Showing posts with label chidambaram. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chidambaram. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2011

curry leaves and turmeric: a very indian natural dye

today i finally got my hands into some natural dye work. i thought i would try using curry leaves, as we have an abundance of them growing at home amended with several left over stems from the market. the curry plant is native to india and is a tree Murraya koenigii. it is a mainstay of south indian cooking flavoring rasam, sambar, pooriyal, pongal, etc... etc.. etc...

this was my first test dye in india, so i was a little nervous not having my usual tools with me.
i am in chidambaram and didn't quite know how to procure alum, the mordant i most commonly use for cotton, so instead i tested out giving the cloth a nice soak in some warm salt water. i found a beautiful handwoven white towel for my experiment.

after soaking the fabric for a bit in the warm salt water i started boiling up a nice big bunch of dried curry leaves. i let the leaves boil over a low heat for about 40 minutes before adding my cloth. afterwards i let it boil for about 1 hour. the dye bath was a beautiful though faint golden copper color. just to give it a rich yellow tinge i decided to add one spoonful of turmeric powder. instantly the colors merged - i let it simmer for about 20 more minutes before removing it form the heat, rinsing my cloth and hanging it to dry!

beautiful colors from nature. just what i needed to get inspired and excited for this week's natural dye workshop that i am leading in chennai - hope to have goods pics from that to share.

thanks for visiting. d

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tulsi: Holy Basil

Our plant behind the house in Chidambaram

Dried Leaves for Tea

Many have heard of this wonder plant, sacred and useful, Tulsi: Ocimum sanctum (Syn. O. t


There are many varieties of Tulsi - a variety of basil, whose Genus itself has 40 odd varieties. The most common cultivars are Krishna, Vana and Rama and some say that it has been used for over 5000 years in India.

This plant is easy to grow in a warm climate. It is a perennial that reseeds itself in hot climates and can be grown as a summer annual in more temperate areas such as the Bay Area.

The plant, which some say to be a reincarnation of Krishna is adored and adorns many Indian households, most giving the plant a special alter style pot and offering flowers and other such puja items to the plant as they would other religious icons.

Tulsi is used as a immune booster, to fight off coughs and colds, for relaxation and stress-relief and as a digestive-aid.

You can eat a few fresh leaves a day, or add them to your water for fragrance. Or, most commonly, you can dry the leaves and prepare a tea. You can also infuse the leaves into honey to use.