Friday, March 18, 2011

Food for your eyes!

I have said this in the past and I am saying it again.When it comes to food, looks are as important to me as the taste. 

It feels really nice if the table is looking all pretty, the candles all lighted & twinkling and flowers adorning it all. I don't like saving my best china & the scented tealight candles for those special occasions. I like making everyday a special moment, every meal a special meal and love the way how the simplest of meals looks divine when presented well. Not to forget the smiles it brings on my loved ones faces.

Yes, scrumptious food presented beautifully does get me all giddy with excitement. This was a column I have always wanted to have on purplehomes. 
Adding that extra to our regular meals. Dressing them up. 
And when I talk about styling a dish we aren't talking long hours & hardwork. Just a little touch of this here and a little touch of that there. And we are done.

Food for your eyes.

In the first post of the series, I'd like to introduce you to someone I recently came across. A superbly talented woman, a doting mother and an awesome photographer.   Did I mention she is a great cook & has this wonderful blog called the Indian Simmer.

Meet Prerna. Cooking for her is a stress buster. "Three things made me this awesome cook (sarcasm!) that I am today.. circumstances, no help and hunger!!"

An awesome cook & an awesome food stylist.

Trust me she can even make your regular allu gobhi ( Potatoes & Cauliflower) look like five star material.Don't believe me? Hop over to indian simmer now. 

Warning : You may be tempted to lick your screens :)

And today she is visiting purplehomes to give all of you lovely readers some great tips to dress up those tons & tons of mithai (indian desserts) that you & I will be cooking & gorging on this Holi. Gajar ka halwa, kheer, gulab jamun anyone?

Over to Prerna.

"A few weeks back while sipping on my morning chai, I get a chance to sit for a minute and check my emails. I see an email which after reading just a few lines I realized was from someone bubbly and very passionate about his/her work. After visiting her blog the thought was only confirmed and the posts just made me smile. It was Prachi who contacted me and asked if I would be able to share some quick food styling tips with her readers (yes, with you lovely people!). Well, after seeing what lovely work she’s been putting forward I had no doubt in my mind that I would love to share her lovely space. So here I am sending warm hug from the US to you on Holi!

Living thousands of miles away from home and family these Indian festivals are the occasions when we can put on our best traditional attire, dress up the whole house and feel like we are actually not that far from “our” people. On occasions like Holi or Diwali I try to cook the food that my mom or grandma would make in their kitchen. What’s better than some mouthwatering Gajar Halwa, some creamy and rich Kheer or some Gulab Jamuns? . And in any celebration food is the part that everyone looks forward to the most so why not dress it up a little too?! So today I am here to share with you how I dress up my traditional Indian desserts and give it a perfect balance of modern looks and traditional feel, just like today’s modern India is.

Kheer (Rice Pudding) is something that has to be in the menu during any celebration at our household. The two important men in my family (the husband and my father-in-law) can’t finish a holi meal without it. So I keep trying new things to make it look pretty at the same time not lose its essence. Like making a rice pudding and mango parfait and serving it in some beautiful and not so traditional wine glasses. Parfait is nothing but layers of two three things so I start by pouring a little kheer into a wine glass, then a layer of thinly sliced ripe mangoes and then kheer again. A few slices of mango on top, to make it look pretty and pop. You can also sneak some mango slices on the side of the glass, running all around the kheer. If you don’t like mango use any other fruit like ripe peaches or even poached pears or apple. Candied dry fruits or nuts work very well too.

Now Gajar ka halwa is again something that is not taken very lightly in the house because ‘yours truly’ loves it! Before serving them I use molds to make them look pretty. Being a food photographer and stylist I love collecting bowls of different shapes and sizes but you can also use a normal circular or rectangular bowl in your kitchen cabinet. Throw in some chopped nuts in the bowl then fill it with Gajar Halwa, press it nicely into the bowl with a spoon or spatula. Now run a knife around the edges and flip it into the plate. You’ll get a lovely shape like I did in the photo above. Add a few more dry fruits if you want and serve.

Well, I don’t play with my Gulab Jamun a lot. It has a dignified place in each of our lives and it just doesn’t need any kind of tweaking! Won’t you agree? I feel that Gulab Jamun or ras malai are the dishes which in itself have a grand look so serving them in something rustic like an old silver bowl or a wooden bowl gives it a character. Like in this photo I served it in a wooden bowl that I love and just toped my gulab jamuns with some thinly sliced almonds to enhance the look.

So there you go! With just a couple tweaking here and there you can give your mom’s years old traditional dish a five star look this holi. Hope I was able to help a little!"

Wow! Now that was some post! Prerna, I am sure my readers would love to try these very doable tricks at home. Thanks for agreeing to be a part of this series and taking out the time to put it altogether.

So did you enjoy going through this? I sure did! Will you be trying something like in your kitchens this Holi? If you are getting all inspired and excited and do create your little masterpiece don't forget to share them with all of us. Just drop me an email at

Happy Holi!

Images : Indian simmer


Anu@My Dream Canvas said...

Lovely post just in time for Holi. Prerna, am heading over to your blog now :-) Great presentation!

oshean said...

Prachi, what a gorgeous idea for a tempting column! I loved what Prerna has put together for us; will add her blog to my list of fave blogs too!
Looking forward to the next column!

Neha @ All things beautiful said...

The food looks so tempting. I loved Prerna's blog from what I've seen so far. Thanks Prachi, for sharing this.

Btw, there's an award waiting for you at my blog 'All things beautiful', do check it out.

Shanthi said...

Happy Holi Prerana. Oh Wow that was gajar ki halwa , when I looked at it I thought it was some overturned muffins :-). Kheer and mangoes never heard before. So lots to learn here.

GB said...

Prachi, this is a wonderful post, loved the ideas Prerna laid out---never thought of mixing mango with kheer!

Good to be back, am looking forward to your wonderful, colorful posts!

Sound Horn Please said...

Prerna- Loved the description of what turned you to cooking. Hahaha! Lovely presentation. Heading to check out Indian Simmer.

purplehomes said...

Glad all of you enjoyed this new column. Prerna indeed is an awesome cook & a great photographer. Do drop by her blog for lots more inspiration

Neha : Thanks for the award...Will take up the tag soon.

GB : Welcome back! Missed you