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Monday, November 24, 2014

Christmas Cake Prep {Fruit Soak and Candied Peel}

candied peel with brass matsya
With a foot sprain rendering me immobile, I suddenly have a lot of time at my disposal. So I soaked my fruits for the Christmas cake, and I am sharing the recipe here. Remember to buy only good quality fruit, and buy it fresh.

I also managed to make some Candied Peel from  Neha Mathur's beautiful Candied Peel recipe. While I don't add candied peel to my fruit soak, I do add it to my Christmas Cake. But there's a reason I like to make this Candied Peel just before I soak the fruits. The sugar syrup that remains from the candy peel making-process using the above recipe has a rich orange flavor, and is just perfect to add to your fruit soak!

Above and right are pictures of the candied peel I made with desi loose jacket oranges. Neha used mandarins in her recipe, but I prefer to use locally-grown stuff whenever possible, so I opted for these oranges. If you want the bright orange color, then you could opt for the mandarins too!The kids loved the candied peel, and I noticed several missing when I left them out to dry on the balcony ;)

Now for the fruit soak. Here's the recipe.

Christmas Cake Fruit Soak

250g golden raisins
500g black currant
100g dried figs, chopped
500g dates, deseeded and chopped
200g tuttifruti

Sugar Syrup
 I used the leftover syrup from Neha's Candied Orange Peel Recipe {link is at the top of this page}

Spice Mix/ Spices
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cloves, powdered
3 tablespoons of powdered cinnamon

5 nutmeg strands
5 saffron strands
1 fat stick of cinnamon
1 bayleaf

Rum or brandy, enough to cover the fruit

-A clean container big enough to store all this fruit!
-Clean, sanitized hands
-Sanitized cutting board and knife
-A clean work space
-A long wooden spatula

So that's the complete list of ingredients for my fruit soak. What? No nuts? Nope! I love nuts in my Christmas Cake, but adding them too early makes them too soft. I prefer to add them in just a couple of days before I bake the cake. Soak about 700 grams of nuts of your choice a couple of days before you bake your cake.
stir with a clean wooden spatula

1. Measure out all the ingredients. De-seed dates and pick the stems off the fruit.
2. If fruit sizes are too big (for instance dates and apricots), use a sharp knife and cut them into tiny bits. I like to leave the currants, raisins and sultanas whole.
2. Use a small mixing bowl, and gently add small quantities of each fruit to it, hand mix it all in. Then add it to the final container.
3. Mix in the spice powder with the orange syrup.
4. When you have a layer of fruit in your soaking container, lightly drizzle it with the spiced sugar syrup.
5.Continue till all the fruit and syrup is finished.
6. Now pour the alcohol in until it soaks the fruit completely. Add the whole spices. Don't stir today.
7. Close the container and let it rest in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
8. From tomorrow, you will use a clean wooden spatula to give it a good stir once a day for a week.
9. From the second week, you may stir it just once a week, until it is time for you to bake your cake.
this is how the fruits looked on day 2

I always taste a bit before each stir - I recommend you do's a lovely experience to taste that fruit as it matures :) and give yourself some free tipsy for the day ;)

That's it folks! Use this in the quantities demanded for your Christmas cake recipe and you will love the flavor and texture, I promise!

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Friday, November 21, 2014

{Store Feature} Jaypore - The Best of India to the World

This is a store that most of my readers are probably acquainted with. Nevertheless, I wanted to know their story, and I thought it would make a good read for you too! I have long been a fan of this delightful shopping experience called Jaypore, and I absolutely love the quality and the unique designs they stock!

Jaypore was established in 2012 by Puneet Chawla, Shilpa Sharma and Aarti Jesrani. I was fortunate to interact with Aarti, who shared their story.

How did the Jaypore journey begin?
Most businesses arise out of a need. My husband and I, having lived in the US for several years, noticed that several of the international high end designers as well as big bulk retailers like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, etc, sold a lot of Indian made products. Although, more often than not, the story behind the product was never told. These products were still painstakingly beautiful but the artisan value, the historic significance and the cultural story is what makes these products. More often than not, there was no mention that the product was made in India and in almost all the cases, these products were replicas or machine made versions.

So we decided that the US needed a true representation of high quality handmade Indian artisan pieces along with the story telling element so they can learn not only about the product but how it was made and who made it. That was the basis of founding Jaypore.


How did you decide on the name?The name was a play on the city Jaipur, since its the most widely known, easy to remember and is associated with cultural exotica. Also, as startup buffs we understand the perks of short urls and the availability of all social media handles w/that name.

Yes! That's so important. So tell us about the other two founding members...
Puneet (who was a friend and part of the early ideating team) and Shilpa (who we luckily bagged right after she had quit FabIndia, where she set up several stores and handled merchandising) joined us in our journey.
The three of us gave the idea legs and launched an iPad version for the US. Those were the first days.
The Dream Team at Jaypore - Puneet, Shilpa and Aarti(r)
Interesting. However, I am sure few of us are familiar with the's your store that most of us know.
Yes, we soon realized that while this product (the app) will be appreciated in the US, others around the world were seeking these one of a kind finds too - including a vast discerning audience in India. And thus came about the birth of and we started shipping worldwide.

We are so glad you opened an online store! :) Tell us more!
We pride ourselves in  making one of a kind discoveries & propagating artisanal stories while still maintaining a very strong global aesthetic. And so, all of Jaypore's discoveries - a hand-embroidered throw from Kashmir, a studio pottery jug, a airy cotton tunic, a pair of classic Kolhapuri chappals are things that 'belong' and 'fit in' to any eclectic home, anywhere in the world.

What were the early days like?Was it all work? What do you guys talk about the most when you reminisce

Well, in the early days, as many startup founding members probably do, we spent way too much time in office. So, instead of having washing machines at home, we had them in office! -   Puneet, I and some early employees would often end up doing our laundry in office. :)

We even had a sleeper sofa and often watched movies with the founding team late into the night. We still have that sofa in our third, far more equipped and busy office. Although, we are no longer pulling all nighters :) those early days were made of memories such as this!

 :) Wow, you've come a long way baby! And speaking of babies, good luck to you because I hear the stork is headed your way soon Aarthi! :) Thank you so much for sharing your journey with The Keybunch!

Readers, I leave you with some more images of Jaypore's awesome range of products. 

Jaypore's online store is

Jaypore ships worldwide

You could also connect with them at

All images are sourced from Jaypore.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

{The Purple Turtles Giveaway} Winners and Winning Entries

A Saturday b'day is always special, and I am so happy to also announce the winners of The Purple
Turtles Giveaway.

There are 3 winners and here they are:
1. Reshma Sharma wins the large birdcage lantern
2. Rama Ananth wins the small birdcage lantern
3. Payal Parmar wins the beautiful t-light holder 

Congrats to the winners!

I am sure you are dying to see the pics they sent in, so here they are

The Winning Entries 

Reshma's pic of her lit up home has won herthe beautiful large bird cage.Says Reshma,"I wanted to light up my staircase for along time and somehow I used to skip it because of the umpteen things one has to do but this year thankfully I stuck to the task and was elated when I saw my dining section of the home glowing along with the stairs. It was a wonderful sight and I could spend the entire evening just gazing at it :)"

Rama Ananth was not planning to decorate her home for Diwali, but she did a volte face when she heard about this contest. She says, " I tried out something new, and used a christmas train set I bought on one of my trips abroad around my floating candles and flowers for this Deepawali:
 Let there be light,
fragrance and colors in our lives!!!"

Payal has sent in this gorgeous picture of a table vignette that she specially designed this Diwali in her home. 
I request Reshma, Rama and Payal to contact me with their addresses so that the gifts can be delivered~ :)

It has been a truly wonderful experience hosting this giveaway. I thank Raadeesh and Tejaswi from The Purple Turtles, and I thank each one of the participants for making it a runaway success!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

{Home Tour} A French home called Dar Mona decorated in the Indian style

Dar Mona is a guest house in the hills overlooking the Orange Plains in France. The proud owner Mona is a well-travelled designer and photographer. The rooms bear testimony to Mona's travels in  Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal , China, India and Syria - the photographs, designs and styles are windows to her trips there. As you look through the images, you will love the way Mona has made use of textiles to accessorize her home.

The home is quiet and serene,the entrance characterized by white columns that instantly hint of calm and peace.

the keybunch home with indian elements
Elegant in soft white tones, the living room has hints of Mona's travels abroad.The windows are inspired by the carved jaliwork in Jaipur.

indian decor elements
 On the other side of that beautiful Indian lattice work window is a country-style kitchen, with doors that are once again reminiscent of the old Indian style.

orange accesorries in french holiday home
I love how this room is both modern and traditional, and yet comes together so well. The orange tones
gently bind the room together

orange accesorries in french holiday home bath
The bathroom is a show-stopper with the same orange theme from the bedroom carried forward...the accessories and curtains are inspired from India, while the floor rug and carpet are from the South of Morocco.
the keybunch a touch of india in every home
This is a Syrian carved door. The eyeshaped patterns and tassles are considered lucky
And I leave you with more views of the above rooms, shot from different angles.

indian touches in french home
The saffron bedspread

indian touches in french holiday home
Another angle of the salon or the living room. The poufs on the floor are sacks from Tunisia.

the keybunch orange elements
A collage of the orange accents

What elements of this home did you like?

Pics via
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

{How do you Celebrate Diwali?} Snapshots of two households Down South

Aarthi Anand from Chennai and Rama Ananth from Bengaluru have sent in some stunning images of their Deepawali celebrations.

Aarthi Anand is a blogger and her Diwalis are always traditional.
Aathi Anand's living room
Says Aarthi,"Tamilians celebrate Diwali early in the morning, after the ritualistic oil massage-bath, after which we wear new clothes and burst crackers.As always we pay respect to elders and God before eating."

A beautiful collage of Aarthi's Diwali festivities. To see more pics head over to HouseDelic
Here's a pic from Aarthi's 2014 Diwali

And, Rama Ananth from Bengaluru sent me these images from her 2014 Diwali.

I like that xmassy touch!

Thank you for those lovely images, Rama and Aarthi!

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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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
Every year the mali comes in just before Diwali
to paint the pots red.
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 dear reader, 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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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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