhubani art has different forms. For more information on Maddhubani art visit

Traditionally natural colours and twigs/bamboo were used for painting, I have used dyes and brushes/liners for the fabric and fade-proof , water-proof black pens for the handmade paper display. For all craft lovers, Madhubani is a very simple art form, easy to do and looks good on fabric as well as handmade paper.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Finally, spring has arrived and so has Easter! With us going veggie for the past 50 days of lent, everyone here has been looking forward to Easter, just as much as spring, so that we could chew on a bone or two. Big girl RM, a carnivore, would argue as to why we had to give up fish and meat during lent. She even went to the extent of suggesting that we should give up vegetables for 50 days! Boy! Woudn't that make her happy! She made it very clear that she would have nothing to do with vegetables on Easter day. So as per tradition we had Appam and "Appa's meat curry" for breakfast, Chicken Biriyani for lunch and cake for desert . "Appa's Meat Curry" is a recipe my dad gave me a long time ago, around the time when I was newly married. It turned out well then and I have been making it ever since. While that recipe will be up in some future post, with spring, Easter and Vishu all here at the same time, its going to be the cake that takes the stage today.

After our heartbreak over the snowshower on the official first day of spring, we were very cautious henceforth in deciding whether it was spring yet or not. However the blooming of the bright yellow Forsythia flowers on the hedge just outside our frontdoor was one sure sign that spring has truly arrived! The flowers also serve as our "Vishu Konna" this year as they have the same colour as the traditional "KonnaPoo" which blooms around the time of Vishu (New Year in Kerala). Our Easter cake was the classic yellow cake with a French Vanilla whipped frosting. With the abundance of fresh flowers and ever so helpful flower-pickers I decorated the cake with fresh forsythia flowers. We went with the whipped frosting over buttercream so that we could eat cake without all that guilt !

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
Flour - 2 1/4 cups
Baking powder - 2 1/2 teaspoons
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Sift all the above together.

Milk - 3/4 cup
Eggs - 4
Vanilla essence - 1 tablespoon
Whisk all of the above in a bowl and set aside.

Sugar - 1 1/2 cups
Unsalted Butter - 1 cup (2 sticks)
Cream butter and sugar till light.

Add half the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix till just incorporated. Now add half the milk mixture and beat well. Repeat with the other half of the flour and milk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes.

Cool cakes on a rack. After they are completely cool, trim the tops of the cakes to level them.

Cool Whip - 1 (8 oz.) tub, thawed
Milk - 1 cup, cold
Jello instant French vanilla pudding mix - 1 box
Whisk pudding mix and cold milk till creamy. Fold in Cool Whip.

Frost the top of one of the cakes. Place the other cake on top of it. Now frost the top and sides of the entire cake. The frosting may also be used to pipe decorations and flowers. I used fresh flowers. If using fresh flowers, make sure they are non-poisonous and no toxic insecticides have been used on them.

In case the ingredients for the frosting is not available in your area you can use this recipe here, which is the real thing.
Dig In!!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fish a la georgia...

I got this recipe from a book on weekend getaways, which I went through while planning for a recent vacation. What caught my attention was the western name of the dish, though most of the ingredients seemed very indian. Anyway I went ahead and made this dish. The recommended fish was pomfret, mackerel, I used seer fish slices though and it did come out well.
So here's a recipe for all fish lovers.

Fish a la georgia
Fish - 1/2 kg
Chilly Powder - 2tsp
Coriander powder, jeera powder, tandoori masala and
Amchur (dry mango powder) - 1 tsp each
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger Garlic paste - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
mint leaves - 1/8 cup
Vinegar - 2 tblsp
salt to taste.

-- Blend all the ingredient except the fish into a smooth paste.
-- Smear the fish with this and marinate it for at least 4 hours.
-- Shallow fry the marinated fish on both sides till nicely brown.