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Body art: Painting a new henna story

For Azra Khamissa, henna has always been an inextricable part of Eid. “Each year, my mother would have henna artists come home. Then she and her friends would get intricate designs made on their hands," she says. Inspired by these memories, Khamissa, a Dubai-based chiropractor and handbag designer, has recently added another accomplishment to her list—she is now also a henna artist, one who prefers minimalist designs for that modern touch.

Traditionally, women from the neighbourhood would generally gather on the night just before Eid to apply henna, or mehndi. This Eid weekend is different, with social distancing norms in place. But you can still use designs and tips from Khamissa’s Instagram account (@dr.azra) and apply it yourself. While the traditional designs could be intricate, Khamissa’s balance design elements and blank space. Her posts show hands adorned with patterns inspired by flora, fauna and the Emirati culture.

Khamissa, who started experimenting with the art form about three years ago, says, “Sometimes I even use kajal to make a base sketch to trace on so that I don’t waste time by erasing and adding repeatedly."

She is looking at it as a form of body art. “It was time. Designs are ever-evolving and I try to bring in inspirations (ranging) from fashion to architecture," she adds. —SL

Each recipe in Pooja Dhingra's new cookbook comes with an anecdote
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Each recipe in Pooja Dhingra's new cookbook comes with an anecdote (Photo: Instagram/Pooja Dhingra)

Must read: Recreate Le15 Cafe dishes

Chef Pooja Dhingra’s decision to shut her eatery, Le15 Café, in Mumbai’s Colaba in the wake of the pandemic came as a blow. The café’s comforting all-day menu and sweet delights may no longer be available but you can now recreate 50 of its most popular dishes at home with the help of Dhingra’s new book, Le15 Café Cookbook: Stories And Recipes From Our Kitchen To Yours!, co-written with Tejashwi Muppidi. As soon as she closed the eatery—“the hardest decision I have ever had to make"—Dhingra set to work on the e-book, putting it together with her team in less than two weeks. She hopes sales from it will cover costs and keep the Le15 team going.

Le15 Café Cookbook: Stories And Recipes From Our Kitchen To Yours
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Le15 Café Cookbook: Stories And Recipes From Our Kitchen To Yours

The 110-page book is an easy read. Each recipe comes with an anecdote, so the narrative is personal, almost as if Dhingra is speaking to you. Try the recipe for pink hollandaise sauce, reflective of the dominant colour at Le15, made attractive with the addition of beetroot paste. The section on all-day breakfast is a personal favourite, especially Pooja’s Omelette, made with mushrooms and Cheddar cheese and garnished with nuts .

There are sections on tartines, sandwiches, pancakes, each accompanied by tips. But how can a book by Dhingra be complete without a section on desserts? A must-try is the recipe for dark chocolate ganache, a decadent dish for a rough day. —AB

The book can be bought at https://pages.razorpay.com/pl_Eqe5rOl5tcSlwL/view

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