Chicken Tikka: The ideal chicken tikka should be drenched in the tikka spices to the core, should be juicy and tangy. This one fulfilled all these criteria but was slightly salty. But I will HIGHLY RECOMMEND this.
Afghani chicken tikka/Chicken malai tikka: Lord, please save me from the lovely taste of the afghani chicken tikka served here. Although slightly salty, the chicken pieces were slathered in the cream/yogurt mixture and grilled to perfection. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Veg Hakka Noodles: Thin noodles with oodles of vegetables never fail but a slight off taste in the cooking medium does spoil the experience.
Delivery: On time
Packaging: Hygienic and attractive.
Lucknawi Biryani: I shall stop myself from comparing this one with the authentic one from Lucknow. But I feel that till date, it is one of the very few Biryanis which is slightly closer to the original Lucknawi. The long grained aromatic rice, some of them drenched in the saffron tinge will entice you with its aromatic warmth. And who can forget those succulent and decadent mutton pieces which speak subtlety and class? The biryani is not spicy but flavourful and hot. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Godavari Chicken Biryani: So instead of the Hyderabadi one which is way too spicy, I decided to indulge in a novel Biryani and was pleased to taste it. The earthy flavour of curry leaves along with a peppery taste of coastal spices does satiate your taste buds. Add to this the crusty layer on the chicken pieces and you have a winner! However, the aggregated cluster of spices could be improved. RECOMMENDED.
I can chose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It’s all a question of how I view my life – #paulocoelho
That is our trek leader from @trekthehimalayas
praying to Lord Shiva and the mountain Gods after successfully leading a group of novices to the Nag Tibba top. Praying after reaching the top is his regular ritual.
He advices the travellers to respect the mountains and keep them as clean as possible because then only the mountains will respect you. He also believes that we can only successfully climb the mountain if we revere them from our heart.
First of all, thank you to the very talented and resourceful organizers at The Transforming Travels for organizing this unique experience in the midst of nature. Chandni Aggarwal and Mihir Panda, you people deserve a salute!
So how about a calming trip with least use of your digital devices, comfortable stay at a colonial bungalow with wooden interiors, surroundings that speak organic nestled in the lap of Himalayas and amongst gleeful people who share your passion for travel.
We were picked up from Mandi House metro station, Delhi at around 10:30pm in a tempo traveller with flexible chairs that did not give your backs a resounding ache. We departed straight to Haldwani through Hapur with occasional stops in between.
Arrival – Day 1
The village in which we were going to stay for the next 1.5 days was an hour and a half drive away from Haldwani and was called Khatauni village. A light shower greeted us at Haldwani with the soothing shade of deciduous trees protecting us from a heavy spell. First time in Haldwani – too good!
We reached the Silent Valley Resort near Kalsa river at 8:30 a.m. and were warmly welcomed by the owners who showed us the bungalow cum house with rooms that exuded the old world charm.
A delicious breakfast followed in the lap of coniferous trees and the wild twittering of birds. How delicious it is to move away for a few days from the city and enjoy a raw unhindered experience of the mountains.
After a few hours rest, we went for a short downhill trek towards the river Kalsa. The dried pine leaves occasionally give you a surprise slip but the pleasant s walk in the shade of the towering flora makes you forget them.
We also saw the organic farms in the vicinity of the resort where organic peas, cauliflower and other vegetables were growing and the workers engaged in their routine work rituals. We were warmly welcomed by the hosts to savour the fresh green peas from the farm and needless, to say, they were sweet and mellow.
The flow of the river Kalsa was moderate but care should be taken while crossing the banks as the rocks are quite slippery. I was slightly careless and slipped quite a few times. In one such incident, my Ray Bans went into the flowing waters and I had to hanker along to get them back from the clutches of Kalsa.
Sitting on the rocks at the Kalsa river is a therapy in itself. The cool environment and the music of the gushing water transforms you into a blissful state.
After returning from our sojourn, we were greeted with a delicious and humble home cooked meal of chappati, masoor dal, sautéed potatoes and okra. All the ingredients are organic and grown in the family’s farm itself. What a joy it is to eat a home cooked meal away from home!
After this delicious lunch, I preferred to sleep in my vintage room for four hours! The cool surroundings with the comfortable environment of high ceiling roof and woody interiors aided in a relaxing nap.
We were greeted with a heavy downpour which lasted two hours. The breakfast was shifted to the indoor wooden dining area while savouring the beautiful Himalayan rainfall.
We geared for our trek to the Karkotak peak while leaving our main luggage behind which would be taken to Bheemtal by our traveller. The trek started after the crossing the Kalsa river and the initial terrain was simple and levelled. Gradually the trail started involving pebbles and dried pine leaves with breath taking views of the surrounding villages and the mountains.
Some views would definitely remind you of those old Bollywood numbers when the protagonists get lost in some coniferous forest.
For me, this easy trek was difficult because of my ankle inflammation and the knee injury sustained a day before. I was always the last one in the group, so at times, it got frustrating. Those 8.5km seemed like a lifetime because of the slower pace of my legs and continuous drizzling but after reaching the peak, those two aspects were readily forgotten.
The Karkotak peak is situated at an elevation of around 1700m and a clear pristine view of the Bheemtal and Nauchekital is clearly visible. You will spot some local kids playing merrily around the temple area and you will slightly wish to be amongst them.
The descent was easier and we met many local villagers there and enjoyed clicking a few pictures in the tall mountain grasses. An hour’s rest at a local guest house and an hour’s hangout at a pub made us forget the tiredness of the trek.
Special thank you to all the fellow travel mates, who made this trip unforgettable.
Picture credits to Divyajeet, Gaurav and Mihir Panda.
What would an Indian household’s evening be if there is no item to accompany our freshly brewed tea? Or people like me can imagine a day without having a glass of milk without our favourite cookies to binge upon?
Wadhwa Bakers, the very famous family run bakery house in Lucknow continue to maintain their supremacy in the bakery/savoury circles of the city. Their products are synonymous with quality and freshness and my happiness was out of bounds when I recently received a package of non perishables from their side.
Kashmiri mix Namkeen: The heavenly medley of moong dal namkeen, sev namkeen with crispies and roasted cashewnuts is a perfect accompaniment with your ritualistic cup of tea. The crunchy texture is to die for! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Oats cookies: A crumbly texture awaits you as you bite into these slightly chewy goodies. The only drawback with these are that they disintegrate with the slightest disturbance. RECOMMENDED.
Sugar free kajoo biscuits: Diabetics and sugar haters, you can enjoy these cashew laden cookies with a soft crumbly texture that melts in your mouth. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Badaam lachha biscuits: Moderate sweetness with comparable texture to kajoo biscuits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Badaam lachha biscuits: Moderate sweetness with comparable texture to kajoo biscuits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Fruit cake: As if the waft of freshly baked cake was not enough, the smooth outer texture with mellow crumbly insides with embedded bits of tooti-frooti will warm your insides. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
There definitely arrives a time when you move over the glitzy restaurants serving fast food and return to the classy old school establishments which still serve the dishes of your childhood. Such places continue to improvise their dishes but maintain their uniqueness. And Shekaza is one such dine out restaurant which will impress you with their fine food and services.
We have a thing for Britishesque or European interiors with minimalism and Shekaza is the epitome of such specifications. The restaurant portrays soothing paintings with peaceful environs.
It has been running successfully for the past thirty years and with their impeccable service, we seriously wish they continue to achieve new milestones.
Non veg kebab platter: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Afghani chicken tikka – perfectly grilled and melt in the mouth
Fish tikka – extremely mellow and slightly tangy fish pieces with a subtle crusty exterior.
Gilaafi kebabs – firm and flavourful with hints of sweetness because of the presence of chopped bell peppers.
Chicken tikka – Spicy and tender chicken pieces which are difficult to resist
Drums of Heaven: For a change, this was hot but not spicy to the point of burning your palate. The magic of chopped onion and garlic along with a slight drizzle of vinegar and honey on a crusty leg piece of fried chicken can leave you in splits. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Dahi ke kebab: The sweet yet sour hung curd deep fried in a crunchy exterior of a secret ingredient (we are aware but will not reveal) is bound to give you a major food gasm. The presence of chopped green chillies and bell peppers does give a different dimension to these lovelies. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Lemon chicken: Boneless chicken pieces drenched in a subtle yet tangy gravy of lemon and fresh vegetables – broccoli, carrots, baby corn, zuchhini, garlic, tomatoes, sweet corn and spring onions – maelstrom of flavours which can not be forgotten easily. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Shekaza special Hakka Noodles: The finest noodles tossed with boneless chicken chunks, eggs, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, broccoli and spinach and served to you without the addition of vinegar – could we stop ourselves? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Chicken Rara: Boneless chicken pieces drenched in a tomato based thick gravy of fine chicken keema – why not? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.