Tag Archives: Food in India

Feeling Like Royalty in Udaipur
Feeling Like Royalty in Udaipur

Thank you India Someday for putting me up like royalty for these first couple of cities. The air-conditioned bus (with plush reclining chairs) from Ahmbedabad to Udaipur dropped me on the outskirts of town and I proudly negotiated a 50 Rupee rickshaw ride to the Old City.

My room (or shall I say rooms) at the Madri Haveli, in the master suite, made me feel like a queen. With multiple seating areas to choose from, nooks and crannies with beautifully shaped windows looking out onto the charming old city, a separate regal bedroom, and an eye-catching stone bathroom, larger than my NYC bedroom, replete with a giant tub, two sinks and a great supply of adorable Colgate toothpastes and other toiletries.

I made my way to the rooftop and was awe-struck by the stunning views of the lush mountains, beautiful lakes and enchanting city. I knew I’d be more than content if I never left the grounds and treated myself to some laptop time in what became one of the world’s prettiest offices.

I meandered the busy colorful crooked streets and worked my way towards the quintessential boat ride around Pichola Lake. I entered at Lal Ghat (where all tourists were Indian) and took the 250 Rupee ride around the beautiful waters, staring out onto City Palace and Jagmandir and Jagniwas Islands, quickly gaining a sense of the regal life of India.

Drawn to the green park space nearby, I wandered the windy paths, checked out some sculptures and spotted my first monkey hanging out.

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Working my way back to the haveli, I stopped to visit the Jagdish Temple, all dressed up with lights, streamers and statues, and packed with folks celebrating Janmashtami; Lord Krishna’s birthday.

I slipped off my shoes and joined the packed line of exquisitely dressed women in colorful saris to enter the temple, built in 1651. A clay pot dangling high above the open public square, I grew excited for the community celebration that would happen the following eve. For now, it was teeming of people, lots of music, and in the evening, a midnight procession marking the birth of Krishna.

I was thrilled to meet Udaipur artist, Rajesh Soni. In addition to photography, he does beautiful work hand-coloring, in fine detail, others’ digital pictures, many of which were on display in the Madri Haveli Gallery. We drove in his car to the new part of Udaipur, passing the famous Fateh Sagar Lake (or FS as they call it here), where droves of locals go to hang out in the evening, sitting on the waters’ edge and eating at the plentiful food stands across the road. He brought me to a typical Indian thali place where unlimited vegetarian dishes are served by eager waiters. I’m so loving the yogurts and delicious aromatic flavors of each meal more than the next in this country!

Our drive back was insane, his small car in competition with the motorbikes, bicycles, rickshaws, people, cows, goats and who knows what else. The streets are windy, super narrow and barely have room for one car to go by. He had an impeccable sense of the car-size and magically finessed his way through the tightest of squeezes, at impressively high speeds.

I retreated to my royal room and woke to a rooftop breakfast fit for a king. Fresh fruit, black tea, cheese omelette, banana crepes and four pieces of toast with an assortment of jams and that delicious Indian butter. I enjoyed learning that the Amul brand of butter I’ve been loving, started out as a women’s cooperative. Some women started a milk society, collecting milk from everyone’s house, which eventually developed into a large established company.

Ayurvedic Massage

I spent the day having my first Ayurvedic massage, meandering the Udaipur streets and lap-topping atop my glorious shaded rooftop. Struggling to find the place listed in Lonely Planet and overwhelmed by the plenitude of choices, I decided to go with a place in the Lal Ghat area where I was sold on having a woman provide my massage.

Loving a good massage and having experienced some of the best throughout my travels but never an Indian Ayurvedic treatment, I was curious. Throughout my hour of being gently massaged, I was curious if this woman’s work was indeed a good sampling of Ayurvedic massage because if so, I was going to exchange my rupees for bahts and head to Thailand!

Thankfully, the guy who ran this questionable operation, wanted a genuine debrief and had offered earlier to return my money if I wasn’t satisfied. Dissatisfied though I was, I didn’t intend to ask for a refund. We spoke at length about Ayurvedic massage and I much more enjoyed the next half hour of treatment he gave me. Moral of the story is make sure you go to a reputable place, especially if having a woman is important for you. It became clear to me that this woman had no idea what she was doing.

Overall, a restful day in charming, well-touristed Udaipur, the City of Lakes. I loved hearing the sounds of the Krishna celebrations and staring out at those beautiful hills.

Thank you India Someday.

Thank you You Wander We Pay.

Namaste.


Street Food in Mumbai
Street Food in Mumbai

Top five street food and local delicacies you must NOT miss when in Mumbai

Being the mad foodies that we are, we believe nothing defines a city like the street food it offers to its citizens; the regular and enthusiastic consumption of street food of the city is the major difference between a local and the tourist. A local knows his street food, a traveller wants to. This is the food you turn to when you are tired of the ‘ghar ka khana’ (home-cooked meal) or stuck somewhere and struck by hunger pangs or it’s that time of the month when your wallet’s light and you can’t afford a restaurant meal and McDonalds is just blah!.

Street food is the signature of a city, something that you can only find in a particular place, you can’t separate the food from the city and the city from the food, this is what the locals eat and swear by. If you want to see what the people of a certain place are like, try their street food.

In our first part of the ‘Street food in India’ series, we begin with the maximum city of Mumbai. Why Mumbai? Because India Someday is based in Mumbai, also because Mumbai is probably the most versatile when it comes to street food.reflective of it’s cosmopolitan ethos, the city draws in cuisines from across the country and makes them it’s own. Mumbai has enough delicacies to satisfy the most discerning eater, whether you are vegetarian or non-vegetarian or even vegan!

1. Vada Pav

You definitely have to begin your street food adventure with this one!  The king when it comes to street-food. Easy on the wallet and the food you can relate to most with Mumbaikars (citizens of Mumbai). It’s hot and it’s spicy; you can have it with the sweet tamarind & date chutney if a little too spicy for your palate.

A favorite lunch snack for Mumbaikars especially the ones who are in a rush (getting between places) or don’t have the money to have a proper meal, the vada pav is one of the few truly indigenious street foods of the city that developed directly from Maharashtrian and Portuguese cuisine.

Where can I have this? Getting a vada pav in Mumbai isn’t tough; you will find it almost everywhere.

Which one doles out the best? Aaram Vadapav, CST (42, Mint Road, Opposite GPO, Fort, Mumbai). It is a small stall right across the famous UNESCO World Heritage Railway station CST in South Mumbai. Dig into this with a side order of cutting chai! If you’re a fan of crunch, try out the samosa pav as well.

Hint: the stall is attached to a little restaurant and they serve up a variety of fresh and inexpensive local delicacies.  

2. Pav Bhaji

Another delicacy that tastes best in Mumbai, Pav Bhaji is a vegetable mash in thick tomato and potato curry, laden with generous amounts of butter, served with the local pav bread and garnished with onions and lemon juice.  Even the thought of Pav Bhaji makes one salivate.

Where can I have this? We suggest Sardar Pav Bhaji in Tardeo, near Grand Road station (Western Line) if you are in town.

If you are staying in the suburbs, Amar Juice Center is best known for it’s Pav Bhaji and the icing on the cake is that both are open well after midnight.

3. Kebabs

This one’s for our non-vegetarian friends. Mumbai, just like the rest of our country has a sizable vegetarian population. However finding non-veg street food isn’t difficult either. You can find the most delicious Kebabs on the streets of Mumbai.

Where can I have this? Sarvi we’d suggest, a 90 year old establishment with unbeatable mutton seekh kebabs. It is in Byculla, just next to the Nagpada police station. Get down at Bombay Central station to get here.

4. Pani Puri

Mumbaikars swear by pani-puri and that’s what it is here, Pani-Puri. Not the gol gappas, or puchkas of other cities, they are Mumbai’s own pani-puris.  A small crisp hollow puri, full of spicy mint flavoured water, tamarind chutney, chickpeas, potatos and lentils is a very refreshing dish. Please do not miss this if you are in Mumbai. If you can’t handle spice, let it be known to the guy making you Pani-Puri in advance to avoid breathing fire or being reduced to tears.

Where can I have this? We suggest Elco in Bandra or Kailash Parbat in Colaba, both these outlets use mineral water so there are no hygiene issues, also the taste is absolutely delicious. Don’t forget to ask for your sukha puri in the end!

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5. Bhel Puri

Bhel Puri is one of the most popular Mumbai dishes, a dish made of puffed rice, onions, sev, chat masala and chutneys, cheap, light and not as unhealthy (healthiest street food on this list) this is a favourite amongst Mumbaikars and a popular evening snack.

Where can I have this? Sharmajee and Badshahs at Girgaum Chowpatty, near Charni Road station are popular for their lip smacking Bhel Puri,


A day of travel, food and spirituality in Amritsar (India)
A day of travel, food and spirituality in Amritsar (India)

This weekend I went to Amritsar to do some research for our India Someday clients. The religious city in Punjab is famous for three things—the Golden Temple, delicious food and the Wagah Border.After a lot of exploring (and a lot of eating!) we’ve come to the conclusion that this is definitely one city you do not want to miss!

The Food

Amritsar is a food lovers paradise. From the moment you wake up, the amount of food you will manage to eat would be quite a revelation even to your own self. The alu puris (potato curry served with deep fried Indian bread stuffed with cottage cheese) and the chole puri (the same bread served with spicy lentils), are great for breakfast. Kanha sweets or Munim di Hatti at Lawrence Road are probably the best places to try these. For lunch either pay a visit to the Golden Temple Langar (we’ll get to this later) or visit Kulcha Land where for just INR 50 -100 they serve great stuffed kulchas and lassi. If you do have some place left for dinner head to Bharwan ka dhaba or Kesar ka dhaba, for some rajma (red beans) and rice or tandoori roti and veggies. If you have not noticed yes there is a slight bias, I am vegetarian.

North Indian food in general is a little heavy on the stomach, but eating in Amritsar is so much fun you will not stop. On every corner of every street there is something being cooked. From alu tikkis to fresh fruit juice, it’s all so tasty and delicious that I cannot stop raving about it. There is lots of butter, lots of fatty foods and loads of proteins and lentils, and the few days you’re there I would suggest throwing any diet out of the window.

Barring the taste the best part of eating in Punjab is the people. Punjabis are a jolly and lively bunch of people who love only one other thing more than eating—feeding someone else. So enjoy your meals hot and served with loads of love and smiles :).

The Golden Temple

The serenity and the beauty of the Golden Temple is mesmerising. People often compare visiting this temple to visiting the Taj and I can guarantee that it is equally spectacular, probably even more so. Continuous chants, the stillness of the water, the thousands of people providing service for nothing in return, and the ornate beauty of the Temple itself all adds up to make a visit here really and truly special. I would recommend also signing up and helping to cook in the Langar. The temple itself has a long line to enter no matter what time of the day you visit.

Side note: A langar is found in every single Gurudwara or Sikh Temple, and is a part of their religious beliefs. It is a 24 hour open kitchen. The food is free to all guests without any discrimination(you can donate a small sum of course and you should!). The entire kitchen is run by volunteers who work in shifts and anyone can be a part of this team. The food is healthy and nutritious and filled with love :).

You should visit the temple in the morning and at night when the religious book is taken back into safe keeping, around 10 pm. If you interested in reading up more about Sikhism and the history of the golden temple click here

Wagah Border: India’s patriotic pilgrimage

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Palpable in the air of Amritsar is the feeling of patriotism that is invoked when you visit the Jallianwala Bagh or the Wagah border. As sad and haunting as the tragedy of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is the Wagah border is on the other end of the spectrum, yet both are connected by a heady sense of history and Indian strength. Every evening at the Wagah border (the only road entry point between India and Pakistan), you can witness a fun and competitive Beating Retreat ceremony or the ‘raising/ lowering of flags’ ceremony.The passion with which the soldiers on both the sides fulfill this duty is incredible. Shouting, singing, the thumping of the feet, drums, dancing and trying to out do the other side makes for a surreal experience. 

Staying in Amritsar

The stay in this city is not very expensive, the lower range budget hotels like Akaal Residency are clean simple and good value for money. And you even have a few unique options like Virasat Haveli. But here I would recommend staying at a higher end property as you do want to go back to an empty shell after the hustle and bustle of the narrow streets. My pick would be a stay at the Hyatt in Amritsar, they have nice cozy rooms and the service is impeccable.

Verdict

In conclusion all I would like to say is that if you have the time then you have to visit Amritsar. If you do need help in seeing how you can fit Amritsar into your trip, let us know and we at India Someday can help you plan your trip.