Monday, August 22, 2016

Best ever dark chocolate brownies with walnuts

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Pinterest is by far my favorite app to discover new creative content. For years I have been religiously pinning food pins in the hope of trying some of them in my kitchen. So this Summer holiday at my mum's place, I finally decided to give a couple of the many brownie recipes on my Pinterest board a go. 

When I told my mum that I would be baking brownies in her kitchen, she pulled out her dearly preserved, 30 year old recipe diary and gave me her brownie recipe. That, in brownie world, was pure gold and I can safely say that it produced the best ever chocolate brownies. 

I did make a few changes to the original recipe, but most of it is intact and reproduced here for everyone who wants to try brownies from scratch. 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 - 40 minutes 


2 eggs
150 g dark cooking chocolate bar
3/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup Plain Flour + 1 table spoon
2 tablspoons unsweetened Cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essense
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 th teaspoon baking powder

1. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla essence till light and fluffy
2. Melt the butter along with chocolate in the microwave until completely melted. (15 second intervals)
3. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Gently mix with a dry spoon. 
4. Now add the dry ingredients to your wet ingredients (egg mixture) and combine gently. Do not beat. 
5. Add the chocolate and butter mix and combine well
6. Grease a 8 inch square baking tin and pour the mixture
7. Roll the walnuts in 1 tablespoon of flour. This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom 
8. Drop your walnuts in the batter and bake for 30 - 40 minutes at 175 C / 325 F
9. Cool the brownie before cutting into squares 

Note: This recipe will result in gooey, fudgy brownies with a cracked top. For a cakey brownie, add three eggs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

SoulWeaves - Kalamkari Pashmina

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For the few years that I have lived in Hyderabad, I have had some wonderful opportunities to meet and learn from various artisans. From ikat weavers to cherial mask painters to kalamkari block printers, it is an humbling experience every single time  to watch these amazing artists work on their art with such dedication and passion. In an era of mass production, their arts are dying and their survival is paramount to preserve artistic techniques that define our culture.

Then, through this blog, I also get to interact with passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to the revival and survival of these arts and crafts. Meet Swati Kapoor, an entrepreneur, mom, artist and the brain behind SoulWeaves.

SoulWeaves offers an exquisite selection of natural fiber shawls, scarves and stoles that were born out of Swati’s love for everything natural, beautiful and enduring that Indian artisanal traditions have to offer. Every product is handmade and handcrafted by skilled artisans. Every natural fiber that is used is hand selected by Swati from various parts of our diverse country.

When Swati shared her work with me, what struck me most, were her handwoven, handpainted Kalamkari pashminas. I have seen a fair bit of kalamkaris - both hand painted and hand block printed, but Soulweave's hand painted kalamkari on pashmina was a first. Pashmina is the finest type of cashmere wool and is incredibly soft, warm and rare. Kalamkari is a traditional art form of Andhra Pradesh that involves  drawing intricate patterns, motifs or illustrations directly onto cloth with a bamboo pen or brush. The drawings are then filled in with natural colors. Kalamkari is one of the most difficult techniques to work with. The marriage between pashmina and kalamkari is mind-boggling, something that I have never seen before.

The SoulWeaves kalamkari Pashmina is entirely hand-drawn and hand-painted.  Taking weeks, often months to make. The final product is a medley of fine lines and delicate dyes sitting comfortably on Pashmina fibres.

Swati says “Our most exclusive offering – the Kalamkari Pashmina – is a tribute to the most intricate artisanal traditions of northern and southern India. Handpainted shawls in the kalamkari technique from Andhra Pradesh, created with a pioneering technique that is entirely and exclusively SoulWeaves.”

So how does SoulWeaves guarantee authenticity? Swati tells me that every single fiber lot they buy is tested by the Craft Development Institute and each shawl comes with an Authenticity Certificate. A SoulWeaves Kalamakari Pashmina is truly an heirloom piece. 

The beautiful products at SoulWeaves’ are one-of-a-kind, entirely hand-crafted, and truly deserving of being called wearable art.

Visit Swati at her studio in Lado Sarai, New Delhi to get to know more about her work and while you are there, pick a pashmina for youself.
You can also visit Soulweaves on Facebook or their website.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Watercolor Portraits by artist Hemal Paliwal

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I came across watercolor artist Hemal Paliwal's beautiful work on Instgram and it brought back vivid memories of a wonderful time spent in my boarding school art room. That art room was my retreat, a happy place where I could breakaway from teenage stress and paint my heart away. I haven't painted in a while now, so when I spoke to Hemal about her story and inspiration, I had to blog about her exquisite portraits of indigenous African people in watercolor.

The fluidity and transparency of watercolors make it one of my favorite mediums to paint with. The control over brush strokes when painting can make watercolors a challenging medium and Hemal has mastered that.

An architect by education, Hemal has worked extensively in the field of culture. Currently based in Kenya, here is what Hemal has to say about her work

"I do not have formal training in art but have always loved to paint and experiment from as long as I can remember. Somewhere in between managing marriage, kids and life in general, I completely stopped painting for almost 17 years. We moved to the beautiful town of Nairobi, Kenya a few years ago and the move helped reignite my passion for painting. Abundance of nature and the lush flora and fauna of this tropical place brings so much inspiration every single day. 

When we visited Masai Mara, I was so taken in by the beautiful beaded jewelry and colorful clothing that the Masai people wore with so much pride. Being of Indian origin I couldn't help but compare what Tribal people have so much in common, they try to live as close to nature as possible. Memories of the tribes in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa, Maharashtra and even the hilly regions of India came flashing into my mind. I would say this was the starting point of my new-found inspiration.

Original photograph by Eric Lafforgue

I started to paint Masai people and other fascinating tribal portraits as well. Abundance of color in their clothing and jewelry is simply enchanting. Tribal all over the world celebrate color with such aplomb! They truly live the "handmade" life and this skill is also a part of their culture which is so delicately woven into their daily life. My subjects are usually chosen from photographs and my chosen medium is watercolor. Just love the fluidity of watercolors! I paint other subjects too but am just a bit partial to Tribal portraiture!

Original photograph from flickr attributed to " One more shot rog"

I believe I have a long way to go and I need to work more and work harder each day to try and capture the 'tribal' essence into my paintings." 

Thank you for sharing your work Hemal! 

My art teacher would always say "Painting is not photography, use your creative freedom." I love how Hemal uses her creative freedom to create such exceptionally expressive paintings. 

Here is Hemal's Facebook page
Follow her on instagram here

Friday, June 17, 2016

Ready- to- cook recipe box from Ezycook

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Today was a 'don't feel like cooking - want something nice' kind of a day for me and just when I was contemplating Maggi for lunch, I received a box of ready - to - cook Telangana Fried Chicken from Ezycook.

Ezycook's concept of a ready - to -cook recipe box is innovative, stress-free and quick. Their idea is to make cooking easier for everyone. Every box of your chosen dish is pre-prepared to a ready- to -cook stage and is then delivered in a sturdy box. The raw materials are pre-measured, pre-cut and each box comes with a recipe card. My box of Telangana fried chicken contained pieces of marinated chicken that were ready to fry. The fried chicken turned out to be perfect! The chicken pieces were succulent, the marination was excellent with just the right amount of spices. The boneless chicken pieces were cut small for quick frying and my box contained a generous helping, more than enough for one. 

I found the process of cooking simple enough to ditch my maggi for fried chicken that was ready in just as little time as a packet of maggi. I am totally sold on the idea and will definitely be ordering again. Their menu includes a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian sides and main dishes like panner butter masala, sambhar, spicy chicken curry, Natukodi pulusu etc. The menu and recipes are developed by an experienced Mom which makes it much easier to trust the quality of their products. 

Ezycook is starting full-fledged operations in Gachibowli, Kondapur, Whitefields and Kothaguda areas of Hyderabad from June 20. They plan on expanding their delivery locations, so even if they don't cater to your area now, do keep an eye on their FB page for details on upcoming areas of delivery. 

Visit them at or their FB page
Use coupon code EZYCOOK20 for a 20% discount for a limited time only.

Closing with a picture of their spicy chicken curry!

All photographs were taken by me. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

DIY - Edible paint for toddlers

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Edible paint for toddlers - sounds strange? Here is a DIY that toddler mums will love!

Baby K turned 18 months on May 12 and recently discovered the joy of walking hands-free. Ever since he has been unstoppable and everything within his reach is usually found on the floor. So I have been looking for toddler activities that require him to sit and focus for short stretches of time. Painting obviously popped up as one of the top favorites. It helps them explore colors and develop their fine motor skills.

Now finding non- toxic paint for toddlers that won't cause tummy troubles if ingested was another story. Crayola finger paints were probably the only good quality non-toxic paints that I found in our local store but then those explicitly mentioned that they were not suitable for under 3. In such situations, I usually resort to Pinterest and I was not disappointed.

Many of the edible toddler paint recipes I found on Pinterest required using flour and water or cerelac and water plus food color, which in my opinion can get quite sticky and messy. But then I discovered this gem that called for just two ingredients - Curd and food color. Voila! Easy to wipe clean and does not become sticky.

A table spoon of curd mixed with a drop of Wilton Gel food color (that I bought in the hopes of creating colorful cakes and cookies) created purple paint good enough to keep baby K busy for full 15 minutes. That is a LOT in toddler time!

Next time I will try and use natural food colors like beetroot juice, saffron strands, turmeric, spinach puree etc. The idea is to get creative!

Sharing a few pictures from our coloring day. I would love to hear more ideas to keep a toddler busy.

P.S: We use Mothercare high chair with a removable tray, laminated fabric and a toy basket. The chair is easy to clean and we love it!

Monday, May 16, 2016

9 stunning Instagram accounts to follow for textile and design inspiration

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Instagram is currently my most favorite way to discover design content and inspiration. Its clean, easy to navigate around and does not push ads in my face. I joined the Instagram party late, but now I am pretty hooked.

Here are 9 stunning Instagram accounts to follow for textile and design inspiration

1. Marybeth Mulcahy - @marybethbergtoldmulcahy

Marybeth's company Les Indiennes works with block print kalamakari artisans in South India. Her designs have a sense of calm about them. They are usually in a single color, printed on organic cotton with natural dyes. Marybeth's Instagram account is a treasure trove of vintage textile inspiration and glimpses of prints from her own collections

2. Cardamom Collective - @cardamomcollective

Kelly Moe - Rossetto's Cardamom Collective is a medley of textures, natural colors, hand woven and handmade goods. You will find cute sets of travel sized handmade paint kits in Altoid mint boxes, South Indian Ikats, Guatemalan handwoven travel accessories and jewelry, block printed scarves, handmade salves and much more. Enough to keep one returning for more

3. Madame Hall - @madamehall

 I first came across Madame Hall while searching for tribal Jat embroideries and I am completely in awe of this wonderful lady. Lisa Hall is based in a small town of Bhuj in Gujarat, India and works with vintage Kutch embroideries and ajrakh fabrics. She designs flowy, oversized clothes and models her products with some refreshing swagger!

4. Zeri Crafts - @zericrafts

Laila Al-Hamad's Zeri Crafts is a tribute to Gulf culture. Laila draws her inspiration from the traditional Bedouin art and Sadu weaving. Their instagram feed is a collection of clean, crisp images, simple geometric patterns and colors inspired by desert living. I first wrote about Zeri Crafts in early 2013, read the story here

5. Good Earth India - @goodearthindia

Good Earth is synonymous with beautiful design in India. Their instagram feed is a stunning collection of their products that are a tribute to the traditional arts and crafts of the country. Follow Good Earth India for a mesmerizing journey that celebrates our Indian heritage

6. Wandering Silk - @wanderingsilk

Gorgeous textiles and exotic travels. Currently based in India, Katherine's instagram account is a photo essay of her travel to far flung places like Cambodia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan along with sneak peeks of her work with women artisans in Asia. Katherine has very aptly coined the hastag #textilewanderlust and I absolutely admire her work.

7. Once upon a tea time/ Collectivitea - @once_upon_a_tea_time@collectivitea

A play of pattern, textures and layers, Priya's instagram feed is a visual delight. Her 4 pm chai-time photos are postcard perfect. The pictures will definitely entice you to sit down for a cup of tea and biscuits. Priya and her team recently launched @collectivitea, a market place that supports creative entrepreneurship and is a go to resource for eclectic products from across the world. Follow along to discover global splendor. 

8. Gunjan Aylawadi - @gunjanay

Visual artist Gunjan Aylawadi weaves poetry with paper. Yes, paper! Her work is exquisite and complex. Imagine the play of several strips of paper, curled and woven to create art that is inspired by mathematics. Mind-blowing! Follow her on Instagram for awe-inducing work in progress pictures from her studio in Sydney.

Do share your favorite Instagram accounts to follow. Leave a comment here or email me. Follow me on @karibykriti if you like! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Nursery decor trends 2016

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Decorating a nursery for your mini me can be fun! Who doesn't love a snugly, cozy nursery? Whether you have a dedicated nursery, or a shared bedroom, here are 5 nursery-trends you would love to put your spin on: 

1.Theme based, gender-neutral nurseries: 

Color palettes are moving towards sophisticated neutrals. Soothing browns, grays, greens and even whites act as wonderfully accommodating backgrounds for further decoration. Likewise, theme-based decoration on, say, ‘Geometry’, ‘Celestial’ or ‘Woodland’, is now popular. Think wall papers, murals and prints based on the same.

2. Rattan cribs:

This one’s about getting back to the basics. No better way than to let mother nature provide the raw material for your little one’s crib. Rattan (a kind of palm plant native to Africa and Asia) has always been popular for furniture-making and now wicker cribs made out of it are making a mark. Artisanal, pure and sturdy. I was a lucky baby to sleep in a rattan crib and I am so excited to see these surface again. 

3.Texturing and layering with natural materials: 

Incorporate more natural materials such as breathable cotton bedding, utilitarian grass baskets and welcoming woolen rugs in the nursery. When these natural materials are used in their own earthy tones, their textures get highlighted. Layering with these textures creates a collected look too.

4.Sentimental treasures:

Add character to the nursery - bring back memories from your own childhood by using sentimental treasures to decorate. Floating shelves, baskets, crates, hanging shelves can all be used to display keepsakes with an emotional connect, such as dad’s toy cars mum's collection of bears and dolls, grandpa's vintage globe. Heirlooms can be mixed with new toys, books and shoes to really bring the whole package together, after all you will also be spending a lot of your time in the nursery. 

5. Statement artwork: 

If there is one thing you could splurge on, I would suggest custom artwork. Statement, one of a kind pieces. Think of interesting ideas like woodland animals in water color, vintage posters, embroidered initials, faux taxidermy animal heads, macrame wall hangings the list can go on. Pieces that can be moved from the nursery into big boy/ big girl bedrooms are the way to go. 

View other inspirational nursery decor ideas here

With inputs from Simrith Hundal

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