WHAT IS A PARTY without its food? Nothing! And so here they are, my Northern Indian cuisine made by none other than KIVA ATKINSON, IGMA artisan extraordinaire. Thanks to Sumaiya who introduced me to her food on no less than 3 separate occasions, I finally decided I had to have them especially after I saw her Indian feast spread.
I wrote to dear Kiva and once again, was pleasantly surprised at how down to earth and friendly these artisans are and Kiva is no exception. With a bit of not too subtle probing, Kiva shares with me her creative process and this is what she says, in between waiting for my naan bread to come off the oven which she burnt the midnight oil to get done (bless her!):
I work right in front of my computer while staring at pictures I've googled of the actual food I'm making ;-) . I also have a stash of cookbooks I refer to. I make stuff every day, and have even been known to bring clay with me on vacations, lol!! I'm most productive at night, although I work on and off throughout the day. I prefer the quiet, with no distractions (apart from my little wall mounted tv/dvd player) and no one bugging me! When I set my mind on something, I can go pretty fast and I don't stop until I'm done. Tunnel vision! (hey Kiva, so am I!!)
I fell in love with Kiva's work when I 1st saw the mini coconuts she made. As coconut milk is the staple ingredient for making curries, I went to her website to find out more and saw that she has actually done a tutorial on how to make a coconut for the March 2005 issue of America Miniaturist . When I lamented to her that I would never be able to get hold of that magazine here, she very sweetly said:
Susan, I'll try to find that coconut how-to for you, but I can tell you how to make them right now: I roll little balls of brown clay in bits of real, shredded coconut husk, then make three shallow indentations on the surface. To make an open one, I roll out the brown clay, put a "log" of white clay in the center, join both ends of the brown clay so that the white is in the center (like a cream filling), stretch this and roll slightly so that it lengthens, then pinch one end of this log so it's closed. I cut a bit from the log, then pinch the other open end closed. I roll it more into a ball shape, then roll it into the shreddded husk, and add the three indentations. I then bake, cool, and slice in half with a straight razor. Then, I get my Dremel out and "carve" out each half! That's it! Oh wait- I also take my razor and put little "nicks" along the edge of the coconut meat ;-) . If you ever feel like making some food, don't hesitate to ask me, Susan!!
Kiva, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. In your honour, I will name the Maharani, "Kiva" and she will of course, have absolute and complete command of the palace kitchen.