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Spiced Indian Green Beans

Green Beans Photo: Contax + Kodak Portra

India is a curious place that still preserves the past, religions, and its history. No matter how modern India becomes, it is still very much an old country. ~Anita Desai

I have been asked many times about the recipe for this simple vegetarian Indian dish. Thought I would share it in this post with my two loves… old photographs and indian food, both of which take me back home. This is an old favorite maternity photograph of my gorgeous mom. Back then, it was customary for women to be photographed while pregnant and this studio photograph does such a beautiful job. I adore these old photos and wish I had one when I was pregnant with my son. I love photographing maternity sessions, so please fee free to contact me for one.

The spiced green bean recipe is from the book Indian Cooking by Mridula Baljekar and one of my favorites. In India, with the diversity you find so many different ways of cooking food and make very tasty vegetarian dishes. I have modified the original recipe a bit here.


1 lb Green Beans
4-6 Cloves of Garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1-2 Red Chillies, chopped or whole depending on your spice taste
1/2 tsp Tumeric (or less)
1.5 tsp Coriander Powder
2 tbsp Sesame Seeds
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tbsp Desiccated Coconut (optional) Can be purchased at Whole Foods or Indian Stores.

1. Wash the Green Beans and chop off the ends. To save time, I blanche the beans and retain the color. Transfer the beans in a bowl to prepare them for cooking the dish.

2. Heat a fry pan and dry roast the sesame seeds on medium heat. Once they are slightly browned, turn off the heat and let them cool off. After ward grind them in a coffee grinder (I used one only for spices).

3. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and once they start popping (watch for flyaways!), add some of the chopped garlic. Make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

4. Add red chillies, tumeric and coriander powder to the oil. Sometimes, I add the coriander powder later too. Add the blanched green beans. If you would rather not blanche the beans you can add your raw beans now. Add salt and keep stirring the beans on medium heat. Add the rest of garlic. If you are cooking raw beans, lower the heat to a minimum, cover the wok and cook for 20-25 min. I like mine slightly al dente so you can check the beans for the consistency and check occasionally.

5. Add the ground sesame seeds and optionally desiccated coconut which can also be ground in the coffee grinder.

TIP: I grind my Coriander powder as needed. It tastes great fresh!

Let me know how you like it! It may seem like a lot of steps but it really is pretty easy once you get the hang of it!

On another note, I will be traveling to the east coast and midwest for the next two weeks and out of the office.

Mirelle - YUM! I’m going to need to try this recipe soon!

Jody Savage - What a lovely post and history! Thank you so much for sharing – and cannot wait to try out this delicous recipe!!

Trish Barker - My bean plants are going off right now… I’ll have to try this recipe!!

Lisa M - This looks amazing! But since I don’t cook, how about you come down an make it for me….;)

Alpana Aras-King - Lisa, Come visit me and I will make it for you!!

Kristin Sweeting - oh my! That looks so good!!

kelsy mccartney - well THIS looks delicious!! i’ll have to give it a shot next time we have my parents over – dad loves green beans πŸ˜‰ thanks for sharing!

Jen O. - Wow, those look good!!

Sera Petras - YUMMY! Love this!

Almost eleven | san francisco film photographer

β€œGrown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

To celebrate my new toy, he obliged and let me shoot a roll of film over the course of a couple days. I had been eyeing this spot for a while and we stopped by on a hot, sunny day to shoot a few frames. My boy is almost eleven and all I can wonder is where did time go? Here are some frames of his story and mine.

Olympus XA 3 // Fuji Superia 400

Mirelle - I love this shot. Perfection as always!

Rebecca Lindon - What a beautifully dramatic backdrop! Perfect :0)

wendy laurel - love… love new toys..

Jaine Kershner - what a perfectly composed shot & saying. no one wants to grow up!!

Nicole Spangler - I love this shot!!

Kelsy McCartney - Such an awesome photo! What a location. Love!

Kina - What a wall!! I would love to shoot there:)

Kel Ward - This is crazy-awesome!

Maternity Album

β€œThe wait is long, my dream of you does not end.”
― Nuala O’Faolain, My Dream of You

A surprise gift in the form of a fine art maternity album for her husband. If you would like to book a maternity session please contact me through the website.

Shyanne Dougherty - Hello,
I would like to have my maternity pictures taken sometime late October/ early November. Do you have any open times during then? What is your pricing? Does it include prints or are those separate cost? Do you shoot outdoors as well as indoors? Thank you for your time.


San Francisco Maternity Photographer | Waiting

Everything grows rounder and wider and weirder, and I sit here in the middle of it all and wonder who in the world you will turn out to be. ~ Carrie Fisher

From a recent Maternity session with this lovely mama. I am in the process of designing an album from these lovely images. Please contact me through the website if you would like to schedule your own maternity session. If you would like to see other maternity images please view the gallery here.

Christine Sargologos - Ethereal and lovely. What a gorgeous take on maternity portraits.

Tara Haney - Beautiful looking images!

Lindsay Madden - Wow, these are so beautiful!

Jaine Kershner - a mother to be’s beauty at it’s finest. such a treasure to have these moments captured forever. xo

Lisa O'Dwyer - So beautiful Alpana!

Kel Ward - Gasp! These are gorgeous! So artistic.

Blenda Montoro Miller - Amazing!!! so perfect in black and white πŸ™‚

Valentina - I love the one of her standing by the window. Beautifully captured!

Nicole Spangler - These are stunning!

San Francisco Family Photographer | Around the Hood with Vyana.

When mama contacted me to do a San Francisco Family Session, I was both excited and nervous as she is a photographer. We met a few years back at a mutual friend’s home in San Francisco and she mentioned following my work since. We talked about what she wanted from the session and one of the things she wanted was to simply be in the pictures. In reality, photographer or not, moms are largely under represented in photos as they tend to be the ones taking the pictures. If you are a mama that has been shying away from the camera, please be sure to find a way to be in the pictures whether they are taken professionally or not. If you need more convincing check out this Huffigton Post article that has made its rounds through social media “Mom stays in the picture.”

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities having lived there for several years before moving out to the east bay. We started out in their lovely home which is filled with some amazing artwork. The art in baby Vyana’s room is by Sanjay Patel. I have been a huge fan of his work and have his Little Book of Hindu Deities. I have taken the book to share with my son’s class on a couple of occasions (talking about Diwali, the festival of lights). A couple of the kids came back and told me that they loved the book so much that had their mom purchase a copy.

If you are a Ganesh fan you would absolutely love Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth, the book you can see in the photos below.

How adorable and stylish is she? She wasn’t quite walking at the time of the shoot but scooting very, very quickly! In case you are wondering her fabulous wardrobe is from Zara.

How cool is it that we chanced upon this alley Ganesh art? And the style is so much like the artwork in Vyana’s room?

I photographed the last few frames on my Contax as we wrapped up the session. She was all tuckered out but the light was gorgeous. I am also partial to quiet moments and how gorgeous is mama in these?

professional photography _film


I don’t usually post as many images in one blog post but I love the way this session turned out. And if you have wondered what a Day in the Life signature session looks like wonder no more :-). We spent an afternoon together starting out with family photographs at home and then wandered around their eclectic Mission District neighborhood. I love capturing snippets of the neighborhood as you never know when you might relocate to a different area or even out of state.

If you love this session, please post a comment for the family. 25 or more comments gets the family a complimentary 8 x 10. And look out for a giveaway coming up soon. If you don’t want to miss it sign up for the newsletter here.

A huge thank you to 100 layer Cakelet blog that featured this Day in the Life Family Session!

Rachel - Gorgeous photos of a beautiful family! I love what you’ve captured here.

Julie - Simply beautiful! You really captured the spirit and love of the family!

Dana - I can’t decide which one is my favorite! So lovely!!

rachna - Love the photos you captured of us!!

rachna - Love the photos!

Jennifer - I love this family. These photos are so gorgeous and reflect the beauty of my favorite mama, and her family. I’m positive these will be cherished forever.

Arun - Alpana – what a wonderful session, thank you so much!!

jyoti - I love the beautiful pictures you took of my precious granddaughter Vyana with her mommy and daddy.

Anita - Beautiful pics which your photog captured of you!

Jamie - Beautiful family and amazing pictures!!!

Ashish - Is this when Shreya and I were in SF?? Awesome pics and lump-a-gus looks adorable! Can’t wait to see you guys soon!

Kunal - Beautiful family pics. nice artwork.

Shreya - I love all the pics and the fact that they are at home or in the hood… Makes it all so personal. πŸ™‚

Shreya - Love the photos, esp the ones at home… Makes it so personal and endearing πŸ™‚

Winona - WONDERFUL session! Blown away again by your talent. This family is gorgeous, too!

Chas - Gorgeous. Captures your family’s moment perfectly

Mina patel - Beautiful pictures and gorgeous family.

Anna - Not only mommy in the pictures, but Mommy AND Daddy at the same time! Unheard of! Patel’s Ramayana is also great for the older kids.

Dilan - I love my baby cousin Vyana!

daxa - we like all the pics. we love vyana.

Patel - All these pictures are so cute. Vyana, Mom and Dad will have very good memory of the time. The photographer has done a great job capturing these moments.

Akhil - beautiful pictures. They seem like a truly amazing family

Shilpa - Gorgeous family! Loved all the wonderful images!

Golda - Rachna, these pictures are sooooo beautiful. You have a gorgeous family. πŸ™‚

dulu - great pictures of my grand-daughter!

Christina - These photographs do a great job capturing the essence of the couple’s love for V. I’m not a photographer myself but one of the main things I look for in family photos is the story behind them. Knowing the couple, these photographs do just that!

Michele - I love it! Beautiful work and posting!

Alpana - Beautiful family pictures and just purchased a copy of Ganesha’s Sweet tooth for my daughter.

Alpana - Great lighting of all the pictures, sure pure and gorgeous! Love the story book Ganesha’s Sweet tooth. Just purchased for my daughter. Great art in the house too!

Friends at Lake Tahoe

As luck would have it, these two friends got to spend a warm afternoon at the Heavenly Resort in South Lake Tahoe. This year for Spring Break, we decided to go up to Lake Tahoe. Neither my husband or I ski or snowboard so we were thankful to have friend’s that are avid snow people. This was his first time snowboarding and it was great to be with folks that know what to do. I took these images of the boys playing in the snow on my film camera.

F100 Nikon + Kodak Ektar 100

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen a few pictures from our trip. Our hotel room was steps away from the beach.

Lisa O'Dwyer - Fun! Love your use of Ektar here!

Kel Ward - These are great! It looks like so much fun.

Sandra Coan - Fantastic!

Rachel May - The colors are absolutely gorgeous and it looks like it was a blast!

Marcie Lynn - How fun! Tahoe is one of my favorite places ever.

christina - magic!!

Ten year old portrait

Nikon D700 // freelense

My beautiful boy. Almost eleven. Where did time go?
We took this portrait after getting back from track. A day of mixed emotions. Your relay team got disqualified after one of the team mates dropped the baton. This means your gold-medal winning team won’t make it to the regionals next week. You took it well. Life happens. However on the personal front you won the gold in 400 m and the bronze in 200m. You ran against Jimmy Jones. I hope these memories will stay with you for a long time. I am so proud of you. I can’t wait to see what you do in the regionals. Run hard!

This is a box full of wishes & every one is different & every one lasts for just long enough for you to decide if it’s really worth doing & when you finally decide on your real wish it will fill up your whole heart & soul & it will leak out of your eyes sometimes when you least expect it & you will start to glow just a little & here & there, you will see other people who glow a little, too, because they have found their real wish. That is how you know someone who has a real wish, because it marks you forever with love. ~ The Storypeople

Carolee - oh my goodness! what an amazing portrait!!!

Blenda Montoro Miller - Love, love, love!!! What a precious son you have! XOXO

kel ward - You have the most beautiful muse! I love your work and this is no exception. You have some mad free lensing skills, lady!

Lindsay Madden - This portrait is fantastic! And I agree with Kel, you really do have the most beautiful muse.

Lisa O'Dwyer - So stunning! You are a real poet and artist Alpana!

Marcie Lynn - Amazing. I love your portraits of your son!

Krystle Akin - WOW! He has the best eyes!! Such a muse

Jaine Kershner - what a wonderful portrait of your son. the bokeh is amazing!

wendy laurel - you have such great portraits of that kid! another perfect one. I have to pay mine to sit still now πŸ™‚

Mirelle - Portrait perfection! He really does have the best eyes!