The Savoury Bakes Workshop with Nandita Iyer

I’m beginning to rely on the inimitable Dr. Iyer for my food photography fix! Yesterday I attended my third workshop with her – Savoury Baking. Since I’m not fond of sweets this workshop was perfectly suited to my needs. I love savouries and the sight of a perfectly baked quiche is rapturous to say the least ๐Ÿ™‚ Which is precisely what we did! Baked a quiche I mean among other stuff which included Golden Cornbread Muffins that packed a subtle jalapeรฑo punch; a Cheese & Walnut savoury cake that was surprisingly light and luscious; and some crispy, salty crackers that are fast becoming my new addiction ๐Ÿ˜›

As I’ve said in my previous post, Nandita is a fantastic teacher and a very warm and fun person to be with. She holds the classes in her beautiful home and graciously shares her private space with us eager beavers! What I really love about the classes other than learning new dishes and meeting new people, is that I get to indulge my passion for photography! As a friend of mine said – Baking and Photography seem made for each other ๐Ÿ™‚ They are so wonderfully complimentary! Am already looking ahead to next time ๐Ÿ™‚

Here are the pictures, collages this time of theย scrumptious treats we baked! And for the food enthusiasts among you, do check out Nandita’s food blog at Saffron Trail for details of future workshops, her youtube channel and some great recipes!

Very Vintage!

This Republic Day (26th of January), we headed to Junior’s school to ogle the Vintage cars on display. I confess I was the most eager of our trio to make the hour-long journey to school on a holiday…all from my new-found motivation to jumpstart my photography! Once there however, we were all equally excited ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe it’s just me, but nothing warms the heart quite like the sight of an old car! And these were POSH. Elegant, curvy, sparkling bodies with a latent grace that stole my heart and took me straight back to the days when they ruled the roads. I know there are some awesome machines in this day and age too, but these made me nostalgic for simpler times, when not only speed but form mattered; for the world of Poirot ๐Ÿ˜‰

The pics don’t do them justice. They were displayed in the harsh afternoon light and there were swarms of teachers and students everywhere. Some I just took with my iPhone coz that seemed easier! My only regret is that they weren’t driven around the ground! Now that would have been a stunning site. My favourite was a blue Daimler that had once belonged to Motilal Nehru, father of India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. That blue was something else! Royal ๐Ÿ™‚

Hope you like! Happy Tuesday People ๐Ÿ™‚

The Zesty Salad Workshop with Nandita Iyer

Yesterday, I spent a fun-filled, educational morning learning to make Salads. Let me confess that I have grown to love Salads over the years – fallen in love with the mix of colours and come to appreciate the blend of flavours & textures. Although I make them much more often at home than I used to in the past, and often have them as a one-dish meal for lunch, I still stick to a few basic favorites. Attending this workshop gave me a chance to extend my repertoire. Also attending a class like this is enriching in so many ways other than just learning new recipes don’t you think? I mean, you can get a million recipes online, but that one-on-one interaction with fellow enthusiasts, the humour, the banter and of course sharing the fruits of your labour with a great bunch of people is priceless and inspirational!ย 

This is my second workshop with the very talented Nandita. She is a medical doctor, writer, chef and author of Saffron Trail, her blog which focuses on Indian vegetarian cooking and baking, her other passion. The first workshop I attended was called Breaking Bread where we learnt how to…you guessed it…bake bread! She’s a great teacher – patient, funny and experienced. She keeps it simple, is open to suggestions and encourages interaction. She conducts the workshops in her beautiful house with a gorgeous garden where she grows a lot of the ingredients that we used in the salads! Organic goodness ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope you take a few minutes to check out her blog (just click on the link above). I promise you won’t be disappointed ๐Ÿ™‚

And now to the pictures!! What I really loved yesterday was the fact that I had my 50mm lens with me! Had a field day clicking pics. I love that salads are so colourful and vibrant! Just the pictures guaranteed to recharge drooping spirits ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I can tell you this – they were even better tasting then they look ๐Ÿ™‚

Here goes…


We made 4 salads, learned how to grill fruit, bake croutons, caramelize nuts, ‘chiffonade’ basil and to my great delight discovered the ‘julienne peeler’, a boon to people like myself with minimal knife skills ๐Ÿ˜› Another highlight for me personally was when Nandita casually sprinkled a few orangey-gold edible marigold petals on the Chick Pea & Grilled Apple Salad we had made – so frou frou, so moreish!

All in all, a great way to spend a morning ๐Ÿ˜€ย 

Eat Healthy People ๐Ÿ™‚

Bangalore Bytes โ€“ Lalbagh: A Walk in the Park!

Last Sunday morning found us in Lalbagh โ€“ Bangaloreโ€™s famous Botanical Garden, for a walk around the park organized by GE โ€“ Hubbyโ€™s current employer. In a mad scramble we managed to make it on time at 7 am, no mean feat in Bangalore, even on a Sunday. I donโ€™t know what it is โ€“ but this is most certainly one of the busiest & most chaotic cities I have ever visited in terms of traffic โ€“ but I digress…

Our Guide – Mr. Vijay Kumar

It was a drizzly morning and chilly, but there were umbrellas to go around and backpacks full of munchies, ย and leading us (a group of 18), was veteran Lalbagh guide and โ€˜guruโ€™, Mr. Vijay Kumar. I had researched the walks online and knew that if there was anything to know about Lalbagh, then Mr. Kumar would know it and so was pretty excited at having him as our guide although my experience with guides in general, in India, has been to put it politely โ€“ awful ๐Ÿ˜› Mr. Kumar is of course not your average guide! Aa soft-spoken gentleman, with a bamboo hat, a walking stick and impeccable English, he impressed us all with his wonderful commentary on the origins and history of Lalbagh and his in-depth knowledge of the 1800 odd species of plants that make their home here. His gentle humor and the many anecdotes he shared of his experiences over the years, made our own experience special and very informative. We were a mix of first-timers and repeat visitors and we were all agreed that his presence was what elevated our experience from just another โ€˜Walk in the Parkโ€™, to a true โ€™Nature Walkโ€™ ๐Ÿ™‚ The 3-hour walk didnโ€™t seem long at all! I for one will definitely be doing it again! Also, the sumptuously decadent breakfast he arranged for us after the 3-hour long walk, at the original MTR restaurant a short distance away, is a strong motivator ๐Ÿ˜‰

And now to the star of the show โ€“ Lalbagh! The Garden, today a sprawling 240 acres, was first commissioned in the mid-18th century by Hyder Ali & later expanded and improved first by his son Tipu Sultan and later by the British, for whom Mr. Kumar informed us, it was the most important garden in the Empire, second only to the Kew Gardens back home.ย 

The Bird of Paradise Flower! Ain't they pretty?
The Bird of Paradise Flower! Ain’t they pretty?

Mr. Kumar explained how Lalbagh is laid out mostly in straight lines, in the Mughal-style of the day, the straight lines representative of the shortest distance between God and his creation โ€“ Man! Cool! The garden has trees from all parts of the world โ€“ Australia, the Americas, Africa and even New Caledonia (a tiny island in the Pacific). Thereโ€™s a tall pine named after Captain Cook thatโ€™s an astonishing 165 feet in height (Mr. Kumar shared with us how a group of school-bys he was chaperoning helped him measure it by using their shadows!), there are two massive silk-cotton trees whose trunks are as thick as a couple of elephants standing back-to-back and whose silky thread isย  used in the manufacture of life-jackets and sleeping bags, there are several trees that are centuries old, a gorgeous rose garden (although we didnโ€™t see it this time), and my favourite โ€“ an Elephant Apple tree โ€“ with fruit the size of small footballs! Thereโ€™s also a Chinese Lantern Willow or some such (canโ€™t recall the exact name, sorry :P), which was first introduced to the British when Catherine of Portugal married Charles II of England and brought it along in her dowry along with a smattering of 7 tiny islands in the Arabian Sea, that would go on to become the Bombay we know today! She was also the one that introduced โ€˜teaโ€™ to the Brits apparently! Quite a woman that ๐Ÿ˜‰

Silk Cotton Tree

Oh! And letโ€™s not forget the giant prehistoric, 3-billion-year old rocky hillock that sits right at the main entrance to the park, crowned by one of the Kempe Gowda towers, now converted into the inevitable temple. The rock is one, if not โ€˜theโ€™ oldest thing on the planet and is thought to be part of the original Gondwanaland โ€“ the rock mass that has given us Antartica, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, South America, The Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent! Think about it โ€“ when you sit on that rocky surface, youโ€™re sitting on something so ancient, itโ€™s almost holy, if you get what Iโ€™m saying. Donโ€™t get me wrong โ€“ itโ€™s not a beautiful sight to look at, but itโ€™s reverential all the same ๐Ÿ™‚

The Elephant Apple!
The Elephant Apple!

Also at the entrance is a โ€˜Virgalโ€™ or โ€˜hero-stoneโ€™, a memorial (usually in the form of a carved stone tablet), to a hero martyred in battle and next to it an ancient stone Nandi (bull), with a hole in its back that probably held a carved stoned umbrella. So Lalbagh was at some point a battlefield! There is plenty to discover in these gardens and our walk was a mere scratch on a vast surface, but it has made me hungry for more information and I look forward to many more misty mornings spent wandering around lost in Natureโ€™s beauty. Thereโ€™s the rose garden, a Japanese garden, the aquarium, and the Lake to discover. Thereโ€™s cricket to be played and birds to be sighted (saw scores of parrots and eagles and kites but wasnโ€™t carrying the zoom ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ), and more trees to discover! One warning โ€“ slather yourself with mosquito repellent before you visit and dress to cover your limbs, coz Lalbagh can rightly also be called โ€˜The Planet of the Mosquitoesโ€™!

Virgal-Nandi Collage

And so it was back home after one of the best mornings Iโ€™ve had in a long time and certainly by far the best morning Iโ€™ve had so far in Bangalore. We missed the famous flower-show Lalbagh hosts every year, but I think I prefer to visit sans the crowds and chaos โ€“ just a wonderful, peaceful walk in the park ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you to GE and Mr. Kumar for a wonderful experience ๐Ÿ™‚


Lisbon – 10 Things!

This post is long overdue and as my friend Heather said, “It’s cruel to say you’re back and then not actually be back!” So without much further ado, let me tell you that this post is going to be largely pictorial coz my brain is still too scrambled for coherent thought ๐Ÿ˜› and because if I don’t get this down now, I fear I never will! So here they are – 10 things that made me fall in love with Lisbon ๐Ÿ™‚

The Architecture – so familiar from seeing it back home in Goa and yet uniquely special in the way an original is from its copy. Robert Langdon would love it here ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Tiles – vintage, hand-painted, exquisite! I stopped several times just to touch them and feel their history speak. Also the iron-work and masonry wastonishing to say the least!

The Tagus Riverfront – a wonderful promenade by the banks of the river Tagus where local fisherman try their luck, while locals and tourists alike stroll around breathing in the crisp air, taking in the many sights in the area – an old brick lighthouse, the Pont de Vasco de Gama, the Tower of Belem, the grand, imposing beauty that is the Monastery of San Jeronimo, a war memorial that serves as an observation tower offering spectacular views – there’s a veritable feast of stimuli for the senses here!

The quaint charm of Lisbon’s hip and happening neighbourhoods – The Chiado, Rossio, Bairro Alto – yes I know they’re everywhere in Europe and no that doesn’t make them any less miraculous here! Their impossibly tiny cobblestoned streets, quaint boutiques, and profusion of cafes and restaurants made them well nigh irresistible to the romantic in me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Although I confess with a 5-yr-old in tow, we didn’t really do them justice! Still there’s always next year ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Gardens &the Roses – Lisbon has gardens galore! Little ones and grand ones, places where families can picnic and children can play and us visitors can prowl with our cameras on the look out for whatever might catch our fancy ๐Ÿ˜› I remember my delight on spying the gigantic roses! I can’t remember ever seeing such large ones! Blood red, dainty pink, pretty salmon…luscious blooms!

The Tram – Yes I know they are pretty much ubiquitous in Europe, but that for me just adds to their allure! I don’t quite know how to explain it – but the sight of the little box on wheels climbing its way up a steep incline is just exhilarating! Or perhaps I’m just grateful for the ride and the photo-op ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Burnt Custard Tart – A Lisbon staple and rightly so! A perfect balance of bitter-sweet deliciousness! Had too many to count and I don’t even like dessert ๐Ÿ˜‰

Vinho Verde – I was skeptical about trying this ‘Green Wine‘, until I finally did with predictable results – LOVED it and drank nothing else for the rest of the trip except for the Caiprinhas at Cabana Fresca in Albufeira that were just out of this World!! If you get your hands on a bottle of Muralhas, you’ll know what I mean! The light, fresh & fruity flavour is right up my street ๐Ÿ™‚

My favorite tipple on the trip ๐Ÿ™‚

The Zoo & Oceanarium – Both excellent places to visit even if you don’t have kids along! I love animals and I go dangerously crazy with my lens in Zoos much to the horror and embarrassment of the Hubby! Not that that bothers me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Loved the Zoo – especially the aerial views from a rope way that travels its length, the abundance of peacocks, the Tigers and the Chimps! Refreshingly non-commercial too ๐Ÿ™‚

The Gulls – I fell in love with these gutsy birds! Their squawking calls, yellow beaks and piercing gaze made for some fun bird-watching ๐Ÿ™‚ Another bird to add to my collection!

Johnathan Livingstone Seagull!
Johnathan Livingstone Seagull!

Lisbon charmed me with its relaxed vibe, quaint neighbourhoods and warm people ๐Ÿ™‚ There is an enchanting blend of ancient history and modernity here and a refreshing lack of the overt commercialism that runs rampant elsewhere in the world. Many of the sights are free for children and Junior had a blast playing cricket in every park we visited! That’s a LOT of cricket ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s a sense of underlying whimsy and a languidness that permeates; aย ‘je ne sais quois’ that is endearing. Visiting Lisbon allowed me to understand the idiosyncrasies of my own tiny state of Goa better! About time too ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will certainly be visiting again – that’s a given!

P. S. This one’s for you Heather! Hope you liked it and THANK YOU for the much needed nudge ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ™‚

Back to School!

I cannot believe this is my 3rd post of the Day!! It’s a MIRACLE!!

I’ve just got back from spending the afternoon with my son’s Kindergarten class! Today was his first day in Senior KG and I’m happy to report that both of us had a blast ๐Ÿ˜€ This despite the fact that my derriere is aching from sitting hunched in tiny rigid made-for-4-yr-old-butt chairs ๐Ÿ˜‰ andย notwithstandingย the general brouhaha that occurs in a room full of 15 ย hyperactive, enthusiastic 5-yr-olds!!

I continue to be impressed with the teachers in the Podar Jumbo Kids Plus IB section. There are three teachers to attend to 15 children – a main teacher and twoย assistants, without whom I cannot imagine how they would manage to keep order ๐Ÿ˜› These children are a handful – curious, impatient, fidgety and unique – ย each in their own way. Getting them to concentrate on a single activity for 5 minutes at a time is in my opinion worthy of a Nobel prize ๐Ÿ˜‰ The teachers at Podar do so with aplomb and have my utmost respect! Take a Bow Ladies ๐Ÿ™‚

It was fascinating to see how far the education system has come since way back when I was a kindergartner myself! The children played, sang songs,ย modeledย clay and watched stories all in the space of 4 hours, during which they also wrote their names on the board, drew objects that started with the first letter of each of their names and counted numbers! The learning is skillfully woven into fun activities so that the children scarcely regard it as a serious study process. Instead they imbibe knowledge true to the little sponges they are, by instinct and osmosis. I was pretty impressed with all the kids and happy to see that my boy – shy as he is in public, can hold his own in the classroom ๐Ÿ™‚ It was an eye-opener and a wonderful experience and we Moms would be very happy to do it again some time ๐Ÿ˜›

Senior KG 1st day

I’m looking forward to another rewarding school year ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr. & Mrs. Koel

I wish I had another Avian Love Story to share! But unlike parrots, Koels (from the Cuckoo family), are shy and these were very hard to spot! I heard the male calling first – his distinctive ‘Koo Koo’ piercing the stillness of an early morning. I ran around the house peering out the windows trying to get a glimpse, but all I saw were silent Crows ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Then, after a while, I spied him perched on the large, leafy Ashoka outside my kitchen window. Praying silently that he would stay I ran to fetch my camera, and had to stop (just my luck!) to change to the zoom. Miraculously, he was still there, his blood-red eye surveying his surroundings for…well I don’t know, worms, fruit, Mrs. Koel?!! I thought I spied a flutter higher up in the branches and caught a fleeting glimpse of what could have been a spotted feathery body, but it was too far away to see clearly and the leafy branches obstructed my view. I got a couple of shots before he flew away and then I resolved to watch the tree for any signs of Mrs. Koel and a courtship in progress ๐Ÿ˜›ย 

Two days and no luck, until this morning I spotted Mrs. Koel, on the same tree, on the same branch, reaching for a fruit!! I almost fell over with excitement, but had to rush again to fetch my camera and when I was back, she had retreated into the leaf cover ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Those times when I don’t Love birds, I Hate them!! Uuuuuuuuuuuugh!! I hung around for a while leaning out the window, eyes stuck onto the view-finder, but then Junior was up and it was time to get the morning routine started. Mrs. Koel though was never far from my mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

I watched for her intermittently while going about my chores and suddenly there she was again, just as I was frying fish for Junior’s lunch…still hidden but revealed in her brown-grey spotted plumage when the branches swayed in the breeze!! ๐Ÿ™‚ It was rather like playing Avian hide & seek ๐Ÿ˜€ I got some pictures, and although they’re not as good as I wanted, I’m just glad I managed to capture her on film so to speak. She was rather plump, beautiful and reticent, and I can see why Mr. Koel would be interested ๐Ÿ˜‰ย It’s a wonder I didn’t burn the fish ๐Ÿ˜›

When I told my Aunt about how I spent most of morning chasing birds, she thought I was Nuts! You need to get your priorities right she said laughingly – Children before Birds ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know where mine are ๐Ÿ˜›

I wish Mr. & Mrs. Koel all the best ๐Ÿ™‚


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Monkton Mondays!

This Monday’s illustration caught my eye because I’ve finally finished reading the surreal, fantastical, Booker prize winner The Famished Road by Ben Okri. It’s a profound read, in some of the most gorgeous descriptive prose I have ever read, but it’s also overwhelming and at times overbearing, like Life itself!!

So it’s with a sense of relief that I read the final page and turned to Mr. Monkton who has his own take on Life matters and philosophy of the most import and thankfully doesn’t need close to 600 pages in which to present it ๐Ÿ˜›

Sometimes…a line drawing is all you need ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Meaning of Life

I rest my case!!

Have a good week ahead People ๐Ÿ˜€

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – II

Turns out my second trip to the Festival was much shorter than the first ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The one-hour drive from school turned into a 2-hr exercise in patience and restraint, as three humungous weddings in the vicinity led to a massive traffic jam!! How I hate these huge, ostentatious weddings which are all about appearance and not at all about the sanctity of marriage…uuuuugggghhhh ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Had time to browse a few shops that I had identified the first time โ€“ one being a stall by KEC Games โ€“ that deals with traditional games from all over the world done in wood! A great idea and wonderfully executed too! The games are beautifully packaged and contain instructions on handmade paper inside to help with play! They are very reasonably priced for the quality delivered ๐Ÿ™‚ It took all my will power to restrict myself from buying everything on display ๐Ÿ˜› I settled for some gorgeous Gond Art Puzzles (Gond are a tribe in India known for their intricate paintings), a set of spinning tops, and a cute as a button set of Tic Tac Toe ๐Ÿ™‚ Thankfully they are online! Their products will make wonderful gifts for most children I know ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

KEC Games

Another nifty little stall, 61c KIDS, had fabulous stationery and you know how I adore stationery (well, if you didnโ€™t you do now)!! They had packs of Color Me In greeting cards, where kids can color in a printed drawing to give their friends and family! They had wonderful animal-themed magnetic bookmarks, innovative notepads and lots of other stuff that I have to check out online! You should too!ย I have included the links to both these websites so you can check them out from this page right here.


There were a lot of jewellery shops as well โ€“ each teeming with starry-eyed women of all ages ๐Ÿ˜‰ Bags, clothes, linen, pottery, photography โ€“ you name it and there it was! There was a potter displaying his skill on the wheel and inviting us spectators to try our hand at it!


And I got to see some more installations…one called โ€˜Corruptusโ€™ โ€“ that featured a horde of immaculately dressed white terracotta figures of politicians saluting a Flag that was a 100-rupee note! We were laughing out loud, it was so on the spot ๐Ÿ˜›

The Corruptus Republic!
The Corruptus Republic!

Then there was an ancient Ambassador car (remember those?), glittering all over with 1-rupee coins.


A turtle representative of defense strategy for humans…itโ€™s body made of white marble slabs and each turtle limb replaced by organs representing one of the 5 human senses โ€“ an eye, an ear, a mouth, a nose, a hand and a foot! Rather a cool concept I thought ๐Ÿ™‚


Another interesting installation was a coffin and cell phone combo that highlighted the obvious dangers of talking and driving at the same time!


And at the entrance, a large 3-D Display titled โ€˜Dhandaโ€™ (Hindi slang for โ€˜Businessโ€™, although used mostly for notorious & seedy businesses associated with the underworld, prostitution, gambling etc.), a word that stands for the seamier side of this city of Dreams.


After a quick, delicious lunch of pasta and mushroom-stuffed brioches, I had to leave. I love the โ€˜feelโ€™ and โ€˜energyโ€™ of such an event, which gives us inhabitants a chance to amble along without fear of being run over while soaking ourselves in Art and its interpretation by fellow Mumbaiites! An interesting, enjoyable experience that I highly recommend to one and all and that I will look forward to next year ๐Ÿ™‚