A week with the rural ladies!


A few years ago, I had an opportunity to travel in the north of Gujarat,  with my husband who photographs rural countryside and its people. My sisters joined in, leaving my husband and the driver with no choice but to stay quiet and listen to our blabber while travelling in a four by four.

When we were not chatting, we were either eating and sharing our snacks, singing away, testing the patience of the men in the front seats! The only peace they may have had was when all or one of us were nodding off. Anyway, the route was a busy motorway with blaring horns from the trucks, leaving the madness after a stop to have some steamy hot tea and freshly made pakoras!. A much quieter but a bumpy ride started off our trail to the villages we were visiting.

The women and young girls from these villages were part of a scheme where they were being trained and mentored by volunteers but most importantly by the elderly women of the community. The scheme was to revive the embroidery skills which are lost or forgotten over the years. Women were forced to worked in the farms, as men went to towns to supplement their incomes, thus leaving their skills fading away.

As we entered the first village, and we parked ourselves at the village’s only entrance, lined with cowsheds and a well, and seeing a group of women and young girls standing there just made us feel so humble!

So the pictures shown above are what we saw, experienced and shared! A visit to the ‘cumin’ farm with the girls , and ofcourse our photoshoot. A never to forget demonstration of the making of the staple bread made from millet flour – ‘rotla’ by the elderly lady, and followed by the most delicious farmhouse menu we ever had. Sitting on the floor, with the rural ladies, we never felt as close to nature and humanity!

We left them in awe of their strength and their resilience, and their beaming faces.

Not looking forward to the moanings of the urban ladies at the slightest inconvenience!

Which one would you want to be??






Tools of the trade

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 Tools of the trade

I would not call my cooking  a trade, but I do need tools and resources to make a happy home cooked Indian meal  -and that is  a 'Masala dabba'  as it is called, translated as a Spice box.

It isn't just a normal spice box, it is a box which has travelled across continents, gone through the ups and down of my cooking transitions - from a novice, to a phase when family meals were popular, to an experimental one and now an enjoyable phase of meditative cooking!

This Masala box is my emotional 'dowry' - given by my mum to me when I got married - an indirect message given to me  that this box could help win my husband's heart!!

Full of colourful and aromatic spices, it reminded me of my mum's kitchen and inspring me to cook the dishes she lovingly cooked for the family.

I gave one to my daughter when she got married.. would be interesting to know how she relates to her Masala box!

Contents of the Masala box: a must have for all Indian cooking:

Cumin Seeds - (Jeera)

Mustard Seeds (Rai)

Turmeric poweder (Haldi)

Chilli Poweder (Mirchi)

Cumin and Corriander Powder (Cumin and corriander powder)

Garam Masala