Vanpayar thoran:

This is a quick,easy, yummy & healthy dish. The only part that I dont like is that we need to plan well ahead for this dish. Soaking the payar for 6-8 hours really matters. At times I ve tried various other short cuts like soaking it in hot water for 1 - 2 hours or pressure cooking it for longer time etc.. You can get it cooked well in all ways.But the perfection comes only when you soak it for a longer time.

This pairs best with rice & moru curry or with Kanji . But I love to have this even with chapathi or puttu.

VanPayar Thoran 4

Ingredients (Serves 3 to 4):

Red gram                    --   1½ cup
Turmeric powder   --   ½ tsp
Chilly powder          --   ½ tsp
Coconut                      --   ½ cup
Cumin seeds              --   ½ tsp
Garlic                           --   2 to 3 pods (optional)
Shallots                       --   2 to 3
Mustard                      --   ½ tsp
Red Chilly                   --   3 to 4
Curry leaves             --   2 - 3 springs
Salt                               --   to taste


Soak red gram for 6 to 8 hours. Wash and cook it in a pressure cooker with turmeric powder and chilly powder.

Coarsely grind together coconut and cumin with a pinch of turmeric powder.

VanPayar Thoran 1       VanPayar Thoran 2

Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the red chillies and curry leaves.Add the finely chopped garlic(optional) and shallots.

Add the ground coconut mixture and fry for a minute.

Now add the cooked lentils to this, mix well and switch off the flame.

VanPayar Thoran 5

Serve hot with rice or kanji.

Blue and Brown Stamped Waterfall Nail Art

I didn't have a chance yesterday to share the nails I wore for Thanksgiving (I was rushing to get out the door for dinner), so I thought I'd go ahead and put them up today. Better late than never, right? They're really more of a general wintery look than Thanksgiving, anyway, so hopefully I can be forgiven.

It's been forever since I've done any kind of mix-and-match/skittlette–style manicure—I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy them! Inspired by the darker blue and brown flecks in my base color, Pahlish Midsummer Skies, this waterfall/stamping combo really captures both the chill & warmth of the season for me.

On top of the Midsummer Skies base, I stamped my thumb and ring finger using OPI Yoga-ta Get This Blue! and OPI Suzi Loves Cowboys with the MoYou London Festive 04 plate. Then I did the waterfall on my index and middle finger with the following polishes:

  • OPI Yoga-ta Get This Blue!
  • OPI Suzi Loves Cowboys
  • FNUG Bandana
  • piCture pOlish Bette
The glittery pinky nail accent is Dance Legend Road to Nowhere.

I probably never would have considered blue and brown for a color scheme for my own nails, but I'm really in love with how this turned out. It's so perfectly wintery! 

I have to be honest, though: the stamping for this one gave me fits. Trying to get the two colors to work right in one stamp and stamp the image straight on my nail was a little too much for my patience levels. The stamping here is still not quite how I want it—kinda crooked, and not centered correctly—but I reached a point where I just couldn't redo it again. Sometimes "almost perfect" has to be good enough!

Thanks for looking, and I hope those who celebrated it had a wonderful holiday!

Achinga Payar Mezhukkupuratti / Long Beans Stir Fry

Payar Mezhukkupuratti 3

Ingredients (Serves 3 - 4):

Achinga Payar / Long Beans  --   250gm
Turmeric Powder               --   ¼ tsp
Chilly Powder                     --   1 tsp
Shallots                                 --   2 - 3 (optional)
Mustard seeds                    --   1 tsp
Red chillies                          --   2
Curry Leaves                      --   1 sprig
Oil                                            --   2 tbsp ,  I use coconut oil
Salt                                          --   as required


Clean and cut the payar/beans; almost 2 inch . In a pan, add the cut beans, turmeric powder, chilly powder, salt and half a cup of water and let it cook until soft. Add more water only if required - we want the beans to be completely dry, by the time it is cooked. Keep aside.

Payar Mezhukkupuratti 1

Heat oil in another pan. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add the curry leaves and broken dry red chillies. Add the chopped shallots, if using and saute until the shallots are brown.

Add cooked beans and mix well. Keep it on a low flame for few minutes, until any remaining water gets dried.

Payar Mezhukkupuratti 2

Serve hot with rice.

Black and Grey Curly Checkerboard Nail Art

I'm on such a stamping kick lately! I'm still enjoying my Messy Mansion stamper heads so much that I feel like I'm rediscovering all the awesome plates I have. And in the case of this look, I finally got to use a polish I'd coveted forever (surprise, surprise—it's grey!), so I'm especially pleased to share today's post.

Way back in July when I saw Wacky Laki's swatches from the Dance Legend Smoky Collection, I fell in love with them instantly. I knew I had to have these polishes! They were a bit hard to come by for a while (most of them are in stock at Llarowe as of the time of this posting, however), but I finally got my hands on a couple of shades and they're everything I hoped they would be.

The base of this look is Grey Britain. I really love the fine black particles in this polish—they give it such an interesting textured-but-not appearance. And the shade of grey is so perfect, too. I have a well-documented thing for grey polishes, but this one is definitely unique in my collection.

The stamping here is SUPER BLACK Lacquers Murdered Out (no longer available, sadly) stamped using MoYou London's Fashionista 09 plate.

Thanks for looking!

Potato Bonda

Aalo Bonda 6

Ingredients (Makes 20 medium sized):

Potato                        --   4 medium sized
Onion                         --   1 small
Green chillies         --   3-4
Turmeric powder --   ¼ tsp
Mustard seeds       --   ¼ tsp
Cumin seeds           --   ¼ tsp
Curry leaves           --  3 -4 leaves
Oil                               --  2 tbsp

For the cover:

Besan / gram flour --  ¾ cup
Rice flour               --   1/8 cup
Chilly powder      --   1 tsp
Asafoetida / Kayam --   ½ tsp
Baking soda          --   ½ tsp
Salt                           --   as required
Water                      --   ½ - ¾ cup

Oil                            --    as required to deep fry

Aalo Bonda 5


Clean the potatoes and cook them in a pressure cooker adding enough water. Or cook the potatoes as you do, preferably without peeling.

Peel the cooked potatoes and mash it.Keep aside It need not be mashed to very smooth consistency - depending upon how you like to bite them :)

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds Let it splutter. Add the cumin seeds. Then add the finely chopped onions and thinly chopped green chillies and salt. Saute until the onions are slightly brown. Add the thinly chopped curry leaves and turmeric powder. Saute for couple of minutes.

Add the mashed potato and switch off the flame. Mix and let it cool.

Give a good mix with your hand and make equal sized balls out of it. Keep aside.

Aalo Bonda 1

Mix all the ingredients for the coating.Add water little by little and make the batter. The consistency of the batter should be medium thick - like dosa batter, if you are familiar with it.

Heat oil in a deep pan, preferably a deep & wide kadai. Once the oil is really hot, reduce the flame to medium.

   Aalo Bonda 2                   Aalo Bonda 3

Dip the potato balls in the batter, roll it around to have an even coating and deep fry. Turn the bondas only after couple of minutes, once the coating really sticks to it. Otherwise, the spoon might tear the coating and oil gets into it.

Fry until the cover is golden brown as shown.

Aalo Bonda 4

Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

SUPER BLACK Lacquers Fall 2014 Collection: Swatches and Review

I'm so excited for today's post! I've been a huge fan of SUPER BLACK Lacquers since the brand launched back in 2012—in fact, I think I can definitively trace my indie polish obsession back to my first SUPER BLACK purchase—so it's a pretty big deal for me to be swatching and reviewing the fall 2014 polishes on my very own blog now. Natalie has always put together the most amazing, unique collections, and this one is no exception.

First up is The Perfectionist, a pinky-nude cream with a unique purple shimmer to it. I'll be honest: when I saw this one in the bottle, I was a bit dubious. This color paired with the shimmer effect is just so unusual that I didn't know if I'd care for it much. But that all changed as soon as I got it on my nails, because I am in love with it now. It's just so flattering and versatile: it would make a great nail art base, but it's also lovely on its own. This is two easy, creamy coats plus topcoat.

Bruiser is a silver-frosted plummy purple cream. This one was my initial favorite and I still really love it. It's maybe a little more red in real life—my stubborn camera insisted on picking up more blue tones than red. The first coat was a little streaky, but the second (and final) coat evened things out just fine. I also used topcoat here for a shiny finish.

Fall Back is a midnight blue crelly (oh, how I hate smushwords, but there's just no other term for it!). I was actually relieved that this was more of a jelly than a true cream, to be honest, because that meant no staining & cleanup was a breeze! As you can see, it still covers really well and builds up to a deep, gorgeous blue. This is three thin coats plus topcoat. (And, before my husband tsks at me about it: apologies for the major lamp reflections on this one! I hope to get those toned down some in the near future.)

Next up is Semi Automatic, a gunmetal grey metallic. I love pretty much every grey polish ever created, so of course I love this one, too. I was especially impressed by the formula: this is two easy coats, but it covered so well, I think I could've probably gotten away with just one. I also found it to be a lot less brush-strokey than most other metallics I've tried. Topcoat helped with that, too.

And finally, the showstopper: Boss Lady. This gold glitterbomb has gold pigment and lots of different sizes of gold glitter in it, so the effect is undeniably, unabashedly blingy. I think this would be fantastic to rock on all your nails for a holiday party, or on just a couple of nails as accents. I'll probably do both before the year is over! This builds up to full coverage with three relatively easy coats—no real placement needed, but I did use my third coat to make sure any small gaps were filled in.

And that's it! This is a fantastic collection full of unique, wearable shades—so, exactly what we've come to expect from Natalie and SUPER BLACK. It's so hard for me to pick a favorite, but if pressed, I'd probably go with The Perfectionist. Which one do you like best?

The SUPER BLACK Fall 2014 Collection is available now and can be purchased at for $12 USD each.

Disclosure: The products in this post were provided by SUPER BLACK Lacquers for my consideration. All opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

Beef Biriyani

Beef Biriyani 2


Beef Masala:

Beef                                    --   ½ kg ( cut into big pieces)
Onion                                --   2 medium size
Green chilly                    --   4 - 5
Ginger                               --   1 inch piece
Garlic                                 --   8 - 10 cloves
Tomato                             --   1 big
Turmeric powder         --   ½ tsp
Chilly powder                 --   2 tsp
Coriander powder         --   1 tsp
Pepper powder               --   1 tsp
Garam masala                 --   2 tsp
Bay leaves                        --   1
Cloves                                --   3
Cinnamon Sticks            --   1 inch piece
Oil                                        --   3 - 4 tbsp
Salt                                      --   as required
Mint leaves chopped   --   ½ cup
Coriander leaves chopped --   ½ cup


Basmati Rice           --   3 cups
Water                         --   6 cups
Cinnamon                --   2 piece.
Cloves                       --   4
Cardamom              --   2
Bay leaves               --   2
Whole pepper        --   1 tsp
Ghee                                   --   3 tbsp
Lemon Juice                   --   4 - 5 tbsp
Cashew nuts & raisins  --   as required
Salt                                      --   as required
Mint leaves and Coriander leaves chopped --   ¼ cup (both together - for garnishing)
Garam masala        -- 2 tsp

Beef Biriyani 4


Beef Masala:

Clean and cut the beef into medium size pieces.

Marinate it with salt, half of garam masala and pepper powder and keep aside.

Grind the green chillies, ginger and garlic to a course paste.

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add the bay leaves, cloves and the cinnamon sticks. Saute for few seconds and then add the green chilly - ginger - garlic paste. Saute for a minute or until it starts turning light brown and add the thinly sliced onions.Saute until they are brown and mushy.

Add chilly powder, coriander powder,turmeric powder and garam masala and saute until the raw smell goes off. Now add the chopped tomatoes and saute until they are slightly mushy.

Add the marinated beef pieces and mix well. Add few drops of water if required and also add salt. I switch off the flame and keep this for 10 - 15 mins, before cooking.

Cook for 3 - 4 whistles(depending upon your cooker) until the beef is done. Open it once the pressure is released completely.If there is excess gravy, cook with the lid open until it has a semi thick gravy. Add the chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves and give a good mix.


Wash the rice and drain it in a strainer. Keep aside for 10 - 15 minutes so that the water is completely drained off.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a deep pan. Add cashew nuts. Fry until light brown. Add raisins.Let it puff up. Drain it and keep aside.

Add the whole spices. Fry for a minute or two.Add the strained rice.Meanwhile keep the water to boil. Fry the rice until the water boils. Once the water boil, pour it into the rice and mix. Add required amount of salt and do a salt check on the water. Close the pan and let it cook on a medium flame. The rice will completely absorb the water and will be cooked to 90%. Do not let the rice cook 100% as it ll be overcooked after the dhum process.  Let it cool. Spread the rice on a flat platter to cool it quickly. Use a fork to spread. Using a spoon might break the rice.

Beef Biriyani


Take a heavy bottomed pan or an oven safe dish, if baking. Spread the ghee at the bottom. Generously spread the first layer of rice. Sprinkle some garam masala and chopped leaves. Add some nuts and raisins. Sprinkle some lemon juice.(You can also add the lemon juice while cooking the rice. This is to make the rice softer.) Then add the masala. Top it with rice and the garnishing. Repeat this until the rice and the gravy is used. Make sure to top it with the rice and the garnishing. I use a flat pyrex dish and hence have only 3 layers – rice – gravy – rice.

Preheat the oven to 250 F. Cover the dish tightly with an aluminum foil and  bake it for 25 mins. If using a vessel, on stove top, layer and cover it with a tight lid ,and keep it on the top of a heavy tawa and heat it for 10-15 minutes.
Mix it well and serve with raita, pappad and chammanthi.

Beef Biriyani 5

Stitched Gradient Nail Art

Happy November! I can't believe how fast the year is flying by. It's already well into sweater weather where I live, so I decided to embrace the cold temperatures and rock the cozy sweater look on my nails, too.

Now that I've got my stamping mojo sorted out (thanks, Messy Mansion stampers!), manicures like this one have become fun & relaxing for me to do. I never thought I'd see the day!

I started with a base of Zoya Rue, and then after applying OPI Peel-Able Base Coat to my cuticles, I sponged on a gradient of Rue, Zoya Odette, and Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Trouble Maker. Once that was dry, I stamped on the stitched pattern from MoYou London Fashionista Plate 02 in Zoya Purity.

The polishes I used for this gradient definitely look pink & purple in their bottles, but once I stamped over them, they took on a much more neutral tone. I still really like how this turned out, and I even think it could be some very work-friendly nail art!

Check out that detail! The right tools make all the difference.

Thanks for looking!

Prawns Stew

Prawns Stew 3

Ingredients (Serves 4 - 5):

Salad Shrimp / Small prawns --   250 gm
Potato                               --   3 - 4 medium size
Carrot                               --   1 medium size
Red Onion                       --   1 medium size
Ginger                               --   2 tbsp,thinly sliced
Garlic                                --   2 tbsp,thinly sliced
Green Chillies                --   2-3
Cardamom                      --   1
Cloves                               --   2
Cinnamon                       --   1" piece
Curry leaves                  --   1 sprig
Thick Coconut Milk     --   1 cup
Thin Coconut Milk       --   1 cup
Black Pepper powder --   1 tbsp, freshly made preferably
Coriander leaves          --   2 - 3 sprigs
Oil                                       --   2 tbsp, preferably coconut oil
Salt                                     --   as required

Prawns Stew 2

Preparation :

For the coconut milk: We need half of a coconut grated. Thick milk is usually extracted by squeezing coconut with your hands, or pulsing in a blender couple of times, adding a quarter cup of hot water. For thin coconut milk, add about ¾ cups of water to the squeezed coconut and blend it in the mixer. Strain it.

I used canned coconut milk. 1 cup of thick coconut milk = ¾ cup of canned milk + ¼ cup of water. 1 cup of thin coconut milk = ½ cup of canned milk + ½ cup of water.

Clean the shrimp and keep aside.

In a pressure cooker heat oil and add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and sauté for a minute.

Add the finely chopped onions, ginger, garlic and slit green chilies and saute until the onions turn translucent.

Prawns Stew 1

Add the shrimp, diced potatoes, diced carrots and curry leaves and saute for few minutes until the water is completely evaporated. Add the thin coconut milk and pressure cook until the veggies are cooked.

Now add the thick coconut milk. As soon as the mixture starts to boil take it off from the stove. Garnish with pepper powder.and chopped coriander leaves.

Prawns Stew 4

Serve hot with appam / bread / ghee rice.

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