Monday, April 08, 2013

In My Kitchen: April 2013

This morning I spotted Johanna's In My Kitchen post while sipping my chai and thought it was a fun idea for a post- and so timely because, ahem, it was Monday and I had no clue what I was going to write about today. In My Kitchen is a monthly meme hosted over on the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. Read their post here and look at other posts on their side-bar. and maybe you'll be inspired to write a In My Kitchen post yourself.

Armed with this idea, I went around my kitchen for a couple of minutes, snapping a few pics of whatever caught my eye.

In my kitchen is a nice view of the outdoors. It makes washing dishes almost a pleasure when you can see the seasons change as you scrub pots and pans. Right now the view shows oak trees sprouting new leaves. And I see festive marigolds that we have planted in the window box.


In my kitchen, avocados are ripening. My parents are visiting us for a few weeks. They are adventurous foodies and enjoy whatever new ingredients I care to cook for them. Creamy avocados are a particular favorite these days, smashed into a quick guacamole. They're also enjoying quinoa in the form of corn and quinoa soup and snacking on clementines. I hope we can try some other seasonal produce, like asparagus.


In my kitchen is a set of stainless steel dishes- gift from an aunt. I think food tastes better in compartmentalized plates. These are breakfast sized deep plates designed for serving trios like idlis-sambar-chutney or upma-sev-chutney, or pancakes-fruit-syrup, I'm sure. Now, does anyone have a trick for scrubbing off that gummy label residue? 


In my kitchen are mason jars of all shapes and sizes. Maybe it is the Southern influence, but I'm smitten with them lately. In my kitchen, they hold chutneys and spices, and as a crock to hold serving spoons, and one of these days I'll start drinking sweet iced tea out of them!


In my kitchen, and specifically, on my fridge, is original art made by my toddler. 


In my kitchen is a sweet gift from my talented sister- a wall clock made of fabric on an embroidery hoop, with buttons representing the hours. It makes me smile every time I look at it. And yes, the clock mechanism works and it keeps perfect time.


In my kitchen, hanging on the back door, is a bunch of seven chillies and a lemon. In India, a string of chillies and lemon is a good luck charm that you'll often find dangling at the entrance of businesses and homes; it is supposed to ward off "the evil eye". This was a gift from my dear friend Chinu who spotted this metal-and-wood version in a gift shop and said she couldn't resist buying it for me, knowing that I just moved into a new home. Banishing evil spirits? Yes, please! Isn't it adorable?


In my kitchen, there's usually something simmering on the stove. The kitchen is working overtime while my parents are here, and there are lots of special meals on the menu. But while enchiladas and gobi manchurian are terrific, we crave some version of dal and rice now and then.

So I made a simple okra sambar, shown here with tamarind rice, although it is sensational with ghee and rice, or just plain steamed rice. When I mentioned okra sambar in a previous post, I had a few people asking me for the recipe, and also whether it has that dreaded okra attribute- namely, is it slimy? Because fresh okra is only available here during a few short weeks in summer, I usually make this dish with frozen okra. My method is to saute the okra well before adding salt and cooked toor dal to it. This reduced the sliminess considerably but I would have to say that this dish is for okra lovers. The end result does have a particular texture, shall we say? But I love this sambar and if you're a bhindi enthusiast, chances are, you will like it too. I've posted other frozen okra tips in this post. Around here, a store sells large bags of locally grown frozen veggies  (a nice way for farmers to make the best of their surplus summer produce) so this is a pantry supper for us.

If you want to try for yourself, here's the recipe. The first I heard of okra sambar was on Mahanandi, all those years ago and since then it is part of my regular dinner rotation.

Okra Sambar

1 cup toor dal, rinsed, soaked, cooked and mashed
1 lb frozen chopped (or fresh) okra
1 tsp. tamarind paste (or to taste)
Tempering
1 tsp. mustard seeds
Pinch of asafetida
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Spices
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tbsp. sambar powder (or to taste)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan. Temper it with the ingredients listed.
2. Add okra and saute it on medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until the okra is browned and not so slimy. This takes a little time and patience.
3. Now add everything listed under spices. Saute for a minute more, then add cooked toor dal and tamarind paste. Add water if required to make the desired consistency. Simmer for a few minutes and you're done.

That's it for this week, friends. Like I said, my folks are visiting and so posting may be sporadic in the coming month. If you don't see a post on Monday, it just means I'm busy having fun and will be back ASAP.

80 comments:

  1. Hello. Love what's in your kitchen, especially the patchwork clock....what a clever sister!

    To remove the sticky label (they are a pain)use eucalyptus oil.

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    1. She is a very clever sister all right! Eucalyptus oil is a nice idea but I'd have to go out and find some.

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  2. What a great idea and fun post! I enjoyed your little tour - your kitchen sounds like a warm and welcoming and joyful place!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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    1. It has some handmade touches and I love that- thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Lovely looking recipe, okra is one of those veggies people seem to either love or hate! I think often they have tried it when it has been poorly prepared. I look forward to having more of a look through your site.

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    1. Very true- badly prepared okra can be very off-putting.

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  4. Thanks for the sambar recipe. It's great that frozen okra works because fresh is so hard to find here.

    About the glue on the plates, dabbing some baby oil on the gum and letting it sit for a while before scrubbing off may work. Some genius also came up with a product called Goo Gone which works on practically anything sticky, including wax crayon marks. I swear by it!

    Parents visiting, you must be sooo thrilled :)

    Preeti

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    1. Yeah I thought about goo gone but was avoiding buying one more product! Let's see if the other tips work.

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  5. Love your In My Kitchen post - it is such a great series of posts for people like me who like to peek into people's kitchens. Beautiful clock - even moreso that it was made just for you. Lovely view and love the toddler artwork. I have tasted okra before but not often enough to develop a taste for it

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    1. Johanna- I can see myself doing more of these posts in coming months!

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  6. Nupur,

    You have a beautiful kitchen. I love the window overlooking the sink area. Maybe you could paint your window overlooking the window box of marigolds like this link (http://bunnymummy-jacquie.blogspot.com/2013/03/this-weeks-drawingmy-kitchen-windowsill.html). Wish I had a window above my sink too.

    Okra's slime can be reduced to almost zero by adding an acid like lemon/lime jiuce, tomato, tamarind etc.
    Enjoy your week. Thanks.
    Sapna

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    1. Sapna- Thanks! I often add acidic ingredients to okra dishes but haven't seen the slime disappear- hmm.

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    2. I drizzle some lemon juice on chopped okra and leave it out for a couple of hours. Slime is almost non existent. My MIL lets the chopped okra dry out overnight under a fan maybe it works like the trick of drying out in the oven like someone else commented.

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  7. Have been a regular reader for some days now, love your post! Have fun with your folks, do keep us updated with special recipes you get from aai-baba!

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    1. Well, I might have to share my mother's manchurian recipe- stay tuned.

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  8. Charming post as usual Nupur. Love the lemon chilli thingy,the adorable clock and the heart. Those stickers in the plates are a pain aren't they? I have tried everything to no avail. Waiting for some clever comment now!

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    1. Thanks! Lots of clever comments- try them! :)

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  9. Hi Nupur,
    Enjoy your blog regularly. About the sticky labels, run hot water on the other side for a minute, then try to peel the labels off.

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    1. The labels peeled off easily- but they left behind glue residue, that's what I'm trying to remove.

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  10. To remove the stickers,warm up the utensil slightly on a stove top,before using it.then the sicker peels of easily without the glue sticking to the plate..okra sambhar is my favorite,I add a tad bit more tamarind,to make it different from regular sambhar..good old days of blogging,miss maharani :)

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    1. Hmm- I should have done this before peeling off the sticker!!

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  11. Nupur, an okra tip that you hadn't listed: spread the frozen okra on a baking sheet so individual pieces don't touch, and bake at 350F till the moisture evaporates, and the edges start to turn from green to brown. Use the okra thus reclaimed in sambar or even dry subzi, it turns out great and has no slime.

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    1. Great idea- I'll definitely try this next time.

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    2. This sounds like a great idea. Thanks Samyukta!

      -Anu

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  12. Try heating the dish on a gas and then scrubbing it. Next time heat the dish before removing the label. The label will slide off easily.

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    1. Yup- heat seems to be a good solution.

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  13. Loved everything about your kitchen, esp the clock :) thanks for sharing your kitchen with us :) here's a trick to remove the label or gum off steel utensils, place the plate a few cm above flame (stove or even candle) for 5-10 secs, and ur label just comes off. You can do the same for gum, just wipe with tissue or cloth after heating.

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  14. Hi,

    Enjoy urself... hope u have a great time with your parents visiting.. take care.

    Regards,

    Meenal

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  15. Hi Nupur,
    Here is a quick tip to remove the label gum from utensils and containers.......apply any cooking oil liberally and leave for two hours and wash as usual.

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    Replies
    1. Good tip- will try it tonight and report back!

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  16. Loved peeking into your kitchen Nupur. You're right about compartmentalization- mehuli has a bento box lunch box filled with lunch goodies every day. It's a pleasure to prep. In my kitchen I have a fridge filled with unbreakable travel magnets- keepsakes from my travel past. The breakable ones are on a magnet board out of safe reach of young hands.
    Time with family is the most precious thing- I learn to appreciate it more and more as I grow older- hope you have a wonderful month!
    Arpita.

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    1. Man I love those bento boxes! And like you, I collected magnets from my travels for a while- and then before a move, my minimalism won over and I donated the whole pile :D

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  17. I have the exact same plates! Okay so I did not do anything about the stickers. But I have used Goo Gone or similar residue removers for many utensils and they work great. I am not sure if they corrode the metal, atleast I do not see any signs visually. I always assume the dishwasher will remove the sticker but it is the opposite! It makes the labesl stick even harder.
    Loved your In my kitchen post.

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    1. Yeah if the other tips don't work I'll get some goo gone!

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  18. Hey Nupur! It was great peeking into your kitchen. I have a window in my kitchen above my sink too and I love looking out while doing my dishes. I remember jumping with joy for finally having a bright sunny window in my kitchen when we got this home. It was something I took for granted until I moved here and spend some years cooking in a kitchen which was a dark windowless corner near the main enterance with very little countertop or space.

    The wall clock made me smile too, it's simply adorable and so is Lila's artwork. Enjoy your time with your parents, it's priceless. :)

    - Priti

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    1. Hi Priti- I so agree, sun-drenched kitchens are such a joy to work in!

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    2. Hey Nupur, Here's my suggestion for getting the sticker mark out of the plate:
      Add a spoonful of baking soda in that section of the plate and pour in regular vinegar. The mixture will bubble a bit. Let it sit for few hours or even overnight and wash next day using a mild scrubber. Since this takes care of charcoal-burnt-black residue of curry in stainless steel cooker ;)ahem, just saying. LOL! I think it should help with sticker stains too.

      - Priti

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  19. The simplest method for removing the stickers, whether they are old or new - soak the plate in a mixture of soap and little water or just liquid soap. After a few minutes, it comes off like it never existed. Don't try heat as it works only on some stickers and we can never guess what the glue used is and how it reacts to heat. Good luck :)

    Deepika

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  20. Lovely kitchen :)

    To remove the sticker of new utensils, heat the spot and the sticker will peel off in a jiffy without any residue. Has always worked for me.

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  21. Nupur,

    Try rubbing some eucalyptus oil and scrapping of the glue. It works!

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    Replies
    1. Ah well I'll have to find and buy some eucalyptus oil first.

      Delete
  22. Your sister's fabric cloth is amazing. I actually have a kurta top in the orange fabric in that clock that I wear at home.

    I had to deal with the same gummy residue with a compartmentalized plate I got from India too, I think I used baking soda mixed with a little salt and scrubbed it well.

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    1. I adore those cotton block print fabrics and kurtas made from them are so comfortable! Will try your idea, thanks.

      Delete
  23. Love this idea for a post!! Just thinking about writing this myself, I was looking around my own kitchen and found so many things to click!! I am a true okra lover.. but hesitate to use frozen okra, will use your tips and try the sambar out! :)

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    1. Yes, it is worth trying once if you love okra!

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  24. I like the view over the kitchen sink, open and fresh!
    I wish apartments had better kitchens, mostly a kitchen seems an after thought :(

    I love the limbu-mirchi! ida-pida talo!
    Your sister is talented and the wall clock is adorable, but my favorite is Lila's art <3

    for the glue, - soak in warm soapy water and scotch brite
    - if that fails, warm vinegar in the microwave for 10-15 secs. and soak a washcloth ,place it on the glue for 10 mins and scrub
    -if that fails, nail polish remover, baby oil..

    Enjoy your time with your folks!

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    1. I know- most people use their kitchen more than most other rooms so one hopes it would be be better designed. Thanks for all your tips!

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  25. Wow! Nupur - That was an awesome post. Btw, Okra Sambhar is my all time favorite dish. I need a regular fix of this dish every fortnight, else I feel I might die. ;-)

    Have you tried Bally's glass Mason jars? They are available at WF's and are also suitable for pickling and canning. I got my stash and very happy with the jars. They clean pretty well too.

    Parents visiting - Lucky you. Enjoy the moments!!! Pls tell Lila her artwork is darn cute!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I know what you mean- I need a regular dose of okra sambar too ;) Do you mean Ball's mason jars? Most of mine are that brand- found them really cheap on Craigslist, someone bought a ton, never found time for canning and sold them to me.

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    2. Sorry. Yes, its Ball's. After I've discovered them, I've been pretty happy with the find. I don't use them for canning but mostly for storage of spices, condiments, etc.

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  26. What a great idea for a post! Enjoyed looking at your pictures - especially the art work. A large window with garden view that lets lots of sunlight in is my favorite part of the kitchen as well!

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    1. Thanks Snehal! I'll tell Lila you liked her art work :)

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  27. Hi Nupur,

    Loved the peek into your kitchen.

    I second everyone's suggestion about heat. Works best when the plate or whatever is brand new and unwashed.

    We have very similar steel plates that my daughter uses for her meals.

    I have a lot of mason jars too and recently bought these lids called Ecojarz. Great for using the jars on the go.

    Have fun with your folks!

    -Anu

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    1. Yeah should have thought of heat before! I'll have to look into Ecojarz lids, thanks for the mention.

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  28. The clock is adorable! and you have done the right thing by encouraging Lila. She will become more creative!

    For removing the glue, I usually pour hot water over it, keep it for some time and then clean it with the dish wash bar.

    Sambhar and the veggies taste different depending on the time you add the veggies, the tamarind and dal...
    Saute the okra separately in oil and keep it aside. Boil the tamarind water separately, with sambar powder and salt. When it is half done, add the sauted okras. Boil it for few minutes and add the cooked dal. Continue cooking for few minutes. Finally, when all the raw smell goes away, before switching off, do the tempering and add it to the sambhar.

    Have a fun-filled time with your parents.


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  29. lovley pictures. Loved the clock, you sisters are so talented!! Though it's been a while since we got a glimpse of your quilt/crochet work. Okra sambhar is a tasty dish. I also make Okra pachhadi/raitha. Just roast small pieces of Okra in oil with haldi, hing and jeera, when done, mix it in yogurt and add salt. garnish with finely chopped corriander leaves if you have. tastes yum with bisi bele bath, tamarind or any spiced rice and papad.

    Have a great time with your parents and make lovely memories in your new home with them. Part of why I am excited for you is because I will ( I will na?? :)) get to see all the goodies they bring for you from India. The masalas, mixes etc.( time for another swap then ;)) And moms always make unique stuff in the kitchen everytime. Can't wait for those posts. Have fun and don't bother posting if you are giddy from all the laughter and joy. Everyone needs a break! - Vidya

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    1. OMG I love okra pachadi but that one I tend to make only with fresh okra in season.

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  30. Thanks so much for joining in, it's lovely to peek into your kitchen! I loved the view out your window, how nice it must be to gaze out at that as you work. Adore okra, but just can't get my family to eat it! And I haven't read all the comments, but eucalyptus oil will take the gum residue right off - just be sure to give the plate a good wash afterwards. :)

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    1. Don't bother with the family- that just means more okra for you ;)

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  31. Just show the plate, over flame, from below, it will get peeled of

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  32. Such a joyous kitchen! For the stickers ( and anything else you might use ' goo gone' for), i swear by a mix of baking soda and virgin coconut oil in equal parts. Leave on for a minute and it will scrub right off... Enjoy your time with your parents and thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'll have to try that coconut oil baking soda mixture!

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  33. We really enjoy eating okra and this sambar is a favourite at home. That clock is so pretty, such a great idea of using an embroidery hoop !
    For my new steel utensils, I just hold the portion with the sticker over the flame and it peels of easily, just wash and you're done !

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    1. Thanks! I don't have a flame here- electric stove but it is a good idea for those with gas stoves.

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  34. Hi Nupur, Welcome to IMK. I love your chillies and lemon. What a wonderful idea.

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  35. Love the wall clock and the view... And the art, and the plates :). Speaking of which - hopefully the heat/goo gone solution worked for you. Good tip about the eucalyptus oil - I didn't know it worked for this purpose but I always have a few bottles around the house.

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  36. Another vote for 'goo gone'. A tiny bottle under my sink, and plenty of gummy label marks gone in seconds!

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  37. before removing the sticker/label, heat the steel vessel and gently peel it off, comes off like a charm.

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  38. Hi Nupur,

    Been a big fan of your blog but posting for the first time!

    Love the way you bring innovative thoughts to your posts..:)

    One tip for removing glue marks from utensils/ glasses is to use good old nail polish remover. Of course, you'll need to wash the dish thoroughly if the mark is on the 'usable' part of the dish.

    Hope you get to read this..

    Cheers,
    Deepa

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  39. Nupur, I love this post-- and the idea. Your kitchen is fascinating, and you get the credit for making it so. Thanks for sharing a little bit of yourself with us.

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  40. came across this link for goo removal http://spoonful.com/crafts/homemade-goo-remover
    hope this works

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  41. try to heat the plate on gas stove the sticky part will come off

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  42. wonderful Nupur !!.. sounds crazy to take my own name :)

    I specially love the Clock, what a colorful addition to the kicthen

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  43. Nupur:
    There is a very easy way to remove stickers from the thali (or any stainless steel stuff you buy). Heat the plate so it is warm enough to melt the goo (does not need to be too hot) and just peel off the label. you will not even know where the sticker was. this trick will not work too well if you have already had an unsuccessful attemp peeling and the residue is there

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