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Saturday, October 25, 2014

{How do you Celebrate Diwali?} Festivities at the Kalsia-Pemberton mixed-race household, Delhi


Christine Pemberton is a blogger from New Delhi. Her inter-faith, inter-cultural, mixed race marriage ensures that her family has the best of both worlds. When I asked Christine to contribute to my "How do I celebrate Diwali" series she was most gracious, and sent me a lovely writeup and pics. Over to Christine...
As a mixed race, mixed religious family, having lived all over the world before early retirement in India, Himmat and I have celebrated all our festivals in what can only be described as a “fusion” style.
I am British and a Roman Catholic.  My husband is Indian, but pretty agnostic and he was brought up in a family where very little attention was paid to rituals.  Like many Indian children of military families, he went to a succession of schools all over the country, most of them St This or St The Other, so Christian festivals hold no fear for him.Which means that a festival like Diwali is, in our family, an occasion to invite friends over to enjoy the more social aspects of Diwali in Delhi – i.e, big fat crackers, patakas galore and more fireworks than you can imagine. 

We have a roof terrace and (fortunately) neighbours who completely overdose on Diwali, so we invite our friends up onto our roof, we eat from the buffet we lay out, and literally sit back and watch the show.  Our neighbours let off professionally managed fireworks for hours – no exaggeration - and we are the lucky beneficiaries, enjoying their dazzling show, year after year.

Yes, of course it’s noisy and polluting (I only have to check the ash on my terrace next morning to know that) but it is so fabulously OTT that for one night of the year, all my eco-warriorness is forgotten.
I absolutely adore Diwali.  Here in north India Diwali ushers in the wonderful winter weather, and you can actually feel the slight chill in the air on Diwali night, as you watch the city skyline explode with colour (and noise, yes, I agree).  But so much colour!
Shopping for fairy lights.
Read more on Christine's blog
All is not noise and bling, however, and I cherish the early evening rituals.  As the sun goes down, we light diyas all along our boundary wall, and on our terrace and roof.  The children of our staff always do this.

 They have appointed themselves in charge of the diyas, and there is a certain amount of jostling for the matches because that means you are “grown up”, with the older children bossing the littlies around, but in the end everyone lights the diyas, and keeps them away from the idiotic dog, who sent one flying last night with his big fluffy tail.And then we all stand and watch as the sun sinks over the Delhi horizon and Diwali night explodes into noise and colour.

Mithais from their Diwali 2014 rooftop celebration

 Christine, that was a lovely account of your Diwali. Thank you for participating!

 So, how did you celebrate?  We are looking for more of you to write in - share your customs and pics.Write to me with your festive stories and be a part of our "How do you Celebrate Diwali?' series.

Happy Festivities!

And, have you participated in our birdcage lantern giveaway in association with The Purple Turtles yet? Click on the pic for more details.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

(Indian Shahi Tukda, Srinagar tales and Copper Beauties} A Guest Post by Deeba Rajpal

I love to bake, but I know someone who is Passionate About Baking! Yes, the charming Deeba Rajpal is here on the blog today with a wonderful festive recipe, and simultaneously sharing a beautiful travel memoir. The icing on this cake err post is of course the beautiful Mauviel 1830  copperware that has recently come into her possession (I have to confess here that I kept going back to her FB page to take multiple peeks at these copper beauties ever since she mentioned them!) So imagine the pleasantness of my surprise when I saw those very same pieces integrated into this blog post! 

:) Thank you Deeba, over to you!

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel1830
When Sharon asked if I could do a guest post for her in October, maybe a destination with a recipe woven in for Diwali, I didn't hesitate for a moment. Yes please. I'd be honoured to. This is a post about an Indian bread pudding for the festival season, travel, cookware, memories, connects and so much more. I share Sharon's passion, travel included!
Leh, Kashmir 2014
Her blog is about beautiful spaces, stories, people,travel destinations, art, food,! In her own words "I am passionate about certain decor styles and ideas - I am passionate about antiques and old houses - I like a certain blend of the old and the new, and when I see that in a space, I get all excited about it, and blog about it."
Food photography metal
I am fascinated by food props historical, antique, rustic. Metal, stone, wood, ceramic, stoneware. However, metal is my first love. Copper to get even more precise. Most folk who know me know well of my love for food props, vintage mostly. I had Srinagar in mind as I consider it one of the most stunning places on earth. A trip to the Kashmir valley in March this year left me virtually breathless. The people, the places, the architecture, scenic beauty, an old world charm ...
Srinagar March 2014
Also old markets, spices and of course copper-ware. Loads of it. Old Srinagar as filled with the most beautiful intricately engraved copper. The natives use it in everyday cooking; it's an intrinsic part of their culture. There was only so much I could carry back. I had been warned about excess baggage!!Food photography metal
And then last week came something that I had never imagined. More copper. A gift all the way from Normandy, France. Not vintage, but something that left my heart going THUD THUD THUD!! A set of the most beautifully crafted, stellar quality copper and steel cookware form the iconic French brand Mauviel 1830! I just had to share it with you.
Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Mauviel 1930
For the recipe, I wanted a Srinagar connect, so saffron it was going to be. Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, and was brought to Indian from Persia in 500BC. I've done a really nice Caramel Saffron Panna Cotta in the past, so this time opted for a simple eggless Indian Shahi Tukda or bread pudding. Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830
The Mauviel1830 pan offered me a perfect plating dish even though it's a roasting pan. You can bake an egg custard bread pudding in the pan for a variation. This time around, here is what I did. I tried to use as many of the beautiful creations from Mauviel in this simple recipe. The adorable little was used to melt the clarified butter in. The copper bowl for whisking the milk, cream, condensed milk and saffron, the heavy bottom saucepan for reducing the milk concoction...and of course the rectangular pan for final setting.Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830
It's a really nice set, and using it made my experience totally memorable. I felt royal. Also like I was stepping back into history. You've got to experience the cookware to believe it. Each piece screams quality, and as a friend rightfully commented on FB, Mauviel1830 is an investment. I feel privileged to own such a stunning line.Thank you Sharon for having me over. I am eternally grateful to be invited to The Keybunch to share my passion with you. It runs deep. Memories, passions, travel, obsessions, possessions, food props, photography, some food styling, and of course, a Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} recipe ...
Recipe: Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} your picture
Summary: Rich, sweet, festive yet made with staple pantry ingredients, the Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding is a quintessential Indian dessert, kept light by toasting the bread. Feel free to play around with spices and or/ingredients. The recipe is pretty basic. Use cardamom or star anise, maybe nutmeg for a change in flavour. Skip the condensed milk and use ricotta, mawa/khoya and sugar instead.
Serves 2-4
Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes Ingredients:
  • 3 slices of brown bread, cut into 2 X 1" bits {or as desired}
  • 50g clarified butter
  • 200ml low fat cream
  • 150ml milk
  • 100ml condensed milk
  • 1 generous tsp saffron threads
  • Topping : slivered pistachios, edible rose petals, saffron strands
  1. Melt the clarified butter in a small saucepan, and cool slightly. Paint over the cut bread bits with the melted clarified butter. Toast the bread until crisp and light golden. {alternatively shallow fry the bread in clarified butter}.
  2. Layer the base of a 4" X 6" dish with half the bread bits. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios and rose petals if desired.
  3. In the meantime, place the cream, milk and condensed milk in a bowl and whisk to blend. Taste and adjust sweetness if required.
  4. Transfer to a heavy bottom pan, bring to a boil, then simmer until it is reduced to 2/3rd quantity. Add the saffron and leave to infuse for 10- 15 minutes.Pour half over the bread bits, top with remaining bread bits. Pour over the remaining milk mixture. Leave for about half an hour to allow the bread to soak up the liquid, top with slivered pistachios, edible rose petals and a few strands of saffron and serve warm.
  5. Alternatively you can chill it covered in the fridge and serve cold.

Thanks again Deeba! Having you over with a recipe post was such an honor. And I am quite humbled that you also took the time to understand what my blog is about and weave in a travel and lifestyle angle to your post too!

And readers, the lovely bird-cage lantern giveaway from The Purple Turtles is open until the 30th of October. 

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{How do you Celebrate Diwali?} Rajasthani Traditions at the Verma home in Jodhpur

Manisha, Vijay and Tanmay have spent all their Diwalis overseas. 2014 is special to them, because it's their first Diwali in India. Manisha got in touch with me with photographs of their Diwalis past for our "How do you celebrate Diwali" event, and I must say they are lovely!!

Says Manisha,
"Diwali is a time of celebration, decoration, indulgence and getting together with family to welcome the new year and light up homes and hearts with lights and memories. Our Festivities typically start with getting the house in order. Next, we look for new drapes, linens and accessories to pretty up the home.

Little Tanmay enjoying the flowers and lights
We also spend the last few days before the festival preparing mithais and delicacies. During Danteras, the lighting of the lamps makes the whole home smell great and looks magical!
On the day of Diwali, it is usually very hectic with purchases for the evening prayer, last minute preparations for food & decorations and then getting dressed up in all splendour to welcome Maa Lakshmi to our home with open doors, heart and mind. " 

Manisha is an avid blogger, and you can read more about her Diwali celebrations here.
Thank you Manisha, it was wonderful to hear about your Diwali celebrations!

So, how do you celebrate? We are looking for more of you to write in - share your pics and tell us how you celebrate! Write to me with your festive stories and be a part of our "How do you Celebrate Diwali?' series.

Happy Festivities!
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Monday, October 20, 2014

{Store Feature, Festive Giveaway} The Purple Turtles, Bangalore


The Purple Turtles is a lifestyle boutique in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. The owner and founder Raadeesh Shetty, quit a flourishing career in advertising to start the store. He had always enjoyed helping people transform their living and working spaces.

He loves connecting with artists who use their creativity to breathe new life into old or reused objects. For him, doing this feels right on many levels - connecting with the past, memories associated with everyday objects, collecting, recycling, reviving.

After years of concentrating on lighting solutions, the store recently introduced a unique and stunning line-up of Industrial, Distressed and Contemporary furniture that breaks away from existing trends and redefines it. The hand-picked pieces in this collection are designed by new and upcoming designers from across India, in keeping with the changing consumer mindset and offer singular concepts that are not available in every other store. The range comprises of vintage bicycle coffee tables, cycle bar stools with pedals, teak &cast iron combination furniture, sleepover benches, container cabinets, and other trendy, internationally ‘in’ products. The Purple Turtles is today more than just a store; it’s an “art gallery” which gives domestic designers a platform to be recognized for their talent.

A homely little garden welcomes visitors to this store. When you enter, the warm accent walls, beautiful framed pictures on the walls, breath-taking chandeliers and lamps, re-furbished furniture and quirky recycled accessories, make one feel as if they have walked into a very interesting home, instead of a store!

And now, for the giveaway that our facebook fans have been hoping for.
Three lucky winners will win one of these awesome products- a large bird cage, a small bird cage, and a t-light holder.

And what do you have to do to win it? It's as easy 1-2-3

  1. Email any one picture of your 2014 Diwali setting at home- it could be a tablescape, the outdoor lighting, the balcony, a wall, your pujaroom, anything!
  2. Like The Keybunch Facebook page and Like The Purple Turtles Facebook page
  3. Please leave a comment here telling us that you are in for the giveaway!

Contest ends on October 30, 2014. 
Contest is open to everyone, but gifts will be shipped to an address in India only.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

{East-West Fusion Glass Jewelry} Bangdar Sarali

I am loving the recent wave of east-west fusion products. I embrace it because times have changed, and contemporary styles are not desi but desi-global - styles that will not look out of place in a concert hall in Germany, a drawing room in Venice, or at an arty do in New York, but still fit right into your cousin's Mehendi function in Mysore.

Murano glass -  more Indian than you think!
Ikroop Dhillon is a glass artist who has an evolved an east-west glass fusion technique, where she has successfully married ancient European art styles (like Murano) with Indian karigari. Along with her business partner Pooja Roy Yadav, she sells them under the brand name.‘Bangdar Sarali’, what they claim to be India's first fusion accessories brand.

When I saw the beautiful pictures she sent me, I had to ask her a few questions - and for all those who want the "Story" behind this beautiful brand, this mini interview will give you the answers.

The Keybunch Ikroop, what does Bangdar Sarali mean?
Ikroop Dhillon Well, Pooja and I were room mates in hostel during out college days and have been friends for more than a decade. When we decided to start our own brand, finding the right name was a battle. Since the technique used was the ancient European glass art technique called Glass Fusion we knew it had to represent that and at the same time it had to represent the two of us. While brainstorming we went back and forth on the name and in casual banter, which involved humorous references to her Bengali heritage and to my being a Sardar, something clicked and we froze on Bangdar Sarali, which is a play on the 2 words Bengali and Sardar. (cut two words in half, and swap them to get the brand - also the perfect fusion :))

The Keybunch Wow, how cool is that! And who is the gorgeous model?
Ikroop Dhillon  The model is my beautiful mother-in-law who agreed to go ahead with the shoot which was held outdoors in sweltering Delhi heat and she braved through gracefully.

The Keybunch Is this line specifically meant for the older Indian woman?
Ikroop Dhillon Not at all, the idea to use her stemmed from two thoughts-  one was that with the way the fashion jewelry scene is exploding in the country, we wanted to demonstrate that unconventional jewelry does not need an unconventional look, it's something everyone, of all ages and styles can embrace and look great in. Unconventional doesn't need to break conventions; it can simply compliment it too. Secondly, we wanted to highlight the element of colour in our jewelry. Something which isn't seen too much in jewelry worn by women over 20s, in the hoard of crystals, gold, silver, it's mostly monochromes with the play of a few stones maybe. High street Jewelry which is common with young girls still does have a bit of colour play but that is not that space we operate in and we wanted to clearly communicate that.

The Keybunch Nice!Where do you retail from?
Ikroop Dhillon  We are currently at Ogaan in Delhi, Nimai in Delhi and Neon in Bangalore. We are also going to retain in Goa and Mumbai by the end of next month

Says Ikroop,
"Each piece is hand crafted in my studio, and with the nature of the medium kicking in only at 1000 degrees, it means that no two pieces that are created can ever be identical."

Model Gita Karwal flanked by Ikroop on her right and Pooja on her left.  

It all started with a simple conversation between two friends.

Both had quit their regular jobs to pursue new creative aspirations – one was training to become a Fused Glass Artist and the other was testing her new found skills as a Jewelry Designer.

One enjoyed the complexities of forms and the vibrancy of colors in fused glass and the other was drawn to the art deco, structural shapes, materials and metals in contemporary jewelry.

One used a fire kiln to play with glass and the other honed her skills with a pair of pliers, a box of colors and a sketchbook.

Before they realized it they were channelizing their creativity together to experiment with fused glass in jewelry!

Together they embarked on a journey of creating exclusive Experimental Fused Glass Jewelry - Art that can be worn – ‘Wearable Art’

Did you like these pieces? Would you wear them? Do share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Here is a link to an airline's TVC that also talks about "fusing" together two cultures to serve the globe better.

This post is my submission to Indiblogger's contest 'More Indian Than you Think' in association with Lufthansa.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

{How do you Celebrate Diwali?} Bengali traditions at the Chowdhury home, Bengaluru

Namaste! Have you started decking up your home? Are you busy with your mitai and farsan preparations? If not, this new series on our blog is sure to get you going, and put you in the festive mood!

I am pleased to kick off the "How do you celebrate Diwali?" series with a beautiful Bengaluru home  belonging to Vandana, Param and Pathikrit. Here are some lovely images from their Diwalis past.

Vandana explains how her family celebrates.....

    "Diwali or Deepavali or Kali Puja as we Bengalis like to call it, is a celebration not as elaborate as in the northern or southern parts of India. It is a one day celebration for us and we grew up  seeing our mothers, aunts and grand mothers keeping a fast during the day and break it only after the puja at midnight.Nowadays, of course, many of us do not keep this very elaborate and difficult fast though we do visit the pandal or the temple to do our puja. Keeping with the spirit of the festival, we, generally light 14 diyas or candles within our homes a day before the Kali Puja. We've been told that this ritual dispels gloom and evil forces and brings about happiness and blessings to the family.On the day of the Kali Puja, we decorate our homes with diyas or pradeep or even candles. We also use the pretty fairy lights that are available in the market.

    Our Ma Kali is offered sweets and flowers during the puja.That's how we celebrate!

Thanks Vandana, for sharing your festive rituals with us!

People, Vandana has also just started blogging here, so go on over and show her some love!
So, how do you celebrate? We are looking for more of you to write in and tell us - share your pics and tell us how you celebrate! Write to me with your festive stories and be a part of our "How do you Celebrate Diwali?' series.

Happy Festivities!

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Who writes this blog?

Hi ! I'm Sharon.

I am so glad you are here visiting. The Keybunch is primarily a decor blog, but it's lovingly peppered with lifestyle and food posts.

I am most inspired by simple spaces that have evolved, or speak of their owner's creativity. I also adore old homes and antiques, possibly because I am from Mangalore, and my decor sensibilities are highly influenced by the colonial style of architecture that I was exposed to, growing up.

Do spend some time reading my posts. I have a search feature right at the top, that lets you search within this blog. I have also made separate drop down lists of my home tours, book reviews and the carnivals that we have hosted here.

I would love to hear from you. Email me your home pics, or DIY ideas to

Want to know me better? Click here

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