Spoons & Sneakers https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com A food and travel website encompassing food recipes, information, trends from the gastronomical and travel world Sun, 29 Mar 2020 02:15:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 138693097 #AtoZ Theme Reveal 2020| A Wanderer’s Revolution https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2020/03/27/atoz-theme-reveal-2020-a-wanderers-revolution/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2020/03/27/atoz-theme-reveal-2020-a-wanderers-revolution/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2020 10:58:15 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3777 As I write this post the world is in a quandary on how to cope with a virus that has shaken every industry on our planet from its roots. We sit cocooned in our homes, twiddling our thumbs, worrying on what tomorrow has in store for us. To pick up a topic that revolves around travel, would then perhaps be a mockery when we are confined within the four walls of our house. Truth be told, no one knows when Coronavirus will finally bid us adieu and life will bounce back to normal.

To participate in the Blogchatter #AtoZChallenge comes at an opportune time when we have no choice except for quarantining ourselves for our own good. Being a hodophile stuck at home, I have taken the last few days to explore places, learn about people and soak in the beauty of the world virtually. It has also given me ample time to read about travel and understand how the expectations differ from person to person when they undertake a journey. Travel has become individualistic. It is a mindful decision with the focus on within. People are taking journeys to garner new experiences rather than adopting the stereotypical format of travel agencies where group tours blanket multiple countries in a span of 13 to 15 days.

Since the last couple of decades, the travel industry has evolved substantially. People have opened doors to welcome travellers to use their homes, words like “wellness” and “medical” have gotten associated with tourism, travellers are holidaying in tree houses in the thickest of forests or wearing their boots, thick jackets and ice axes to capture peaks. Even Mount Everest has not been spared.

Changes in technology, the flexibility of booking holidays, growth of regional airports, a rise in independent travellers, changes in destination, customer profiles, length of stay, a plethora of things to do, political aspects and technological changes have all contributed to the dynamism in the tourism world. Even the dreaded COVID-19 will leave its indelible imprint on the way we travel in the coming months.

The theme reveal of #AtoZChallenge 2020 is: “A WANDERER’S REVOLUTION”- The A-Z Of Travel Trends 2020

For the month of April, a day at a time, I will unravel the different facets of a wanderer’s world. Join me, Dipali Bhasin, as I explore all these revolutionary changes in our travel world.

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Distillery – The Largest Bar Restaurant in Gurugram https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/10/31/distillery-the-largest-bar-restaurant-in-gurugram/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/10/31/distillery-the-largest-bar-restaurant-in-gurugram/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2019 20:19:06 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3685 Lips that touch liquor shall not touch ours!

Step into Distillery, the three-floor restaurant in Sector 29, Gurugram to get hauled back to the Prohibition Era of the 1920s when the “Noble Experiment” of banning liquor sparked off by the 18th amendment led to the rise of Speak Easies, a hike in crime rates and the rise of gangsters like Al Capone who made millions of dollars through their bootleg operations.

Strumming the vibe of the roaring 20s in the USA, Distillery creates the hallucination of that bygone era. You can visualise tantalizing spirits, cigars and pretty damsels clinking dainty glasses with the mafia. The vast space of the restaurant beckons you to let your hair down and revel in its fun spirit. There’s a class in its designing. Black and white flooring, the ceiling-to-floor bar and the simple layout with high stools, red and black spacious seaters and wooden tables exhibit elegance and intimate setting. Using their in-house secret ingredients an extraordinary cocktail menu has been created. Distillery promises a night replete with delicious food, foot-tapping music and mesmerising concoctions.

The bar serves the finest cocktails

Since the time he was the chef de partie in Taj Palace, Chef Anas Qureshi has come a long way. Not only is he au fait about Indian cuisine but is highly skilled in modern European cuisine too. As a brand chef at Distillery, he adds a punch of razzmatazz and dramatic flair in the presentation of the dishes. “When New York Got burned” is a spicy, sweet chilly, tangy tandoori assorted fruit and sweet potato chaat. When flambéed with Sambuca, the burst of flames creates a theatrical culinary illusion of the Great Fire of New York, except when it settles down the anise-flavoured drink leaves behind the faint flavour of the liqueur making the dish absolutely scrumptious.

When New York Got Burned

The team has curated and carefully compiled an avante-garde menu keeping in mind the taste buds of all age groups and catering to every mood. Delectable delicacies are part of their menu. The “Breaking Bread” is an assortment of Indian bread turned thin and crisp and served with four interesting relishes like Gurkha dip, Achari sour cream, salsa and pickled ber. The conventional onion rings get a makeover when they are coated with vada batter and deep-fried. These “Mendu vada onion rings” hang from a tree-shaped mould and make perfect starters.

Menu Vada Onion Rings

Tender, juicy dim sum is presented naked – without any skin on the outside. Enjoy the Thai flavours with the Thai Basil Chicken dim sum in which chicken is infused with kafir lime. The dim sum is delicately placed on a bed of Thai red curry and served. Spicy salmon uramaki with asparagus and cured cucumber is topped up with spicy sriracha mayo for those who have cravings for some Japanese.

The menu at Distillery comprises of global cuisine

Like something tangy? Order the Prohibited Gully Pakoda chaat which is a plate full of crisp besan pakodas on top up with mango yoghurt tamarind reduction and crisps. You can accompany these dishes with their wide collection of premium scotch, whiskeys, martinis, wines and champagnes.

Save the best for last! Try the International Halwai Dessert – a hybrid of the French dessert and our desi mithai. With smoke emanating from all sides, the dessert arrives at the table. Showered with rose petals and sandwiched between layers of kalakand is Nutella mousse – all decadent and divine, a mascot of nu age indo-fusion desserts.

999.9 fine gold brick

When the 999.9 fine gold brick is placed on the table be warned, you maybe be tempted to put it in your handbag instantly. It looks so real. The
24-carat edible gold brick with the flavour of mango is the most luxurious dessert you will ever be served from the house of gangsters.

Distillery may transcend you to a magical era of the 1920s but it is the party hub for the millennials. Groovy music, fine cocktails, good food and theatrical fun beckon the guests to its door again and again. Go there for an experience and enjoy this stunning restaurant where the efforts of the great team have gone in to take you back to the bygone era.

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The Karavalli Pop-Up At Varq And Conversation With Chef Naren Thimmiah https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/09/27/the-karavalli-pop-up-at-varq-and-conversation-with-chef-naren-thimmiah/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/09/27/the-karavalli-pop-up-at-varq-and-conversation-with-chef-naren-thimmiah/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2019 08:06:22 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3659 When Karavalli opened at the Gateway Hotel, Bangalore, in 1991 it thrived on one ideology – an exultation of seafood by using high-quality locally produced ingredients and traditional recipes that were procured from Mangalorean, Konkan and Kerala kitchens. 

Back then Chinese, Continental and the quintessential Punjabi cuisine with Butter chicken, Shahi Paneer and Dal Makhani ruled the palate of the people. After a few teething problems and days of vacant tables, the restaurant started seeing a trickle of guests. The food reviews were so good that the word spread and it gained fame as a charming, must-go-to culinary haven in Bengaluru.

Chef Naren Thimmaiah

That was nearly three decades ago but the buzz has never ever waned. Karavalli continues to allure and has been endearing itself to its patrons. There has been consistency in taste and the food remain authentic to the region. Chef Naren Thimmaiah, Executive Chef of the Gateway Hotel attributes the popularity of the restaurant to two important factors. Says Chef Thimmaiah –

“First, since its inception, 80-85 per cent of the ingredients used in the dishes are locally sourced. That’s the main job done for us since the ingredients used are all fresh and of high quality. Secondly, in a team of 10 in the kitchen, 8 of us have been there for the last 10-15 years, cooking and perfecting the dishes as much as possible. Everyone knows what is required and the process is well understood. These are the two main reasons why there is hardly any difference in the taste even if you visit after a period of time. “

Meen Eletittad, Prawn Roast, Koli Barthad

 Varq, the elegant dining restaurant at Taj Mahal Hotel, is celebrating its 11th anniversary and gives an opportunity to Delhi-ites to savour the food of Karavalli at the restaurant till the 28th September. The pop-up at Varq showcases an array of culinary fare from Karavalli. The best of coastal cuisine and Chef’s favourite all feature in the menu. Kerala’s Meen Eletittad slathered with Malabar paste and pan-fried in a banana leaf wrap, makes the black pomfret incredibly soft, flaky and coated in the spicy juice of the marinade. Prawns tossed in a Kerala spice mix full of flavours of tomato, ginger, green chilli and coconut slivers give the Prawn Roast a unique flavour profile. Koli Barthad gets its tartiness from Coorg vinegar that is integral to the chicken dish lifts it up as an appetizer. The vegetarians can relish Patrade where colocasia leaves lend their flavours when they pillowcase a paste of lentils and spices.

Maavinkai Mensukkai

The curry pots in Karavalli are a potpourri of exciting flavours and despite the use of coconut, each curry differs in taste according to the souring agents like Kachampuli, Coorg vinegar and spices. In the Allapuzha Meen Curry the tartness of the seer fish is offset by ground coconut giving it a unique flavour. Hailing from the Bunt community Kori Gassi is a star dish. At the pop-up, the chicken derives its colour from Byadgi chillies while fresh coconut, coriander and tamarind add depth and flavour. Whether for its tanginess or its uniqueness, I loved the Maavinkai Mensukkai – chunks of brine-preserved mangoes are cooked in a blend of chillies and coconut and taste similar to chutney. Enjoy by itself or dunk in a neer dosa, sanna or idiyappam.

Goa shines in the dessert section- the multi-layered Bebinca and the lip-smacking delicious, Dodol – a rice cake cooked gently in coconut milk and jaggery. I loved its soft, sweet texture like pudding. It just melts in your mouth.

Bebinca, Dodol, Ada Pradhaman

A passionate chef, commitment to tradition, organic ingredients, fresh produce, years of experience and Karavalli’s unassailable reputation make perfect reasons why the Karavalli Pop-Up at Varq must not be missed. There could be no better way than this to enjoy its 11th anniversary.

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The Rustic Charm Of Patan: Patan Durbar Square https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/07/26/the-rustic-charm-of-patan-patan-durbar-square/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/07/26/the-rustic-charm-of-patan-patan-durbar-square/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2019 10:24:35 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3591
Whether it is the rustic charm, the simplicity of the people or the palpable spirituality there is something magical about Lalitpur or Patan. After Kathmandu and Pokhara, it stands as the third-largest city in the Kathmandu valley. Known for its rich artistic heritage, it has a plenitude of traditional arts and is a hub for sculptures who specialize in intricate stone carvings. Walking on the narrow cobbled pathways opens the ethos of the city – the bustling street markets, the temples, the hustle-bustle of life and the rich arts and crafts that it is well known for. And it also leads the way to the beautiful Patan Durbar Square.

Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square

The Durbar Squares in Nepal were attributed to royal areas. Since three smaller kingdoms ruled Kathmandu, three Durbar Squares are found namely –

  • Kathmandu Durbar Square
  • Patan Durbar Square
  • Bhaktapur Durbar Square

All three Durbar squares are listed as UNESCO Heritage sites and are a must-visit. The Patan Durbar Square is the smallest and the oldest of the three.

Patan durbar Square
Krishna Mandir is one of the more exquisite pieces of architecture in the square and it still stands resplendent after the 2015 earthquake. The Garud column stands in front.
atan Durbar Square

The Many Moods At The Patan Durbar Square

The courtyard of Patan Durbar Square is the liveliest and this is where all the flutter of the medieval city can be seen. People in different moods and walks of life collect to enjoy the monuments, chit chat or simply get lost in thoughts. The concentrated cluster of temples in the Durbar Square display stunning Newari architecture. It is like a dramatic canvas where man and the monuments transcend onto one plane. Conversations are heard, lovers speak in whispers, school children can be seen returning from school, the men with their Dhaka topis sit and gossip, a loner gazes into the oblivion and a group of women enjoys their ice cream cone – all in the midst of ancient palaces, temples and shrines that exhibit exquisite carvings.

Patan durbar square
A summer afternoon made cool with an ice cream cone
Patan durbar Square
The lions that guard Chayasin Dewal

The Durbar has plenty of Hindu temples and Buddhist monuments with bronze gateways, guardian deities, and elaborate architectural structures. The carved wooden columns and temples with intricate carvings add to the architectural beauty. The construction of the temples is said to have actively taken place during the Malla period from the 14th to the18th century. Patan Durbar Square was then home to Malla kings and occupied a vital place for the royal family of Nepal.

Stunning intricate carvings on Bhimsen temple.
Chyasin Dewal -the three-story dome structure is a Krishna Temple which was erected in 1723.
Another view of the Chyasin Dewal – it is an octagonal shaped shikhara style mandir.
Taleju Bell is suspended between two stone pillars on top of a raised platform and to the right of the bell is the Shankar Narayan Mandir.

When the devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, it affected both the people and the landscape. A few monuments collapsed at the Durbar square and as I strolled through the courtyard I could see dozens of people rebuilding the monuments and the restoration process well underway. The 2015 earthquake damaged the Jagannarayan Temple, Hari Shankar Temple, Mani Mandap pavilions and statue of King Yoganarendra Malla. The Krishna temple, Chyasim Dewal, Taleju bell, Patan Residential Palace and Bhimsen temple survived it and stand erect in all their glory. Nature sure has a way of turning man’s efforts into rubble in a matter of seconds.

Hari Shankar temple- Although it collapsed in the 2015 earthquake, restoration of this three-story temple is underway.

Patan Residential Palace / Museum

The Patan Residential Palace made by King Vishnu Malla in the year 1734 A.D. has been converted to a museum. It contains a stunning assortment of bronze statues, religious objects and traditional sacred arts of Nepal. It is a must-visit for a better understanding of the history of the country and an hour must be kept aside for a leisurely view of the artifacts.

Patan Residential Palace now houses the museum which must not be missed

Courtyards at the Patan residential Palace

 Step inside the complex to explore the three courtyards

Keshav Narayan Chowk: A temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Keshav Narayan stands at the center of the courtyard. The chowk is named after the lord. The section of the Royal palace surrounding the chowk now holds the finest collection of religious art. Keep aside an hour or two to enjoy the exhibits at the museum.

Mul Chowk: It is both the central and the largest chowk. One can visit temples such as Vidhya temple and the Taleju temple here.

Mul Chowk

Sundari Chowk: Sundari Chowk is arranged around a sunken water tank known as the Tusha Hiti and is a masterpiece of stone architecture and stone sculptures of Hindu Gods.

Things to know:

  • Patan is approximately 30 minutes from the city center. Taxis and buses ply to and fro from the destination.
  • The cost of the ticket is 250 Nepali Rupees for citizens of SAARC countries. For the others, it is 1000 rupees. The ticket also includes the visit to the museum.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes since the visit entails walking and exploring the square, it’s cobbled streets and shopping areas.
  • Take a face mask if allergic to dust.
  • Patan is known for its exotic metal statues. Do explore the streets to make the right choice and bargain to settle at the optimum price
  • To enjoy the panoramic view of Patan Durbar Square, drop in many restaurants around the square that are situated on a higher floor. These also provide good photography opportunities.
  • Keep aside a half-day trip to Patan to enjoy it at leisure.
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Sigh’onara On Sushi And Sake At Shibuya, New Delhi https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/06/24/sighonara-on-sushi-and-sake-at-shibuya-new-delhi/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/06/24/sighonara-on-sushi-and-sake-at-shibuya-new-delhi/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2019 16:03:18 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3544 Did you know that June 18th is celebrated as International Sushi Day?

With the sole aim of encouraging people around the world to explore and enjoy different kinds of sushi, International Sushi Day was started by Chris DeMay in 2009. For a country like India which loves its masalas and everything spicy, the love for sushi comes as a bit of surprise. First, the flavors are delicate for our desi palate and secondly, one would think eating raw fish would just not be acceptable in our country. But sushi’s triumphant progress in our metropolitan food scenario speaks otherwise. We love our makis as much as North Indians love butter chicken.

Tuna Tartare

Ever since Shibuya, Food and Bar opened up in Greater Kailash – II, New Delhi it is frequented by lovers of eastern Asian comfort food. The laid back vibe, elegant setting, and lilting music ferries you to the frenetic alleys of Shibuya in Tokyo where hip cafes, bars, and restaurants add dynamism to the iconic crossing. The menu exemplifies the complexities of Pan-Asian cuisine and has been well curated by the culinary founder, Simi Kohli, and restaurateur, Jasjit Kohli.

Events hosted by Gourmet Passport are well curated with a guest listing of some fine people –
(L-R): Rahul Bhawnani, Me, Anshuman Sood, Rohit Singh

The Gourmet passport membership program offers unmatched value with “Buy One Get One Free deal” at more than a thousand restaurants across top cities in the country. It also invites the top users and guests for exemplary fine dining experiences. An ideal place to celebrate International Sushi Day, Shibuya along with Gourmet Passport joined hands to unfurl an evening of togetherness, partake of sushi and sake pairings and sharing fun trivia with guests.

The ladies at the event (L-R) : Neha Singh Kamboj, Simi Kohli, Me, Sukhmani Sakhi, Ayandrali Dutta

THE FIVE COURSE MEAL AND ITS PAIRINGS

Like lovers need to be in harmony with one other, the five-course meal saw the pairing of sushi with sake in a note that complimented it beautifully. Conversations revolved around the etiquette of eating sushi, the kinds of sushi and the different notes of sake.

The sake line-up for the evening

SARADA AND SUPUKOSU (Salad and Soup)

The traditional misoshuro made a perfect start. The sarada (salad) was a spinach Gomae salad with beetroot carpaccio. The contrast in flavors makes this a perfectly healthy salad for summers. The earthy and sweet beetroot slices lie on a thick bed of spinach. The top slather of black quinoa and shiny pomegranate seeds add texture and make the salad sensational.

Spinach Gomae salad with Beetroot Carpaccio

The Shiso Umebosi fizz with preserved salted plums served with a beautiful shiso herb clipped at the rim made for a refreshing palate cleanser.

SUSHI

The sushi on the platter came all dolled up in different colours. Mamenori is a thin soybean paper wrapper that replaces nori or seaweed in sushi and is available in different colours. The lemon coloured Yasai Mamenori and the green from the Spinach Ohitashi made pretty sushi offerings for the vegetarians on the table.

The flavor of the seared tuna in Flambe’ Tuna Tataki roll was phenomenal. Paired with the mildness of the avocado and a crunch of cucumber, I joined Simi in declaring this was my favourite Sushi at Shibuya. The Tuna Tartare roll ensured that the buttery tuna shone right through.

Flambe Tuna Tataki Roll

The elegant fragrance, delicate mouthfeel and distinctive flavour of Kikumasmune Kimoto Daiginjo sake, bought the sushi experience to a harmonious crescendo. 

For sushi snobs who look down upon those not using chopsticks while eating sushi, here is the revelation – Sushi can be eaten with your bare hands or hashi (chopsticks) except for Sashimi.

Also mixing wasabi into the soy sauce is poor etiquette. For Sashimi, put the wasabi on the sashimi before dipping the raw fish or meat into the shoyu or soy sauce. Handling a Nigiri is a different ball game together. Place the sushi on its left side, and pick it up using your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger. Always dip the tane (sushi topping) into the shoyu and never the shari (rice). Dunking the shari in the shoyu makes it fall apart. As a result, the shoyu dish looks like the dark sea after the Titanic went down, with helpless survivors bobbing in its waters.

KORI NO UE (On the Ice)

In Shibuya, the Salmon Nigiri and Hamachi Sashimi were served on a bed of ice. This retained its freshness and was replete with rich flavors. The Yellowtail or Hamachi is traditional, well appreciated and popularly used in both sashimi and sushi in Japan. To enjoy it pleasingly firm and cold in the restaurant was taking gustatory pleasure to another level.

Hamichi Sashimi

Paired with the sweetness of Hana Kazaikura Junmai Ginjo made it ideal. One sniff of Hana Kizakura and I was walking through a cherry tree orchard. Light and sweet, with apple and flower notes, I think it’s an ideal choice for sake beginners.

MEINKOSU (Main Course)

Ramen was first introduced in the Meiji era (1868 -1912). It was during this period that Japan had lifted the embargo after autarchy and was receptive to the introduction of new cuisines and cultures from abroad. The ramen got introduced by Chinatowns into Japan and it only has a 100 years old history. The popularity of this noodle soup is phenomenal, it’s both inexpensive and widely available.

Shibuya has always served its ramen as a relatively light and ungreasy broth and it doesn’t muck it up with too many add-ins. The soup is saporous, the pork nicely fatty, and the delicate noodles prove the perfect weight for the broth. 

Perfectly matched with Kubata Senjyu, the sake with medium bouquet and hints of caramel and cotton candy, the hot bowl of Chef’s signature Ramen is one that can make anyone go sigh-onara. Shibuya does it real good.

DEZATO (Dessert)

The delectable Shibuya Toast

The brilliant finale came in the form of the Shibuya toast. Baked skilfully, the crisp thick bread comes topped with Nutella and a scoop of banana caramel ice cream. Guilt-fully satisfying, we liked its lightly-toasted buttery crunchiness on every single bite which strikes a delicate balance of sweetness, warmth, and brightness.

Gochisousama-deshita!

In Japan, this phrase is used after finishing a meal. Translated it literally means “It was a great deal of work preparing the meal. Thank you.”

The exclusive event at Shibuya entailing a five-course meal served with the finest sake and matched with gracious hospitality and efficient staff, left everyone with happy smiles and appreciation in their heart with the words-

“Gochisousama-deshita!” – Thank you for the meal, Shibuya! Can’t wait to be back again!

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The Exquisite Mehrangarh Fort And It’s Enthralling Music Festivals https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/06/10/the-exquisite-mehrangarh-fort-and-its-enthralling-music-festivals/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/06/10/the-exquisite-mehrangarh-fort-and-its-enthralling-music-festivals/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2019 02:16:40 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3527 Mesmerised by the Mehrangarh Fort, Rudyard Kipling in 1899 wrote : “A palace that might have been built by titans and coloured by the morning sun.”

The Mehrangarh Fort is truly an epitome of grandeur and resplendence. Rao Jodha, of Rathore dynasty, started the construction of this fort in 1459 and most of the other developments that ensued were done during the reign of Jaswant Singh in 1638 -1678. Since then it defines the skyline of Jodhpur, perched aloft a rocky lone hill, statuesque and impregnable.

With a stellar architectural design, Mehrangarh is an awe-inspiring and splendid fort enclosed by high ramparts. Since the materials required to build it were chiselled from the same rock on which the fort stands, the structure merges with its base, a cliff called Bhakur-cheeria which means the ‘Mountain of Birds’.The ownership still lies with the descendants of the erstwhile royals who efficiently manage the property.

From these intimidating battlements, the vistas of the city far below are breathtaking.Tiny houses painted in blue dot Jodhpur, justifying it the sobriquet, “The Blue City”. Far away, the enchanting Umaid Bhavan Palace overlooks the desert capital.The momentous history, incredible artistic works, cultural heritage and imposing architecture make Mehrangarh a landmark in Jodhpur that beckons visitors from India and abroad.

The ideal time to visit this royal grandeur is during the winters when the sun rays are less harsh and the cool winds blow through the desert. From October to March, Jodhpur reverberates with the sound of folk music and songs. The fort hosts amazing music festivals which must not be missed. These cultural extravaganzas are popular and on the list of every music aficionado and art lover.

RAJASTHAN INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL (10 – 14 OCTOBER, 2019)

Rajasthan International Folk Festival or Jodhpur RIFF as it is popularly known as is a not-for-profit partnership project including two of India’s principal heritage trusts – Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation. The superlative festival has encouraged many local artistes thereby gaining an endorsement from UNESCO as a “Peoples” Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development.” The Jodhpur RIFF enjoys the international patronage of Sir Mick Jagger, the founder member of the Rolling Stones and the chief patronage of the 36th custodian of Marwar, HH Maharaja Gaj Singh II.

Image Credit: Jodhpur RIFF
Image Credit: Jodhpur RIFF
Image Credit: Jodhpur RIFF

The dates vary every year, coinciding with “Sharad Purnima” – the brightest full moon night in north India. It is during this time that Jodhpur RIFF showcases a number of mesmerizing concerts and events, both in the Mehrangarh Fort and its vicinity. For five days, the fort reverberates with the mellifluous music and witnesses rustic dance forms from around the globe. About 250 musicians and artists come together from all over to revel in festivity and fervor. This year the Rajasthan International Folk Festival will take place from the10 – 14 October 2019. For more details visit their website – www.jodhpurriff.org

WORLD SACRED SPIRIT FESTIVAL (14 -15 FEBRUARY 2020 )

Lose your sense of time and space, and embark on an extraordinary historical and sacred musical journey at the World Sacred Spirit Festival in Mehrangarh. Held every year in February and organized by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, a cultural institution that helms international exchange programs, the festival mesmerizes music lovers with an impressive line-up of artists in an exquisite royal setting.

Image Credit: World Sacred Spirit Festival
Image Credit: World sacred Spirit Festival

The 13th edition of the World Sacred Spirit Festival will take place in February 2020. For more details visit their website – www.worldsacredspiritfestival.org

Featured Image Credit: World Sacred Spirit festival

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The Perfect Healthy Dessert – Mango Chia Pudding https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/the-perfect-healthy-dessert-mango-chia-pudding/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/recipe/the-perfect-healthy-dessert-mango-chia-pudding/#comments Tue, 28 May 2019 11:20:17 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?post_type=recipe&p=3503 In winters, I love the nip in the air, the festivals, the long jackets, the layering of clothing and the boots that I am Oh- so-crazy about. It’s my look-like-a-model season. Then comes summer, the associations that I make with the season are long international holidays, aqua blue swimming pools, laburnums, and mangoes. As the sun scorches for longer hours, the market starts getting flooded with the “king of fruit”, the “aam-azing” mangoes.

Summer = mangoes is an identification one can never go wrong with. You can see the phalwalas (fruit vendors) parked in every possible lane selling different varieties of mangoes. Our country produces approximately 283 varieties of it. Not all actors are marquee names in the dazzling world of films, similarly, only about 30 of these are the stars. Most popular are Alphonsos or Hapus from Maharashtra, Badami from Karnataka, Chaunsa from Himachal Pradesh and Dasheri and Langra from Uttar Pradesh.

My earliest memories of mangoes were of Nani’s house in Kanpur. As soon as she heard we were coming in for the summer holidays petis (cartons) of mangoes were purchased. Huge tubs in the house, then, would be filled with water and the fruit was left to soak in it. This helped remove all the pesticides besides enhancing its cooling effect or the taseer on the body. I would devour 5-6 in one go and then have an upset stomach following the binge. But that didn’t stop my love for the fruit. I could replace them for all meals.

At home, Mom loved eating mango along with her meal, not later. Once she had attended to the family she would finally sit down with her plate. With each bite of roti and sabzi, she would suck on the mango and relish the experience to the fullest before popping the next bite in. However, having a “mango addict” of a daughter had started to upset her. Every time she stocked up the refrigerator with mangoes, she found it empty after a few hours. Ultimately she started locking up the room where the refrigerator was kept. The daughter wasn’t happy but at least the mother got to enjoy her “mango plus meal” platter thereafter.

Memories of the yesteryears will never be erased and I often go down that nostalgia lane with a smile on my face. I was so crazy about mangoes. I still love them. However, somewhere along the way, I became aware of the calorie intake and how having too many could lead to an expanding waistline. I now look for ways to relish them and still enjoy mango smoothies, mango milkshake, even throw chunks of the fruit in summer salads. But it’s the mango-chia pudding that I love the most.

The mango-chia pudding is a perfect bowl of deliciousness. Alternating layers of vanilla-infused chia pudding and mango cream provide the textures to every scoop. It is vegan and is super healthy. Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium. Together with mango that is packed with nutrients, it makes a wholesome breakfast to kickstart the day or served in delicate glasses, makes for a yummylicious dessert. For a mango lover like me, this one gets a big thumbs up from me.

Mango - Chia Pudding
Servings4
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Stir together coconut milk, chia seeds, cinnamon powder 2 tbsp maple syrup, and vanilla extract until well combined. Refrigerate overnight or for 4 hours to allow the chia seeds to expand and soften.
  2. Reserving a few chunks for garnishing, puree the rest of the mangoes with 1 tbsp maple syrup.
  3. Create layers of the chia mixture and the mango puree alternately in serving glasses.
  4. Garnish with mango chunks and serve chilled.
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The Ganga Aarti At Triveni Ghat, Rishikesh https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/05/18/the-ganga-aarti-at-triveni-ghat-rishikesh/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/05/18/the-ganga-aarti-at-triveni-ghat-rishikesh/#comments Sat, 18 May 2019 05:20:42 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3474 Rishikesh is the land of “rishis”, yoga ashrams, quiet and casual cafes and thrilling adventure sports.  It has been an epicenter for spiritual seekers. Dotted with ashrams and excelling in varied forms of yoga and meditation classes it is often referred to as the “Yoga Capital of the world”. The buzz is more towards the north of the city, where the swiftly cascading River Ganges, encircled by forested hills, provides an idyllic environment to meditation and mind expansion. As the dusk sets in, a calming supernatural breeze sweeps down the valley and an awareness sets in, of paying obeisance to the river. The temple bells chime as pilgrims, sadhus and tourists rush to Triveni Ghat with impelling alacrity for the evening ganga aarti or the maha aarti (river worship ceremony).

The lamps all ready to be lit.

We were no different. No sooner had the clock displayed 5:30 pm, Sam and I got into a Tuk-Tuk to take us to Triveni Ghat. The Triveni Ghat has been a revered spot for ages. The water that runs alongside the ghat is the confluence of three sacred rivers – Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. Devout Hindus plunge into its waters as they believe it can wash away their sins. This is also the place where every day the Maha Aarti takes place at 6 p.m. Through tiny alleyways and winding roads, the tuk-tuk finally dropped us off near the ghat. If we had shared the tuk-tuk with other passengers we would have paid less but we neither had the time nor the patience so the 4.5 km journey to the ghat cost us 250 Rs after bargaining.

The pujaris get ready for the puja
Donate some money for a special puja for your family

Mentally I had prepared myself for brouhaha outside the ghats with crowds piling on top of each other to get a glimpse of the aarti. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see how everything was systematic and well organized. After depositing our shoes at the counter we walked towards the steps where clean carpets were rolled out for the devotees to sit down. The first three steps of the ghats are reserved for people who make donations and want a special puja performed for their families before the main aarti. The donations can be Rs. 300 and above for the same. After making our contributions we had one pujari assigned to us. After ablutions in the flowing river, the puja began. The rest of the crowd settled down and watched this special puja for the donors being performed. Once done, everyone took their seats and the ghee soaked diyas were lit. The show was about to begin.

The prayer to River Ganga

As if we had transcended into the heavens, the ambiance of the place changed into something magical. Twenty-two pujaris stepped up on their respective platform and the prayers started. The air reverberated with positive energy. The sounds of the conch shells and the ringing of bells reverberated in the air. For one hour, in sync with the melodious prayer song, the priests swayed the lamp urns from one direction to another. The River Ganges happily gurgled and moved forward. The illuminated lamps, the clapping of hands in devotion, the soft glow of the moon and the religious chants made it an ethereal experience.

The aarti begins
Ganga Aarti
Spectacular aarti performed by 22 pujaris

The aarti ended at 7:30 p.m but all was not over. Bhajans began at the ghat where the devotees joined in the singing and dancing. I watched in fascination. Women who were all shy and demure until a few minutes back had shed their inhibitions. They danced in gay abandon, squealed with joy and joined the men in the merriment. The Triveni ghat held no bars on gender, caste or creed. Everyone was on the same spiritual level and singing to God’s glory.

To the Hindus, River Ganga is not ordinary. As author Sudipta Sen writes in his book Ganga: The Many Pasts of a River“It is part of a superordinate cosmic order.” The third Mughal emperor Akbar drank only Ganga water. He rhapsodized about its taste and purity calling it abihayat – the source of life. Indian mythology has stories galore about the preternatural healing properties of Ganga water, which gave cripples and lepers glimpses of hope. A holy dip in the Ganges is said to absolve the sins of previous births. Submerging the ashes of the departed in the Ganges endows them liberation. The river provides, heals, absolves, nourishes, absorbs and emits energy. It is integral to the ideas of the cosmos and eschaton of the Hindus. Day after day, the Triveni Ghat is the witness to the gratitude that devotees give to the River Ganga. Magnanimous, divine and emotional – the Ganga aarti is not one to be missed.

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Enjoy Modern Indian Cuisine at Masala House, New Delhi https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/05/06/enjoy-modern-indian-cuisine-at-masala-house-new-delhi/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/05/06/enjoy-modern-indian-cuisine-at-masala-house-new-delhi/#comments Mon, 06 May 2019 20:23:49 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3453 It is said that exemplary food is savored in three ways- once in anticipation, the second while experiencing it and third in the recall, when fond memories get attached to the fine dining experience. Masala House enthrals you in all these ways. Talk about the restaurant to a diner who has eaten there and the gleam in his eyes will speak volumes of the superlative food that Masala House serves.

After being in the spotlight and gaining appreciation in New York for his restaurants- Bhatti Indian Grill, Moti Mahal, and Awadh, restaurateur Saurabh Anand opened Masala House more to showcase to friends, family, and diners the food that everyone read about but never had an opportunity to taste in Delhi. Serving Pan Indian food, with special emphasis on Dum Pukht cooking and curries from the coastal regions of our country, Masala House finally opened three years ago in Delhi’s uber-chic area, Sundar Nagar.

The dynamic man behind Masala House – Saurabh Anand

Expansive with polished interiors and elegant settings, the ambiance of the restaurant is as extraordinary as the food it serves. Chef Baldev Singh Negi who is at the helm at the restaurant has worked arduously on recipes and traditional methods of cooking to turn out gorgeous, intensely flavored plates of food.

Formal wooden tables with bright orange chairs add ritz to the restaurant.

The first bits of genius come early in the form of Paratwala Paneer, which is layered cottage cheese delicately marinated in cream and chargrilled. For one who is a hardcore non-vegetarian, I could happily convert into a vegetarian with this sublime appetizer. The Dora Kebab falls daintily on the plate when the silk thread that holds it to the wooden skewer slits the kebab. It is the sophistication of spicing and the complexity in its making that makes Dora Kebab a special creation. The Shahi Tikki made of goat cheese and hung curd, is all soft and tender. The peas and walnuts add texture and make it an appetizer fit for the royalty.

Paratwala Paneer
Dora Kebab

It was the French who perfected the duck confit using the two method preservation process, first by salt curing the meat and then allowing the duck legs to cook in their own rendered fat. Masala House adds its own touch to make the crispy duck leg downright delicious. Cooked in its own juices and using the combination of Amul butter to confit the bird and finally pan searing it in desi ghee, the confit is crisp and perfectly salted. This one is a winner and Chef Negi’s pride.

The crispy duck leg

Another dish from the courtly cuisine is the Nargisi Kofta. Meatballs are made from an unusual combination of mutton mince and maghaz (the brain of a lamb) and are served in a Kashmiri flavored curry. Royally tasty and divine!

Nargisi Kofta

The shimeji khumb makhana is a wondrous dish for vegetarians. Shimeji mushrooms lie scattered on peas piccata with flavored fox nuts and when blended with a yogurt and mushroom puree make it smooth and sublime.

Shimeji Kumbh makhana

End the meal with cream pistachio kulfi, the Gulukand ki phirni or the new addition – Baked yogurt which is absolutely my favorite. Smooth, velvety with little morsels of figs that make the palate super happy.

Baked Yoghurt

Masala House takes Indian cuisine one notch higher with its signature dishes. This is the kind of restaurant that ensures a superlative dining experience for its guests. It provides the perfect setting for families and friends who are looking for a quiet bonding time in contemporary and plush settings. Self-drive gets easier because parking is hardly an issue.

Address:Market 4, New Khanna Market, Sundar Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110003

Mobile : 099991 21097

Website: http://masala-house.com/

Timing: Open from 12 noon-3.30pm (lunch); 7pm-11.30pm (dinner).

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Take A Break – Head to Karma Lakelands https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/04/24/take-a-break-head-to-karma-lakelands/ https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/2019/04/24/take-a-break-head-to-karma-lakelands/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2019 05:53:47 +0000 https://www.spoonsandsneakers.com/?p=3447 It’s not always possible to pack your bags, throw them at the back of the car and zip off for a holiday. Scanning through the year calendar, the eyes search for those holidays that collide with the weekends so that they can be clubbed together to enjoy a spaced out holiday to a hill station or another destination location. Usually, it takes days of planning, booking and a whole lot of coordination. Syncing the plan is such an effort that many times, the plan gets washed away. Perhaps, that’s why the term “staycation” has become an endearing word in recent times. It offers flexibility and spontaneity while at the same time promising fresh, new experiences in a shorter span of time. Last year my staycation was at the luxurious Roseate House. Read about that wonderful experience here.

This time I wanted to spend a relaxing day at the Karma Lakelands. Approaching Manesar from Delhi on NH 8, the logo of Mc Donalds strategically placed on top of a long pole can be spotted from far. This is also the landmark for entering Karma Lakelands. A winding pathway with the bloom of bougainvillea in various colors leads to the 300-acre resort property which houses boutique chalets amidst lush greenery, an award-winning nine-hole golf course, trendy restaurants, and a swanky club offering amenities galore.

Karma Chalets

30 charming chalets seem to have popped right outside an Ideal Home magazine and found their place in Karma Lakelands. These charming English style chalets provide luxurious accommodation with quirky tones. No two rooms are alike and none of the artifacts or wallpapers have been repeated. It is this that makes every chalet unique and lends more to its character. There are ample splashes of color and everything seems to have been handpicked in refinement and detail. Its sleek and modern design includes huge picture windows which provide gorgeous views of the garden and lots of light. Read a book amidst the greenery, dream away on the hammock, or sip a glass of fine wine with your partner – Karma chalets provides an uber special experience of a home away from home.

A bit of quiet amidst the beautiful surroundings and nature’s glory.
Living room inside one of the Chalets

Klub Karma

Supported by sports, F&B and event facilities, Klub Karma is the hub where all the guests gather for a range of social, physical and cultural activities. Equipped with a Grand Ball Room, Conference room, indoor and outdoor Swimming Pools, Jacuzzi, Isha room for meditation, it also houses a multi-cuisine all-day dining restaurant called On Kourse and an Italian dining experience at Pizza bay. The massive banquet halls, gardens, and pools accommodate up to 3,000 people and make perfect venues for hosting grand events and marriages.

The popular restaurant “Under the Neem” is aesthetically done and uses the produce from the organic gardens in the kitchen

Golf

Karma Lakelands is the proud recipient of India’s “Eco-Friendly Golf Course 2016” award by Golf Digest. The 9 -course hole golf course with an 18-hole experience has won an award. The spectacular vast greens of the golf course and the landscape have been designed by Mr. Phil Ryan( Pacific Coast Design, Australia) in a manner that players of all levels find enough spaces to practice their game.

A golf haven – Karma Lakelands

The Ak’s bar at Klub Karma is the ideal watering hole for players who come to quaff on a pint of beer or the well-crafted cocktail once the game is over. Needless to say, the vistas from the bar are picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful.

Fun for Children

There are enough in house activities for the children to keep themselves entertained while being close to the nature.

Children and adults both have fun on the trampoline

Strolling through the kitchen gardens gets them acquainted with organic production of vegetables and fruits. The yield happily finds its way in the kitchen restaurants at the complex.

The animal farm is a great way to get closer to the animals and learn about animal behavior. One can milk the cows, hug a rabbit or feed a goat- all the activities are thoroughly enjoyed by adults and children alike.

There are cows, rabbits, goats at the animal farm

The bee farm helps in the collection of a generous amount of honey, proceeds of which supplement the Karma daycare.

Children play area, trampoline, cycling, sports such as squash, badminton, cricket, football, and golf ensure that the kids have an outdoor fun activity.

An Initiative Towards Smaller Carbon Footprint

Karma Chalets takes initiative towards smaller carbon footprint by following strict sustainable eco-friendly practices such as water harvesting, no plastic policy, solar panels, bio-composting, no air or sound pollution, and sewage water recycling.

The organic garden

More than 2,00,000 trees and plants are in Karma Lakelands. The ecologically-friendly and the environmentally-safe resort have so much to offer for young and old. For city dwellers like us who want to de-stress after the daily grind of work and office, Karma Lakelands provides the haven to chill out, rejuvenate and connect back to nature.

Address:

KARMA LAKELANDS

NH-8, Sector 80, Gurgaon-122002

Haryana, India

+91 9599944988

Website: www.karmalakelands.com

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