Spoons & Sneakers https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com Dipali Bhasin Sat, 22 Sep 2018 18:53:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 138693097 Why Do I Love Blogging? https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/21/why-do-i-love-blogging/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/21/why-do-i-love-blogging/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2018 18:27:15 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2423
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s nearly two years that I gave up my business. I had worked arduously for 9 years, establishing my fashion business from selling jeweled scarfs to bridal wear. Being a sole proprietor brings along with it huge responsibilities and I took it upon myself to be involved in every teeny-weeny aspect of it. Like a juggler ensures a throw and a catch of hats with fluidity and dexterity, I juggled with designing, client meetings, sourcing fabrics, booking exhibitions, traveling to different cities, setting up stalls, despatching consignments, handling accounts, taxes, salaries and more. Phew! I had become like a machine, working non-stop. I would often wake up in the middle of the night and start working at 3 a.m. Eventually, the feeling of missing out in life started to sink in. There was no time to socialize or meet friends. I lost various opportunities to travel with Sam. I had bought my own car and my bank account was smiling. But the fatigue was filling in and life was passing by.

By mid-2016, I decided to close my work. Sam gave me all the support. It was an emotional time of my life to let go of all my tailors and karigars. They had been a part of my life for so long and to see them leave, tore me apart. For those who believe in astrology will tell you that shifts in the constellations bring changes in our lives. Perhaps, mine too were changing.

Once life settled in its new point of equilibrium, I finally found time to smell the proverbial roses. I always enjoyed writing and I found myself filling up the pages of my diary. Traveling became a part of my life and I became fascinated with different cuisines, cultures, and people. Friends and bloggers like Rohan Sonalkar and Anindya Basu pushed me further to start documenting my experiences. Blogging gave me the platform to unleash these experiences and expressions for the world to read. I could share my stories and connect with an audience. Finally a year ago, my blog was born.

Why do I love blogging?

Interactions with people all over the world

Any traveler will tell you that the world is one large family. I have traveled to 20 countries and found love and friendships in whichever place I have traveled. On our way to the Elephant Sanctuary, in Chiang Mai, I started talking to a couple of Spanish girls. By the time we returned back, after a day of feeding and bathing the elephants, we had formed a camaraderie such that till today we converse on WhatsApp.

Friendships made in Chiang Mai

On our trip to Nepal, Sam and I got stuck in the middle of nowhere. We walked up the dusty road until we came to a wedding function. The women welcomed us to their homes and helped us find our way back.

I have chatted with chefs, shared a meal with strangers, formed friendships, learned their stories and shared mine. Blogging has given me enough experiences to understand people better.

I can blog from anywhere

This month was the #MyFriendAlexa month with Blogchatter. Registering for this requires dedication and commitment. A blogger has to complete a set of readings a day, interact with other bloggers and submit two posts minimum every week. I traveled to 2 countries, 6 cities and gave two theatre performances. In the midst of traveling and rehearsals, I managed to complete the assigned tasks given and release my posts as scheduled. Blogging gives the flexibility to choose my timings and place of work.

It’s all about scribbling notes and photography for my blog – in Ayutthaya

While blogging may come across as a simple journal where one can pen down his/her thoughts, in reality, it is a responsibility to provide meaty content to the readers else its purpose is ruined. Each time I’m invited for a review, I study about the cuisine, talk to chefs, learn more about the ingredients, read as many books as I can lay my hands on.

A bit of Goa on my plate – A meal cooked by Chef Edridge Vaz in Taj Gurugram.

The traditional way of serving a meal in Bali.

I learn about different cultures and people

Blogging takes me to different places where I learn about different cultures, about people and their beliefs and habits.

The devotees in Vrindavan stamp the words “Radhe Radhe,” using sandalwood paste, on their faces.

The dresses that are worn by the indigenous tribes in Chiang Mai.

It is all about unusual experiences, exotic locations, and remote places

As the taxi driver drove from Lucknow to Kanpur, he casually mentioned a temple on the outskirts of Kanpur which was known to predict monsoons one month prior to its arrival. Raindrops would accumulate and based on the size of the raindrops, the villagers estimated the extent to which it would rain. Surprisingly, the years when the raindrops were not formed, there was a spell in the village. Scientists had done investigative research but with no results. I was intrigued and instantly started to search the internet for the location. There was not one article to give the information. With only a  couple of YouTube channels giving a vague location, I took a taxi the next day and found myself in an ancient, beautiful Jagganath temple. To know more, read here.

A walk on the Cliffs Of Moher, a cruise on the River Nile, walking underwater in Goa, snorkeling in the Maldives, dancing in front of the Great Sphinx or cockfighting in Bali make excellent memories. My blog becomes a journal and information center for all these experiences.

Sometime to myself – Cliffs of Moher

Cockfighting is illegal in Bali yet every village has these events. A bit gory where one cock literally rips apart the weaker cock, its a man’s game. An unusual experience, I sat through this one.

Learning new skills 

Blogging is far more complex than writing a journal. It must include meaty content, should be well edited and include images or infographics. It’s my inherent nature to constantly learn. I love learning something new every day. Blogging is dynamic and fulfills that need of mine. Since I started blogging I am continuously learning every day whether it’s photography, photo processing or content writing,

Dilli Ki Dibbi

Had it not been for blogging, I would have never known the art, architecture, and food of Delhi in its entirety. At the advent of the year, I started Project “Dilli Ki Dibbi” in which I visited Baolis, monuments, museums and food places in Delhi for 100 days. I explored my city day after day. Delhi is vast and is steeped in history. There is so much still left to explore. When I’m not traveling, I’m exploring the city I call home.

Events and Blogger meet-ups

The blogosphere is the world where we bloggers belong. We are constantly on the lookout for stories, material, and content for the viewers. Blogger meetups provide a medium for interactions and learning. The blogging community leans on each other for support and discussions. Events are great places to attend cook-offs, get tips, learn more about food, wine or places. Interactions and watching the chefs help me gain insights into the methods and style of cooking.

Do you blog? What are your reasons for blogging?

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/21/why-do-i-love-blogging/feed/ 14 2423
The Best Way To Explore Halong Bay – Era Cruises https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/20/the-best-way-to-explore-halong-bay-era-cruises/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/20/the-best-way-to-explore-halong-bay-era-cruises/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2018 06:56:50 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2405
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

Our trip to Hanoi was divided into two parts. We were spending the first part in the fancy Sheraton so that it was easy for Sam to attend the Indian Ocean Conference being held in the same venue and the second part to be where the city action is, in the Old Quarter. We found Hanoi Emerald Waters Hotel Trendy via Booking.com. and booked a room facing the bustling street. Hardly,100 meters from the Hoan Kiem Lake and 10 mins walk from the Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi Opera House, and the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre, the hotel is centrally located. It’s a small, clean, decent hotel. Nothing fancy, but what sets it apart is the outstanding service it provides. While Sam was checking in, I got busy talking about Halong Bay with the pleasant, ever smiling concierge, Max. It took all of 10 mins for him to show me different folders with varying options for our visit to Halong Bay. There were day cruises, two days-one-night cruise and three days – two nights packages that nearly all tours offered. Just like Goldilocks found the “neither too hard- neither too soft” bed just right, 2 days-1 night seemed ideal to enjoy this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. For the price of $165 per person, we booked a room in Era Cruises.

halong bay, Era Cruise

Many luxury boats get ready for the bay experience.

An early pick up from the hotel and a drive of two hours in a 7 seater limousine bought us to the pier in Cat Hai City. From here we were taken on a ferry to Hai Phong City where our boat was docked. Since Sam has lived a part of his childhood on ships (my father-in-law was a Chief Marine Engineer in  Singapore and Jordan) he was pretty chilled about the cruise. I, on the contrary, was super excited. Once on board and after a brief talk about security and the facilities, we were shown to our rooms. A king sized bed faced glass windows which opened the view to the karsts as the boat sailed along. Two lounge chairs on the sun deck were a perfect spot for daydreaming, lazing or reading a book. With a beautiful rainfall shower and a big jacuzzi tub right next to another giant floor to ceiling window., the bathroom was uber chic. This was nothing less than an opulent 5-star room.

Our cruise manager, Mrs. Joy gives a brief about the security, rooms and the itinerary.

The beds are placed strategically such that they provide spectacular views.

The sun deck

Read a book, sleep or enjoy the vistas.

A highly modern bathroom with a jacuzzi to have a luxurious foam bath and enjoy the scenery.

For lunch, we enjoyed a five-course meal of fresh seafood and an assortment of appetizing delicacies at the restaurant. The decadent dining restaurant is luxurious and modern. We then set sail for Lan Ha Bay, passing Da Chong islets. The fascinating limestone karst formations stood up out of the ocean with all their might. This was raw, beautiful and nature at its best as not many cruise ships use the route. It was for this reason why we had decided on an overnight trip. The day trips give a 3 and a half hour ride to enjoy Halong Bay and take a route with heavy traffic. As a result, one doesn’t get to enjoy the hurried trip. It’s exhausting with a lot packed in. Overnight cruises take you through the less frequented routes and visit a part of the bay that still remains untouched. The final part of the cruise took us through the Cua Van area to Lan Ha Bay (part of Halong Bay). The 300 or so karst islands and limestone outcrops of Lan Ha are stunning.

The cruise boats that one crosses along the way.

Ready for our bamboo ride in the cave.

A view from inside the cave.

The entire itinerary on the cruise is well planned and chalked out. They’re particular about timings. Announcements are made in all the rooms through the public address system. At 3:00 p.m a tender boat took us to a floating fish farm where we boarded a bamboo boat ride. A few people were happy to explore on the kayaks. Straight out of a postcard, the vistas enthralled us. The water seemed more green than usual. All was calm as we approached a huge karst with a grotto. Barely a two-minute sail took us through the cave to a small lake surrounded by tall cliffs. There’s nothing much to do here except sit and admire the beauty of nature. I wonder which person managed to find his way through the maze of the karsts to reach here first. Though the trip is spectacular, if given another chance I would love to visit the Sung Sot Caves. Also known as the Cave of Surprises, they are known for their stunning stalactites and stalagmites and are the best caves to visit in Halong Bay.

The limestone karst with a cave.

Some prefer to kayak to explore the caves.

We head out on our own kayak.

On our return, facilities for kayaking had been made. Those who didn’t want to kayak could swim near the boat. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity and headed off on our kayak. Synchronisation and maneuvering the oars came easily and that half hour was a time we both will cherish forever. On our return, we joined the other people for a swim. The highlight of the trip was the dolphins who joined closeby and we saw them leaping in and out of the waters.

The enchanting views of the bay.

The evening had descended by then and we all got dressed up to enjoy cocktails and mingle with each other on the deck. There was a cooking class demonstration where we learned to assemble rice paper rolls to enjoy with our drinks. The crowd later shifted to the restaurant where a lavish buffet was spread out. The sparkling glasses of wine and the music set the relaxed mood. After dinner one had the option to either go back to the room to relax, or go to the cinema for a movie, or squid fishing. However be warned, in the summer the chances of you catching a squid are zero. We spent the last few minutes on the deck watching the dark sky sprinkled with sparkling stars. The cool breeze, the sound of the water and the deep night enveloped us in an unforgettable moment.

Dinner is served! – The restaurant on the cruise

The sunrise and the sunset are exquisite from the cruise. The waters, the tall rugged karsts and the cruise boats parked for the night all add to the spectacular view. I strolled to our personal sun deck when I had company. A lady from the nearby village had bought wares for selling. She didn’t understand English but her sweet smile and soft voice had me buying a couple of souvenirs for friends back home. Tai Chi Classes conducted on the deck and an hour in the gym rejuvenated us. A breakfast, some more time kayaking and an hour more to lounge in our sun deck brought us to the close of our cruise.

Waking up to a beautiful morning – Halong Bay

Vietnamese ladies from the nearby villages sell wares and souvenirs to earn their livelihood.

As she left she made a perfect picture to be captured.

After a final early brunch and a last goodbye from the crew at 11:30, we boarded our tender and headed back to the wharf where a return trip vehicle transferred us back to Hanoi.

A two day-one night cruise gives an opportunity to soak in the surroundings and enjoy the untouched part of the bay. It’s a more relaxed way to enjoy the natural wonder. Era cruises offer excellent services, exceptional hospitality, and delicious food and beverages. It is an experience not to be missed. Our visit to Halong Bay couldn’t have been better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/20/the-best-way-to-explore-halong-bay-era-cruises/feed/ 1 2405
A Must See Attraction In Da Nang – Lady Buddha https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/14/a-must-see-attraction-in-da-nang-lady-buddha/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/14/a-must-see-attraction-in-da-nang-lady-buddha/#comments Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:50:57 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2247

Barely a few minutes after exiting the Da Nang airport into the city, visitors are greeted by a dragon. The Golden Dragon Bridge is in many ways representative of the spirit of the resurgent city. The glistening head of the dragon looks up at the sky with an unmistakable air of confidence. Da Nang is a city on the rise. Even though one can see buildings under construction the city has plenty of open spaces. It has a relaxed and calm feel. The vast stretch of tranquil beach with crystal, blue waters, swaying palm trees and verdant mountains, Da Nang is picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful.

Lady Buddha, Da Nang

The Golden Dragon Bridge, Da Nang

The Son Tra Mountain or as the American soldiers referred to it during the Vietnamese war; the Monkey Mountain overlooks the Bay of Da Nang and the East Sea. Located on The Son Tra Peninsula, this mountain is largely inhabited by the monkeys. But that is not what makes it a major tourist destination. This is the mountain where the Protector of Da Nang or Lady Buddha can be seen. Lady Buddha is the statue of the Bodhisattva of Mercy, believed by locals as the protector of fishermen during storms. She looks at the port with gentle eyes that provide them the strength and confidence to fight the waves and winds.

The scenic view of the sea and the Lady Buddha to the left.

Lady Buddha – The Boddhisatva of Mercy

Once the vistas of the My Khe beach open up you can see the statue of Lady Buddha looming large on the Son Tra Mountain. As you approach closer, her magnificence and aura keep growing manifold. Being the tallest Buddha statue in Vietnam, Lady Buddha Da Nang located inside Linh Ung pagoda courtyard is soaring at a height of 67m standing atop a lotus of diameter 35m.

To reach the statue one has to cross a three storey gateway and a stunning courtyard dotted with bonsais. The courtyard is lined by 18 statues which display the traditional spiritual expressions of love, hate, anger, and joy.

 

A beautiful Buddha in lying position lies in the premises.

Sculptures in meditative poses create an aura of calmness in the surroundings.

Various sculptors stand on the borders of the courtyard.

The complex was built in the 18th century during the reign of Emperor Ming Mang. Dragon staircases, well-crafted sculptures, and neatly arranged bonsais and sculptures are fascinating. The paved ways and well-manicured lawns give it a clean look.

The Pagoda Gate and the beautiful bonsais spread all over the courtyard.

The Lady Buddha is mesmerizing. She’s tall, white and beautiful. Her gentle smile adds to her demeanor as the Boddhisatva of Mercy. Standing on the Lotus she’s the enlightened being. Below the lotus, there is an altar for offering prayers. There are altars at all seventeen levels inside the Buddha. However, they are closed now. Verdant surroundings with the sea in front and the bobbing boats make for a spectacular view. There is tranquility. A certain calmness pervades all over. This is a kind of place where one can collect his thoughts and spend some time away from the world.

As I walked away from the statue, the sounds of the Buddhist prayers beckoned me to the Son Tra Linh Ung Pagoda. The pagoda with double tiered emerald green eaves and sculpted dragons wrapped around every pillar are impressive. A beautiful statue of Buddha in gold sparkles inside. To the front of it is a laughing Buddha in black. This is a religious place of worship so footwear has to be left out and one needs to be covered appropriately.

The Son Tra Linh Ung Pagoda – Stop a few minutes to pray.

The beautiful statues inside the Pagoda.

The devotees deep in prayer.

After an hour of soaking in the tranquility and beauty of the place, I was ready to go. The sun had started setting. As I turned to see the statue for one last time, I saw the Lady Buddha in the soft glow of the evening.

The ethereal Lady Buddha in the glow of the setting sun.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

Location: Son Tra Linh Ung Pagoda is located at the end of Son Tra Peninsula in Da Nang, Vietnam. It is 9 km away from My Khe beach and 14 km from Da Nang city center.

  • Parking: Free 
  • Entrance fees: Free There are donation boxes scattered around the complex.
  • Opening hours: 6 am to 7 pm
  • Dress respectfully. Leave footwear outside before you enter the temple.
  • There are many monkeys around the pagoda. Do not feed or tease the monkeys.
  • An hour is sufficient to enjoy the Lady Buddha and the Pagoda.
  • It’s comfortable to drive all the way to this tourist attraction. If you are not comfortable with driving, then a taxi can take you here for around 200.000-300.000 VND.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/14/a-must-see-attraction-in-da-nang-lady-buddha/feed/ 26 2247
The Restaurant Where Obama, Bourdain And I Ate A Meal – Bun Cha Huong Lien, Hanoi https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/10/the-restaurant-where-obama-bourdain-and-i-ate-a-meal-bun-cha-huong-lien-hanoi/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/10/the-restaurant-where-obama-bourdain-and-i-ate-a-meal-bun-cha-huong-lien-hanoi/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 10:36:48 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2294
Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

If there is one interesting moment that grasped the attention of the shutterbugs in 2016 it was Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain eating the Bun Cha in Hanoi. After all, it’s not every day that the President of the USA enters a nondescript restaurant with a swashbuckling celebrity chef to enjoy a bowl of the dish. Tucked in the south of Old Quarter, Hanoi, the Bun Cha Huong Lien, a family run restaurant works arduously to make this iconic Vietnamese wonder day after day. It’s gotten used to the attention and swells with pride at being the chosen one. The restaurant is on every traveler’s list and highly recommended for first-timers in Hanoi. After all, if two famous international personalities, Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain chose this place to have a meal, then undoubtedly, it has to be the best.

The entrance to the restaurant is nothing out of the ordinary but the former President did eat here.

An unforgettable moment captured with the former President of the USA.

Traveling in Hanoi is never an issue. There are Xe Om (motorcycle taxis), Cyclos ( bicycle rickshaws ) and taxis. Haggling before stepping into either one of them is, however, one big issue. It’s annoying and cumbersome. Much like Ola and Uber are an answer to the Indian commuters, Grab is the first phone app that any tourist must download in Vietnam. They have a wide coverage from urban to suburban areas and give a cost estimation before you take a ride. On our trip, this was our savior and we practically used it all the time. We used it this evening too when we headed off to the restaurant.

Extremely popular, the restaurant is always packed with customers.

For the ignorant, Bun Cha Huong Lien can easily be missed. There’s nothing fancy about it. In fact, it looks more like a canteen, rather drab with long aluminum tables and blue plastic stools. It’s the beaming photos on the wall that grab attention instantly. President Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain in the midst of their conversation, President Obama with Nguyen Thi Lien, one of two proud owners of Bun Cha Huong Lien and more. The restaurant definitely had its ‘crowning glory’ moment with that visit, how long it sustains the reputation lies in its food. Or as they say “The proof of the pudding lies in its eating.”

Photographs of the eventful day adorn the walls.

Despite years since Obama visited the restaurant, it continues to draw media who want to know the reason behind its popularity.

A laminated menu stuck on the wall makes it easier to glance over the meals in offing. There’s the ever-popular “Combo Obama” which is basically a bowl of traditional Bun Cha paired with some deep-fried Hanoi-style spring rolls and a bottle of Hanoi beer. One can order the Nem Hai San (Fried Seafood Roll), Bun Cha, Thit Xien (Pork Skewers) and Nem Cua Be (Fried Crab Roll ) separately as well. The “Combo Obama” is a good choice to try out all the dishes and we ordered that.

The Bun Cha is the most popular dish of the restaurant.

The menu in Bun Cha Huong Lien, Hanoi

WHAT IS BUN CHA ?

The word “Bun” basically means Noodles and “Cha” means pork – the two essential ingredients of the dish. The Bun Cha is a Vietnamese dish of squiggly rice noodle, grilled fatty pork, pork meatballs, fresh herbs, and a meticulously balanced dipping broth. Supplemented by a plate topped with fresh green leafy herbs that lend their own distinct flavor, it is one of those dishes with a smoky, lingering scent and varying levels of textures and color.

All the main components of the Bun Cha are served in separate bowls.

Served in separate bowls, the Bun Cha looks rather simple to make but it’s the intricacies involved in making each component that make it an intense dish. For one, the noodles are freshly made in the kitchens every day. Using a packaged noodle would be an inferior substitute and compromising on the taste. The dipping broth uses vinegar, sugar, chili and fish sauce primarily and the trick to making a perfect one lies in the fine proportion of these ingredients.  The recipe for making the savory dipping broth is held close within families and each restaurant has their own special way of making it. The glistening, tender pork that lies in a bowl has its own story too. After a marination of salt, black pepper, and fish sauce the pork is skewered and dipped in caramelized sugar before it reaches the smoldering fire coals to sizzle.

HOW TO EAT A BUN CHA? 

Freshly chopped garlic and red chilies are served with Bun Cha. The way to eat the Bun Cha is pretty simple. Add the garlic and red chilies as desired. Throw in the noodles and the spring rolls. Finally, tear the herbs and dunk them in the broth and you’re ready to go.

Add the noodles, spring rolls and herbs into the broth to enjoy Bun Cha.

In Huong Lien, eating the Bun Cha is a happy experience. Enjoy the harmony of the flavors – the tender sweet pork, the saltiness of the fish sauce, the crunchiness of the herbs and the aroma of this bowl in its entirety. This is a healthy bowl of textures, color, and flavors. When there don’t give it a miss. And if you forget the name of the restaurant don’t worry. Just say “Bun Cha Obama”. Everyone knows it.

( Disclaimer: Featured image courtesy – Mashable. )

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

 

 

 

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/10/the-restaurant-where-obama-bourdain-and-i-ate-a-meal-bun-cha-huong-lien-hanoi/feed/ 30 2294
A Sweet Tooth For Janamashtmi – Makhane Ki Kheer https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/a-sweet-tooth-for-janamashtmi-makhane-ki-kheer/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/a-sweet-tooth-for-janamashtmi-makhane-ki-kheer/#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2018 07:43:28 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?post_type=recipe&p=2267
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

In my growing up years, Lord Krishna was the coolest one. There were tales that we heard about his mischief, we acted him out in plays and read Amar Chitra Kathas about him. For me, I have grown up with him being my confidant, my buddy, my best friend. The first time I heard his story was at Nani’s house in Kanpur where all my maternal Uncles live with their families. All cousins sat around Nani as she narrated stories about the Lord.

The tale where the ruler of Mathura, Kansa after hearing the prediction that the eighth baby born to his sister Devaki and  Vasudeva would kill him, vows to kill every child of the couple. Seeing their first seven children killed, Devaki and Vasudeva fear the same destiny will fall on their eight born. It is Lord Vishnu who magically frees Vasudeva from the prison once the baby is born. Vasudeva exchanges Lord Krishna with a newborn girl of Yashoda and Nanda. He then returns to prison while Krishna is raised as a cowherd in Gokul. The prediction does come true and on his return to Mathura, he slays Kansa and restores his father to power. “Jakho rakhe saiya mar sake na koi” Nani ended the story. It was on that day I learned two things -The might of Lord Krishna and that one who has God on his side, need not fear as He will protect him. He became the one I turned to and confided into.

Across the street where Nani’s house is, there is a temple where every morning bhajans and songs would start playing on the loudspeakers. The favorite of the Panditji I guess was “Yashomati Maiyya Se Bole Nand Lala, Radha kyu gori main kyu kala” from the movie Satyam, Shivam Sundaram. He would play it on the loop and I can bet that even today after so many years all the residents of the street can sing the song in their sleep. Lord Krishna has always been called The Dark One. The Sanskrit word, “Krishna” means dark. The legend tells us that Lord Krishna drank the poisoned milk given by the demon that gave his skin a bluish dark tinge. Blue is also the color of aura. For Lord Krishna, it depicts his eternal spiritual body. Since he was born at midnight he is often shown as black in several images and idols too.

In our house, we have been celebrating Janamashtmi with gusto year after year. We all fast on this day. New clothes and a new mukut with morpankh ( peacock feather) are bought for the Lord who is placed in his cradle and everyone takes a turn to rock him. He is our “Nandlala.” We go to watch the play performances or Natak in the temples. The actors in their caked up makeup, the garish shiny costumes, the loud music, laughter and the bellowing noises that reach the audience; it’s all so entertaining. The story is the same yet I am never bored. I feel connected to my roots. It’s a reminder of our virtues and his words of wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita.

The delicacies that are made especially on this day are exquisite. Rajgira Paratha, Sabudana Khichdi, Kuttu Singahri ki Puri,  Rasewale Dahi aloo, Mango Rabdi, Makhane ki Kheer, Lauki ki Kheer are made. It’s more a feast than a fast. The aromas that emanate from the kitchen can make anyone salivate. If there’s one dessert that I love out of the array that is made, it is “Makhane Ki Kheer.”  This amazing vrat-friendly sweet is not only delectable but also falls into the healthy category.  Simple to make with the basic ingredients of milk, sugar, foxnuts and dry fruits; it is creamy and smooth. I have watched both Nani and Ma make it. From one generation to another, the recipe has stayed the same. I solemnly hope it doesn’t change. Just like Holi for me means only one type of “Gujiya”, the khoya one and not the dozen others that flooded the market this year like Chocolate Gujiya, Paan Gujia; for me, Janamashtmi reminds me of “Makhane ki kheer” made this way. The light sauteeing of the makhanas or foxnuts in ghee to make it crunchy, the thickening of the milk on heat as the sugar/condensed milk swirls and blends beautifully before the foxnuts bob up and down and soak in the creaminess. This is divine!

Today is Janamashtmi and Makhane ki kheer will once again be made at home. Even though I’m not in India for the first time on this day, I join in spirit and in remembrance of the Lord who is a supreme God in his own right. May Lord Krishna’s flute invite the melody of love into your life. Happy Janmashtami!

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

 

 

 

 

 

A Sweet Tooth For Janamashtmi - Makhane Ki Kheer
Servings4
Instructions
  1. Heat ghee in a pan on a low flame. Roast the makhanas till they become firm and crunchy.
  2. Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan. Keep stirring so it doesnt scorch at the bottom.
  3. In the meantime, reserve one third of the makhanas and coarsely ground the remaining with the kernels of the cardamoms.
  4. Once the milk comes to a boil, add the condensed milk. Keep stirring so it mixes well. Check the sweetness and adjust accordingly.
  5. Add the makhanas. Keep stirring on low to medium flame for nearly 30 mins.
  6. Add the blanced and slivered almonds and saffron to the milk. Keep on heat for a couple of more minutes. The kheer should be thick by now.
  7. Keep to chill. While serving garnish with a few slivers of almond.
]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/a-sweet-tooth-for-janamashtmi-makhane-ki-kheer/feed/ 29 2267
A Popular Tourist attraction In Koh Samui – Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/02/a-popular-tourist-attraction-in-koh-samui-hin-ta-and-hin-yai-rocks/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/02/a-popular-tourist-attraction-in-koh-samui-hin-ta-and-hin-yai-rocks/#comments Sun, 02 Sep 2018 15:15:47 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2264
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

As a child, I would often lie on the grass and make my own interpretations of the clouds as it changed its form. Sometimes it looked like a big bird, at times like a man and sometimes like a demon too. Often we get lost in pareidolia where the mind perceives a familiar pattern where none exists. When I visited Leh a couple of months ago, I was mesmerized by the landscape at Lamayuru. Also known as Moonland, its geographical formations like moon craters and lunar landscape are fascinating and draw tourists. Till this day on my travels to the hills, when I gaze out of the window I find the similarity of a hill or a cloud to something familiar. Some are unarguably humanoid too. A miracle of nature with God as a sculptor, there are many rock formations around the world that have gained popularity because they look like a reclining man, a former U.S. president or Nefertiti.

The entrance to the Hinta and Hinyai.

The Hin Ta and Hin Yai rocks are listed as one of the must-see tourist attractions by every tour company in Koh Samui. These rather unusual rock formations have drawn the attention of the tourists because they have an uncanny resemblance to our private organs. Fascinating! In my opinion, a mere mention of male and female genitalia would draw attention anywhere in the world. But to be listed in every tourist pamphlet as a listed attraction definitely called for a visit.

THE FOLKLORE OF HIN TA AND HIN YAI

Located along Koh Samui’s southeastern coastline of Lamai and a 300 meter off Route 4169, the Hin Ta and Hin Yai are also known as Grandma and Grandpa rocks. The information board displays a folklore of Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) who set out for the neighboring province of Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of the daughter of Ta Monglai for their son. The weather did not favor them and they lost their lives in a tempestuous storm. The old couple metamorphosized into rocks and their sexual organs stand as a testimony of their true intentions of getting their son married. An interesting story albeit with the passage of time it must have got distorted as most word of mouth folklore do. In all likelihood, these rocks were naturally formed over millions of years of glacial deposition and water erosion of the granite boulders.

The board displaying the age-old folklore of Hin Ta and Hin Yai.

 

THE MARVELS

A pillar with two signboards direct the visitors to the right to see Hin Ta and to the left for Hin Yai. The male genitalia can be seen right away, rising above boulders. The sight of it causes some giggles amongst a few visitors. It reminds me of school days when we first opened the chapter on the reproductive system. The jocundity and embarrassment of it all when we first saw the sketches in our school books to this moment is similar. While Hin Ta is hard to miss, Hin Yai needs some searching to do. It’s difficult to find the formation amidst all the smooth boulders. Thankfully, the tide is not high so we tread lower carefully until we spot it. Yes! It’s truly a wonder. The resemblance is undeniable. It does look like a vagina. What is even more amazing is that both Hin Yai and Hin Ta are not far from each other.

The uncanny resemblance of the HinYai with the female genitalia.

The Hin Yai is located closer to the water. In high tides, it gets submerged too.

Not far away, to the right of the HinYai stands the Hin Ta. It is hard not to miss it.

The views from the rocks are spectacular. Huge boulders smoothened with the passage of time rise above the waters and add some character to the view. The setting sun casts an orange glow over the blue pristine waters and everything is picture perfect. The cool breeze caresses my face as I stare into the horizon. I imagine the story as if it were happening before my eyes. A story of unrequited love integrated into these two natural wonders is the reason why people flock to this place.

The clear sky, the pristine blue water and the boulders standing amidst them.

It doesn’t take long to explore this place. Perhaps a couple of tourist attractions can be clubbed together when planning to come to see Hinta and Hinyai. The Wat Khunaram (The Mummified Monk Temple) and Lamai Viewpoint can also be done in one go.

STOP FOR THE SWEETS

A small souvenir industry has mushroomed with stalls selling knick-knacks, postcards, beverages and cool summer dresses. If there is one thing that this tourist attraction is famous for is the Kalamae –  a sweet, sticky candy made of rice flour, palm sugar, and coconut cream. The pyramid-shaped, handmade candies are like caramel, all chewy before they melt in the mouth. Another treat to indulge in is the coconut ice cream. Due to coconut plantations in Koh Samui, the freshness of the drupe can be tasted in both Kalamae and coconut ice cream.

Whether the rock formations were natural wonders or a legend, Hin Ta and Hin Yai definitely call out to visitors on whom the livelihood of this area banks upon. They are undoubtedly nature’s wonders.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

  1. Wearing good shoes with grip is advisable.
  2. Hin Ta and Hin Yai are located 11 km from Chaweng Beach and approximately 17 km from the airport.
  3. There is no admission fee.
  4. Parking costs 10 BHT for bike/scooter. and 50BHT for cars.
  5. Good timings to see the rocks would be 6 am – 7 pm ( before sunset ).
  6. One can use the songthaews or the collective taxis that commute on the island. Do negotiate before stepping on one.
  7. It is advisable to combine this tourist attraction with a couple of others.
  8. Time taken to see this attraction at leisure would be about half an hour.

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This post is a part of #MyFriendAlexa challenge. It’s an endeavor to bring interesting stories, places, food and places to the readers. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with blogchatter.

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/09/02/a-popular-tourist-attraction-in-koh-samui-hin-ta-and-hin-yai-rocks/feed/ 47 2264
Let’s Go To The World’s Largest Weekend Market – Chatuchak Market, Bangkok https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/22/lets-go-to-the-worlds-largest-weekend-market-chatuchak-market-bangkok/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/22/lets-go-to-the-worlds-largest-weekend-market-chatuchak-market-bangkok/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2018 08:49:29 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2205
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

A labyrinth of more than 15,000 shops spread over 35 acres and 26 sections, Chatuchak Market (JJ or Jatujak market) is the World’s largest Weekend Market. 2,00,00 visitors flock every weekend to shop for every household product possible whether it is fashion wear, bags, accessories, cutlery, art, antiques, gift articles, children clothes, pets, jewelry or spices. The wholesale market is so popular that tourists pick up goods in bulk to sell them in their home countries.

Take a big shopping bag, please! Ready to know more? Let’s go to this shoppers paradise!

Keep yourself hydrated at all times.

BEFORE YOU GO

Before I start getting into the nitty-gritty of this fun and crazy marketplace, there are a few pointers to cling to. Do I have your attention? Ok, here they are –

  1. Plan a visit only if you have a few hours in hand. This is not one market where you can be back in a jiffy. The variety and vast array of products will entice you into venturing from one lane to another and before you know it the whole day would be gone. I have visited Chatuchak more than a dozen times and still not covered all the shops.
  2. Beat the crowds and the heat by going at ten when shops open.
  3. Keep yourselves hydrated at all times. Keep replenishing your body with fluids. Coconut water, fresh orange juice, water are available at every corner.
  4. It helps to keep a map of the market with you to help identify zones. They are easily available at tourist information centers or you can find it here.
  5. Apply sunscreen, don comfortable clothing and footwear and take a big bag to keep plonking your purchases. You’re ready to go.
  6. Hone your bargaining skills and use the calculator to show how much you’re ready to pay if you realize they don’t understand your language.
  7. The clock tower on the market is a good reference point before you start shopping.

    The clock tower makes a good reference point.

ACCESSIBILITY

Conveniently located near the Skytrain (BTS) get off at Mo Chit station or take the Metro (MRT) to either Suan Chatuchak or Kamphaeng Phet station. Kamphaeng Phet will take you right next to the clock tower which is a startup and meeting point.

ZONING IT OUT

Like a kid in a candy shop, the mind can go in a tizzy in Chatuchak.

Let’s go shopping to Chatuchak market!

For a first time goer, the market can be intimidating. Numerous entry points, the maze of stalls, the hustle bustle and thousands of people can throw anyone off balance. However, much of the market is divided into zones and depending on your requirement one can hit these zones. Choose the ones you want to visit. The top three things that make popular buys are clothes, accessories, and artifacts.

Take your pick of household products!

FASHIONWEAR/CLOTHING:

Fashionwear is found at Zone 2 in Chatuchak market.

Sophisticated independent labels, hipster and bohemian styles and fashion wear for the youth, zone 2 is where you’ll find it all. This is the most visited section and has a different feel about it compared to the other zones. If you take exit 2 from Kamphaeng Phet station, you will hit it first. Fashionable footwear, graphic T-shirts, funky clocks, knick-knacks, and souvenirs all make good buys. Perfect Combination next to the station is good for shoes and bags and Common T has some amazing T-shirts ( Zone 2, Soi 3). The clothes in Zone 2 are more expensive compared to the rest of the market but that’s because they’re made by local designers and have a unique element. Are you looking for cowboy hats, chaps, and wigs in neons? Head to Zones 5 and 6! They are popular with the Thai youth subculture. For textiles and fabric by yardage Zone 8 and 10 are where you should walk towards.

A perfect place to pick up a souvenir!

ACCESSORIES

Colorful bags in various materials are easily found.

Stalls selling some amazing jewelry and unique earrings, bracelets, and neckpieces can be found in Zone 3 and 4. Labyrinth in Section 3 is influenced by European Rococo art and they use some interesting materials like brass, feather, stone, resin, and stencils. Adding a bit of nature to his creations Backyard in Section 4 uses trees, corals, and rabbits in his designs. It’s a bit of an “Alice in Wonderland” feel to his designs. Shops in Sections 24 and 26, like Orange Karen Silver, shine out in chunky silver jewelry and semiprecious uncut stones.

ANTIQUES AND ARTIFACTS

A word of caution: While many shops may look like they are selling antiques, they’re actually well-crafted reproductions. Haggle! haggle all the way. Get some amazing art at unbeatable prices, kŏhn masks, Thai toys, and Buddha statues. Hill tribe arts, artifacts, and musical instruments can be found in Section 25 and 26.

HIT FOR STREET FOOD IN CHATUCHAK

It’s a foodies paradise.

Vendors sit all over the market.

I love Chatuchak for its vivacity, cheerfulness and a whole funfair feel. There are musicians and artists at every corner. The sound of music fills the air, bobbing umbrellas in different colors decorate the paths and street vendors sell the most amazing of dishes. On this trip, I stood fascinated as a Colombian Chef mesmerized passersby with his magic tricks. Crowds gathered around to watch him and then flocked around his stall for Paella. A true artist and a marketer too.

Get a caricature or pick up art.

The showstopper Chef and Paella!

Stop once in a while to try the bubble tea, pick up a couple of pork satays, a box of sticky rice with mangoes, a doner kebab or fried octopus. The food in the market is full of flavors and is a perfect place to get to taste all of Thailand’s street food. Do try the freshly churned coconut ice cream with an assortment of toppings. It’s yum and a specialty to the place. The prices are reasonable and so it doesn’t pinch the pocket.

A must eat – The coconut ice cream.

I love these pork chops at ten Baht per piece.

Too tired but not leaving. There’s more to shop.

Once you’ve bought a bit too much and don’t know how to take it back home with excess baggage, don’t worry,  FedEx, DHL, and UPS are onsite international shipping options. They’ll help you with the delivery. Don’t forget to get the details from the shipping company like the delivery time and duty charges to be paid. Now once that’s settled too, let your hair down and enjoy Chatuchak with some more shopping. Because in this market you can never stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/22/lets-go-to-the-worlds-largest-weekend-market-chatuchak-market-bangkok/feed/ 27 2205
The Best Way To Enjoy India’s Independence Day – Go Fly a Kite! https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/15/the-best-way-to-enjoy-indias-independence-day-go-fly-a-kite/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/15/the-best-way-to-enjoy-indias-independence-day-go-fly-a-kite/#comments Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:14:43 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2171
Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

When one pictures Independence Day, we hear the echo of the Prime Minister’s speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, we imagine Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate in Lutyens’ Delhi, all  lit up in green, white, saffron, and of course flags hoisted on the roof of houses and kites flying above it.

Celebrating India’s Independence!

Flying kites to send back Simon

In 1927 to boycott the Simon Commission,  people protested by flying kites with “Go back Simon” scribbled all over it. Thousands of colored kites fluttered in the breeze. It was symbolic of the spirit of freedom. A kite soars high, free and ready to touch the sky. India wanted to break free from the clutches of the British and eventually it did. Since then flying kites has become an integral part of Independence Day celebrations.

A trip to Lal Kuan Market

Old Delhi is segregated into different markets specializing in a specific category. Nai Sarak is famous for books, best wedding cards can be ordered at Chawri Bazaar, for bridal wear and wedding sarees it is Chandni Chowk. For kites, people flock to the bylanes of Chawri Bazaar to an area called Lal Kuan, not far from the metro station. Since it is a national holiday barring the ones selling kites, all the other shops were closed.

Bright colored ‘patangs’ made of cellophane and kite paper hung from the shops. A few stacks lay neatly arranged for the customers to look through. There were kites with social messages like “Beti bachao, beti padao”, Bollywood actors, cartoon characters, Vande Mataram etc. “Which kite is the most popular?” I asked Asif in Haji Kallu Bhai Patang Wale, a shop that is famous for its kites. “The one which has our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.” he smiled and answered. True to his word, I could see customers picking up dozens with our respected Prime Minister’s face on them.

Our PM, Narendra Modi is popular on kites too.

Winding the thread on the spool for kite flying – Lal Kuan

Kites made of wrapping paper, cellophane and kite paper are used.

Indian flags fluttered on the rooftops of many buildings. There was positivity and a spirit of brethren everywhere. People of all religions were laughing, teasing, hugging each other. Vendors were making roaring sales selling trinkets, headbands, wristbands, wigs, caps, pencils, bangles all in saffron, white and green. The air of festivity pervaded all over. Most of us who stay cooped up at home don’t know the fun that Independence Day entails.

May the flag of India always fly high.

Trinkets, jewellery, wristbands, flags using the colors of the national flag are popular.

The prices of the kites range between Rs 10 to Rs 1000 for the fanciest ones. The Chinese threads that led to fatalities last year have disappeared from the market, thankfully. There has been strict vigilance by the police and some makeshift shops that mushroom up before Independence Day have been removed. I happily bought my manjha (thread for flying kites) for Rs 500 and a bunch of different colored kites for Rs 300. The basics of kite flying were in hand, but I had no idea who was going to teach me how to fly these beauties in a strange neighborhood.

Let’s fly a kite

Getting ready for the kite flying competition.

The lost look on my face must be evident because an elderly gentleman came forward and told me to take the flight of stairs to reach a terrace where many children were flying kites. A bit apprehensive, I looked up to see happy heads smiling and beckoning me to come up. Climbing four storeys high, I reached a terrace where I was welcomed by Mohammed Asif, the head of the family. A couple of his children were involved in some serious kite flying competition. It didn’t take long before Mohammed started teaching the nuances of kite flying; how to tie the thread to the kite, to study the direction of the wind, how to circle it around another kite so that it gets locked and finally to give it a jerk to snap the competitors’ kite. Trying hard and failing miserably, I decided to sit and chat with the others. It was beautiful to hear their family stories of Benares and get acquainted with the family members. We laughed, clicked pictures and talked about the Independence Day. Before leaving he gifted me a wristband in the colors of our flag as a token of friendship.

The sunglasses are on because we fly all day. Kite flying in Lal Kuan.

The warm welcome and happy smile of Mohammed!

Kyuki Dil Hai Hindustani!

The final stopover – Shyam sweets

Shyam Sweets is an iconic shop in Chawri Bazaar and for me, going to this Bazaar is incomplete without going there. Thankfully, it was open today. A hearty lunch of  Bedmi – Poori, Aloo, Lassi and Kesari Ghevar completed the experience

Bedmi Poori and Aloo at Shyam Sweets.

A parting thought

As I traveled back home, my thoughts went back to the stellar experience I had today. Amidst strangers, I hadn’t felt like one. I was a part of Mohammed’s family. They had lovingly welcomed me to their house.  Whether a Hindu or a Muslim, our religions didn’t matter. We talked about our country as One. India belongs to both of us. Isn’t that what Independence is also about? Freedom from negative thinking that divides us because of our religions. Today was the best way to celebrate Independence Day.

 

 

 

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/15/the-best-way-to-enjoy-indias-independence-day-go-fly-a-kite/feed/ 18 2171
The Easy and Best Potato recipe – Khatte Masale Aloo https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/the-easy-and-best-potato-recipe-khatte-masale-aloo/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/the-easy-and-best-potato-recipe-khatte-masale-aloo/#comments Mon, 13 Aug 2018 02:37:09 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?post_type=recipe&p=2155 “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” ― Paulo Coelho

The best things in life are simple. No fuss, straight from the heart they attract attention because they’re uncomplicated. Like a warm fuzzy blanket, they give comfort and like a friend always available, you can reach out to them easily. A walk in the park, sharing a plate of papdi chaat with a friend, a dance in the rain is all so simple, yet leaves wonderful memories.

I remember during my college days, sometimes I would take a bus to Connaught Place. Getting off at Shankar market bus stop, I would walk all the way to Babbar Lane where one of my close friends lived. Unlike today where everyone has to be informed before visiting, we could drop into each other’s homes unannounced. It was taken for granted that we would be welcomed and something would always be made in a jiffy in case we were hungry. This was usually the case since I would land up around 3 pm. Aunty would hug me tight the minute she opened the door. She would then hurry to the kitchen and return with nimbu paani. Even though sometimes I insisted on a coke she would deny it. “This will cool you down and replenish the lost fluids. Look how hot it is outside and how much you’re sweating. No coke- shoke.That’s bad for health.” She would scurry back to the kitchen again. While we girls chatted nineteen to a dozen, the clamor of pans could be heard in the kitchen. In a while, she would enter the room with food on a tray. It didn’t matter if it was a simple dal chawal with ghee tadka, matar pulao or egg curry with paratha. For me, it was the best meal.

If there was one thing she made so well, it was Khatte Masale Aloo ( Spicy Tangy Potatoes ). Boiled potatoes cut in big cubes were shallow fried in one pan. In another, she would heat minced ginger-garlic, grated tomatoes, and onions. As soon as it started sizzling she would add salt, red chili powder and a big heap of chole powder. Finally, water was added so that the masalas got cooked in the liquid. Once the gravy thickened, she would add the potatoes in this pan and toss them gently so that the masala covered each cube well. A squeeze of lemon juice and a garnish of chopped coriander made this a stellar dish. She would serve this with ghee soaked parathas and aam ka achaar. Man! This was the ultimate comfort food. No fancy dish in a Michelin star restaurant could compete with it.

The Khatte Masale Aloo is still my favorite and it’s easy peasy to make. It goes well as a side dish with chole bhature or can be had with paratha, roti, and dal. Sometimes I cut the potatoes into smaller cubes or use baby potatoes instead and serve them as snacks for guests to enjoy them with their drinks. They’re especially loved by vegetarians who are pretty tired of paneer tikka that is served to them nearly all the time. To make it spicier add mango powder, lemon juice or Mirchi -pudina chutney.

Which way would you enjoy this dish – as a snack, appetizer, or side dish or main dish?

 

Khatte Masale Aloo
Spicy, tangy potatoes make a delicious side dish. They're simple to make and can be served as a snack too.
Servings2
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Instructions
  1. Cube the boil potatoes in thick pieces.
  2. Pour 2 tbsp oil in a pan and put on medium flame. Add the potatoes. Do not use a spatula instead toss them in the pan so they do not break. Take off the flame once they are evenly browned and look crisp.
  3. In a separate pan, add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the minced ginger garlic, onions and grated tomatoes. After two minutes, add salt, red chilli powder and chole powder.
  4. Add water and let it simmer on medium flame till the water is reduced to half and the gravy looks thick enough to coat the potatoes.
  5. Add the potatoes and gently toss them till they're well coated. Remove from fire.
  6. Put into serving bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot with roti or paratha.
]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/the-easy-and-best-potato-recipe-khatte-masale-aloo/feed/ 26 2155
The Best Awadhi Cuisine Restaurant in Gurgaon – Kitchen Of Awadh https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/10/the-best-awadhi-cuisine-restaurant-in-gurgaon-kitchen-of-awadh/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/10/the-best-awadhi-cuisine-restaurant-in-gurgaon-kitchen-of-awadh/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2018 16:15:58 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=2131 Known for its nazakat, ( delicacy ), nafasat ( sophistication ) and tehzeeb ( culture ), Lucknow during the rule of Asaf-Ud-Daulah, the fourth Nawab of Awadh came to be known for its dastarkhwan too. The period, known as the Renaissance of food saw the creation of spectacular dishes such as Parinda poori ( a live bird inside a poori), Moti pulao ( pulao with pearls), patili kebabs and arbi ka salan. Experienced gourmet chefs called rakabdars worked night and day to present a new carte du jour to the prince every day. The cuisine continued to progress under the patronage of the royal aristocrats and marked the beginning of a new era of modern cooking.

Today, Dum Pukht the iconic restaurant in Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi serves an evocative presentation of aromas, flavors, and textures of the Awadhi cuisine. However, since it is located in a premier luxury hotel, it caters mainly to people who can afford the fine dining experience. What about the others? Where could do they go?

Kitchen of Awadh is located in an unfussy complex, Supermart 1 In Gurgaon.

A stand-alone restaurant serving Awadhi cuisine, “Kitchen by Awadh” is tucked away in a nondescript commercial complex, Supermart in Gurgaon. Neatly arranged wooden tables and chairs define its spartan decor. Scribblings on the wall drive home the purpose of its existence straight away. The aim is to bring authentic, soulful food of the Nawabi cuisine to its customers at affordable prices.

The no-fuss look of the restaurant

The writing on the wall tells you its purpose as soon as you enter.

Have you watched a group of dancers performing on stage? Despite synchronized steps and same costumes, there will be one dancer who catches our attention. The others then fade into oblivion and only that one dancer rules the stage. That’s the beauty of effort, emotions, passion, and feeling from the heart. The story of “Kitchen of Awadh” is like that. Changing tracks after seven years stint in the political arena, Mr. Kamal Veer, the owner, decided to follow his other passion and opened up the restaurant. All was hunky dory till Eid came and all the cooks left except one. Not giving up hope, he took the onus to learn the cuisine himself. For three years, he searched for age-old recipes, talked to khansaamas in Lucknow, even traveled to the town Kakori to learn the authentic recipe of Kakori Kebabs. The passion and effort blossomed into the opening of “Kitchen of Awadh”. In 2018 amidst other nominations, it received the Times Food Award in the category of Best North Indian in Casual Dining.

A story of passion, dedication, and simplicity – Mr. Kamal Veer

The customers love coming back to Kitchen of Awadh for its authentic Awadhi food at reasonable prices.

The long drive from Delhi to G-Town (Gurgaon) had whetted my appetite and I waited hungrily at my table. The galouti kebabs, kakori kebabs, ulta tawa paratha and a thick green chutney were the first to arrive. I picked up the delicate galouti kebabs lest they fell apart.  A perfect companion to the Galouti, I wrapped the thin, flaky parantha around the pate-like kebab and took my first bite. Soft, with a sophisticated sense of spicing and delicate flavors, the kebabs were outstanding. “Does it incorporate all the 120 spices that Tunday Kebabi in Lucknow claims to use?” I asked Mr. Veer. His answer was a revelation. “Not more than twelve spices are used in a Galouti, the main ones being mace, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. The reputation for using more than a 100 is an illusion created, to retain the kebab on a high pedestal.”

The Kakori Kebabs and Mutton Malai Seekh were soft and silky. “Usually chutney should not be had with any Lucknawi food”, Mr. Veer begins an interesting tale. ” In earlier days, where ingredients were not measured but used by estimation, the Ustads used the chutney as a means to camouflage the taste of the kebabs in case there was a discrepancy in the amount used. This was the reason why it has a certain tang and got introduced in the cuisine.” I listened with fascination. Today, the kebabs are unfathomable without the chutney.

The Kakori and the Galouti Kebabs.

The Galouti Kebabs and the Ulta Tawa paratha make an ideal combination.

The Panchamrita, a drink made of Amla, Beetroot, carrot, mint, ginger, and lemon is a palate cleanser and popular. One dish common to most tables was the Bhuna GoshtA house specialty, roasted meat is well browned on a slow fire, in a thick onion and herbs gravy. The intrinsic ingredient used is cashew nut paste which gives it a velvety taste. Juicy shreds of mutton fell off the bone as I relished it with my flaky, warqi paratha. The spices used with the mutton pieces leave an aromatic flavor and since Awadhi cuisine uses the dum pukht (slow cooking) method, the meat is extremely soft. The sweetness in the warqi paratha does a beautiful jugalbandi with the spicy flavors to make every morsel delightful. The Gosht Korma, another best seller in the restaurant is  Braised in its rich, seasoned sauce of yogurt and caramelized onions and is literally the king of curries. Yogurt gives it a silky base while the texturized ground brown onions and gentle spices make it rich. It is the height of indulgence and decadence.

The Bhuna Gosht is one of the most popular dishes in the restaurant.

Paneer Makhani, Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka, Khumb Masala, Paneer Masala and Subzi ka Mishran ( Mixed vegetables) would find their place in a vegetarian’s plate but for someone who loves her roti with boti, I devoured everything non-vegetarian. After eating a meal fit for a king, I thought that I couldn’t take a spoon of anything else until I saw Kesari Phirni. A classic creamy custard made with powdered rice, milk, saffron, cardamom and sweetened with sugar. it is stirred for about one and a half hours on heat, till it gets glossy and thickens up. Every day about 120 bowls are prepared and they get polished off in no time.

End the meal with the best dessert – Kesari Phirni

Kitchen of Awadh isn’t just about authentic Awadhi food. It a story of love, passion, and genuineness. A melange of these factors is what makes it so special and a reason to visit the restaurant again and again.

Address :

A-208, Supermart-1 DLF Phase-4 Gurgaon, Gurugram, Haryana 122002

Contact: 

+91-9910035805 / +91-9910035806

Timings: 

12:30 pm – 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm – 11:00 pm

Price for two: 

Rs.1400 ( approximately )

To order online or for more information click here

 

]]>
https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2018/08/10/the-best-awadhi-cuisine-restaurant-in-gurgaon-kitchen-of-awadh/feed/ 6 2131