Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bespoke Banarasi,Bell sleeve ,Tassel earring...#ootd

       Spring is in the air with wonderful weather, flower power and much more to look forward to. I look forward to wear more spring-summer outfits as well as sarees. Some of the most popular spring trends I see these days are dramatic bell sleeve and tassel earrings everywhere. Bell sleeves are super stylish and fuzz free. Tassel earrings are major trend this year. I very often sport them with my western dresses.
     As you guys know my love for mekhela-chadar and my love for banarasi/bespoke weaves are not any less then one another. I get little hopeful and adventurous. Why not incorporate these latest trends in Saree. Here I am in a black Banarasi Saree with pink green and purple lotus motif and silver leaves with pink velvet boarder. This Saree has a very contemporary and modern appeal to it and is perfect for a soiree. The saree is very light and comfortable to wear. Someone like me who is not perfect in draping can easily wear this saree. Since the Saree has motif all over, I want to keep the rest of the things simple, and keep the Saree as the main focal point. Only thing I felt the Saree needs is a long simple tassel earring with pink beads and pearls. Just to add a bit of zing to it. Hope you all like it.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tibetan Kitchen , Middleton , Ct review

 I have always been fascinated by Tibet, whether it's their magical monasteries, monks, quaint natural beauty, dignified Dalai Lama, ethereal Everest or their simple delish cuisine. When a friend of my mentioned about this hidden gem, I could not stop myself visiting it. In art affectionate Wesleyan's home, Middletown, yes Tibetan Kitchen, Middletown, CT is a tiny piece of an art in its own way. Scarlet walls with Tibetan accents like Buddha and delightful portrait of Dalai Lama brought little Tibet inside this charming place. A little dream of mine became a reality as we entered into this Tibetan Kitchen with a vintage yet cherry, warm yet humble, eclectic oriental casual space.

After a hearty and speedy greeting, we were seated. As going through the menu, we switched it a bit. As a momo(dumpling) lover, even though it is in the main course; we chose Momo as a starter. I and my husband had vegetable momo(Tsel momo) and for the kids chicken momo(Sha Momo). Veg momo  was a knockout at the first bite, with luscious vegetables inside and with softened cover outside. It was served with a bed of healthful salad(Dhang-tsel) and for dipping, a red hot sauce. Chicken Momo was delicious too, but veg mom was a clear winner. As for momos, you have an option of either steamed or pan fried. I preferred the steamed one because I found it more succulent in comparison to the pan friend one. The food was very flavorful but not to the point of very harsh for your taste buds; they offer the choice of individual spice level as well.

For our main, we opted for Noodles and Tibetan bread because we have not tasted either before. The Tibetan bread(Shogo Ngopa) comes with a layered bread and potato gravy with Spinach and Tomatoes. The bread pretty much resembles Indian Lassa Paratha, and the potato gravy is similar to Indian potato curry with the lovely addition of spinach and little chunks of tomatoes. The noodle(Tsel-Gyathuk Ngopa) was simple yet quite different from Chinese or Thai take. The raving part was the freshness that oozes with a slightly spicy taste, fresh vegetables(celery, carrots, cabbage, spinach), and chunky, succulent tofu.

As soon as dessert menu arrived, my kids were excited to order Gulam(Cheese balls in sugery syrup) Jamun. It was as sweet and plum as Indian Gulab Jamun with a dash of coconut flakes. Tibetan Kitchen menu was easy to follow with a generous serving at a reasonable price and great options for vegetarian as well. An evening ended with charm, warmth and delicious food.

My Rating is 4 out of 5

Address: 574 Main St, Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 343-3073
Saturday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM
Sunday Closed
Monday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM
Tuesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM
Wednesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM
Thursday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM
Friday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–8:30PM

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Fragrance of Bihu

Bihu delicacies from my Ma's kitchen. All served in bell metal dishes.

      I miss home Assam every single day, perhaps around this time of the year even more for not being there. Yes, it is Bohag Bihu time, spring seasons of the Assam's most vibrant and whimsical festival. Bihu is the biggest and most favorite festival of Assam. Another name of Bohag Bihu is Rongali Bihu, Rongali means color, the color of food, culture, tradition, and love and assamese hospitality. I feel nostalgic; the nostalgy transports me directly to Assam, probably 20 years back Assam, where I spent my childhood and adulthood during the early 80s to early 2000. 

Me and my daughter, dressed for Bihu last year

Kapau Phool(Foxtail orchid)

      A few days before Bihu our whole neighborhood became fragranced whether it's Tilor ladu(Sesame balls) or Pitha(Rice cake). New leaves grow on the tree, Kapau Phool(Foxtail orchid) and Bhatau Phool bloom, Rose Chesnut blooms, and early rain makes it even fresh and fragrance. I would have been waiting on the same night for Bihu special magazine which is loaded with my favorite writers writing my Deuta (Dad) brought on the way back home from his work. Crisp paper of the magazines also smells like Bihu fresh and pristine. Our home would have been filled with guest my aunts, cousins. Our home itself is transformed into its own festivity, charming chit-chat, felicitous food, gleeful laughter and what not. Yup, those were the days feels still yesterday. Those days my mom would have been busy entertaining guest, cleaning and setting all Assamese Kanh kahi-bati (bell metal utensils) along with preparing food. My Dad would have been shopping for everybody buying new clothes including our domestic help Hiramni's family. It is a tradition of Bihu to buy new clothes. I recall a day before Bihu, my mom and my younger aunt, before she got married, busy making Bihu snacks pitha, laru(a sweet ball consisting of coconut, sugar or sesame and jaggery). As a child, I and my brother used to take a sneak peak of the Bihu snacks. Our house is filled with those aromas and at the same time in a distance, you hear dhol beats and fragrance of blooming flowers. Our heart and mind were filled with the fragrance of Bihu memories, as I look back after 20 years. My mom and Aunt used to make a lot of snacks. Koka used to make sure that nobody return from our home without having snacks and a cup of tea. A tradition that Koka made, my mom is still continuing that tea tradition.

A scene from today's Bihu. Assamese dancers wearing traditional dress and carrying a Dhol(Drum)

      Husori groups (Group of people performing Bihu dance) come to visit you for performing dance and music. Sometimes expectedly and sometimes unexpectedly. You have to be well prepared. Our front yard is filled with Bihu song and dance. As they say dhool beats brought thunderstorm. Buffalo horn trumpet(Pepa) is played and crisp sound of Nasonis (female Bihu dancers) dressed in assamese golden thread muga silk along with their graceful moves.

The process of making Til Pitha

     I still remember how we all used to sit and enjoy hot pitha from the tawa (Pan) with steaming hot tea for adults and milk for kids. Crispy, crunchy tilpitha(A rice creps with melting jaggery and roasted sesame inside) the taste that is only found at home and Nowhere in the world. Taste that I recall brought me home, brought back the beautiful phase of my childhood. After two-three weeks of Bihu when dhol beats fade, you can hear a flute in the distance. Even as a child, I could tell flute had so much pain. Someone is pouring his heart out. But as a teenager or adult, I understood that it was the translation of some heartbreaker's melancholy, who did not get his love in Bihu.

      Bihu morning after taking bath with turmeric and ground green gram, as an assamese belief that if you bathe with these, you will have no skin issues for the whole year, we used take blessings for our grandpa. A year back, before his death, while taking blessings from Koka(grandpa), his eyes were moist. The next Bihu was without Koka. After my Koka passed away we missed taking blessings from him. And it was a tradition to visit his cemetery with my aunts and take blessing from him in our minds, and Bihu color did not seem as vibrant as it used to be.

I dressed up for Bihu wearing Assamese traditional(Mekhela Chadar)

      Now after moving to the USA, we used to visit Bihu celebration either in Boston or New Jersey. It was always great fun wearing Assamese mekhela chadar and enjoying Assamese food and cultural programs. After having two kids, we hardly drive and go to Bihu to New Jersey and Boston. We now have a few more Assamese families in Connecticut, and we have nice get together with friends. Even though we celebrate Bihu here, but Bihu of Assam is still smitten with the memory of my Koka, my childhood friends, my brother, my mom's all homemade sweets and snacks and the whole vibes of Bihu.

      Today morning while dropping my daughter at school, she showed me, ma look spring is coming and our gladiolus is blooming. I felt great. I will make some pitha for my family perhaps not as good as my mom or Aunt, but something that I will offer to my children on this Bihu.

Happy Bihu Everyone!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Market Place Kitchen and Bar, Avon CT - Review

    There is always something about new whether it's New Year, a new song or new company, there is a bit of freshness, charm, promise and thrill to it. As a foodie, new restaurants always do the same for me. Market Place Kitchen is a newly opened restaurant in Avon that we recently ventured.

    A high ceiling open modern kitchen and a brick wall with a fireplace, it felt cozy at first glance. I was quite impressed with the service in spite of a full pack Friday evening; they served gently and gracefully.

    We began with a Mediterranean sample platter consisting of roasted red pepper, hummus, falafel and eggplant puree with Nan. I got hook to the way it is presented on a cutting board. Falafel was crisp and scrumptious. Hummus was whipped and velvety, Olives slightly bitter succulent, sweet cornichons were complimenting to it. 

    For mains, we got Garden flatbread for kids. The flatbread was flavorful with healthful garden vegetable (Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Zucchini, Caramelized Onions, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Grape Tomatoes, Roasted Shallot Crème, Grana Padano Parmigiano Cheese) and mildly aromatic olive oil. 

    I opted for Asian style Udon noodles and panned seared tofu with roasted Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Sweet Chili Soy, and Coconut Sauce. Taste is no complaining, but I was expecting little more exotic, it was like any other regular noodle. The chef could have been slightly more innovative. 

    My husband got Tuscan white bean burger. It served with Fire Roasted Tomatoes, Grilled Portobello Mushroom, Sliced Red Onions, and Organic-Hydroponics Bibb Lettuce. It was luscious and rightly cooked till inside and freshness of vegetables with crunchy sweet potatoes fries added perfect zing to it. Will surely recommend and wouldn’t mind ordering on my next visit. 

    For dessert, we delighted with flourless chocolate cake. It came with a dollop of ice-cream. Chocolate cake directly came from the oven with chilled ice cream. We already sensed it before tasting a bite. It is decadent enough to cheer you up.
    Market Place Kitchen sources from local, organic and sustainable harvested food and spirits. They have a great option for gluten-free, vegetarian and house made pasta too. The portions are quite huge compared to other organic or farm to table standard, can’t tell the same about the price. Regardless Market Place Kitchen added it's own zing to Hartford country’s food scene.

My rating is 3.75 out of 5. 

Address: 336 W Main St, Avon, CT 06001
Phone:(860) 470-3641

Sunday 11:30AM–10PM
Monday 11:30AM–12AM
Tuesday 11:30AM–12AM
Wednesday 11:30AM–12AM
Thursday 11:30AM–12AM
(Good Friday) 11:30AM–12AM
Hours might differ
Saturday 12AM–11PM

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My mekhela chadar memoir

My mekhela chadar memoir is vivid and vibrant. I was probably five when my fraternal grandmother died. But, I still remember her pristine everyday mekhela chadar look. A cotton silk crisp mekhela and a handwoven cotton chadar with a cream or ivory blouse. Her inner simplicity reflects through her attire. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother who carries a tea garden heritage, always wears a silk mekhela and cotton silk chadar with a small boarder usually brown or green or gray color. Through out the day, her pleats remain in the same place and position; her mekhela chadar reflects a strong woman who stayed strong through her life. As I grew up, I discover every woman's inner world with her mekhela chadar. My art teacher who used to wear beautiful mekhela chadars with intricate embroidery, I experience her sensitive inner world. Back home in Assam, our domestic help Hiramoni wears her mekhela chadar or saree the whole day so effortlessly and quickly.

 I feel embarrassed to say mekhela chadar is an impractical piece of garment. Even though my affination for mekhela chadar started that early, I never actually wore mekhela chadar and did so on particular occasion only when it's really required. After moving to the USA,  every time I used to visit Assam, I ended up buying mekhela chadars. I wear it once in Bihu, and after that the whole year I don't look back to it. I always have an excuse that it's too difficult to wear, my pleats are clumsy, my drapes are imperfect. The sad part is that, our generation always finds an excuse not to wear mekhela chadar. At the same time, we forget that our previous generation cooked, slept, ate and did chores in it. As you grow older, you probably recognize your style, and the same happened to me. Not that I don't wear western silhouettes, but somehow I feel more comfortable in mekhela chadar/sari which no other outfit provides. Even though I am not yet there, when it comes to draping and pleats, I still cherish wearing them. My drapes are getting better with time too. My mekhela chadar which used to sit in the corner of my wardrobe has started to see the light of outside world. I look forward to wearing them and style them according to my lifestyle or the occasion. I have dressed them for our Diwali and birthday parties and many more. I was surprised that our lovely mekhela chadar is still entirely unknown to rest of the India. I sport them to many other occasions, and my none Assamese friends have started to recognize them. I feel proud that my little effort of wearing mekhela chadar to none Assamese events have given them recolonization. It is always a pleasure to wear makhla chadar, as it associates with my heritage and my roots and the story of painstaking efforts of Indian hand loom

p.s:  Makhela chadar is an Assamese ethnic outfit. It can be easily disguised as a saree. Saree is one piece attire, and mekhela chadar is two-piece, a skirt(mekhela) and scarf(chadar).

Facebook Likes