If there’s two things India is known for is craft and colour. The culture of India is one of the oldest in the world, enhanced by its unique diversity and mysterious lifestyle. Among so many beautiful traditions I admire from this Asian land, the art of handmade is the most sought after worldwide. The Indian handcraft unravels a wealth of knowledge based on millenniums of expertise. This is how the founder of Good Earth established in 1996 the first boutique in Mumbai, setting high standards for stylish luxury retail across India. Good Earth is a leader in timeless Indian luxury, effortlessly blending historical references with contemporary influences. True luxury is a detail of everyday living; being surrounded by things that are natural and hand crafted with designs that elevate the spirit.
Good Earth explore myths, crafts, culture, flora and fauna of various geographical regions of Asia from a contemporary point of view. Their muse is Mughals the patron of beauty, crafts, architecture and nature and the core aesthetic is drawn from tradition to create a new vocabulary in luxury while supporting craft communities. Sustainable luxury is about discernment and responsible choices, and not only that, it is about believing in what you create and want to influence the lives of others. I was truly impressed when I discovered the Good Earth world of luxury home wear and couldn’t believe this symphony of colour, exquisite and vibrant patterns, tradition and perfection really exists. Vibrant colour juxtaposed with subtle serenity captures the essence of Indian style where opposites and contradictions coexist naturally and easily. Each year they create a design collection that tells the story of a particular tradition or culture from their own point of view. Each design has a story, every story takes you on a journey. This is how the Serai collection was born: This gorgeous fine bone china tea time collection celebrates the last design story from the Farah Baksh Design Collection 2012-2013, tells the story of Emperor Jehangir who along with Noor Jahan crossed the snowy passes of the Pir Panjal on elephants no less than thirteen times to spend summer months in Kashmir.
I have decided to throw a tea party for my friends, inspired from the colourful Serai tea sets, dreaming of India. I know Christmas is just around the corner, but my wish to Santa was to have some warm days, and what better way to achieve that, than by adopting the hottest culture in the world, at least for a few hours? The Cerise cake stand really dictated the entire look and feel of the table setting. Resplendent fine bone china platter in cerise and aqua, overlaid with a sparkling jaali, delicate chevron bands, lotus motifs and a bird perched on a rose, accented with 24 carat gold, this could be the perfect gift for your mom-in-law, a really pretentious friend, or someone you love, actually. I have baked a raspberry mouse cake with caramelized almonds on top and a chocolate glaze, just because something fresh but still complicated enough to go with the stand was mandatory. The recipe will be available soon on my website. Tea party without tea? Not in India or anywhere else for that matter. The Demitasse Set of six cups in brilliant shades of aqua, peridot and fuschia, overlaid with intricate latticework, delicate leitmotifs and glistening 24 carat gold accents, were the actual center pieces on the table. Telling the story of a brave warrior that crossed snowy mountains to spend summer months in Kashmir, these precious little cups will take you through the story in style. If you are still panicking about the perfect gift for your girlfriend/mom who is a tea addict, this gorgeous set will definitely put you on her good side. She might even share one cup of Masala Chai with you!
The practice of Ayurveda has resulted in a long-standing tradition of herbal teas. Traditional Indian kitchens use the medicinal benefits offered by basil, cardamom, pepper, liquorice, mint and many others for different affections. Consumption of tea in India is an art cultivated for thousands of years, one that I am happy to learn more about, while sipping from my gold cup and enjoying red velvet cake pops (recipe soon on this website).
The art of luxury is well kept by the patrons of the arts and crafts, which have a deep understanding of that medium, and in India this is known as having pehchaan which roughly translates as identity, insight or discernment. Another amazing gift from Good Earth is the Nishaat fumer gift set, inspired by the illuminating floral splendor of the Nishaat paradise gardens of Kashmir. The Nishaat fumer set contains a decorated ceramic fumer and a bottle of pure aromatherapy blended essential oils. Delicate flowers and stylized motifs in lustrous pastel shades, inspired the splendid beauty of the Nishaat and Shalimar gardens in Srinagar, made out of bone china ceramic, hand decorated with artwork decals. Sustainable luxury means offering insights into various handcraft traditions and discuss what distinguishes them and makes them unique and thus valuable. This is what Good Earth tries to achieve with their amazing wellness collection.
My tea party continues with Medaljer, a classic Danish cream cake you will find everywhere in Scandinavia. What does it have to do with India? Well, since this culture is all about colour and art, this pink accents shortbread pastry fit to perfection on my Sarai tea plates. A set of four fantastically vibrant tea plates in shades of aqua, fuchsia and peridot, overlaid with whimsical leitmotifs, intricate latticework and 24 carat gold accents. The perfect ending to a beautiful dreamy Indian tea party.
1. Mix the butter in the flour and sugar in a stand mixer. Add the egg and mix just until the dough starts to lump together. Form the dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 360℉ (180℃)
2. On a floured surface roll the dough to about 1/10-inch (3mm) thickness. Cut out round about 2¾-inch (7 cm) in diameter. Bake the rounds for 8-10 minutes on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, until light golden. Let the cookies cool completely.
3. Beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale in color. Whisk in the cornstarch and vanilla paste. Heat the milk to a slow boil, set aside.
4. While whisking vigorously drizzle the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, just a tiny bit at a time at first. Once you’ve added about ¼ of the milk, you can add the rest in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly.
5. Pour the mixture back in the saucepan and reheat it over medium heat. Whisk constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar or press some plastic wrap against the custard so it won't form a pudding skin. Chill the custard completely in the refrigerator.
6. Make the icing by mixing the sugar with food colouring, adding a tiny amount of warm water just until it thickens, and put a thin layer on top of half the cookies. This will be the top part.
7. Whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks. Put the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star shaped tip. Pipe a ring of whipped cream along the edges of the second half of the cookies, the lower part. You want to have some hight to the whipped cream, so you have a hole in the middle for the jam and custard. Pipe jam and custard into the hole.
8. Pipe a top of whipped cream on top of the iced cookie, and decorate with berries. Place the top part on top of the lower part.
9. Serve the cakes immediately with a cup of tea or coffee.