Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Profusion of Handcrafted Gifts

This is a non-food the past weeks and months, I have been fortunate enough to be given some beautiful hand-crafted gifts and I really wanted to show them off (and share with everyone how proud I am of the people that made them).

One of the biggest joys of food blogging are the fellow bloggers you meet and become friends with. One wonderful blogger was actually my "mentor" and the person who first encouraged me to start this blog. Cathy and I were lucky enough to meet in person last year, and we met again for a quick breakfast at the City Bakery (Union Square) last Monday. Meeting Cathy was great fun and we chatted away as usual while eating hot oatmeal (Cathy) and a pretzel croissant (me...could our breakfasts have been more healthier and unhealthier, respectively?), and Cathy then gave me this while I stared at her in shock:
Why was I shocked? Believe it or not, it is a beautiful, soft kitchen towel that Cathy has *woven herself*...yes, the whole fabric is hand-crafted from yarn. I was so moved to receive this labor of love! Read more about this towel's creation here and here. Incredible, isn't it? All I'm going to say is: this towel is not going to wiping down any counters in my kitchen...I will be treasuring it!

Another useful-for-the-kitchen gift: My parents' neighbour, a lovely older lady who is an expert knitter, made me this cute little strawberry pot-holder:
It has the cutest pattern and is thick and fluffy! A real sweet treat!

This is a set of personalized bath-and-hand towels, exquisitely embroidered by R, who apart from working as my mom's assistant, is also very talented with her hands and is always sewing away in her spare time.
The delicate floral design is perfect in every detail...I know I will feel special every time I use these towels.

My mom's sister P (a talented artist) first made this set of pillow-cases as a wedding gift for my mom, and now I am lucky enough that she me painted a set too: Playing cards are delicately hand-painted on fabric to make these pillow-cases: The King and Queen of Hearts, personalized with our initials. How cute are they? Here is the King of Hearts:
and the Queen of Hearts:
I keep looking at these...the details of the painting are just astonishing.

Finally, this is something that my mom bought for me from a market in Pune but it was hand-crafted by *someone*! My mom has a talented eye for seeking out really cute and whimsical stuff, like this knitted woolen Marathi thali!
It depicts a full traditional Marathi lunch, served on a banana leaf. From top, anticlock-wise (starting with the really little stuff), this is what I can guess (thanks, aunt Y for helping out with this)
1. Salt
2. Slice of lemon
3. Chutney (typically made with cilantro and coconut)
4. Koshimbir (tomato-cucumber salad)
5. Karanji (very cute and accurate rendition)...fried turnover filled with a sweet coconut-poppy filling
6. Jalebi (fried spiral-shaped sweet dipped in syrup)
7. Modak (steamed dumpling with a sweet filling)
8. Waran-Bhaat (rice with simple yellow dal...looks perfect)
9. Kesari Bhaat (sweet saffron-flavored rice...the light orange one)
10. Masale Bhaat (spicy vegetable pilaf)
11. Alu Bhaji (a dish of sauteed spicy colacassia/taro greens)
12. Batata Bhaji (a dish of seasoned boiled potatoes).
Looks delicious, right?

Hand-crafted gifts are so touching...a true gift of time and talent. I'm off to Seattle to attend a conference so I'll be back by the end of the month! So long!


  1. hi nupur,

    Wow such lovely hand made stuff!! the marathi thali was awesome... if u could just ask ur mom if she remembers where in pune did she pick it from that would be lovely... i am from pune but have never seen such a work of art!! tks in advance.


  2. Wow amazing crafts,especially the king and queen of hearts,Lucky You!The Marathi thali looks so cute!

  3. love the queen and king of hearts and more so the marathi thali idea!!
    amazing the kind of handicrafts people make in india!

  4. Marathi thali looks so nice ! I really love hand-crafted gifts.

  5. hi nupur, wow...memeories of yr wedding rukhwat linger long.......the thali is from tulsibaug in pune, in presume becos thats where some rukhwat was picked up from. by the way , a wedding thali does not serve chakli, so its a jilabi. and there is kesaribhat. .and yes it is a piece of lemon quartered just as we wd serve below the salt. below the batata bhaji is aluchi bhaji, thats why the dark color............
    great , pl post a photo of the carved suparis too. that too was a grt work of art and v painstakingly done. luv, k.

  6. Nothing to beat hand crafted gifts, Nupur. Priceless gifts indeed !!
    You are fortunate..:)

  7. I hope the conference does not mean no posts until you get back to NYC!


  8. How wonderful to recieve such lovely, thoughtful & unique gifts ! Loved the Maharashtrian thali...too cute :).


  9. Hey this is really awesome, loved all the crafts. Amazing

  10. Oh Nupur, those are so lovely! And the pillow cases ... wow!!! Thanks for the Dhansak recipe. I've been looking for a vegetarian version for some time now.

    Good luck with your conference.

    Best wishes,

  11. Wow! Beautiful gifts! The strawberry pot holder is so cute. Kitchen towel is the best!

  12. Hi Nupur,

    I came across your wonderful blog today while searching for the marathi meaning of oatmeal! The number of recipes that you have for typical marathi dishes is awesome. Not having cooked at all till I got married didn't exactly give me the top grade in my in-laws house. :-) Anyway I learnt to cook there but the north Indian way since my hubby is a punjabi.

    But I always craved for the delicious but not too heavy marathi food which my aji and aai would prepare.

    Another thing is that my hubby is a pure vegetarian.. he doesn't even eat food which has egg in it like cakes or custard which makes my job doubly difficult! I have always cribbed about not being able to find home-like recipes for marathi dishes online and I have finally found them. Yeeaa!! Thanks to you.

    I can't wait to get out of office and make bhadang, gharge, zunka, etc.. etc... Yummy!

    Thank U!


  13. Hi Nupur,

    Last few months I have been tracking your blog and also trying out different receipes by you. I tried Egg Biryani (turned out v v good), solkadhi and a few more. But let me tell you Nupur, that rather than making and relishing those receipes, I like to read the blog even more. For example your latest post on the hand crafted stuff was very interesting. I liked the hand crafted maharashtrian jevan very much.

    Keep writing and I'll keep reading ...also try out a few more receipes..



  14. Hi Annu, do check Tulsibaug...I think that is where my mom and aunts got it.

    Sumitha and Krithika, thanks!

    Yoma, thanks for helping me with identifying food on the thali.

    Sailaja, I agree, I am very lucky indeed :)

    Lakshmi, that is exactly what it means!

    Sonali, Preeti, thanks!

    Faffer, glad you like the pillow-cases! And yes, I was pleased to find this veggie dhansak recipe really works.

    RP, Glad you liked them!

    Hi Deepti, I'm glad you like the blog. Hope the recipes work for you! Indian food luckily has many many egg-free recipes.

  15. Hey Nupur !!


  16. Wow, what a blessed girl you are. I always go head over heels, whenever i get a personal handmade gift. I loved everything, but i am very fasinated by the fabric painting. Doing those fine lines with a brush is an awesome piece of art. WOW !!!!

  17. Wow, what a blessed girl you are. I always go head over heels, whenever i get a personal handmade gift. I loved everything, but i am very fasinated by the fabric painting. Doing those fine lines with a brush is an awesome piece of art. WOW !!!!

  18. wow ..this is really nice!! the marathi thali is super cool :D
    im hungry already :D

  19. Hi Nupur,

    Simply fantastic crafts. The Marathi thali served on banana leaf. Awesome. Nice work, and nice blogging too.

  20. Hi

    I'm just amazed atyour photographs. Can you share your secrets:
    1)Make and Model of Camera
    2)Photo Organizer Software
    3)Photographhy Techiniques, especially closeup shots



  21. hi
    nice of you to share your gifts with us and giving us an opportunity to see hand-crafted things made lovingly by relatives.
    i am tagging you with a meme confessionsin a group of five ,
    i do not know if you like to ans such questions pls do it if you feel like answering.
    for details go to my blog

  22. Those are fantastic gifts! Thanks a lot for sharing them!

  23. Ooo, I am coveting your towels, what fine work!

  24. Hi nupur, Love your site.. The thali is sooooo cute. Never seen any thing like it. I'm sure I'd be hungry everytime I look at it ;-)

  25. Hi Nupur,

    I was just blog hopping and came to your blog and I just lived all those items that you posted here. (the raja rani pillow cases and the strawberry pot holder and ofcourse the cute woven marathi thali. Next time i go to tulshibaug i am really go to search for this. When you mentioned tulshibaug it made me really nostalgic. are you from pune too. Do come along to my blog too

  26. Hi, Lovely website. Just loved the marathi thali. I was wondering what the 13th item on the plate was... u know in the bottom right corner. You have twelve items listed..
    Congrats on the wonderful job.. keep it up!!

  27. Anon, I think that 13th item is just some bits of the rice that have fallen away from the main mound. I think that is what the artist is depicting...a more realistic picture. Just my guess, though!

  28. Hello everyone,

    can somebody please tell me what is Oat or Oatmeal called in Marathi?


  29. This is simply mindblowing..Very very creative..

  30. its really beutiful, marathi thali is really so nice

  31. All the hand works which you have exhibited look very cute. Specially the marathi thali.

  32. Hi Nupur
    I live in Columbia MO, not far from you. Regarding your kadipatta plant, it will grow laterally if you plant it outside in the summer and repot and bring it inside for the winter. It will also shed all it's leaves in the spring but new shoots arrive soon. I too inherited a 6 inch plant and have nursed it to 5 feet over the years. It is a prized posession.


  33. Loved the Woollen Thali! Thanks for putting it up.

  34. Hi Nupur.
    i have been following your blog recently and found it very good and everything is perfectly to my liking....
    these hand made pieces are all very interesting , i myself have an interest in many types of handcrafts and it was a pleasure to see all of this..
    i'll be checking out you archives in the coming time ...

  35. Fantastic... loved the detailing and the love behind it all...

  36. Where can I get this Knitted Woolen Marathi Thali?

  37. The pillow cases have been painted very crisply. I had been googling to find images of suralichi wadi, thanks to my limited knowledge of marathi, when I landed on your blog :)


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