Monday, June 30, 2014

Lorac: PRO Palette- Shimmer & Matte Eye Shadow Palette

Lorac launched Pro Palette 2 just a few days back, so I think it's high time for me to stop procrastinating and share my thoughts on the original Lorac PRO Eyeshadow Palette. This palette is WILDLY popular among makeup lovers and if you are a makeup addict like me you know what a strong hype follows this palette. After using it for more than 6 months now, I am pretty confident in recommending it to you. This is one product that really lives up to the hype! I know by now you have heard, read and watched a lot about this palette! But here is my take.

It has a total of 16 neutral-hued shades; 8 matte and 8 shimmers. There are some deep purple, copper and grey as well but it is overall a neutral palette. It weighs a total of 0.32 oz. (8.8 g) and comes with a 0.19 oz. (5.5 g) Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer. The regular price of this the palette is $42.

First of all, it looks very sleek. The outer box is of simple hard-paper, as usual. The actual palette is of hard-cardboard with black, smooth velvet-like material with a silver embossing of the words "Lorac Pro"; comes with a big mirror too. The palette is very thin in volume (just for reference, it is much thinner than NAKED palette). Hence it takes up a very little space and easier to put in your vanity or makeup bag. I have not travelled a lot with this palette but it definitely has a very well-built packaging. The fact that matte and shimmer are all in same palette makes it perfect for travelling. Minimalistic and effective design; it looks very elegant. But it is really hard to keep it clean, as stains catch on to the surface far too quick :-(

The quality of the eyeshadows is top-notch. They are pigmented, smooth in texture, very blendable; all very easy to wear! They are long wearing too! I don't see any major smudging or wearing off, even after 6-7 hrs. The matte shadows shows off as little powdery to me; I see very minor fallout with them at times but nothing too distinguishable! And I love the Behind the Scenes Primer. It looks beige in color, but on the lid it's clear. It is a great primer, more so with these shadows. I see the best results when I use the shadows with this primer as compared to MAC paint pot or Urban Decay Primer Potion. The shadows can be used wet or dry; they are certainly more vibrant and intense when applied wet. To use them wet, I just use a little bit of MAC Fix+ on the tip of my brush.

MATTE SHADES: I love how the shadow names are so crisp and accurate; the shades are just the same as the names suggest.

White: Basic white shade. It’s a little bit stark to use on my lid (for my skin tone). But it's perfect for the brow bone.
Cream: In my mind, cream is a color that comes from mixing white and beige :-) But this cream has a tiny hint of light pink mixed with beige. Can be used in brow bone or on the lid. People with paler skin tone than mine can definitely use it on the crease as well.
Taupe: Looks boring in the pan, but this is my most helpful and useful shades in the whole palette. This subdued middle-toned brown works as the best crease color for me, especially to blend colorful eye looks.
Lt. Pink: Just as the name, it’s a light pink color. A little hard for me to pull off, but I do love it and use it in the inside corner of my lid with colors like pewter and deep purple.
Mauve: This is another color that I adore a lot. PERFECT crease color for me. It’s a Rosy hued taupe color.
Sable: It’s a dark brown color. A basic color that every girl NEEDS. Very useful to put on the outer corner to get some dimension in my eye look. The next shade, Espresso is a bit harsh at times, but Sable is awesome for both daytime as well as nighttime looks.
Espresso: It’s a VERY deep brown color! Just the color you need when you want to sport a true smokey eye. I also use it ever slow slightly to create more depth on my outer V (Outer corner) and also on the lid.
Black: Basic black shade. Looks boring but it always is useful! It looks a bit more pigmented than MAC Carbon.

SHIMMER SHADES: I was hooked up on this palette because of the mattes, but ever since I got it, I have completely fallen in love with the shimmer shades. The colors are very lovely, blendable, pigmented and finely milled! I also feel the shimmer have none-to-very-less-fallout than the mattes.

Nude: Very lovely shade. Just a little bit of beige mixed with very light pink. I love using it, specially in the inner tear duct. It brightens up any look.
Champagne: Lorac describes this as a "Sparkle" whiles the others as "shimmer"; this has a very very tiny speckles but nothing too chalky. When applied it does not even show that much sparkle. Color wise, it’s not a lot different from Nude, just a little more deeper and more inclined to light pink.
Gold: I love to wear gold shadows. I think it looks flattering on my brown eye and tan skin. This is not an in-your-face gold eyeshadow. If you are not comfortable wearing brighter gold shadows like "Half Baked” from Naked palette, this light gold color is the shade you want to try.
Lt Bronze: It’s a toned down version of Gold above. Very nice color.
Pewter: This is a new name of color for me :-) It reads bronze to me. Very lovely taupe-hued bronze.
Garnet: For me, Garnet is the prettiest color in the palette, little hard to describe though. Its coppery hued reddish kind of shade. I really love the color and it looks EXTRA pretty when applied wet.
Deep Purple: This is a VERY deep purple, almost looks like a shimmering deep-brown on the lid.
Slate: It’s a shimmering grey color. I am NOT a huge fan of grey eyeshadow. But occasionally I love to wear grey smokey eye.

Now why I adore this palette so much...apart from great quality shadows, the fact that all the matte and shimmer shadows you need is in the palette makes it very versatile. You have basic browns and black and also nice shimmers like Garnet, Slate and Deep Purple. You can create subtle everyday look as well as very deep smokey eye! This was my very first real big eyeshadow palette. The shadows are easy-to-wear, great to travel with; if you are a beginner in makeup and looking for something to start with, I strongly feel this is the PERFECT palette for you. If you think it's expensive, I encourage to save up and invest on it; you will not regret it :-) Here are my customary pros and cons

  • Matte and shimmers together; very versatile, all-in-one neutral palette.
  • Travel friendly.
  • Great quality eyeshadow.
  • Absolutely amazing as "very first palette" for beginners.
  • Awesome primer.
  • Very sleek, well-built packaging.
  • The mattes are tiny bit powdery. But I have not had any crazy fall-out.
  • The outer surface of the palette is kind of hard to keep clean. That is at times annoying.

COMPARISON with NAKED ORIGINAL: Any article about Lorac Pro will not be complete without comparing it to the Naked palettes from Urban Decay. Lorac Pro is always compared with the original Naked palette. So here it goes....
  • Naked has only 2 matte shadows which, for me, means that I need the help of matte shadows outside the palette from time to time. But with Lorac Pro, you can create the entire look with itself only.  
  • Naked now retails at $54, it weighs 0.05 oz. so you also get more products.
  • It has 12 shades, all neutral! So I feel Lorac is more versatile with colors like Garnet and Deep Purple.
But, but....I did pick up Naked even after I bought Lorac and was happy with it. Naked palettes has some kind of charisma; I simply could not resist the temptation! They look familiar at first but I don’t regret buying both; I use and love both of them! I save Naked for special occasion while I use Pro on a more regular basis, as it’s easier to get the entire look using just the palette. So if you already have basic matte shadows, then Naked palette will be prefect for you. But if you are just starting out and thinking of venturing into makeup, than I highly recommend the Pro palette; it’s gonna be your best friend.

This is a permanent palette from Lorac Cosmetics; available in Ulta, Kohl’s, Nordstrom and Lorac Cosmetics. Share your thoughts if you already have the palette or I happen to inspire you to pick up this up :-)


Friday, June 27, 2014

bareMinerals: THE FIRST RESORT Bronzing Kit

Summer is finally, finally here and everybody is busy getting their tan on!! Time to bring out all of your favorite bronzers to work and also to discover new ones!

bareMinerals is one of the brands that has really impressed me with their products. I have not tried a whole lot of their products but I am happy with the few that I have tried. They are widely known for their proprietary mineral based makeup (I guess it is quite obvious from the name, ha ha!) They are dedicated to create makeup products that are also good for your skin. If you are interested in learning more about why and how "minerals" have inspired their products, click here!

I am from India and in India, "Getting tanned" is not something that is generally appreciated and adored. It is, in fact, just the opposite! The general population has a rather unhealthy obsession with "fair" skin. The cosmetics market is flooded with "Fair & Lovely" creams that claim to lighten the typical "dusky" Indian skin tone. I never have or never will use one of those creams! But I will admit, there have been few moments in my childhood when I wished I was a tad fairer in color!! Anyway, what I am trying to say here is that I was unbelievably scared of bronzers. I simply assumed that I cannot use bronzer since I already have tanned skin. I was wrong. Beautylish members encouraged me again; few dark-skinned beauties shared some of their very beautiful "bronzed" look! That inspired me, and I finally decided to try bronzer. This set was released earlier this year. When I saw it at Ulta store in April I simply fell for the packaging. And I am using this ever since. I do enjoy my Lorac Tantilizer from time to time but I am definitely giving this way more love!!

I purchased the kit in Ulta during their "21 Days of Beauty" event. I paid full price which is $35, but I did score a free mini moxie lip gloss with the purchase :-) The bronzer weighs 14 g (0.49 oz) and the gloss weighs 4.5 ml (0.15 fl oz). The brush is nicely tapered with a perfectly long handle. In short, you are getting 3 wonderful products at a very affordable price! 

The outer box is of cardboard in a nice maroon-gold color. There is a tiny paper-note with more details about the products. The best award for packaging in the whole set definitely goes to the bronzer. It's a beautiful coppery-bronze colored metallic rectangular case; VERY elegant-looking and equally sturdy! The lid has a nice big mirror and opens up to 60 degrees! The lip gloss tube is of glass and also has the same copper-bronze lid. However I doubt how well-built these are! It was loose at the top and the gloss was leaking a bit when it arrived. You can see in the pictures how I tried to salvage it using some good old "duct tape", but I am not sure how long it will hold; it's disappointing :-( !! However, Ulta did give me an eGift card (not to the amount of the full price of the gloss), but I really appreciate how promptly they responded and helped me with my "broken" gloss situation!

The set comes with 3 FULL SIZE products
  • bareMinerals Ready Color Boost in the shade "The Beach is waiting".
  • Marvellous Moxie Lip gloss in the shade "Party Starter".
  • Light Stroke Fan Brush.

THE BEACH IS WAITING: If it is not already obvious, I would say again- "I love this bronzer". There are 3 shades. As mentioned in the packaging they included two of their popular colors of bronzer & luminizer and a brand new bronzer. The luminizer is called "The Long Weekend" and the bronzers are called "The High Dive" and "The Big Splash"; I have no idea which one is which! If you do, please share! The texture of all the shades are very smooth, easy to blend and long-lasting. The first bronzing shade is a warm-toned medium brown, looks matte on the pan at first but has a extremely subtle sheen! Then you have the golden-beige colored luminizer that acts as a perfect highlighter for my skin tone. My most favorite among these are the last golden shimmery shade. I love it! I am scared of putting anything on my face that looks that shiny on the pan (eyes are exceptions!). But when applied it gives me this BEAUTIFUL healthy-glow; the shimmer does not even show up that much; just the perfect sheen. I apply it in the shape of number 3 on both side of my face and very lightly dust on my nose as well as forehead. I love the results. You can also mix the shades to get a very pretty effect, but I particularly don't enjoy the after effect of the swirling action on the pan. The packaging tells that you can contour with it; but I am not big on contouring; specially with a bronzer!

PARTY STARTER: I love their Marvelous Moxie lip glosses! Perfect consistency; not too thick or thin. It's a tad sticky but nothing goopy like the Lorac lip glosses (reviewed here) ! It feels very even and smooth once it settles down. It is also very long wearing. It does have a minty tingling feel which I personally enjoy. This is a bright coral shade; ideal for summer and will look flattering on everybody.

Light Stroke FAN BRUSH: I did not have any fan brushes before, so I am enjoying it. Very useful when I want to wear a soft contour. I love using it to apply my highlighter as well! But I do prefer using a fluffy round brush to apply my bronzer over this. 

  • Very good value for your money.
  • Easy to use, blendable, natural looking bronzer.
  • Lip gloss is very suitable with bronzed look.
  • Depending on your personal choice you may not like the minty tingly feel of the gloss.
  • The packaging of the gloss seems doubtful (I might have received a bad tube)!

The kit is no more available in Ulta or Sephora; it may resurface in future though. But it's still available in bareminerals website. You can also find it in Macy's and Dilliards

The bronzer looks so pretty in my vanity :-) I am glad that I fell for the packaging; its a great product and I am really enjoying it! Hope it was helpful.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Homemade Chicken Momos!!

Last week, around this time, I was devouring some awesome fresh hot momos!! :)

If you ask anyone from North-East India, "momo" will probably be one of their all-time favorite foods. :) I love momos, and I guess I can eat them anytime anywhere! Yes, momos are dumplings, wantons or pot stickers; however you know them! In culinary parlence, they do have technical differences among them. In North East India, we widely know and love it as "momo". According to wikipedia, momos are steamed buns with or without filling, and originated in Nepal :) 

Back in the days when I was studying engineering, momo was one of the few fancy foods that a student could afford and easily access. I still vividly remember how happy and excited we were when our college canteen finally started to offer momos, I believe it was during our last few months. Our college is located in the outskirts of Guwahati; so we needed to come to the city if we got a craving for really good food. Finally having momo in our own college canteen definitely was a luxury!  Momo was not a very regular food during our childhood, but it started to become extremely popular and available around '01-'02! Because it was a restaurant (read "outside:) !!!) food and the concept of "momo" was relatively new, my adorable mom kind of forbade us from having it regularly. That may be a reason why "momo" seemed unbelievably tempting in those early years.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned during our conversations that she and her husband enjoy homemade momos occasionally in their household. I jumped at the opportunity and rather shamelessly invited myself to a "to-be-held” momo-night at their place :) :) Being the sweet friends they are, they accepted my self-invitation and I had some quality time last weekend. The recipe was hers and she only did all the hard work! I did help though; you know by taking pictures, providing moral encouragement and all that stuff!! :) :)

Before I delve into the recipe, let me come clean here! It's a lot of work for the lazy cook in me. Lots of chopping, kneading, rolling and boiling involved, which is not basically my kinda cooking! But that day, my friend helped me finally realize that even though it's quite time-consuming, the recipe is actually very easy-peasy! I did pick up the "steamer insert" afterwards from IKEA; but I don't really foresee myself spending a lot of time making momos all for myself; unless I have another 'night-in' with my friends to keep me company while I cook :)     

There are two major steps involved; one for the wrappers and the other for the filling inside. Chicken momo is my personal favorite but you can definitely select your choice of filling; vegetables or meat!

Ingredients: All-purpose flour, oil (we used olive oil), salt, boneless chicken, ginger, garlic, onions, green chilies (optional), Cilantro (optional) 
  • Add a bit of salt, few drops of oil and some warm water to the flour and knead for a couple of minutes. The dough has to be homogeneous in texture and also non-sticky. (This is the most challenging part for me :) ). 
  • Keep the dough aside and covered while you prepare the filling.

  • Chop up ginger, garlic, chili, onion and cilantro into really fine pieces.
  • Boil the chicken pieces for 15-20 minutes and afterwards mince finely. We used chicken thigh pieces.
  • Add salt and few drops of oil and the chopped vegetables with the chicken and mix everything together. Your filling is ready.
  • Knead the dough one final time before you start making the wrappers. Then make tiny dough balls.
  • Using a rolling pin and a working board start flattening the ball into a round or oval shape. You don't have to be very particular about the shape.
  • But you need to be careful about making the wraps thin, specially on the edges. The momos will not taste very good if the wrappers are too thick.
Now comes the fun part. This is where your craftsmanship will be put to test. Time to make momos, people :) 

  • Place a spoonful of filling into the middle of the wrap.
  • We went for the half-moon shape! Think of an imaginary line dividing the wrap in half; while covering the filling, bring the two edges of the wrap from either side to the imaginary line. 
  • Seal the edges together while folding one side at equal-sized spaces. This will make the pretty design.
  • Your momo has finally shaped up and is ready to be steamed. Don't wait for too long to put it into the steamer insert, it may get dry on the outside.
  • We used a big wide pan and fill it till with water till one third of the pan. Bring the water to boil.
  • Place the insert on the pan. Spritz some oil on it; this prevents the momos from sticking.
  • Put on the lid. You may check on the momos in between; they will turn golden in color when cooked! We had 10 momos each batch and it took about 15-20 minutes.  
  • Serve with some ketchup or some hot spicy sauce and your choice of beverage. My personal favorite is a hot cuppa of awesome Assam tea :)

Back home, the restaurants serve momos with some amazing mouthwatering spicy chutneys! Depending on which restaurant you go to, the flavor and the taste of the chutneys are incredibly different. And how can I forget the runny warm soup that accompany the momos.!! Such a lip-smacking combination of food! This is one of things that I so BADLY miss at times. I may have to research a bit and try to figure out if I can at least attempt to recreate the magical chutney and soup at home :). The frozen pot stickers from Costco or the dumplings from Panda Express are all very yummy, but in my mind it can never compare to the momos I experience back home.

Because of my friend, I got to enjoy the same savory taste after so many months, a big thanks to her :) By the way, you may notice that there are not many pictures of the final product as we were busy digging into the irrestible momos fresh from the kitchen ;) :) 

Go ahead, be brave and adventurous... you are bound to love the taste..!!


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sephora Birthday Gift 2014: Make Up For Ever "Celebrate For Ever" set

If you are a beauty aficionado like me you may already be very familiar with Sephora! It is heaven for any beauty junkie :) For those of you who are yet to experience the "awesomeness" called Sephora, let me explain! It's a beauty store that offers prestige cosmetics, skincare and fragrance brands that can literally cater to all your beauty needs. It is currently operating approximately 1300 stores around 27 countries worldwide, I believe they have opened two stores in New Delhi, India earlier this year :) Anyway, if you are even a little bit interested in beauty and makeup and want to check out Sephora, I highly recommend you open a Beauty Insider Reward account with them. It is free and you can open it online here. I believe you can also register in the store itself. As mentioned in their website, "Beauty Insider is your fast track to a never-ending supply of beauty rewards. It's free to join, and every dollar spent earns a point that gets you closer to your next beauty fix." :) You get upgraded to VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) and VIB Rouge status with additional benefits once you spend $350 and $1000 respectively in a calendar year. I am enjoying the perks since last year and recently got upgraded to VIB, I guess it's time to be careful about not getting addicted :p 

One of the benefits of being a Beauty Insider is free birthday gifts :) Every year, Sephora teams up with a particular brand to design a Birthday kit consisting of deluxe products. For 2014, Make Up Forever partnered up with Sephora to bring out the "Celebrate For Ever" gift set, which contains the following two adorable products
  • Deluxe size Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick in shade "N9"
  • Deluxe size Smoky Extravagant Mascara (Black)
I have been completely enjoying them since I got them in January! I love their sturdy black packaging. It's simple but very elegant-looking. And I just can't stop admiring how adorable, cute and tiny these are!
Rouge Artist Natural Lipstick: The lipstick weighs 1.5 g (0.05 0z); which is pretty decent considering the full size is 3.5 g. The shade N9 is an everyday rosy mauve shade, can also show up as a brownish pink nude depending on the pigmentation of your lips. It has a creamy formula with a sheen finish, very smooth in application and a perfect "My Lips but Better" color for my medium olive/tan skin-tone :) But I strongly feel, it's a universally flattering shade :) It pairs with smokey eye-look as perfectly as it goes with "no makeup makeup" look! I pick up this lipstick whenever I have no clue as to what lip color will go with my overall makeup. It does not have the longest staying power though, I get around 4 hrs of solid wear before needing to reapply. Other than that, I am pretty happy with it, and will surely repurchase!

Smoky Extravagant Mascara : I have been wearing this mascara quite regularly since I got it. I tend to favor enhanced natural lashes over crazy spidery look. This mascara delivers exactly that. It has a big curvy wand with nice tapered tip. The consistency is just perfect for me, not too thick or too watery. It lengthens my lashes and provides decent amount of volume, so I get a very lovely look from just two coats. You can even carefully layer it more without looking clumpy. It's very long wearing; I have put on my makeup "really" early in the morning and the mascara has stayed all day; many times. No smudging or flakiness, whatsoever! I am almost running out of it, and will definitely repurchase once I use up all the other mascaras in my stash.

As I said before, you can redeem it during your birthday month. Of course, you need to open your Beauty Insider account before your birthday and add your birth date to the account. You will be automatically prompted to include the kit to your cart in during the allotted time frame. This way however, you will need to purchase additional merchandise product to claim the kit. You can also pick it up from Sephora stores without needing to purchase any other product. I researched a bit and found that if a member happens to forget to collect it during the time frame, or if he/she choses, Sephora can offer 100 points in their Beauty Insider account in place of the set.

If you haven't already missed it this year, go collect the freebies :), I am very impressed with this set and cannot wait to see what they offer next year, only 6 more months to find out :)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

আমৰ টেঙাঁ (spicy-tangy smashed raw Mango) and some memories!!

This time I am writing about a food that makes me immensely nostalgic. It reminds me of lazy summer afternoons many many years ago and thirsty ourselves (i.e. me and my sister) returning home from busy tiring days at school. On a few lucky days, while approaching home, we will see few aunts, our pals and some favourite elder sisters from the neighbourhood gathered in our balcony! Our little hearts will jump in joy because this casual get-together indicates that mom will spare us from the mandatory "afternoon nap" for those days!! Those afternoons were full of laughter, insignificant discussions on a varied range of topics and of course, a little bit of gossip!! I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, I loved to hang out with seniors and listen to their tittle-tattle. It made me feel all grown up :) Anyway, the binding agent of those gatherings was one very typical Assamese spicy and tangy treat. Because, it is sour in taste, we generally call it tenga (in Assamese language, tenga means sour). Sometimes, we call it pitika also! Honestly speaking, I am having a hard time finding the perfect synonym in English to describe this mouth-watering delicacy. These tenga treats may be the Assamese way of fighting the summer heat, although we do love it during winter too :) These pitikas and tengas are made with one main tangy and raw fruit such as Aam (Mango), Rabab Tenga (Pummelo), Jolfai (Indian Olive), Kordoi (Star Fruit), Bogori (Winter Fruit), Kathal (Jack Fruit, baby ones), Amlokhi (Indian Gooseberry), Teteli (Tamarind) mixed with some hot green chillies and salt. Some times we even mix two or more above mentioned fruits. The zesty succulent flavour that comes out of squashing the fruit with other ingredients induces a juicy-tangy kick to your palate! Heavenly!! :) :) 

And you hardly require 15 minutes to prepare this. That's the best part. All you need is to mix and squeeze everything together. When I saw raw mangoes in my local grocery store last week, I could not resist the temptation. One fine day thereafter, when there was plenty of sun outside, I made it and gorged on it with utter happiness and sheer joy. It was, not in any way, same as those fun-filled hang outs in our varandah back home! If only, I could bring back those days! Nonetheless, I enjoyed my aam-pitika. It reminded me of the beautiful days of childhood when life was way more simple and carefree!!

Ingredients: Raw mango, Salt, Mustard Oil, Cilantro (Coriander) Leaves, green Chillies.

Traditionally, we add everything with the mango, cut into smaller pieces in a traditional khundana (grinder) and grind everything together. I believe you can use a mixer too! But in the absence of a traditional grinder, this is how I made it.
  • Remove the seed of the mango. 
  • Cut into small pieces and grate them.
  • Smash a few green chillies into the grated mango to get the spiciness.
  • Add salt according to taste and a few drops of mustard oil. Mustard oil is important, I believe its very complimentary to the fiery sour taste of the mango.
  • Add chopped cilantro and mix everything together. Using your hands in place of a spoon will give a better result.
  • Savour it :) :) :)
So yeah, raw sour-sweetness of mango, hotness of fresh green chillies brought together by the salt, mustard oil and appetizing/refreshing smell of cilantro! Can you tell how much I love this :) :) Oh, just a little heads up, because it so sour, it tends to be little acidic in nature! I always make sure that I have proper meal before indulging on this delicacy. Better be careful than popping on pills for acid indigestion, right? ;)

This kind of sour-tasting mid-afternoon food is very common in Assam. My mom is a very firm believer in traditional healthy Assamese way of cooking. So am I! Assamese cuisine is filled with so many exotic and flavourful fruits and vegetables, we use very little oil and spice and most of the recipes are extremely easy to cook. We have an amazing range of basic flavours that range from familiar sweet, salty, sour tastes to some peculiar taste like khar (alkali) and keha (sour astringent sweet flavour)! This range of basic taste might be a reason why we, Assamese people, like food from different parts of the globe. I love trying out new cuisine from all around the world; I devour fried chicken with equal delight as Sushi but Assamese cuisine is and will always remain my number one favourite. I absolutely L.O.V.E it and will continue to work on promoting it in whichever small way I can!!

If you were brought up in an Assamese household, you definitely have experienced some version of this 'tenga' sometime in your life. But yeah, this particular item is definitely a different kind of food, specially for my non-Assamese readers. If you are completely new to the idea, try it...its a nice little way of including some vit-c in your diet :) :)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Curry-inspired Chicken Stew : for those sick days!!!!

I have been eating plain boring food for the last few days as my stomach is not at its normal 'happy' mode. In the process of eating clean, I feel like my palate almost lost its taste buds. But enough is enough; I decided to prepare my mood elevating curry-inspired chicken stew. Whenever I am sick, mostly from fever, this dish has always helped me regain my lost appetite, big time!

And for the longest time, I thought I invented this recipe! Ha ha! Almost a decade ago, my father was recovering from a major accident and was advised by the doctors to include soups with meat and vegetables in his diet to help him recover his strength. I am going to be frank here, cooking was NOT something that I enjoyed back then. Around that time, my mom was trying to educate me on relatively tough recipes like chicken curry! One day, she bought home some chicken meat and asked me to prepare lunch while she took care of some chores. I, being the lazy one, did not want to prepare two separate chicken recipes, soup for my father and chicken curry for the rest of us. So, I just started to chop up some vegetables, heated up a little oil and began frying the chicken pieces. I was doing this in a wok (karahi), but the pressure cooker idly sitting nearby gave me an idea. I transferred the content to the pressure cooker, added the veggies, a bit of spices and fried for a little bit before putting the lid on. After 5-6 whistles in the cooker, my magic (;)) chicken was done. My sister LOVEd it and so did my parents. For the teenager in me it was a really big achievement; I was elated.

All these years, I have been thinking that I am the ONLY person who knows and prepares this recipe. I even used to boast about it in front of my friends who don't like to cook on a regular basis. How naive of me :) :) But in recent years, I have had the chance to try different versions of the same recipe by my many friends. All of the them are equally appetizing!

  • The recipe works best with meat from a spring chicken. I don't know the science behind it, but I believe the tender meat from a younger chicken blends much perfectly with the vegetables. Unfortunately, I have not been able to access such type of chicken here yet :(
  • The more the vegetable, the better. I put almost all vegetable I can find in my refrigerator. 
  • Pressure cooker is also necessary for this recipe, at least for me :) You can obviously use a wok, but in my mind, using pressure cooker I can save a lot of time.
  • The dish does not need a lot of spices. No need of Garam Masala as well.
  • Personally I love using a lot of black pepper and green chilies, but you can manage the level of spiciness you want. 
Ingredients: Chicken cut into small pieces, Bay Leaves, Whole Cumin, Red Dry Chilli, Onion (very less), Ginger-Garlic paste (same as in regular chicken curry), cumin powder (just a tiny bit), Green Chilies, Black Pepper, Carrot, Capsicum, Habanero Pepper, Tomato, Beans, Cilantro, Cauliflower, Cabbage. Vegetables are up to you; put anything of your choice :)

Let's discuss the recipe
  • Marinate chicken with a bit of turmeric and salt as needed. Spray little spritz of oil while marinating; it helps in preventing the chicken pieces from sticking to the cooker/pan during cooking.
  • Chop up the vegetables into small pieces.
  • Heat up the cooker; add oil (of your choice). Add bay leaves, red dry chilies and whole cumin to heated oil. 
  • Add cut onions, fry for some time before adding the chicken pieces.
  • Keep stirring, after 10-15 minutes add ginger garlic paste and fry for some more time.
  • Add the veggies and keep stirring :) just for few more minutes!
  • Add water, I like the consistency to be a bit runny. Put the lid on. I keep the heat on medium at this time and wait for 5-6 whistles.
  • You need to stay put for some more time before you can open the lid. Then, add the chopped cilantro as garnish.
  • I like to have it as soup before my meal and then as curry with it :)
  • The last step is to wash the pressure cooker, its going to look dirty with all the colorful spices ;) ;)
I cook this mostly when I am weak and not in "cooking" mood; the best thing is I don't have to be ultra-cautious about the chicken to get done properly, you just need to stir for some time and after 5-6 whistles in the cooker, everything is going get perfectly cooked! It can definitely be made in any pan or wok, but it will need a bit more time and care I guess! So long as I have my cooker, I am going to use it for this recipe and I don't mind the cleaning (my dishwasher takes care of that ;))

Hope it is easy enough for you as much as it was for me :)


Friday, June 6, 2014

NYX: Jumbo Eye Pencil Collection "Center Stage"

Let's talk about some drugstore beauty products today :) NYX Cosmetics is a brand that I totally love from drugstore or high-street, whatever you call it! When I used to live in Assam few years ago, it was very difficult to access different cosmetics brands. In fact, I started using NYX only after I came here and I love almost everything I own from them. Their cream blush in "Rose Petal" is pretty much my go-to shade. I also enjoyed their powder blush in "Mocha" before I gave it to my sister :) I love their round lipsticks and mega shine lip glosses. Their butter lip glosses and matte lipsticks are also very popular and among the few products that I want to try sooner or later :) It's a cruelty free brand, in case you are wondering.

Today I will discuss their wildly popular jumbo eye pencils, specifically a set titled "Center Stage". It contains 6 pencils each weighing 0.18 oz (5 g) and retails for $19.99 at And yes, you can use coupons in Ulta, they almost always have $3.50 off $10 purchase. I don't see it anymore in Ulta website, but it may still be available in stores! Individual jumbo pencil costs around $4.49 in Ulta and NYX's website. These are already very affordable, but with coupons they are definitely worth checking.  

Outer cardboard packaging of the kit is simple; nothing too appealing about it. I do like the look of the actual tube! It’s white with letters printed in black and has a clear plastic cap that makes the colors easy to find. But the cap does not appear very sturdy. All over simple and cute packaging! These are not twist-up type, so you need sharpening which is very annoying to me.

The colors in the set are Electric Blue, Sparkle Nude, Iced Mocha, Yogurt with their cult favourite Milk and Black Bean. I love these names! :) The pencils are crazy crazy pigmented. I mean, I don't usually expect that at this price point. 

They have a very creamy formula and can be used both as eyeliner and eye shadows. They glide on smoothly and appear true to the color in the tube. They also make great base for other shadows. Keep in mind though they are 'jumbo' size; it’s difficult to draw a thin liner with these. Also, I am not able to give an honest opinion on its staying power; if you keep reading you will know why! Lets talk about the colors 
  • Black Bean: Classic black shade. Useful as a base with smokey eye look. 
  • Milk: If you watch YouTube vloggs as much as I do, you already are familiar with 'milk' :) I am not SUPER adventurous with my eye makeup, so I don't find much use of it on its own. However, I have tried the technique where milk is used to make eye shadows appear more vibrant. I put Lorac 'behind the scenes eye primer' and a THIN layer of this white shade before using one of my not-so-crazily-pigmented shadows. I definitely saw a difference. The color looked relatively vibrant and gave me a longer wear too! 
  • Electric BlueColor wise, this is my most fav. It’s such a bright sky-blue shade; definitely a welcome change in my otherwise boring array of neutral-toned eye shadows. It is difficult to put it all over the lid without looking like a flashback from '80s though (No offence to that era :)). My favorite way of using it is as a thick eyeliner combined with a thin black liner close to the lash line. Amazing way to pop some color into your makeup looks!
The other three colors are a bit difficult to differentiate from each other. They all have a beautiful sheen to them. Each of them look very pretty on the lid on its own; perfect for those one-lid-color looks for your work or for days when you don't want to spend a lot of time on makeup, but still want to look polished!
  • Sparkle Nude: Beautiful beautiful color, somewhat in between bronze and rose.
  • Iced Mocha: It’s a bronzy color with a tiny hint of taupe.
  • Yogurt: It’s a rosy champagne color. Very lovely!

Even though I L.O.V.E these pencils for their amazing pigmentation and easy-to-wear quality, I hate how it creases on me! I always apply a thin layer yet I can't wear it for more than 5 minutes without noticing some kind of creasing. I have tried it with Mac paint pot, Urban Decay Primer Potion and ELF eye primer, but no improvement. Even when I set this with eye shadow it creases after 1-2 hrs. Not cool! Only Lorac 'behind the scenes eye primer' has been able to give me somewhat longer wear than the others. 

  • Super affordable. More so because it’s in a kit!
  • Good range of color; includes basics with a bright shade.
  • NYX has an amazing color range for these pencils.

  • Not automatic, so sharpening is necessary.
  • Creases on me even after preventative measures.

If you are interested in these pencils, my suggestion will be to test a single shade to check if it stays on your eyelids. Depending on your skin type, it may not crease on you! If not, these are some amazing products at equally amazing price. I don't see the set in Ulta anymore, but it’s still available in if you want to try! And for my readers from India, some NYX products are available at Nykka, Snapdeal, Jabong, Flipkart etc. So it’s not extremely difficult to access NYX products compared to some other brands. Because it creases on me almost immediately, I may not be picking anymore of these shades. 

Hope it was helpful.