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 bhaat, chutney, coconut chutney, delhi, dosa, gurgaon, Healthy, iddiyappam, pesarattu, rawa dosa, rawa idli, rawa masala dosa, rawa masala idli, south indian, south indian cuisine, sweet, Uncategorized, upma

Madhuban, Cross Point Mall, DLF phase 4, Gurgaon

Picture a setting where you can are enchanted by the aroma of incense and soothed by the calm ambience. Now imagine this place serving delectable vegetarian dishes sans onions and garlic. Will you pay a visit to this venue? I will, despite being a hard core non vegetarian.

Madhuban, a sattvic south Indian chain of restaurants has opened its gates to Gurgaon and we finally have a place to explore when we are on strict vegetarian diet. The USP of this outlet lies in its usage of fresh ingredients and home made ghee and pickles. And since this is an Andhra based chain, expect some fireworks when you eat.

Proceeding towards the dishes I tasted:

Poddi Idli: Soft idlis coated in ghee and gunpowder. The gunpowder masala is freshly prepared so the whole ensemble is a bit spicy. The consistency of the accompanying sambhar is perfect – not too runny with well cooked vegetables. There are four types of chutneys served with idlis : peanut based which is hot; tamarind based which is tangy and spicy and tomato based which is a bit sweet due to jaggery. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Pesarattu: A thin and soft dosa made out of moong dal and served with warm upma is a perfect breakfast. The pesarattu is slightly salty but has the richness of coriander and moong dal grounded into a fine paste. The upma is good and the presence of curry leaves and rai seeds make it pretty authentic. This is served with a ginger chutney which is a bit sweet (jaggery) and pungent.  RECOMMENDED.

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Semiyan Payesam: Move on over your slow cooked thick semiyan, because payesam semiyan is a light and delightful dessert. The vermicelli is just boiled and not ghee roasted and served in cold milk which is not cooked. RECOMMENDED.

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Idiyappam: My favourite. So instead of the fried form, I ate the boiled one and I relished it. The rice noodles are steamed to perfection and formed in perfect roundels and served with spicy vegetable korma and fresh coconut oil and milk. The korma is fiery hot concocted out of tomatoes and ginger and the coconut milk is oh-so-sweet and light. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Bissi bhele bhaat: Finally savoured the most talked about dish of Karnataka. A strong whiff of desi ghee accompanies the bhaat and when you behold it, the copious amounts used will entice you. The maelstrom of varied flavours : tanginess and spiciness accompanied with the richness of ghee, the nutty chewiness of peanuts and the pungency of rai seeds will leave you wanting for more. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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Cheese Dosa rolls: A fusion dish in their breakfast menu, this is worth trying. The presence of raw bell peppers compliments the crunchiness of the dosa. And the cheese, oh boy! The gooey cheese viscously pouring out of the dosa is overwhelming. But it is pretty salty – extra salt from cheese. RECOMMENDED.

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Madhuban- Sattvic South Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato