Posted in chicken, cochin, custard, fish, fish tikka, fried fish, grilled fish, kayaking, scuba diving, soup, south indian, south indian cuisine, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, upma

Travelogue – Come and enjoy the pristine white sand beaches of Lakshwadeep

Can you keep yourself away from the clear turquoise blue waters of Lakshwadeep after you have visited the Andamans? An absolute no!

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Compared to the Andaman islands, Laccadive and Minicoy are difficult to visit because prior permission is required from the Government of India. There is only one aeroplane which flies from Cochin to Agatti island once a day and the ships plying between different islands has a frequency of three days. Helicopter services are also available but at an added cost.

We could only visit one island but you should plan your trip in a way that you visit not only Kavaratti(where you can indulge in water sports) but also Bangaram(where you can enjoy the mesmerising view).

Day 1

We boarded the evening flight from Delhi to Cochin and reached the latter at 9pm. We had booked a studio apartment in the Atlas hotel which is just 2 kms from the airport. The pick up and drop services were provided by the hotel.

The studio apartment was nothing short of extraordinary. There was a big hall with a television, a dining area, a spacious kitchenette, two bedrooms, one with the attached washroom and a stand alone washroom. The amenities are top notch considering the price – 4800 for four people.

Day 2

Waking up early to relish the Cochin skyline was a good thought. A beautiful view with towering coconut trees awaited us as we opened the balcony doors. But we could not keep basking in this magnificence as we had a flight to catch at 8am.

A 36 seater Air India plane is responsible for carrying the dreamy eyed travellers heading for Lakshwadeep. The turbulent airs above the Arabian Sea make this journey a tad scary considering the small size of the plane. But adventure is always welcome!

We reached Agatti at around 10:30am. Since this is a military airport, we are not allowed to shoot once we are out of the plane – army personnel make sure of that. This is the smallest airstrip we had ever landed on. The surrounding turquoise blue waters do seduce you once in a while to steal a photo shoot but no rule breaking here.

From Agatti, ships and helicopters are the means of transport to the other islands. We were headed to the capital Kavaratti and a two hour eventful ship journey awaited us as we clambered on the slippery deck. We had booked our stay at SPORTS complex and one of their people accompanied us and carried our entire luggage, which was a relief as it is a huge task to carry heavy items across a boat which is swaying dangerously.

The waters of the Arabian Sea are ferocious and the waves have a tendency to move the ship by 1 or 2 metres – enough to give you nausea.

We reached Kavaratti around 1pm and had a delicious lunch at the SPORTS complex where we had booked a stay for three nights. It was a lovely change to hog on the authentic Lakshwadeep cuisine which has evolved from the Keralite one. And to have this while sitting at the beach and listening to the roaring waves is another experience in itself.

Lunch – a delectable spread of fried tuna, chicken curry, beetroot prepared with coconut and rai seeds, chappati and rice.

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Dinner – Slurpy sweet corn soup, spicy fried tuna, dry matar paneer, yellow dal, chicken curry and beans cooked in coconut milk.

Day 2

The second day started with us gearing ourselves for SCUBA diving in the lagoon area around Kavaratti. The SPORTS complex offers experienced instructors who first teach you about the do’s and don’ts of breathing underwater and then they give you a first hand training in the shallow waters of the beach, thus allowing you enough time to practise. While Shrenee was able to cope with equalising pressure, I had a difficult time getting used to venting air pressure through my ears.

After 10 minutes of practise, we were taken by a motor boat to the area where corals are in plenty with colourful shoals of fish and sea creatures residing in them. The deep turquoise blue waters hide a vibrant world reminding me of The Little Mermaid.

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The evening was spent in a jeep which took us to all the nooks and crannies of the island. We also got to see the eastern section of the island where the general public is not allowed to roam because of the shallowness of the continental shelf.

The Kavaratti light house is one place that you should visit. The view from the top is mesmerising and comes after a hard climb of 180 stairs. And you have to clamber the steps without your foot wear which are definitely not allowed inside.

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Breakfast: Idli, sambhar and chutney.

Lunch: North Indian spread

Dinner: Two types of chicken, mixed vegetables and caramel custard

Day 3

The third day started with a lovely breakfast spread of fluffy omelettes, breads and upma. The upma was prepared in a different way – finely grated carrots mixed well with roasted semolina.

We were taken a small glass boat to the borderline lagoon area from where we could relish the colourful corals and fishes. Bread crumbs were thrown to the fishes which merrily ate them and kept swimming near our boat for more treats. The zebra fish and the parrot fish are regular here and the boat men said that they actually wait for their arrival.

Lunch: Dal, roti and chicken cooked with caramelized onions. The dessert was a mouth watering coconut cheese cake.

Evening was spent in kayaking around the shallow waters. You can get the kayaking boat for 200 bucks for an hour. It is one of a kind of experience to row the boat yourself and go wherever you desire. The water is so clear that you can clearly view the sea bed.

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One more advantage of staying at the SPORTS complex was that you are always on the beach where you can sit back and relax. The hospitality here was top notch. We might have missed out on Bangaram but where could we have enjoyed seeing those colourful fishes and beautiful corals! There is so much more to enjoy in Lakshwadeep that we are not crossing it off our bucket list anytime soon!!

 

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Posted in bourbon, burger, caesar salad, chicken satay, cocktail, custard, delhi, greek salad, grilled fish, gurgaon, Healthy, ice cream, japanese cuisine, lettuce, nachos, prawn tempura roll, Salad, suchu wine, sushi, Uncategorized

Feel Alive, Sector 29, Gurgaon

When it comes to a Friday night parties, I am not a big fan of resto-pubs playing the loudest possible music and serving the cheapest dishes and drinks on their menu in happy hours. Neither I am too fond of crowded lounges where you can hardly ever make a conversation. Many of us have moved on over the “My bar” type of parties and would prefer a sophisticated place to relax and enjoy.

Keeping all the above factors in mind, Mr. Vasul Chauhan, whose brainchild Biryani and Quorma Express is doing excellent in the Gurgaon delivery circles, has come with a premium property by the name of Feel Alive at Sector 29. The opulent ambience, the live bar, the elaborate food and drinks menu, the huge TV screens and the plush interiors will compel your heart to skip a beat. And the excitement does not end here. There are five party rooms for group get togethers which can easily seat around 18-20 people with a personal butler, a smart TV, kickass sound systems and comfortable seatings. Thursdays are reserved for Salsa and Fridays are for dancing to a live DJ.

And it does get better with the gastronomic experience….

Suchu wine sangria: After getting to know my love for Sangria, Mr. Vasul Chauhan, an accomplished mixologist himself, conjured a wonderfully delicate Japanese rice wine sangria. The refreshing taste of watermelon, guava and orange cubes coupled with the subtle tanginess of the rice wine was pretty appealing to me. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Caesar Salad: Thank God these guys know how to prepare a simple Caesar salad. The lettuce leaves were crisp and the parmesan shavings were fine, therefore adding to more subtlety here. No extra cream or cheese. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Chicken Satay with peanut dressing: After having the same dish at Yo China, I had developed a strong antagonism towards satay dishes. But the one served here is ohh-so-lovely in taste! The boneless chicken pieces are cooked in their own juices, they are soft and tender and topped with coconut milk with peanuts. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Grilled fish stick: Fish grilled in a marination of basil, spinach and coriander with the extra spice of black pepper is a wonderful new entrant. The fish is grilled – no disintegration. But it is slightly salty. RECOMMENDED.

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Jalapeno Cheese poppers: If they were called just cheese poppers, then I would have given it top marks. Because these poppers were warm with light melting cheese oozing out and enmeshing the finely chopped vegetables. The exterior was crumb fried and crispy but I really wish they increase the quantity of jalapenos in it if they want the name of the fiery chilli associated with it. RECOMMENDED.

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Prawn Tempura roll: Crispy prawns rolled in the finest Japanese rice with sesame seeds adorning the top – can not get better! RECOMMENDED.

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Yaki Soba: After this, I am definitely going to forget the Indianised Chinese noodles. Made from buck wheat flour, and cooked in sesame oil, oyster sauce and black pepper, these were ohh-so-light in their slurpy goodness. And lets not forget the fine juliennes of spring onions, cabbage and carrots. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Peri Peri chicken: Not the best one I had. The sharpness and the spiciness of the peri peri sauce was amiss here and the chicken was way too firm and therefore difficult to eat. The potato mash served was smooth but salt was the sole ingredient missing here. The grilled vegetables- bell peppers and zuchhini were done so well that their skins were slightly crusty and their insides juicy.

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Chipotle chicken burger: The French fries served with this burger were out of the world and were not overdone. But the burger was a bit of a downer. It was hot but the patty was not grilled properly and was a bit cold.

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Taco vs basa: Roasted tacos spread over grilled basa with lemon butter sauce and rice. The tacos were crispy to the core and the basa was delicious. The fish was grilled well and served with blossoming rice with the rich lemon butter sauce. RECOMMENDED.

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Bombay Rib pork: The pork was too hard and arduous to cut and served with potato mash and charred vegetables. NOT RECOMMENDED.

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Super Sundae: I actually ate this whole dessert. With a vanilla sponge cake at the base and two scoops of vanilla ice cream topped on the cake, this was was heavenly as it was topped with a custard mix, fresh fruits and strawberry tart. The custard mix was so creamy and subtly sweet. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Crème Brulee: With a crunchy exterior and soft and smooth creamy interior, this could win your heart. RECOMMENDED.

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Burn Bourbon burn: One of the masterpieces by Mr. Vasul, this one combines the fumy flavour of cinnamon and the woody taste of bourbon. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Feel Alive Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in bhel puri, chicken sandwich, custard, delhi, dessert, Healthy, italian cuisine, lettuce, mushroom, Pasta, porridge, Salad, shake, sweet, Uncategorized, white sauce pasta

Caterspoint, DLF phase 3, Gurgaon

Move over Fresh Menu, because Caterspoint is here! Why am I comparing this place to Fresh Mneu, which has already carved a niche of its own in Delhi/NCR? Because the diversity of dishes offered here can give a tough competition to Fresh Menu.

Just one look at the site, and you are baffled. Because these guys offer all day breakfast, fresh juices and smoothies, salads, pasta, calorie counted meals, desserts and heavenly shakes. And the prices are pretty optimal considering the quantity.

But I am pretty disappointed with the packaging. They sent me heavy smoothie and dessert jars in a light paper bag which was not sturdy enough to handle the load. Anyway, moving on to the food, let me share my food gasmic journey :

Khatti meethi bhel puri : A perfect evening time snack for the tea lovers! With the right blend of puffed rice, spiced peanuts and dal moth, this bhel puri is as good as the rustic road side one. RECOMMENDED.

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Smoky Chicken Jalapeno Sandwich : A healthy alternative to our comfort food, this one is made from multi grain bread which is not too thick. The filling is made up of fresh and thin lettuce, finely sliced jalapenos, juliennes of red bell peppers and cucumber and dollops of smoked juicy chicken pieces in the melted cheese and mustard sauce. RECOMMENDED.

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Vietnamese grilled chicken salad : A colourful salad with an equal dearth of flavours, this is a must try. The freshness of lettuce, the juiciness and tanginess of cherry tomatoes, black olives and jalapenos, the necessary crunchiness of lightly blanched broccoli and the spiciness of the juicy chicken will surely make your day. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Creamy cheesy chicken penne : Delhi is blossoming with outlets serving pasta. So why would I recommend Caterspoint? Because the creamy penne cooked by them is a class apart dish. With the prominence of fresh cream instead of cheese, the subtle sourness is pretty prominent here. The well boiled pasta is drenched in this food gasmic creamy sauce along with fresh black olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and parsley. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Exotic fruit custard : This was good and passable. The creamy custard was moderately sweetened and had fresh pomegranate, plum and apple slices.

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Apple Blueberry porridge : I wish I could have this porridge everyday. It was topped with fine apple slices, almonds, blueberry and had strawberry jam at the bottom. When you mix the layers, you get a very fine dessert with myriad flavours. The typical sweetness of strawberries, the creaminess of thick milk and the freshness of the fruits make this a masterpiece. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Wild Blueberry Shake : Another shake to give you the healthy sugar rush. The shake is thick and well blended with bananas and blueberries. The moderate sweetness of the fruits and the pink colour is pretty attractive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Cold brew coffee : I am not a coffee lover but I liked this one. The flavour of coffee was subtle here and the low fat sweetened milk had a good consistency.

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I could have given them a 4.5, but because of packaging issue, I lowered the rating to 4. I really hope they improve.

Caterspoint Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato