Semiya Upma

Semiya Upma 3

Ingredients(Serves 3 - 4):

Vermicelli / Semiya --   1 cup, roasted - I used Bambino brand
Shallots                         --   2
Ginger                            --   1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chillies              --   1-2
Mixed Vegetables     --   ½ cup (I used frozen carrot,beans, corn & peas)
Mustard Seeds            --   1 tsp
Urad dal                        --   1 tsp
Hing/Asafoetida        --   a pinch
Red Chillies                  --   2
Curry leaves                --   3 - 4 leaves
Oil                                    --   1 - 2 tbsp
Salt                                  --   as required

Semiya Upma 2


Preparation:

Thinly slice the shallots, slit the green chillies, chop the ginger and the vegetables.

I used roasted vermicelli, if using the non-roasted vermicelli, then add 1 tbsp of oil or ghee to the pan and roast the vermicelli on medium heat until it turns golden brown in colour.

In the same pan, add oil and once it is hot, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add hing, urad dal , red chillies and curry leaves and saute until the dal turns light brown.

Now add the shallots, green chillies and ginger and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the chopped vegetables and fry it on a medium flame until half cooked.

Add 2 cups of water (double the amount of vermicelli.Add salt and do a taste check. Let the water come to a bubble boil. Add the roasted semiya and mix well. Close with the lid and let it cook on a medium low flame. Stir occasionally to check the doneness and make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom.

Semiya Upma 1

Serve hot.

Tri-Holo Lined Gradient Nail Art

Surprise—another stamping manicure! I swear I'm going to push myself to branch out a bit more in the coming weeks, but I just couldn't resist this one.





The gradient here is all piCture pOlish, because I can't get enough PP: Bette, Moscow, and Hussy. Then I stamped on the lines with SUPER BLACK Murdered Out and the MoYou London Holy Shapes 08 plate.


I'm in love with how well these colors blended together in the gradient, and I feel like the lines are the perfect touch to complete the look without overpowering it.


These ultra-close shots show all the lint on my backdrop (ahem), but more importantly, they also show all that gorgeous sparkle.


Speaking of the sparkle, I do have to point out that this gradient would likely have been a total nightmare to clean up if not for my trusty liquid latex cuticle barrier. I love that I can do a design like this and not have to give a second thought to how long the cleanup will take!


Thank you for looking!

Asparagus Thoran

Asparagus thoran 2

Ingredients(Serves 4 - 5):

Asparagus                  --    250 gms
Turmeric powder    --   ½ tsp
Green chillies            --    4
Shallots                        --    2 small ones
Shredded coconut   --   ¼ cup
Eggs                               --   1 optional
Black Pepper              --   ½ tsp
Mustard seeds           --    ½ tsp
Red chillies                 --    2
Curry Leaves             --   few
Oil                                   --   2 tbsp
Salt                                 --   to taste

Preparation:

Clean and chop the asparagus into small pieces. I usually don’t use the harder part at the end. Mix the turmeric powder, slit green chillies, chopped shallots,salt and shredded coconut into chopped asparagus.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add the red chillies broken into small pieces and the curry leaves. Then add the asparagus mixture and sauté for a min.  Close the pan and let it cook for another 5 -6 min on a low flame. Check in between to make sure that it doesn’t burn to the bottom.

When the asparagus is almost done, break the eggs into the pan and mix well. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Let the egg cook. Do a taste check and add more salt if required. sprinkle the pepper and give a good mix.

Asparagus thoran 2

Serve hot with rice and curries.


 
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Zoya Spring 2015 Delight Collection


The sun is shining and it's trying to be a tiny bit warm where I live, so I think that makes it an especially apropos day to share these fresh & colorful swatches from Zoya's Spring 2015 Delight Collection.


Overview

  • The Delight Collection consists of three creams and three metallics. The creams are typical single-tone creamy shades, while the metallics have what Zoya calls a "turquoise metallic flash," which comes across as a subtle blue shimmer in the right lighting. 
  • The formula for both types was very similar: two coats looked a little streaky for me, so I ended up using three thin coats of all six shades for full, even coverage. All colors went on smoothly and self-leveled, however, so having to do three coats wasn't a problem. I also used topcoat for all the swatches.
  • If, like me, you don't have a perfectly steady hand, cleanup for the metallics can take a few extra minutes: those tiny specks of turquoise can get everywhere (as you might notice in a couple of my photos!). This wasn't a huge issue or a deal-breaker by any means, however. 
Overall, I really like this collection. I was thrilled to see some color on my nails after all the neutrals I've used in recent months, and I know I'm going to be reaching for some of these cheerful shades as I start thinking more about spring nail art. In fact, I already sneaked in some Valentine's Day nail art using one of my favorite Delight Collection polishes!

The Polishes


Tiana is a pretty pistachio green cream that screams "spring!" to me. I think it would match well with a variety of colors and would make a great base for lots of different types of nail art.



Eden is a truly perfect classic medium pink cream. I loved this one the moment it went on my nails, and I'm still loving it so much looking at the photos. It's just so bright and happy (and this is coming from someone who doesn't gravitate toward pinks very often).



Lillian is a flattering sky blue cream that leans a little aqua in certain lighting. I love the potential of a good light blue and this one is no exception.



Rayne is a delicate spring blue infused with the turquoise "metallic flash" shimmer. This one reminds me of cool, fresh water, but it might also be the perfect shade for some Frozen-inspired nail art.



Daisy is a soft, buttery yellow with just the slightest hint of turquoise shimmer in the right light. I've never made a secret of the fact that yellow polishes don't do it for me (I think they look terrible with my skin tone), but this one would make a perfect accent in some floral (or other springtime) nail art: decisively yellow, but not overbearingly so, if that makes sense.



Leslie is a sweet, warm lilac that balances really well with the turquoise shimmer. In fact, of the three metallics, I think this one makes the best use of the turquoise. My pictures don't do it justice, but the effect is lovely in person!



I'm not generally a pastels kind of person in my day-to-day life, but I love looking at any & all swatches of this collection—I think I'm dying for spring and these colors really scratch that itch while the weather still lags behind a bit. My favorites are Eden, Leslie and Tiana; which ones do you like best?

The Delight Collection can be purchased at zoya.com for USD $9 each, or in top salons & spas.

Disclosure: The products in this post were provided by Zoya/Art of Beauty for my consideration. All opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chilli 1

Ingredients (Serves 4):

Chicken Breasts                --   2 lbs, cut into small pieces
Cumin Powder                  --   1½ tsp
Chilly Powder                   --   1½ tsp
Black Pepper Powder    --   1 tsp
Salt                                        --   as required
Canola Oil                           --   ¼ cup
Butter                                   --   3 tbsp
Yellow Onions                  --   ¾ cup , diced
Garlic                                   --   3 - 4 cloves, minced
Green Poblano Chillies --   2 large 
Jalapenos                           --   2 large. optional depending upon the tolerance
All-Purpose Flour           --  ½ cup
Chicken Stock                    --   1 qt
Chili Garlic Paste              --   1½ tsp
Chipotle Tabasco®          --   1½ tsp
Oregano                                --   ¾ tsp
Brown Sugar                       --   ¾ tsp
Canned White Beans        --   2 cups
Sour Cream                         --   3 tbsp
White Rice                           --   2 cups, cooked
Pico de Gallo                       --   ¼ cup
Green Onions                      --   ¼ cup


Preparation:

Clean and cut the chicken into small pieces. Marinate it with cumin powder, chilly powder, black pepper powder and salt. Keep it aside for 20 mins.

Wash the poblano chillies and the jalapenos and cut into half. Remove the seeds. In a cookie sheet lined with foil, place the chillies and bake for 10 - 15 mins @ 200 F until they are roasted and the skin peels of. Remove from the oven, remove the skin and cut them into small pieces.

Heat canola oil in a large sauce or soup pot. Add the marinated chicken into the pot. Cook / fry until the chicken is ¾ done.
Remove the chicken from the pot and keep aside.

White Bean Chicken Chilli 3              White Bean Chicken Chilli 4

Add the butter to the pot along with the left over oil. Add the onions and saute until they are translucent.

Add the minced garlic and the chopped chillies into the pot. Saute for 1 - 2 minutes. Add the flour into the pot. Mix well.

White Bean Chicken Chilli 5                White Bean Chicken Chilli 6

Keep stirring and add the chicken stock. Stir until there are no lumps left. Add salt as required.

Add the chili garlic paste, Tabasco®, oregano and brown sugar into the pot.

Let it boil and then add the chicken back to the pot. Simmer for 5 – 7 minutes then gently stir in the sour cream and white beans.

Serve with white rice and garnish with pico de gallo and green onions.

White Bean Chicken Chilli 2

Recipe Courtesy: Cheese Cake Factory

One More Valentine's Day Manicure


I'm not entirely sure how or when this change happened, but stamping has become my fall-back option for nail art these days when I'm short on time and/or inspiration. I can remember the not-so-distance past when stamping made me want to pull my hair out, so it's definitely a surprise to have it become my default!


Today's simple stamping look uses Zoya Eden from their new Spring 2015 Delight Collection (swatches for the whole set coming soon!) as a base, and two stamping polishes for the design: Konad Special Polish in Red and MoYou London White Knight. The plate is Pueen 63 from their 24B set.


I love using actual stamping polishes—the results are always just so clear, crisp, and opaque. Both Konad and MoYou London make fantastic dedicated stamping polishes!


If I'd had more time, I think I would have liked to do some reverse stamping/decal action for these: fill in the hearts with a third color, maybe, or add accent colors in the circles. Ah well, next time!



Thanks for looking, and have a great weekend—whether you celebrate Valentine's Day or not!

Disclosure: Some of the products in this post were provided for my consideration. All opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

Picture Polish Valentine Water Marble

Now that I've discovered liquid latex as a liquid tape option for messy manicures, I'm much more willing to play with nail art techniques that tend to be cleanup-instensive. That's how this Valentinesy water marble was born!

 



I started with a base of white here (OPI My Boyfriend Scales Walls, but any white will do), and then created the marble using four beautiful piCture pOlish shades: LakoDom, Sizzle, O'Hara, and Shy Violet.




I coated my fingers (minus the nails, of course) in liquid latex past the first knuckle, so cleanup was a piece of cake. I can't even fathom how people ever did water marbles without it!


I think every water marble yields a best/favorite nail, and my index finger is definitely that one for me here. The gentle curves of those lines just turned out so perfectly.


Don't look now, but it's my rarely seen right hand! I almost never photograph it (even though it does always get manicured along with the left), but every nail is just so different that it seemed worth it in this case. I'm not thrilled with how my ring and pinky fingers turned out compared with the others, but they're kind of interesting taken on their own.


I'd love to hear what you think of this water marble—and if you're an old hat at this technique, I'd love to hear your tips, too. :)

Thanks for looking!

Eggs in Poppy Seed Gravy

Eggs in Poppy seeds gravy3

Ingredients(Serves 2 - 3):

Eggs                               --   2, full boiled
Fenugreek                   --   2 - 3 kernels / a pinch of powder
Poppy seeds               --   2 ½ tbsp
Mustard seeds           --   1 tsp
Cumin seeds               --   ¾ tsp
Ginger garlic paste  --    1 tsp
Red chilly powder   --   1 tsp
Coriander powder   --   1 tsp
Tamarind                    --   a gooseberry size or 2 tsp pulp
Coriander leaves     --   2 - 3 sprigs
Salt                                --   As required
Oil                                  --   1 tbsp

Preparation:

Hard boil the eggs, remove the shells and keep aside.

Soak the tamarind in water for 5 - 10 min and extract the pulp.

In a dry pan, add the poppy seeds, fenugreek and 1/4 tsp cumin seeds and roast until they are slightly brown.Let it cool and then grind. Start with no water and once it is slightly powdered, add few tbsp of water to form a thick paste.

In a wide pan, add oil and fry the boiled eggs, turning them frequently until the sides are slightly brown. Remove and keep aside.

Add mustard seeds and the cumin seeds to the same pan and let it splutter. Add ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Add the turmeric powder, chilly powder, coriander powder and saute for few seconds. Add 2 cups of water and let it boil. Add the ground poppy seed / khus khus paste, tamarind extract and cook on medium high flame for 3 - 5 mins.

Eggs in Poppy seeds gravy              Eggs in Poppy seeds gravy1

Cover with lid and cook on medium low flame for another 5 min. Stir in between to make sure that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the roasted eggs and cook on medium flame until the gravy turns thick. This will take around 15 mins or more to thicken the gravy.

Eggs in Poppy seeds gravy2

Switch off and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Serve hot with chapathi / roti / nan.

Recipe Courtesy: SailusFood

Liquid Nail Art Tape: Four Options

I'm continually amazed by the ingenuity of nail bloggers. If there's a problem to be solved in the nail art world, bloggers are on top of it! One of my very favorite nail blogger hacks (for lack of a better phrase) is the idea of "liquid painter's tape" for nails: or, to put it less simply, a substance you can paint onto your cuticles/fingers that dries into a polish-masking barrier on your skin. Anyone who's dabbled in nail art knows what a mess it can be (helloooo, water marbles and splatter manicures), so tools that help cut down on cleanup time are invaluable. I'm already a slow enough nail artist—I'll take any help I can get to be more efficient!

I don't know who first came up with the idea of liquid nail tape or what product started it all, so unfortunately, I can't give proper credit where it's due. However, I've seen and tried a variety of options for my own manicures, so I thought I'd do a roundup of them for you guys here, comparing things like price, ease of use, and effectiveness. Each option definitely has its own pros and cons, so I hope this helps you find a solution that works best for you.

I'll be discussing four liquid nail tape options in this post: white glue (also called Elmer's Glue, school glue, or PVA glue, depending on where you live), OPI Glitter Off, Liquid Palisade, and liquid latex. These are the four options I've seen used most often in the nail art world, but I'd love to hear about others out there—maybe this post can have a part two someday!

From left to right: white glue, OPI Glitter Off, Liquid Palisade, and liquid latex.


White Glue

This is the first liquid nail tape option I tried, back when the idea was still very new. I happened to have an empty polish bottle and some Elmer's Glue on hand, so it was technically free for me, but you can get a 7.625-ounce bottle of glue for USD $2–$4, depending on where you shop. When I first tried this several months ago, I was amazed by it—my gradient manicures didn't take ages to tape off and/or clean up anymore, hooray!—but glue as nail tape does have its flaws. It's thick and goopy, so it's not the easiest thing in the world to paint precisely around your nails, and the drying time isn't great: even a thin to moderate coat takes 5–7 minutes (or more) to dry completely. This kind of glue is also water soluble, so you can't use it for water marbling, and it can be tricky to peel off in one piece if your application isn't thick enough or if you have a ragged cuticle here and there. But other than those complaints (which really are pretty small, in the grand scheme of things), glue works well and I was happy with it for a long time.



OPI Glitter Off 

OPI's Glitter Off peel-able base coat is marketed for use under glitter polish to make the glitter peel off easily when you're ready to remove it. I tried Glitter Off for that purpose and didn't have a lot of luck (glitter defies all odds and cements itself ruthlessly to my nails no matter what), but it does work well as a liquid tape option. It's basically just watered down white glue, so it has many of the same pros and cons as glue, but with a couple differences: the thinner consistency and OPI brush make it much easier to apply, but on the flip side, it's much more expensive —about $9 for one bottle. So if you have an empty OPI bottle and are willing to try watering down some white glue, you might get the same results for a lot less money? I'm not sure. But I still like this option a lot and felt like the time saved, both during application and polish cleanup, was worth the money for me.



Liquid Palisade

Liquid Palisade is a super popular product right now, and I completely understand why—it's fantastic! There are some great reviews out there that detail the myriad uses for it, so I won't get into those here, but as liquid nail tape, it's just about perfect. It goes on easily, dries fast, peels off cleanly, can be used in water, and comes with a fine-tipped little brush that makes it easy to cover all the tricky little spaces around your nails.

My one major issue with Liquid Palisade is the price: $22 for a small bottle about the size of a mascara tube is pretty steep! I do think it's probably worth that, given the time you can save, but for someone who needs to use liquid tape options regularly, the cost can add up. Other minor issues with Liquid Palisade include the availability (through their site, on Amazon, and at a few other third-party sites, so you can probably find it just fine, but I had to wait for a restock when I ordered mine), and fact that it's unusable for those with latex allergies. It also takes a while (and uses a lot of product) to cover a whole fingertip for techniques like a water marble.



Liquid Latex

Finally, we have liquid latex. When I got my Liquid Palisade, I could tell right away that it was at least partly made of liquid latex—that scent is really specific and easy to identify. It didn't even occur to me to look for actual liquid latex until Halloween time rolled around again, because I'm just that dense, but then I saw some ladies on Instagram buying & using it and I realized that yes, as always, Amazon had me covered. At $11 for the pot of latex (that will last for ages), plus a few dollars for empty polish bottles and a set of small funnels, I was able to put together several bottles of the perfect liquid nail tape—plenty for me, and some to share, too.

Liquid latex has all the benefits of Liquid Palisade, plus it's cheaper and you can paint it on with whatever size nail art brush you want for different levels of coverage. The downsides are few: as the photo above shows, polish sometimes doesn't stick to the latex as well as it does to other substances, so you can get little bits that hang on around the edges after you remove it. These are easy to flick off or remove with acetone, however. And pure liquid latex does smell quite a bit stronger than Liquid Palisade! But overall, if you don't have a latex allergy, I think this is truly the perfect solution.


I didn't intend for this to turn into a liquid latex sales pitch, but I guess that level of enthusiasm is where I'm right now as far as nail tape solutions go. I just adore it so much! I'll definitely keep my Liquid Palisade around for fine detail applications around my nails, and for using as a mask on actual manicures to create designs, etc., but I'll be sticking with the regular latex for everything else. I don't see myself using the glue or OPI Glitter Off much anymore, but it's nice to have those on hand in case I find myself doing nail art on someone who can't use latex.

I'd love to hear what you all think: what liquid tape option(s) do you prefer? If there's one you'd like to see reviewed, or if you make one you'd like to see reviewed, please hit me up! I love new nail art innovations and I'd be excited to try more and see how they compare.

Thanks for reading!
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