Archive for the ‘India’ Category

A little bit about Mumbai, India… Part 2

We took the next couple of days easy, as we really both needed to get better for Sri Lanka. I was slowly getting over my cold, and Hubby was still trying to recover from this ‘Delhi Belly’. Our hotel in Mumbai was near Juhu beach, which is located in the central suburb of Mumbai, so we hung out a fair bit there.

On one of the days, we started by going to Prithvi Theater, which organizes annual drama festival that features the best plays from India. It also has numerous theater workshops and outside the theater, there is a garden café which serves delicious food on lamp lit tables. It is famous for its North Indian food and Irish coffee. Hubby ordered the Irish coffee, and I ordered some vegetables samosa. The vegetable samosa were so so but the Irish coffee was just to die for!

We then had a late lunch at Mahesh lunch home, Hubby ordered the baked pomfret gassi, which is baked fish which was a little dry but extremely tasty  and I ordered the chicken tikka, which was absolutely delicious, and a side of garlic naan. Both the baked fish and chicken tikka had similar flavours. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take a photo of each dish, as the waiter splits the dish in half and serves it to you.

The garlic naan were huge, it was thin and absolutely garlicky and delicious. I needed some curry to dip the garlic naan, however, we didn’t order any! Damn!

In the afternoon, we went for a drink at Vie Lounge and Deck. It apparently has the best location and view in Mumbai, right on Juhu beach. We spent the afternoon drinking and people watching.

Unfortunately there were a horrendous amount of rubbish on the beach, it’s not exactly the ‘beach’ you go sun baking , but it was indeed gorgeous, sitting there, watching the sun set.

Despite all the rubbish, there were people playing volleyball, football and cricket. There were even people running on the beach.

As the sun goes down, Juhu Beach turns into a fun-fair, where local food stalls and ferry riders horde the area. Like Chowpatty Beach (which is a relatively cleaner than Juhu Beach), it is a popular place to spend time in the evenings and enjoy the appetizing local snacks of Mumbai.

Here is a man who made our dinner that evening. We wanted to try the Pav Bhaji.

Pav means bread, Bhaji is a term for a curry and vegetable dish. Pav Bhaji consists of the bhaji (a potato-based curry) and the pav, garnished with coriander and chopped onions. This was absolutely divine! The curry was full of flavour with a hint of chili and the bread which was garlicky was a great compliment.

Hubby ordered a side of Bhel Puri, which is a puffed rice dish with potatoes and a tangy tamarind sauce. It was good but the Pav Bhaji was a winner!

We probably shouldn’t have ordered another icy dessert drink, but Hubby and I couldn’t resist. Check out all the different colours, I suggested any colour except for blue!

So Hubby ordered the green icy dessert, which consisted of coconut, nougat and cendol – oh my my.. it was divine! It was deliciously sweet! We pretended not to see the shaved ice that the man put into it, it was just too good to pass!

The Pav Bhaji was so good that we actually had it again the next night. Hubby really loved it, however, it really didn’t help with the ‘Delhi Belly’ which is a shame. We were meeting one of Hubby’s friends, S, for dinner one evening. S wanted to take us somewhere at Colaba, but Hubby was afraid of going too far, so we went back to Mahesh lunch home and I have to say, S, ordered extremely well! My my – what we had that night were amazingly good.

We started with the baked fish stuffed with shrimps and this was scrumptiously good. The fish was tender and cooked to perfection, the prawns were curry base with a hint of chili. It was SO scrumptious that I ate Hubby’s share. In my defense, Hubby was not really feeling too well and this didn’t sit well in his stomach! MORE for me!!! My my my…..

S and I then shared the crab, cooked in butter, pepper and garlic and again… this was so delicious, there were times where I just had to stop and pause! The crab was cooked to perfection, it was meaty and full of flavour! I came out of there smelling of garlic but I was deliciously happy!

I felt sorry for Hubby as he couldn’t eat anything. Everything he tried was either too heavy or too sickening. We ordered a light naan and a curry, which I didn’t take a photo off as I was too engrossed in my crab, however, Hubby could not even eat that!

I can’t remember the name of this, but S ordered one for me to try. It was different to say the least, it was mixed of spices and herbs wrapped in a leaf and you eat the whole thing together. It was ‘interesting’.

It was a great meal with S, and it was definitely great catching up with him. We will definitely come and visit you in Delhi next year or the year after!

Thought I would share just some of the highlights from our India trip. We had some pretty mediocre meal also, we had lunch at the Leopold Café and that was so so. Unfortunately we didn’t get to eat as much as I have liked due to our illness, but I am glad to say that we (well, I certainly did) recovered a lot quicker than Hubby.

Prithvi Theatre

20 Janki Kutir , Juhu Church Road

Mumbai 400049, India

Ph : +91 22 2614 9546

Mahesh lunch home

Kings Apartment, Juhu Tara Road,

Next to Juhu Centaur,

Mumbai 400049, India.

Ph: +91 22 5695554

Vie Deck and Lounge

102 Juhu Tara Road

Santa Cruz, Mumbai, 40054, India

Ph: +91 22 2660 3003

A little bit of Mumbai, India…. Part 1

There’s really no word to describe Mumbai (or Bombay as it was once called). For those who have never been to India would probably be shocked or find it quite dirty. I have friends who have been to India and when asked ‘what do you think?’ their response would be ‘been once, done that, never again’. I can understand why. It’s not your typical tourist sightseeing, relaxing destination – far from it actually. There are a LOT of people in Mumbai itself, the city is bustling with energy and can be a little intimidating for people who are not used to crowd and pollution. If you are not used to being stared 24/7 then, this is not the place for you! I was constantly stared at, and I admit, it did make me feel a little uncomfortable at first, but once you get pass that, and as long as you don’t attract attention to yourself either, it is ok.

I agree that one do need to go to India with an open mind. If you want to experience India at its best, you have to broaden your outlook / horizon. It is completely different to say Europe or US, it is an eye opener that’s for sure.

Hubby has wanted to go to India for a while now, we originally wanted to go to Delhi, and then make our way to Mumbai but due to time constraint, we decided to stay four days in Mumbai, to experience and explore the place a little better. I was pleasantly surprised with Mumbai, compared to Chennai. I found that there were more to do in Mumbai, from the Gateway of India to Mani Bhavan, the museum dedicated to Gandhi to Chowpatty Beach to Dhobi Ghat, to Siddhivinayak temple and the Hanging Gardens. Of course there is also the Oval Maidan, checking out the cricket, yes this trip was a little cricket involved but I didn’t mind it.

We started the day at Dhobi Ghat, a 140 year old place where clothes are washed. It is Mumbai’s oldest and biggest human-powered washing machine, every day hundreds of people beat the dirt out of thousands of kilograms of soiled Mumbai clothes and linen in 1026 open-air troughs. There weren’t as many people as I imagined but it was indeed quite spectacular.

After that, we went to Mani Bhavan, a tiny museum dedicated to Gandhi. The building itself is where Gandhi stayed during his visits to Mumbai from 1917 to 1934. It showcases the room where the leader formulated his philosophy of satyagraha (nonviolent protest popularized by Gandhi) and launched the 1932 Civil Disobedience campaign that led to the end of British rule.

We decided to go for a walking tour, which shows Mumbai’s distinctive mix of colonial-era and art deco architecture. We started from the Gateway of India, which is a monument in Mumbai, located on the waterfront in Apollo Bunder area in South Mumbai. The Gateway is a basalt arch 26 metres high.

The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, is a prestigious luxury five star hotel located in the Colaba region, next to the Gateway of India. We didn’t go in, but it was seriously impressive from the outside!

Check out the Chhatrapasti Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (Prince of Wales Museum) building – seriously remarkable!

David Sassooon Library and Reading room, where members escape the afternoon heat lazing on planters chairs on the upper balcony.

We thought about going into the National Gallery of Modern Art but decided not to but again, the building was very ‘British’ and impressive!

Walked passed St Thomas Cathedral…

And of course the Oval Maidan…

There were more places of course, but I won’t bore you with all the details! After the Oval Maidan, we decided to go to Chowpatty beach and walked along the foreshore

And of course, walk on the beach itself…

It was quite a humid day, and Hubby thought he would be ‘brave’ and have a mango icy cone. You all know that when traveling in India, one should always drink water from bottled water… Well…. Let’s just say that this mango icy made Hubby really REALLY sick – i.e. ‘Delhi Belly’ – oh the joyous of traveling! He said that ‘it was tasty and absolutely worth it’! Below is a picture of the icy mango cone. We saw one of our friends, S, a couple of days later and EVEN he wouldn’t eat that stuff and he LIVES in Mumbai – oh Hubby – so brave but yet so silly!

We drove around Malabar Hill, Mumbai’s exclusive neighborhood of sky-scrappers and private palaces. Didn’t go in the Hanging Gardens but were outside for a bit, and it was beautiful. It was indeed very different to the other suburbs that we went too.

We were in Mumbai during the monsoon season and you could say that we were either brave or silly. However, we were extremely lucky with the weather except for one particular day, which was the day we went for a walk, and we were both caught in the rain! Both were totally and utterly saturated, and unfortunately for me, I got extremely ill with the flu and was knocked out for a day in a half! I didn’t feel so bad, as both Hubby and I were pretty sick for the next day and half! Thankfully, we did enjoy another day of Mumbai (next post), a more relaxing day in Mumbai.

India / Sri Lanka here we come….

Hubby has been talking about going to India / Sri Lanka for a while now. Ever since I went to Chennai at the beginning of the year for a friend’s wedding without Hubby, he has been kicking himself for not going. We were originally going to time our trip with the IPL as Hubby is a HUGE… and I mean HUGE cricket fan. Unfortunately due to work and other issues that crept up we couldn’t go but finally… we are on our way!

We have been looking forward to it for a while now; we will be in Mumbai for 4 days and then Sri Lanka for 6 days. I am beyond excited; there are no words to describe how excited I am.

It’s been a while since Hubby and I went on a trip together. I have travelled without him the past couple of months, to China, Sydney and soon also Indonesia, so this will be a good and relaxing holiday for the both of us. He’s booked this awesome hotel in Sri Lanka – I won’t say where just in case it turns out to be a complete disaster but I have read and heard from friends, and it’s supposed to be absolutely fantastic!

Anyway – see you all in a week in a half. Stay safe and I’m sure I will have all sorts of stories when we get back.

Chennai – wedding / food / shopping!

Not my wedding but a dear friend from uni, R, was getting married, in Chennai, India and how can I say no to an Indian wedding? I have always wanted to go to an Indian wedding, lots of colours, lots of food, lots of people and saris!! As I told R, you had me at ‘wear a sari’!

I have wanted to go to India for quite some time now. Mainly with Hubby and to watch the cricket, however, the IPL wasn’t on at the time and we recently just got back from another trip, hence Hubby couldn’t get any time off… SO… off I went to India to meet up with some friends for R’s wedding. Cathay Pacific flies to Chennai four days a week – Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday (or something like that!) flight depart Hong Kong at 10.30pm and arrive in Chennai at 2.30 – 3 AM! I was seriously not looking forward to immigration and unfortunately for me, it wasn’t a short queue!! I was smart enough to organize a car pick up from the hotel though, as the last thing I wanted to do at 3 am was barter and figure out how to get to the hotel! Checked in and crashed! Before I knew it, it was 9am and time for brekkie!

Met T for breakfast and afterwards decided to go to R’s house. He told us to take a tuk tuk and did not specify how much we should pay! Needless to say, we got SERIOUSLY ripped off and when we got there, the tuk tuk wanted to stay just in case we wanted to go somewhere else so he could rip us more! Apparently, we have paid 4 – 5 times more than what was required – oh, the joyous of traveling!

It was an interesting ride in the tuk tuk to say the least – Indian drivers and their love for chaos seems a little traumatic at first, but I never felt unsafe even though we would sometimes swerve into oncoming lane to pass (and most vehicles have no seatbelts!!!). Accidents are rare, even on streets swamped with auto-rickshaws and motor and normal cycles! Let me also point out that the vehicles (trucks / cars) had no side mirrors! It’s like as though it has been swerved off and not replaced or just taken off!

We didn’t really do much sightseeing in Chennai (I wasn’t there for very long, 4 days max?) – we went to one of the beaches on Sunday, shopped for a sari (which had to be the highlight!) and outfit for the wedding for at least 2 whole days, ate well and of course, R and N’s wedding!!

Shopping for a sari was an event on its own! I never realized that a ‘sari’ was just a strip of unstitched clothed! I thought the whole outfit was called a sari – little did I know… the sari is usually worn over a petticoat, with a blouse that matches the colour of your cloth! Of course I had to pick one of the hardest colours to match a blouse for! I wanted something bright and ended up with something pink, orange with bright blue speckles / flowers! It took a good afternoon to find the matching blouse and believe me, I was so relieved when this was done! Of course the outfit was not complete, we still had to get bangles, and other accessories to match! Like I said, it was an event on its own!

I decided to get a henna – I might as well go all out right? When else am I going to wear a sari and get a henna? So got something relatively small on my hand and was glad that I did! It was absolutely gorgeous – the worse bit would have to be the smell and waiting for it to dry for at least 45 – 60 mins! Unfortunately for the bride, she was not allowed to get something ‘small’ – she was covered from her hands to her forearm and up to her ankles on both feet! It did look amazing though!

The engagement party took place the day before the wedding and what a wonderful experience that was! We went to a temple first to pray, then afterwards, the bride and groom hopped in the car whilst the rest of us walked besides / in front / behind the car with marching band. After a couple of laps of the neighbourhood, we got to the grooms place, where first, there were fireworks, followed by dancing on the streets, and then dinner on the roof top! It was a great evening and one I will never forget!

The day finally came when we all had to wear our saris and the wedding day. All the girls / ladies were in bright saris, the boys were either wearing a kurta (which is a loose shirt falling either just above or below the knees, traditionally worn with loose-fitting paijama) or lungi (also known as a sarong). It was great seeing all of us dressed up for this special event. It was a great wedding, different to the weddings I have been too. Unlike your traditional western wedding, there is no sit down dinner, no dancing (well not for South Indian weddings) and no speeches or anything like that. A ceremony was conducted in the morning, then in the afternoon, the bride and groom would go on stage and guests would come to congratulate them and take photos with them. Afterwards, we would eat at the dining hall and listen to some Tamil music.

This blog wouldn’t be a food blog if I didn’t say mention anything about the food right? I am not usually big on Indian food, however, the curries, rotis and desserts in India was just amazing! It made me realize that there are more to Indian food than just chicken tikkas, butter chicken, beef vindaloo, vegetable samosas and fish curry. R is vegetarian, so we had a lot of vegetarian food, like cauliflower tikka (which to me tasted like pork!), zaffrani paneer tikka (which is tikka cottage cheese) and dosais. My favourite would have to be these fried, round fluffy bread, similar to naan but so much lighter and fluffier… dipped into curries, I can at least eat 3 of these my own, which I am sure I DID! I have to admit though – one week of eating curries for lunch and dinner has seriously last me for the rest of the year. No more curries for a while!

Had a fabulous time catching up with friends whom I haven’t met for a while, and meeting new friends, and of course, seeing the bride and groom finally married!

To N and R – congratulations! All the best and wish you both all the happiness in the world!!