Monthly Archives: July 2015

Daily Post Challenge Close Up: Parsi Saree Borders


This week Brie Anne Demkiw, from the Daily Post posted a challenge to  get up close to some object, look at its intricate details, and take a lesson in Macro photography – seeing the world in new light.

Here is my entry for the Daily Post challenge. For other stunning entries click

Over a cup of tea at my friend Firoza’s house, we talked about her community and the elegant Parsi saree borders or Kor. The detailed embroidered borders are heirloom, mostly belonging to her mother. Such intricate work – the texture of embroidered Kor, the fineness of Art, colour choices of embroidery thread and the elements of floral design.

Hours of patience, labour and creative talent! Priceless!

This unique artistic tradition of Kor has its roots in Iran (Persia), the homeland of Parsi community. With time, it drew influences from European, Chinese, Persian and Indian cultures, thus adding to its value and artistic part. Indeed, the sarees are worth a treasure and take almost 9 months for completion, the embroidery work being crafted on all the four sides of the saree making it one of the most tedious and intricate tasks.

Here is Firoza’s saree.

Parsi Saree with Kor

Parsi Saree with Kor










And here is a take on Macro photography that bring out the detail of design and stitch.

Embroidery detail on Parsi saree 'Kor'

Embroidery detail on Parsi saree ‘Kor’











Here is another beautiful saree.

Parsi Saree with Kor/ border

Parsi Saree with Kor/ border

Once again, a close up brings out the delicate features.

Detail of embroidery

Detail of embroidery

Which close up did you like ? What did your discerning eye observe?








World Palate Recipes: Andhra Style Lentil with Yellow Cucumber (Dosakaya Pappu)

World Palate Recipes: Andhra Style Lentil with Yellow Cucumber (Dosakaya Pappu)


Lentils and vegetables make a large portion of a daily nutritious meal for vegetarians. Lentils contain protein and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, essential for a healthy body.

Telengana and Andhra food is a blend of South Indian, Mughlai/Muslim, and Deccan cuisines. In coastal Andhra rice and fish are staple ingredients, food is laced with plenty of sesame and coconut and chillies. In central or Deccan cuisine rice and millets are accompanied with meat, eggs, chicken and lentils. Locally grown vegetables like gourds, cucumbers and green leafy amaranth are popular. Liberal use of red chillies, garlic and podi’s or assorted masala powders and tangy tamarind make way into chutneys and spiced lentils or dals.

Have you  ever enjoyed an Andhra Thali meal? Be ready to fill up the plate with mounds of rice accompanied with at least 6-8 side dishes served in katori/cups and generous ladles full of  tangy, lentil based curries- pulusu, sambhar and charu /rasam to go with the rice. For the faint hearted- please down this with plenty of yoghurt or buttermilk.

Andhra Thali meal Courtesy:

Andhra Thali meal









Our kitchen garden is blooming once again with the Cucurbitacae /Dosakaya or yellow cucumber creeper. Small yellow flowers brighten up the coarse green leaves and tendrils searching for support. We now have 4-5 round raw green dosakaya hanging down the creeper. They will mature into yellowish gold. The skin is thin and inedible. Small, numerous seeds ( at times bitter!) fill the centre. Dosakaya being extremely versatile to cook and have a mild taste makes them popular and easy to cook.

Today I share with you a simple, Andhra lentil curry..or Dosakaya Pappu.  You can replace Dosakaya with either tomatoes or squash to make another lentil curry.


1 cup Tuvar dal /Arhar dal

I medium size Dosakaya or yellow cucumber


For Tempering /Tadka:

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

pinch of Asaefotida or hing (optional)

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

few curry leaves

1-4 red chillies as desired

salt to taste

a pinch of tamarind (optional /adds a tangy flavour)

2-3 pods of peeled garlic (optional)


Wash and soak the lentil in 1-2 cups water for 10 minutes. Till then prepare the Dosakaya. Peel the skin, de seed and chop into medium pieces. Check! if the cucumber or seeds are bitter..if, they are you have to discard it!

Chopped and peeled Yellow Cucumber ( Dosakaya)

Chopped and peeled Yellow Cucumber ( Dosakaya)











Now in a pressure pan ( I prefer cooking lentils easily this way), add the soaked lentils and chopped Dosakaya. Add another one cup water. Close lid and cook for one whistle. Do NOT over cook, it will make the Dosakaya mushy.

Once cooked, set aside.

Cooked Lentil and cucumber

Cooked Lentil and cucumber

Prepare the tempering or tadka by heating a pan. This is an essential and aromatic part of Indian cooking. So enjoy it!

Add oil, when warm, carefully add mustard seeds to splutter. Add turmeric, curry leaves, hing, red chillies, garlic cloves. Add the lentil mixture to this carefully, as it will bubble while hot. Add salt and juice of little tamarind as desired. Mix gently.

Oil and spices Tempering or Tadka

Oil and spices Tempering or Tadka

For a traditional serving:

Serve heaped ladles of this pappu or lentil on top of steaming hot mound of rice. Garnish with extra chillies and add a dollop of fresh butter or ghee. Mix and slurp away:). Top it up with some fried papads or stuffed dry chillies.

Blessed to eat fresh vegetables grown with much care and love. Ain’t it a spiritual food journey -from the garden to the kitchen…then to the table?

Andhra Sytle Thali meal

Andhra Sytle Thali meal

What’s growing in your garden? Or do you have pots on your balcony? Will you try this recipe ? 

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2019) Please see copyright disclaimer.

Republished: From the Archives


Thank you dear readers, friends and family for sending in so many responses and comments on my post on Women in Focus, Rythu Bazaar. True human stories and faces do interest most of us, as we picture another side of life.

You may wish to read an earlier post highlighting ethnic vendors and their challenges in Abu Dhabi’s Al Mina market. It is one of my favourite posts – reminding me to be ever grateful!

A Photo Essay

Keep reading, keep commenting ..keep connecting!

Postcards: Focus on Women in Rythu Bazaar, Hyderabad


Rythu or Raitha bazaar are farmer’s markets , started by Telengana government (Andhra Pradesh, India) in 1999. This model was begun to provide adequate, correct and proper facilities to the small-scale farmer’s. And to enable sale of vegetables and fruits on a fresh, daily basis at fixed rates. In turn, this would help cut the middle men, who often exploited the farmers for personal profits. The market model would be beneficial to both farmer’s and consumers, alike.

A number of Rythu bazaars are set up around Hyderabad, after considering factor’s such as site, farmer’s land, types of growth, procurement and transport facilities, neighbourhood businesses, hospitals, schools that will buy wholesale fresh produce, proper roads, lighting, sewage and toilet facilities in the constructed bazaar site,  and above all identification and proper information of the farmer’s that will benefit from these markets.

But not all is rosy and cheerful, even today. There are many problems that still persist in many of these bazaars, said the farmer’s and other vendors.

On my visit to the Shamsabad Rythu bazaar, I tried to engage and see the women folk and their activities in the market.

Here are some questions that rushed to my mind.

  • What is the role of the woman in this bazaar or business?
  • What skills /expertise does she need to survive here?
  • What facilities are provided by her family or the government?
  • Is she a primary or secondary bread winner? Why?

Hope these snapshots give some clues, or provoke other thoughts?

1. Many women folk working here rise as early as 4am to complete their morning chores.They then walk to the nearby Rythu bazaar, carrying fresh greens or vegetables they have collected the previous evening from their small farms and piling it on their rented stall. A joint effort by family members to layout produce and sell. But, age and back problems will soon be their friends, they moan!

Women balancing loads on their heads on way to market

Women balancing loads on their heads on way to market

2. Nagamma, the middle-aged lady assists her daughter daily. Her family members gather, sort and make bundles of the popular leafy Gongura or Amaranth, from their land from morning to dusk. Next morning piling it into large plastic bags, one member delivers it to the bazaar. Today’s selling price: Rs. 10 for 5 bundles.What could be her daily price? What is her profit? She does not pay platform rental.

Her daughter comes to collect the total sum at mid day after selling her own seasonal vegetables separately in wholesale on the constructed platform nearby. Nagamma is happy to sell her small bag full  and collect her daily wages and live with respect in her daughter’s house.

Woman vendor selling green leafy vegetables at fixed price

Woman vendor selling green leafy vegetables at fixed price

3. This elderly couple smiled when I asked them to pose. They thought I was a newspaper reporter who could write about their complaints and problems to the government 🙂

Today’s price for mangoes: Rupees 30 per kilo. But they knew middle men posed as consumers and bought 20- 30 kilos and sold it elsewhere in the city at a higher price of Rupees 50 -80 a kilo, making large profits.

The woman was employed by an orchard owner as seasonal contract labour. They need to find other work after the season, or help in tending to the gardens and plant growth.

Couple selling seasonal Banganpalli mangoes, fresh on a cart

Couple selling seasonal Banganpalli mangoes, fresh on a cart

4. The Banjara woman, in traditional ethnic tribal clothes is a ‘coolie’ or helper. Once her job of lifting bags and delivering them is over, she cashes her pay, then visits various stalls to find a bargain , before heading off to other construction sites for labour work. As she has no farms, or ability in farming, nor good language and communication she earns a living doing physical labour.

The vendor lady, in contrast, was a successful, quick business woman, with not much patience for loose talk or photos. She sold raw mangoes in wholesale. Here regular customers were nearby restaurants and hotels that confirmed a week’s supply and payment, even if daily prices differed. The mango in the picture is not a ‘free bargain’ for the Banjara lady, but I had to promise to buy it later.

2 women pose. One a vendor , other a buyer

2 women pose. One a vendor , other a buyer

5. What happens if you are not from the farming community? As an outsider, its unlikely you are welcomed  by the community. Nevertheless, seasonal rains provided the answer. This lady sets up her road side shop and awaits the occasional customer. As she has not paid any rent for the place, she needs to keep an eye for the policeman or governing body and shut shop briskly. Till then…sip tea and wait!

Woman selling seasonal products like umbrellas

Woman selling seasonal products like umbrellas

6. Government bodies fix the market price of the produce for the day, making announcements on the loudspeaker. This woman manages her stall all alone. She needs to juggle between selling, carting and counting cash. A minute’s hesitation and slack can cost her hundreds of rupees, as her immediate neighbours sell tomatoes too. Quality vs. quality.

But regular buyers need to be looked after, as well as the odd middleman. There was no chance of buying a meagre 2 kilo here, one had to buy bulk from 10 kilo- upwards. The mathematics learned on the street was faster than in a classroom, experience and need being the immediate teachers. No computers and calculators here!

Counting cash and striking bargains with the customer

Counting cash and striking bargains with the customer

7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

The Banjara woman belongs to a robust, nomadic tribe that is found all over the Deccan plateau region and neighbouring states. They are believed to be descendants of the Roma gypsies of Europe. Known for their folklores, colourful costumes of Ghagra -cholis or long skirt and blouse and elaborate jewellery the women are strong and tall. They wear heavy silver or brass anklets, often weighing them down. As a nomadic community, they live off labour work. They are experts in basket weaving, embroidery and selling jewellery or articles made from natural products such as shells, metals, rice and grass.

Banjara woman (coolie)

Banjara woman (coolie)

Shy, at first, her fellow people told her to pose, citing it as an honour to the community. She quickly rearranged her head cover, as is customary. She is the group’s singer and rendered a small couplet when prodded. Tribals bond together around winter fires with folklores, singing, dancing, a vibrant and healthy pastime.

So, what are your thoughts on the subject ? How are women’s roles different in the markets in your country ?

For another post on market vendors at Al Mina market, Abu Dhabi,  see here.

All content and images copyright Veena S. (2013 -2015) Please see copyright disclaimer