Posted in Beauty, Love, poem, Poetry, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Will you?

You and I
We have seen enough sun rises alone
Welcoming the days with our
Solitariness

So will you see the sun sets with me?
When the orange ball
Turns a glorious red
And fades away a lovely day.

My cloister equals yours
My mind is in you heart
And your heart in my mind

So will you be the ocean
To my rivers and waterfalls
Gently absorbing me
Into another universe
And allowing me to consume you
Into my world

We have been alone
For far too
Too long

So will you climb those mountains with me?
That reside in mother nature
And in our minds..

Our souls are fashioned
Out of the same stardust
And the same emptiness
Resides in our hearts

So will you fill my desolation
With your kindness
And allow me to fill yours
With my happiness

And when this companionship
Over burdens us
Will you go for a temporary recluse?
And let me enjoy my own presence

And when this distance
Overwhelms us
Will you build a life with me?
And enable me to forge this world with you.

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Posted in asparagus, chicken, chicken dimsums, chicken schezwan dimsum, chocolate, chocolate roulade, delhi, dessert, desserts, dimsums, gurgaon, gurgaon restaurants, hakka noodles, icecream, noodles, schezwan, shredded chicken, things to do in delhi, tofu, Uncategorized, vanilla icecream

Nooba, DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon

I am slowly learning to move from Indianised versions of the global dishes and gradually falling in love with the authentic versions. Nooba provided a perfect opportunity for me to explore Schezwan cuisine fashioned from the expert hands of chefs from China.

Nooba should be recognized as a family restaurant with serene interiors. The staff is courteous and the managers know their cuisine very well. All the ingredients are imported from China so the authenticity is maintained.

Shredded Chicken: The chicken is fresh, juicy and not chewy which was a relief! The flavour is subtle and not too overpowering. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Fried Prawn: The prawns are fried but not deep fried and topped with peppery garnish and spring onions. The prawns were a fresh catch and tender in texture. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Asparagus in Bean Curd: Kudos to these guys for giving tofu an appealing texture. And kudos to the presentation as well! The lightly sautéed asparagus are delicately placed in crusty tofu and drenched in a light vinegar based sauce. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Chicken & Black Mushroom Dimsums: The dainty mushrooms enclosing a very subtle mixture of finely chopped chicken mince and black mushrooms should be hogged on to even when not hungry. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Mixed Meat Noodles in White Garlic Sauce: Wok tossed Hakka Noodles with a plethora of vegetables, lamb and chicken in a silky smooth white garlic sauce – subtlety at its best! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Chocolate Roulade: Move over brownies, the delicately rolled chocolate rolls enclosing gooey chocolate syrup and served with a scoop of cool vanilla ice-cream is the perfect way to end a delicious meal. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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

Posted in chicken sandwich, chocolate brownie, dehradun, dessert, desserts, dhanaulti, grilled chicken sandwich, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, mountain, mountains, mussoorie, north indian, pancakes, penne, penne pasta, sandwich, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, white sauce pasta

Winter special – Dehradun and Mussoorie diaries

I could never understand the fondness associated with Mussoorie amongst the hearts of the north Indians. In the 29 years of my not-so-boring life, I had never been in Mussoorie for than an hour and that too whilst visiting some village while crossing it.

And the title of “Queen of the Hills”? Maybe the Britishers gave that title. But I had to find out, enough years had already passed.

A friend’s reception at Dehradun brought the perfect opportunity Dehradun, Mussoorie and Dhanaulti. A mutual friend and travel buddy had some exigency, so I was left solo to wander these lands.

2018 winters bloomed early and below 10 degrees temperature was expected to hover on. After bidding goodbye to Nanda Devi Express, the biting cold welcomed me at 5:45 a.m. at Dehradun. I took the local taxi from the railway station to J.P. Manor, Barlowgunj which comes 4km before Mussoorie.

The taxi driver was a local Pahadi and kept on assuring me that I will be able to withstand the chill as I was shivering like hell despite the fact that only my eyes were visible. I was alone so slightly scared of catching the commonest of all colds.

It took me just an hour and a half to reach J.P. Manor and the journey from the taxi to the hotel reception was a battle between my body and the morning chill. Ask my knees, they will tell you better.

The staff at J.P. Manor was extremely helpful and courteous. Since the rooms were not available as the check out time is 2pm, they offered me the spa facilities for refreshing myself. They also upgraded my booking with least charges when one of the rooms got an early check out at the Valley View Tower.

And trust me, the room was fabulous with French windows, shared lawn and a view to die for. The only caveat was or were the monkeys who were monkeying around the lawn premises. I could only open the curtains and not windows. Sigh!

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And these naughty apes got more excited as my heavenly English breakfast came. The sight of omelette, bacon and sausages must have excited them and they kept on knocking on the window.

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An hour’s sleep and I was ready to visit Dhanaulti. The local taxi stand at Mussoorie has a good amount of experienced drivers who know the ways in and around. I was advised to visit the Eco park at Dhanaulti and the Mall road considering the shortage of time.

The road connecting Mussoorie and Dhanaulti is a winding one and offers spectacular views of the Greater Himalayas. I constantly bothered the taxi driver to stop at such locations and he told me eagerly about the various peaks visible. Kedarnath and Badrinath being some of them.

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I expected the Eco park to be just another playful park for kids, but the sight surprised me. The area is pretty close to a virgin forest where the vegetation is left in its most natural state. The greenery reminded me of the Maphland Sacred Grove at Shillong. The towering Deodars and Pine trees were in full bloom and the air was cold but fresh. The silence of the park was broken down by our footsteps and the monkeying around of the monkeys.

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I wished to go deeper into the woods but was scared of the monkeys. I have already gone through the Rabipure series against a cat bite. Hell no I am going for that again!

There were many gazebos and swings on which you could relax and revel in the serenity.

After the tryst here, I requested the driver to take me to those step farms where cauliflowers are planted. I expected a vibrant scene but got a very dry terrain. The locals told us that monsoon is the time of fully bloomed cauliflowers. Better luck next time.

The journey from Dhanaulti to the Mall road was slightly dreadful as my altitude sickness came back and the heaviness in my head increased fourfold. I was dropped at the Picture Palace from wherein I started exploring the bylanes of Mussoorie. The road is dotted with a plethora of cafes, bakeries, woollen apparels shops and of course the Maggie & the momos vendors. My first destination was the ropeway to the Gun Point hill so had to keep an empty stomach.

While the ropeway vault was full of newly-wed couples stealing a selfie or an embrace (which I tried to overlook), the underlying view was refreshing.

Gun Point hill was slightly disappointing because of the clichéd outlets there. Or rather I played those games in my childhood that they no more the charm anymore. But if you have a book to read, an empty belly to hog on to the piping hot Maggie and ample time to bask in the blazing sun, then please take a table for some time.

The Maggie definitely warmed my insides and the sunlight the exterior of course. My altitude sickness also got relieved. I could not see the Camel back road from there although I was advised that it will be visible from there.

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My target was to reach the hotel by 5pm because I had no intention of facing the zero degree temperature after an eventful day. I got free earlier though, at 4pm, after having a freshly brewed cuppa of Earl Grey tea at a café.

Since I had not slept in the train because of small berths and cool temperatures, I went into a short lived slumber before heading to Café Manor – the hotel’s Italian dining restaurant.

I ordered my favourites – chicken ravioli in white sauce and vegetables loaded pizza. The ravioli was freshly prepared and had the right quantity of cheese and cream. The veggie pizza when brought for the first time was slightly burnt but after a request by the manager, a second version was provided which was perfection. The quantity and quality both are excellent here.

The second day was reserved for the journey to Dehradun and trust me it was not an easy one. The winding roads wreaked their havoc  again and deep breaths were my only respite. Though when the cab driver took the car through the greenery loaded area of Garhi Cantt, I was in for a peaceful drive.

I checked into Saffron Leaf (where my friend’s reception party was due) and ordered a chicken sandwich. I was extremely surprised by the quantity of the breakfast – the potato wedges and the coleslaw were the icing on the cake! After a brief period of reading and resting, I was ready for the Buddhist Monastery in Clement town.

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After a drive of about 4km, prayer flags greet you as are en route to the monastery. It is a huge complex having a slew of stupas, temples, rotating drums and gardens. The setting sun casted a beautiful shadow around the huge Buddha statue and it becomes worthwhile to take a snap before it gets dark as well as late.

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The evening was spent at the Singh Sour Bar where the myriad variety of momos will baffle you. Vegetarian, paneer, chicken, mutton and cheese – you name it, they have it. We explored the vegetarian, vegetarian cheese, chicken and mutton momos and they were all food gasmic. The cheese ones tasted as if a small portion of Domino’s pizza had been enclosed in the momos sheet.

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And the evening would have incomplete without grabbing a sweet bite at Ellora’s Melting Moments. We tried Cinnamon Danish and Christmas Brownie and somehow I felt that the place is over rated. The Danish is supposed to be flaky & airy and instead it was doughy & chewy. The brownie was good but could have been better.

The second day began with a visit to Sahastradhara. It is situated on the outskirts of Dehradun and is usually thronged by Hindu believers. There are sulphur springs situated here and the waters are believed to heal one of diseases. But somehow I felt that this place would have been picturesque a few years back but is now marred by garbage and people bathing in it. The streams have a lesser amount of water which sometimes stagnates because of the underlying garbage. Nevertheless, the place is tranquil and the numerous tiny cascades with the music of flowing water provide a serene atmosphere.

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It is advisable to be wary of the transportation issues while visiting this place. Ola/Uber does not work here and a solitary auto came to our aide when we wanted to go back to city.

Dehradun is known for many cozy cafes serving comfort food and who am I to turn down the delicious affairs of these outlets? We wanted to explore The Orchard while enjoying the view of the mountains but unfortunately it open at 1pm. We decided to visit Café Marigold instead and the visit reminded us of our college days.

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The menu is not very extensive but the quality is to die for. The penne alfredo was beyond perfection and the maple syrup pancakes were charismatic save for a few raw bites. The honey lemon ginger tea actually tastes like the ingredients used for preparing it and Marigold special Coffee is their unique offering, which I did not taste because of my aversion to caffeine.

Overall the visit to Dehradun was refreshing and I fell in love with the ubiquitous greenery. The bougainvilleas in myriad colours, the sunflowers and the enormous roses are charming and beckon you to come here again and again.

Posted in Home, Memories, Prose, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Departing conversations

Dear old home,

The first time I saw you, I was not much impressed. You were slightly bigger than our previous abode and a tad not too welcoming because the sunlight only shone over my parents’ room, hall and kitchen. My room, the living room and the closed balcony were left at the mercy of the cold winds and a dense peepal tree. One of my brothers named you “Cold Storage” because of the sudden drop in temperatures experienced in the shadow regions.

I never believed in love at first sight, so here we are. Slowly yet steadily, I fell for you. Not just me, but my whole family.

You have seen me growing up from a nasty tantrum throwing over achieving arrogant teenager to a calmed down woman who prefers to lose temper once a year. Thirteen years is indeed a long time.

And today, as I sat on your terrace, I marveled at the sight of the dancing leaves of the Pipal tree. Their swaying motion reminded me of my yester years when I frequently came to the terrace for contemplation time.
And this peepal tree housed the naughty cuckoo bird whom we used to mimic now and then, only to irritate her. She got so frustrated that once her voice became shriller than the contestants’ of Big Boss.
Many Winters back, there used to be a cat and her three extremely adorable kittens and I played with them while studying for my 12th class boards.

And while I sat lonesome there, an angry bird (they have fiery eyes – they actually look like “angry birds”) came and rustled the fallen leaves. Their pitter-patter kept us entertained whenever the cats went hunting.

And the mango tree will be soarely missed. The way we used to collect the ripe and the raw ones was an unforgettable experience. And those mischievous parrots which ate the raw mangoes while chirping away with glee.

And of course the medieval era tomb which graced our eyes for such a long time. The view from the terrace and of course the dining hall transported us to those vintage railway/cantonement colonies.

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I let the December sun burn my skin as I sat there. I wanted to shed a tear or two because of the heaviness in my heart. I did but couldn’t anymore as you have already embraced my crying for a very long time. (I stopped shedding rivers a long time back.)

However hard I have tried to kept myself numb and cold, one day I had to break down and embrace my emmotions. I always thought it’ll be a man but you had to be the one to do it. (Now my husband will be very jealous of you.)

Soon you’ll have a new family to welcome and you’ll forget me. You’ll forget my tantrums, the colourful songs I used to sing and of course my booming voice. The answered prayers, the vibrant conversations I had with my friends and family, they’ll be a part of your ancient history.

After all I was just another girl for you.

Yours truly
A girl who is dearly missing you

P.S.: Have you swallowed my bottle of Brandy? My father seems to think that way. Wink wink.

Posted in Prose, Uncategorized, writer, writing

Maids of honour

Statutory warning: This is not yet another post on my wishes about my wedding and mother in law. I would rather call it an emotional one and I usually prefer to stay away from such poignant rants.

After thirteen long years, my family will be shifting from a plush south Delhi home to another lavish south west Delhi home. And as the date draws nearer, all of us start recounting our last shifting memories more than a decade back.

I am seriously not going to write poems here about my over-privileged south Delhi lifestyle where everything is available at a stone’s throw, the greenery and the cleanliness.

When you reside at a place for a very long time, you make recollections with the people you interact with, the trees that grow around you, the roads you walk on and the birds that come twittering to your balcony/terrace for their daily dose of leftovers. The mongrels which chase on your morning runs and the local cats who swoop into your lap like an attention crazy kid.

But the most important people with whom you forge an unforgettable bond are the house maids. Apart from keeping our homes in a sparkling state, our days are incomplete without the neighbourhood gossip they bring to our mothers’ otherwise monotonous days when we are occupied.

My Mom like any other mother has always been very particular about the cleanliness affairs and hence her affinity with the maids. There are good moments apart from the usual bitter-batter about “this corner was left un-swept”. I sometimes get a very peculiar feeling that she miser the maids when they are on their quarterly/annual/sick/casual leaves.

So when the last time we left Vasant Vihar, we were leaving a very understanding and hard working maid who had been loyal to our household for more than eight years. More than my Mom, the maid, named “Basanti” (colourful name though!) was more emmotional about our departure. On our last day, she controlled her heart and flatly told my Mom that she won’t be coming to see her off and would sit at a corner far away from us and would watch us leaving (teary eyed). In fact she was so attached to my Mom that she even wanted to travel to our current place (a 3km drive) and keep working for us. My mom still misses her I guess.

Here, at R.K. Puram, we had a spate of Chamelis, Lolitas and Maya. Maya is a fiery Nepali with a glass shattering voice but a good heart. She is a smart business woman and very sharp in finances. She does have a liking for my sister considering her homely and introvert nature. It always seemed to me that she was not much fond of us. But the last time my sister came for Diwali holidays, she was actually delighted to have her around. She even hugged her with teary eyes.

So let us see what Maaya does when we finally leave the place.

 

P.S.: Maaya and Chameli always liked me more because of my talkative nature and my ability to donate my new clothes to them. I can not help being conceited even here. Wink wink.

 

Posted in biryani, chicken, chicken biryani, delhi, dessert, desserts, dum biryani, imarti, jalebi, kashmiri soup, kulfi, mutton, paan kulfi, radisson blu, rogan josh, soup, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized, yakhni soup

Kashmir to Kabul – The Great Kebab Factory, Radisson Blu Plaza, Delhi Airport

Radisson does it again and with utmost poise. After experiencing their Thai restaurant Neung Roi, it was time for their Kashmir to Kabul food festival at The Great Kebab Factory.

The elaborate menu for this particular festival features an assortment of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian kebabs, curries and biryani. The non vegetarian kebab platter is a sinful and delectable affair with mellow galouti kebabs, smoked buttery Sumac Jheengha (prawns sourced from Kashmir), Saufiyani Kashmiri kebab which are subtle yet smoky, fine, tender & crusty lamb chops or Tabak Maaz, black pepper laced luscious Murg Kanti kebab and crispy Ajwain fried fish. I only tasted lotus stem or Nadru ke kebab which had a lovely grainy texture.

Usually, such buffet spreads prefer to not concentrate around light beverages and breads but the vegetarian Yakhni soup with sweet breads, Sheermal, salty & watery Chaanch are there to relieve your belly from the onslaught of delicious main course.

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The Rogan Josh served here was excellent with the prominence of cumin seeds and tomatoes and went well with soft Afghani naans. The chicken biryani was flavourful with succulent chicken pieces.

The dessert platter could not be more sinful! The crispy jalebis with thick and smooth rabri, the saffron & pistachio infused milky kulfi, the refreshing Paan ice-cream, the tepid Kheer and the unusual apple halwa will fill your alimentary canal up to the brim.

Happy Eating!

The Great Kabab Factory - Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Posted in brunch, chicken, delhi, food, food blogger, halwa, indian food, JW Marriot, JW Marriot Aerocity, luxury brunch, makke di roti, mutton, mutton biryani, mutton keema halwa, punjabi, punjabi cuisine, sarso ka saag, Sunday brunch, things to do in delhi, Uncategorized

Amritsari Swaad – the Punjabi food festival at K3, JW Marriot, Aerocity

A traditional cuisine specific food festival has a special place in my heart. Especially when that cuisine is from the Punjabi heartland of our country. So when JW Marriot, Aerocity comes up with an Amritsari Swaad Tadka at their famed K3, could I have said no? Absolutely no!

Starting from perfectly smoked Kandhari Paneer Tikka, juicy and tangy mushrooms – Tandoori Khumbh, spicy Highway Tandoori Kukkad (chicken cooked in hand pounded spices) and meat de tikki (chewy mutton prepared in aromatic spices), your belly does get filled after these appetizing appetizers.

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And what is a Punjabi meal if it is not relished with Makke di roti, Sarson da saag, chhole and stuffed kulche? Though the chhole could have been spicier although the texture was excellent.

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And for vegetarians, there is a dearth of varied options – Paneer Taka Tak (loved it!), Kadhi Chawal, Hare moong ki daal (now that is something new!) and Matar Vadiyan di sabzi.

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And for non vegetarians, the Mutton Chawal is one dish worth experimenting. The mutton pieces are succulent although the rice could be more flavourful. Do not expect Biryani, this is Amritsar special.

And the best one is always reserved for the last. Ever heard of mutton keema halwa? Yes you read it right, the keema halwa. This was warm and heavenly and tasted like moong daal halwa.

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So when are you visiting next? The festival is on till 25th November.