Beautiful Strokes

It is common in the US and Canada for artists to hone their craft by going to different locales, which inspire them in different ways. They also find the exercise more interesting and inspiring, and hence when they find locations in other countries, the trip becomes a holiday too. Suzanne Northcott, an artist from Vancouver, Canada, recently conducted one such art workshop for a motley group of art learners at the Aashyana Lakhanpal, Goa.


The group largely spent most of their time painting and doing yoga at the beautifully set Yoga Pavillion but when their schedule permitted and their curiosity got the better of them, they toured the culturally rich and social hobnobbing spots of the city where people from across the world took on the gay and languorous vibe of the city.


The experiences they enjoyed were many; they particularly enjoyed the performance of a RUSSIAN SINGER, who crooned beautiful renditions of Mozart, Bizet etc. on the very first evening of their stay at Aashyana Lakhanpal. The WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON BAZAAR at Anjuna Beach, which originally started as a flea market during the hippie era and has continued to this date on a larger scale. Shopping was a key attraction here. This was followed by a trip to the SATURDAY NIGHT MARKET at Arpora, which is similar to the Wednesday market but differs by having a large international food court with live music and dancing, making the night a lot of fun.


Located in the industrial area called Pilerne is the new MUSEUM OF GOA created by a Goan artist – this visit gave them a peek into the colorful history of Goa. One morning they took a BOAT TRIP on the Mondavi River where they caught glimpses of the city and its vegetation and concluded the day with a spectacular sunset. No trip to Goa is complete without a viewing of OLD GOA. So one morning they took a day trip to the SPICE PLANTATION and on the way back they witnessed the architectural beauty of old Goa and the BASILICA OF BOM JESUS where to date lie the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier.

A COOKING WORKSHOP was organised for them with Meera Chinai, who in a couple of hours gave them the basics of Indian cuisine, more specifically the Indian DAL. She shared with them the importance of TADKA (known as tempering in English) and also demonstrated how tadka was done in India. Since they were so intrigued Meera also taught them how to cook the simple and popular south Indian snack UPMA, the ingredients of which are easily found in all western countries and the method is quite simple. They found it easy to use and thoroughly relished the snack after tasting it.




1 cup of semolina

1 tbsp cooking oil

½ tsp channa dal

½ tsp udad dal

½ tsp of mustard seeds

1 onion finely chopped

2 green chillies

4-5 curry leaves

1 glass of water

5-6 stalks of coriander/cilantro

1 lime cut into long wedges


-Roast the semolina in a pan on a medium flame until crunchy – this should take about 10 minutes. Once done take it off the fire into a plate to cool.

-Add the oil to the same pan and once heated add the mustard seed and when they sputter add the udad and channa dals and stir them until they are slightly brown.

-Toss in the onions, green chillies and curry leaves and stir till the onions soften.

-Add the roasted semolina to the pan and stir well for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

-Add a glass full of water to the pan (watch out for it sputtering) and stir quickly to avoid formation of lumps.

-Cover the mixture for about 15 minutes on a low flame – the water will dry up and once the consistency becomes paste-like your Upma is ready

-Take it off the fire and serve in a bowl – garnish it with fresh coriander/cilantro and wedges of lime


Suzanne and her students thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Aashyana Lakhanpal and have plans to come back again next year.

The original blog was written by PRIYA SHARMA SHAIKH - 

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