June 26, 2012

The Painter by Deepanjana Pal

'The Painter' a biography of Raja Ravi Varma by Deepanjana Pal. Starting from his birth into the small princely state of Kilimanoor , the book traces the painter's life through schooling, marriage and his growth as a painter and a national figure.

It also covers many aspects of aristocratic Kerala and the various norms of the typical Nair household. Being a Nair myself, I felt this would let  me see the history and practices in a very different manner, and as for every Keralite, Raja Ravi Varma is a name not to be ever forgotten.

The book deals exclusively with the way his career as a small time painter to the most celebrated painter in India. The underlying political stage which was set and epidemics which raged through India have all been woven in beautifully to show how the life of this painter was affected by every such instance. Starting from being a kid interested immensely in the arts, to eventually the court painter at the Travancore court and then moving on to a highly travelled painter for many commissions from royal families, the book shows how this young man learnt every stroke on his own with constant support from his maternal uncle. The book details all his accounts, relationship with his family, wife and children. It shows how he and his brother were so close and his brother's death eventually took a toll on his life too. It shows a man who was so immersed in his art and career that he almost gave up his family life and moved along with his brother, who was his confidante and partner in painting.

Written based on facts from various sources, and also included are tit bits of gossip which are not recorded anywhere. The author has explained very well what is the narrative style and what are the facts and what are gossip. The writing style is very simple, and attempts to draw a story through a third person narrative. But, I feel that many a times I was not drawn so much into the story as I was in other parts, so I would like to believe that it was just a question of not so good editing. Or maybe the life of the painter at that time was not that lively and enjoyable as at some other instances.

Nevertheless, when one finishes the book, you feel its a long history that you have read and something which you would have had no clue about when you see the Ravi Varma paintings which are so beautiful. Every painting has a story which the author has tried to infuse and also show us how difficult it was to paint woven in the earlier days with questions arising on every new work.

June 24, 2012

Wholewheat Mango Muffins

Sunday Breakfast is Muffin breakfast.....

Today it shall be...

Wholewheat Mango muffins

Granulated sugar - 2/8 cup
Oil - 1/8 cup
Mango - 1; 1/4 diced and the rest pureed
Egg - 1, beaten lightly
Vanilla - 1/4 tsp
Multigrain flour/ Wholewheat flour - 3/4 cup
Baking Powder - 3/4 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Ground cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
Walnuts - 1/2 cup chopped (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 175 C. Spray the muffin moulds and keep ready.
2. Mix the sugar and oil. Now add the pureed mangoes, vanilla and half of the egg.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Now fold in the diced mangoes and walnuts.
5. Spoon into prepared moulds and bake for 20 mins.
6. Toothpick test would show whether its cooked and a little brown on the top looks real pretty too !


June 21, 2012

Oatmeal crispies

I have had some Oats lying about every since B stopped having Oats porridge for breakfast. I personally am not a very big fan of oats, so I do not have porridge or the upma variety of Oats. I prefer my simple Kellogg's if I am to have a cereal for breakfast.

The past three months have been few of routine, workouts and measurements. I have been very regular at the gym and I have been trying to tone my body up and get rid of the pregnancy and lactation effects ob my body. In spite of the gym, one of the key factors for a very minimal differenece on the scale was courtesy a very bad eating pattern, and on consulting a dietician, there was really nothing wrong in what I was eating, just that I need to organize meals. That is where these delicious crispies came in. I needed a morning meal prior to my workout.. so that I can follow it up with a good lunch once I am back.

I came across this recipe when I was scurrying about the web in search of how to make some small brinjals/egg plant which I had. I chanced upon Kath's blog and then not only the brinjal but these oat crispies were also tried. They are the perfect morning energy bars and in fact with the walnuts in them, they would be quite nutritious too. I added a little raisins too along with the walnuts, and I think any nuts would be wonderful with oats. Might try almonds and raisins for my next batch.

Here is the recipe. Also do check out Kath's blog for some great meal plans.


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups (180 g) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
3 cups (360 g) quick-cooking oats 
½ cup chopped walnuts


1. Thoroughly cream the butter and the sugars together. (I mixed them at medium speed in my stand mixer for about 5 minutes.)
2. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.
3. Stir together the flour, salt and soda. Add the flour mixture to the dough and mix well.
4. Stir in the oats and chopped walnuts.
5. Shape into 2 or 3 logs and wrap with wax paper. refrigerate overnight. You can also put the wrapped logs in freezer bags ad freeze for later use.
6. This would yield about 3-4 dozen crispies :) baked at 180 C for 10- 12 minutes.

June 10, 2012

Double Chocolate muffins

A sunday morning is complete only with some warm, fresh out of the oven stuff to dig into. And today we had as the title suggests, some double chocolate muffins. This recipe is inspired from the Double chocolate chunk muffins over at Crepes of Wrath.

 The muffins are oh-so-soft and fluffy which is something I loved about this recipe. I did a minor change to it though, and did not have any chunks, I added all the chocolate to my mixture itself in the melted form.

Here is the recipe which I followed for 12 regular sized muffins.


Unsalted butter - 3 tbsp
Unsweetened chocolate - 2 ounces
Sugar - 1/2 cup & 1/3 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 1/6 cup
Baking Powder - 1/2 tbsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Butter milk - 3/4 cup
Egg - 1 regular /small egg
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Demerara Sugar - for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 190 C and prepare 12 moulds for the muffins.

2. Chop the unsweetened chocolate and put it in a bowl alongside the butter. Now, microwave the chocolate and butter for 1 min in two 30 sec stretches. After 30 seconds, stir the content once. After the contents are melted, add 1/2 cup sugar to the mixture and stir well. Keep aside.

3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg and vanilla essence. Following this, add the butter-chocolate mixture into this bowl whisking continuously to incorporate.

5. Now, slowly fold in the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Do not over mix.

6. Now spoon this mixture into the mould, so that the moulds are half filled and sprinkle sugar on the top of each.

7. Bake for 20 mins and check whether a toothpick comes out clean at the end of the time.

Note: In case you are not using liners, then once slightly cooled, remove the muffins from the mould to prevent bottom burning.

June 3, 2012

Oatmeal Mango Muffins

It might seem that I am on a rage of baking. But, the truth is, I try to make something at home so that I am not tempted to head out and get something from the closest bakery. Its fresh alright, but also more fattening! I want to make warm fresh stuff for breakfast, and for small eats, as these are the usual culprits which I pick up during my routine grocery shopping.

Today I tried a Oatmeal Mango Muffin. We being in the mango season, and mango slush being very simple to create, why not in a muffin. I found an Oatmeal applesauce muffin recipe with a very simple method to follow. Also, I did not have many ingredients which were asked for in other recipes. There are many recipes out there, but I chose this solely on the basis of available ingredients. I also made only 6 muffins, just enough for us for Sunday breakfast.

Oatmeal Mango Muffins ( makes 6 regular muffins)
Adapted from : Oatmeal Applesauce muffins


Instant Oatmeal - 1/2 cup
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Brown sugar - 1/4 cup
Cinnamon Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda - 1/4 tsp
Vanilla Essence - 1/4 tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup
Mango slush - 1/4 cup
Egg white - 1


1. Chop half a medium sized mango into rough pieces and blend it well. Add a little water if you think the contents are too thick, else skip the water. Measure 1/4 cup of this slush and keep aside.

2. Preheat oven to 200 C and line 6 muffin cups.

3. Mix together all the dry ingredients except Oatmeal in a bowl and keep aside.

4. Mix Oatmeal, milk, egg white, vanilla essence and the mango slush together.

5. Now slowly fold in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture kept aside.

6. Pour 1 tablespoon full of the mixture into each mould and let it stand for 3-4 minutes.

7.  Bake for 12-14 minutes and check with a toothpick.