Sunday, January 25, 2015

Silk Kurta with hand embroidery motifs

It all started when my best friend gifted me that soft tie and dye chunni. I had a few meters of off-white pure silk material. When I rummaged in my left over-fabric carry bags (any given time, I have atleast two bags full), I found this brocade Benaras silk piece in shades of green and blue. It was less than half a meter and in odd shape. I put them all together and felt they will look good, and here is my semi-formal silk kurta with chunni!
Silk kurta with hand embroidery motifs

Materials used:
Blue / green yoke – less than half meter
Embroidery Silk threads – blue & green, part of spool each
Gold beads – 5 per motif
Gold bead lace – 1.25 m.
I used the green / blue silk for the yoke and as a band on the short sleeve. First I finished stitching the kurta. 

Green / Blue brocade silk yoke and band on sleeves

It had been a while since I did any embroidery work and my fingers were itching for some hand embroidery. To make it a well-put-together dress, I picked the colours from the chunni and made a small motif; traced it on the dress with a carbon paper. The coloured threads were also old and left over from a previous project. The small gold beads were also from before.

Embroidery motifs traced with carbon paper

I used stem stitch and satin stitch. Each motif took precisely 20 min. to stitch / embroider.
I still needed a trim to get a finished look. The thin lace edging with gold beads seemed perfect. Finally, the lace is tacked on to the edge of the sleeve and the yoke.

Detail of one Embroidery motif 

Cotton apron

I needed to send a few gifts to some friends. What better than to make something with my own hands and give! 
I had 1.5 m. of Pochampally handloom fabric for a few years now. The fabric is thick but smooth. Perfect for an apron! There was some pure silk Pochampally material in shades of brown which added some colour. 

Apron with ties and pocket

I had stitched several aprons long time back. But now, I was short of time, so decided on a simple pattern. Since I did not have the body measurements, I wanted the apron to fit any size. Ribbons of silk material were attached to tie around the neck and also around the waist. A good sized pocket is very useful on an apron. So, an edging of silk fabric was put on the pocket to high light it.

Apron when worn looks like this

The whole piece took about 3 hrs. from cutting, stitching to pressing.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Anjuna Flee Market, Goa

I love flee markets; infact any kind of markets! And I love Anjuna flee market more than others! Here is why:

Anjuna flee market is open every Wednesday, whole day till sunset, during the tourist season. You get to see people of different nationalities in one place.

A Street View

Since it is a day long market, you can shop till you drop!  It is huge! Sprawling across fields and the beach, housing Hundreds of stalls! There is something for everyone:
Decorative Items 

Decorative and gift items like statues and figurines;

Costume Jewellery

Different varieties of costume jewellery;

Wall hangings

There are hand crafted items like wall hangings;

Summer clothes

If you are not prepared for lounging on the beach, you will find lovely summer clothes and beachwear in all possible sizes;

T-shirts printed with images of deities and symbols for the spiritually inclined;


·               The spice shops: Wow! The aroma of spices pervading through out the market!                                                                                                                                  And Displayed so beautifully;
Tibetan stalls

There are the very special stalls by Tibetans. Do not go into the details of whether it is pure silver or Sterling silver. You like something, then just buy it and wear it right there, and be happy!
Coconut leaves as roofing material

Coconut palm leaf covered shops keep the interiors cool and the play of sunlight   and shadows on the people and wares is a lovely sight;

Antique Jewellert & artifacts

 I particularly like the antique looking jewellery and artifacts for their vibrant colours and pretty designs;
  • Wear sturdy comfortable walking shoes and carry water / juice and snacks if you are particular about what you eat.
  • It is heartening to the local vendors having spirited conversations (haggling!) with the tourists in English, Russian and a smattering of other languages too. 
  • The market ends finally at Anjuna beach. A quiet walk along the water's edge or better still, soak the weary feet in cool water, after a long day's bargaining is divine.
  • When in Goa during the tourist season and on a Wednesday, a visit to the Anjuna flee market is a must see and experience.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Reis Margos Fort, Goa

Located in Verem, Goa, Reis Margos fort is a small and unpretentious fort. It is neither grand nor awe inspiring, but a piece of interesting history has been restored and preserved for posterity.

Ramp up to the fort

View of Mondovi river from the ramp

The fort is strategically placed on top on the hill, having a clear view of Mandovi River, Arabian sea and the hills behind. For us tourists and visitors, we get spectacular views from the top, of the river, the sea, boats, and the quaint towns all round. 

Main entrance to fort

Main door
There is an armory, couple of solitary confinement cells, a craft centre, a central courtyard, 2 halls showcasing Mario Miranda’s cartoons and paintings, and several cannons. In the craft centre, the photos of ‘before’ and ‘after’ renovation and restoration of the fort are displayed. They did a fantastic job with the restoration. The fort was totally dilapidated, plants growing on the walls, and the roofs caved in. 

Craft Centre

Green wall behind the craft centre


Solitary confinement cell

The restored fort connects the history of the place to the present generation. Picture gallery of Mario Miranda’s drawings and cartoons is a tribute to his greatness, and a source of encouragement to the visitors.

Mario Miranda Picture gallery

Picture window


What I liked best was that it is authentic, made to look like an old fort and not a modern one. Long climb up to the fort by a ramp paved with Laterite stone ending in a sitout with built In benches. Amazing views of the towns of Goa, Mandovi river, fishing and tourist boats, the Arabian sea, the water, waves, and sky from the ramp. 

What I liked best was that it is authentic, made to look like an old fort and not a modern one.

Fort seen from below

There is peace, tranquility, breathtaking views, lots of greenery, easy accessibility, a must see place in Goa, for everyone. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I do a lot of dress making; all of my clothes and sometimes those of others too. Because of which a lot of left over bits and pieces of fabric is remains. Sometimes they are large pieces, and I use them as part of another dress if not or as a trim etc. Over a period of time, I will have a few carry bags full of pieces of fabric. 
When it happened the first time, the bags were occupying every shelf and cupboard. I had to either throw them out or give them away. I decided to use them myself and that is how my first patchwork bedspread / wall hanging / curtain came into being. Oh, it was very painstaking and laborious! Took a long time to finish it!
From time to time, I used the bedspread as a curtain or a wall hanging. After nearly 20 years, I still could not throw it out, so, I cut it up into smaller pieces and made bath mats! You can imagine how much I loved it!
Since that first experiment, I convert the extra pieces of fabric (as and when a couple of carry bags are full) into bedspreads, thin quilts, cushion covers, pillow case,s and diwan covers. I love them. To me :
  • *    They add colour to the interiors
  • *    It is an effective use of left over material
  • *    They bring up memories of my clothes and events 
  • *    Inspirational
  • *    Every time you look at them, you feel good that you were productive
  • *    They help save money on new bed sheets etc.
  • *    You can be as creative as you like. There is no right or wrong way of making them
8’x8’ Bedspread

This is a 8’x8’ bedspread made out of all 100% cotton materials only. I learnt from past experience that never to mix cottons, silk, synthetics, laces etc. together. Also use the material of similar thickness and density.
I cut the pieces into 7”x7” pieces with the help of a cardboard stencil. After stitching, the size came down to 6”x6”.
I attached the pieces in a row, making sure no two consecutive pieces are of same colour and / or design. When the strip is 8’ long, I started making another strip. I made a total of 16 such strips of 8’ (approxi.) long. Trimmed the edges and attached the strips together. This was tricky. First, I spread out the strips on the floor and made sure no two pieces of same colour and / or design were next to each other. With so many assorted materials and designs, it was not easy. 
Next step was to attach the backing. I used thin cotton white material. The backing material was cut to the same size as the prepared bedspread and tacked to it.
Finally, the edges of the huge square are trimmed and a border of 2” was stitched all round.

Rasam Powder - 1

Rasam / Chaaru / Saaru is a South Indian dish. Rasam is a thin, watery, soupy liquid. It is prepared most days and is eaten with rice. Some like to drink it like soup too. It is considered good for digestion (especially very effective, if one is suffering from constipation!). Bewate, it is spicy too!
It is also one of my favourite dishes! I can have it any day of the week.
There is no specific recipe for rasam; though different people make it differently. The one main ingredient in rasam is the ‘Rasam powder’. Following is one variety of rasam powder; again my favourite! I got the basic recipe from an ex-colleague of mine, and adjusted it to suit my taste buds. I passed it on to several friends, and they all swear by it. Even if the proportion of the ingredients varies slightly, the taste and flavor will still be good. So, make this version of rasam powder and enjoy!
Here goes –

Dhania (Coriander seeds) – 4 tbsp.
Chana dal (Bengal gram) – 2 tbsp.
Dry red chillies – 6 – 8 nos.
Dry curry leaves – a few
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 3 tbsp.
Black peppers – 1/s tbsp.

Roast all the ingredients in a pan. Grind it to a coarse powder. Store in a glass jar. It is ready to be used in the rasam

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Assorted veggies chutney

Found small quantities of assorted vegetables in the refrigerator, like a piece if bottle gourd, one ribbed gourd and a bunch of radish leaves.The leaves of radish are considered very good for health. Couldnot use the vegetables by themselves because of small portions and I did not know any recipe to use them together. Decided to use them in the old chutney format and see what comes out. It turned out to be a tasty chutney which can be eaten with Rice, Roti, or Phulka.

Ribbed gourd / Ridge gourd –200 gms. (approxi.)
Bottle gourd –50 gms. (approxi.)
Leaves of Raddish – 8 – 10 nos.
Green chillies – 6 nos.
Rayi (Mustard seeds) & Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp. each
Urad dal (Black gram without skin) – 1 tsp.
Curry leaves - a few
Salt – to taste
Oil – 3 tbs.
Garlic pods – 4 -6 nos.
Tamarind – 1 small lemon size
Chop bottle gourd, raddish leaves. Skin the ribbed gourd and clean and save the skin, and green chillies.
Clean and soak the tamarind in half a cup of water.
Heat 1 tbs. oil in a frying pan; add 1/2 tsp. each rayi, jeera, 3 garlic pods, green chillies, ½ tsp. of Urad dal. Remove from the stove when they are fried to a light brown colour.
Drain the oil and put into mixer. Add salt to it. Make a fine powder. Add tamarind and make a smooth paste.
In a bigger pan, fry the greens and the skin of ribbed gourd in 1 tsp of oil.
Add these to the mixie and grind to a paste.
Into the same pan, add 1 tbsp. of oil and fry the chopped veggies. When they are almost cooked, take the pan off the stove and let it cool.
Add the veggies to the ground mixture and grind to a coarse paste. Make sure small pieces of vegetables remain. Take it into a bowl.
Into the pan put the remaining oil and fry the balance Rayi, Jeera, Urad dal, Curry leaves, Garlic pods. Add the garnishing to the chutney.
You can vary the quantity of tamarind and chillies to suit your palate.

Salvadordo Mundo Church - Goa

  It was Easter and we have a ritual of going to a natural spring before sunrise and drinking the holy water from it. Since both Jo and ...