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 chicken, chicken dimsums, chocolate, dimsums, hot and sour soup, lamb, momos, noodles, soup, thai red curry, Uncategorized, wantons

Orient Heritage, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi

Lamb with ginger spring onion chilli – Fashioned in chips with julliened vegetables – carrots and bell peppers, these were way too chewy.

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Fiery chicken dimsums – Thin translucent skin enclosing finely minced chicken with the lovely flavours of garlic and chilli, these were BOMB.

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Chilli Basil chicken dimsums – Mellow and adorned with caramelized garlic – a perfect amalgamation of sweet and spicy flavours.

Chicken Hot n Sour Soup – Thin consistency with loads of vegetables – carrots, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage with shredded chicken – good but could have been better.

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Lemon coriander soup – It was subtle and good in taste but the ingredients didn’t justify the name. A plethora of vegetables – broccoli, lemongrass and mushrooms drenched in a tangy thin soup. Coriander was missing here.

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Noodles – Plain, slurpy, moist and excellent.

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Sichuan lamb curry – Thin consistency and way too oily, but goes well with the noodles.

Thai basil chicken cups – Minced chicken mixture with the loveliness of chopped garlic and onions adorned with red chilli and filled in wanton sheets and crispy fried to perfection – boy, I was in a dream while eating them.

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Thai Red curry with rice – Perfection at it’s best – the right quantity of coconut milk, lemongrass and curry leaves in which the boneless chicken pieces are drenched to the core.

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Chocolate peanut butter wantons – Crunchy exterior with warm gooey choco – peanut butter mixture is surely a heavenly dessert.

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Orient Heritage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in andhra, biryani, chettinad, chettinad biryani, chicken, chocolate, dark chocolate brownie, delhi, dessert, dum biryani, Salad, soup, south indian, south indian cuisine, Uncategorized

Nariyal Café, Adchini

If you are bored with the food that you have on every outing with your family/friends, Nariyal Café is your saviour. The restaurant serves some delectable Andhra, Kerala, Goan, Thai and Continental food. So the next time you are craving for something different, give this place a try and you would not be disappointed.

Flavoured Nariyal Paan – This is what anyone will desire in this sweltering summer. I had strawberry flavoured one and it was really nice. The sweetness of strawberry is delightful and surprises you as well. Best part -they even carve your name on the coconut shell.  RECOMMENDED

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Malay Laksa in Coconut Shell – So given the fact that I am not a huge fan of soups and I found this utterly amazing should count for something. The soup is made from coconut milk and vegetable stalk and is served with peanuts, cucumber, mint leaves and radish. The crunchiness of peanuts in the soup delights you and the spiciness of red chilli hits you at the right moment making the experience extraordinary. The soup is perfect for those who love their food a bit spicy and the soup still remains delectable even after getting cold. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

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Forgotten Grains Curry Leaves Salad – The reason behind the naming is that people forget the grains that are used in this salad. It is a healthy salad consisting of jowar, barley, pomegranate, onions and tomatoes in apple cider dressing but was really bland.

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Chicken Gongura- A perfect starter for all the chicken lovers where the chicken is cooked in Gongura leaves and Andhra spices. It wasn’t too spicy and had juilens of ginger providing  flavours from time to time. The chicken was extremely juicy and had black pepper on it as well. If you are bored with all the chicken starters out there, do try this one, its lip-smacking. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Chettinad Dum Biryani- The biryani is served with chettinad salan and Andhra raita. The raita was good but the salan was quite bitter. I had this kind of biryani for the first time and absolutely loved it. The chicken was juicy and was cooked to perfection. The spices had penetrated the inside of the chicken pieces taking it on a whole new level. (something which doesn’t happen with the biryanis I have always tried). Even though the chicken was perfect, the biryani was a little dry. RECOMMENDED

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Murugan Chocolate Bomb – The BEST dessert I have ever had!! It consists of a chocolate dome structure sitting in the middle of the plate surrounded by crushed brownie pieces and dry fruits. Then they pour hot chocolate over the dome and voila, the outer chocolate covering melts revealing coconut icecream inside. The amalgamation of the hot chocolate with the cool icecream and the soft brownie pieces with the crunchiness of dry fruits is just divine. Hats off to the chef!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Posted in asian cuisine, chicken dimsums, delhi, dimsums, noodles, pad thai noodles, soup, thai cuisine, thai yellow curry, tom kha soup, Uncategorized

Soi Thai Asian Kitchen, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi

“Soi Thai” roughly translates to “Thai street”. As the founders of this wonderful delivery outlet have travelled across various parts of Asia and have also been trained in the region’s food preparation, they decided to set up Soi Thai as the non existence of quality Thai cuisine at optimal rates inspired them.

All their curries, marinades, sauces and pastes are fashioned in house with no addition of preservatives and MSG. You can actually taste the freshness and authenticity of Thai flavours in their dishes. Here are a few of them that I recently tasted:

Tom Kha soup: A tangy soup with the right consistency and coconuty flavour is sure to entice your taste buds. The presence of fresh vegetables – broccoli and carrots with shredded chicken is a lovely add on.

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Chicken dimsums: Fine minced chicken grounded with yellow bell peppers and fresh coriander leaves enveloped in a light skin – melt in the mouth goodness.

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Tofu and mushroom salad: Finely crushed tofu and mushroom but way too tangy – sourness can be reduced. A bit spicy as well.

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Pad Thai Noodles: Excellent creation – a lovely medley of firm noodles, soft chicken, crunchy peanuts and sweet-sour flavour – what more do you want?

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Thai yellow curry: Juiciest chicken pieces with cubes of pointed gourd drenched in a thick gravy with coconut milk as base and with a  strong flavour of red chillies, black pepper and curry leaves. A perfect accompaniment to the soft sticky rice.

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Soi Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in cannolini, cheese cake, delhi, ganache, gurgaon, italian cuisine, mushroom, Pasta, Pizza, pizza express, soup, spinach, Uncategorized

Winter special menu at Pizza Express, Ambience Mall, Gurgaon

I thought Jaime’s Italiano was the go to place when it came to authentic European cuisine. But after a rushed visit to Pizza Express, I found another heaven for subtle European cuisine. The décor is elegant and classy with polished marble interiors and spacious ambience. The colossal open kitchen and bar are as immaculate as a French fine dine. And the servers, what to say! They know their cuisine well and are quick to suggest dishes suited to your palate.

So they have introduced their winter menu and if you miss it, then please don’t complain! This special menu is available till 30th January and here are a few of them:

Creamy mushroom soup: Boy, hats off to the chef for conjuring this warm liquid of pure brilliance. The soup is smooth, creamy and has the perfect consistency. The occasional bite of black pepper accompanied with fresh mushroom halves is as food gasmic as it can get. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Dough balls with spinach artichoke dip: The dough balls are freshly baked, warm and light to eat. And when taken in combination with the creamy rich spinach artichoke dip, a fine balance is achieved. The dip is made with fresh cream and cheese and is thick and smooth with the bitterness of spinach not very prominent – a feat in itself. The sporadic chewiness of capers is a welcome surprise. RECOMMENDED.

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Pollo Cajun Pizza: Created in rectangular form, with fresh cheese, capers, chicken and bell peppers adorning it on the top, this pizza defines the word finesse for you. The pizza is thin crusted and not too heavy or burnt. The fluffiness of the thin crust is commendable but I wish it justified the spiciness level of the word “Cajun” associated with it. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Arrabiata Cannolini: When I mention about a pasta dish cooked in red sauce being excellent, you have to believe me! Because I am not a huge fan of arrabiata sauce. The red sauce presented here was freshly made with proper straining of the tomatoes done. The cannolini pasta sheets were fresh and light and the mixture of ricotta and spinach was way too smooth, creamy and melt in the mouth. RECOMMENDED.

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Chocolate cheesecake : Dark chocolate lovers, cheer up! Because this three layered cheesecake will compel you to keep coming here time and again. The top layer is chocolate ganache which is a bit thick and bitter. The cheesecake is a bit dense than the usual cheese cake so as to balance the heavy ganache layer. The bottom layer is of cake mix which gives depth to this dessert. RECOMMENDED.

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

Posted in bruschetta, cheese cake, chocolate, crepes, delhi, dessert, focaccia, gurgaon, Healthy, italian cuisine, lettuce, Pasta, prawn, ravioli, Salad, soup, spinach, sweet, tiramisu, toast, tomato soup, Uncategorized, white sauce pasta

Café Amaretto, South Point Mall, Golf Course Road, Gurgaon

Nestled in a niche corner of the South Point Mall, this dainty little café should be on your list if you want to experience authentic fine dine style Italian cuisine with beautiful art paraphernalia adorning the walls of the place. Welcome to Café Amaretto, an elegant yet classy place with a touch of artsy grace.

The place is done up in soothing white interiors reminding you of the typical Italian restaurants and in the evening, this café is lit up in romantic lights, thus amplifying the ambience.

Shayal Taunk, the owner of this lovely place, is an enthusiastic young entrepreneur with a taste of the Italian way of life. She started this café as an art gallery but eventually, she converted this into a full fledged Italian restaurant where you can explore the paintings and buy them as well along with the best of what Italy has to offer in gastronomy. So let me offer my insights on the enchanting dishes offered here :

Focaccia: The taste of warm and freshly baked focaccia in winters is enough for a person to go into food coma. And the ones baked by Café Amaretto is worth mentioning. The bread is warm, soft from the inside and slightly crispy from the outside with the subtle flavours of fresh garlic, thyme, bell peppers and red jalapeno prominent in it.

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Bruschetta platter: The platter showcases caponata, yellow bell pepper and tomato feta cheese bruschetta sprayed with white sesame and is one of the best I have ever tasted. The tomato and feta cheese one is the finest among the three – with the fresh dainty juliennes of tomato and soft and salty feta cheese over a thin toast. The caponata bruschetta has finely chopped onions and eggplant with sweetness dominating it. The yellow bell pepper one is well balanced and soft.

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Pan fried prawns with garlic chips: Finally there is a place where the prawns are not smelly enough to destroy your appetite. The pan fried prawns are kept over thin slices of orange and topped with lemon butter sauce and garlic chips. The prawns are well cooked, soft and chewy. The presence of orange slices gives the dish a slightly sweet flavour in addition to the subtle tanginess of the sauce. The garlic chips are fried though not deep fried thus retaining the pungency and the added caramelized flavour.

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Tomato Basil Soup: We really need to move over the ready to make tomato soups, because hey, they are laden with preservatives and not good for health at all! And the flavours are not captured well in them. The one presented here is freshly prepared and will make you yearn for it, especially since the winters are here. The consistency of the soup is thick and the presence of chopped garlic and basil leaves provide some bitterness to an otherwise sweet and tangy soup. This one is served with buttered toast.

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Mushroom salad: These days, chefs are experimenting with mushrooms quite frequently and yes, we are not complaining at all! The salad here is made with fresh and juicy button mushrooms which are finely sliced and mixed well with peanuts, garlic chips and rice puffs. Myriad flavours live in this salad: sweetness and tanginess due to the sauce and onions, crunchiness because of peanuts and rice puffs and chewiness because of mushrooms. The thin slices of garlic chips provide the extra pungency to an already rich salad.

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Ravioli with tomato bread filling in lemon butter sauce: Of all the raviolis I have had, this has to be the most exquisite one. The ravioli is soft and freshly made and is filled with a fresh and fine mixture of tomato and bread. The ravioli is literally melt in the mouth. And the sauce accompanying it makes it that way. The sauce is subtly tangy and creamy and complements the ravioli well.

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Spinach and Ricotta crepes: The crepes are mushy and creamy from the inside and flaky from the outside with a very fine mixture of spinach and ricotta cheese. The sauce is tomato based and is freshly made with the balance of creaminess, tanginess and sweetness. The presence of walnuts provides an extra crunchiness to an otherwise melt in the mouth dish.

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Chicken with black pepper and mushroom sauce: The chicken is extremely soft and flavourful with the sauce slightly spicy and bitter. The chicken is served with juicy and chewy mushrooms and crispy zucchini chips.

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Ricotta cheesecake with strawberry sauce: The cheesecake is soft but firm, and the saltiness, tanginess and sweetness in it are finely balanced.

Salted caramel: Served on a biscuit base, the cream has prominently salty and slightly sweet.

Tiramisu: It tasted quite bitter to me though it was heavenly soft.

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Cafe Amaretto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato