Travelogue | Jaipur… a trip down memory lane #India #travel #Jaipur

Atithi Devo Bhawah” Maharaja Jai Singh II

Jaipur, IndiaWriting about my trip into Old Delhi not so long ago evoked considerable interest. India has such a diverse and vibrant map, that it’s fun to talk about what the country has to offer. Sometimes getting off a recipe allows me to pursue something I enjoy otherwise, travel through India. I’ve done a fair bit of travel across the length and breath of this beautiful land. It’s a wonderful feeling to share a few bytes!Srinagar March 2014 We spent precious days in Srinagar in March last year, probably our most memorable trip in a while as we flew into the beautiful valley. Srinagar was truly ‘Paradise on Earth’. Soon after, bitten by the travel bug yet again, we headed for Leh, another absolute gem but so different from anything you can think of. We couldn’t get enough of it, and will hopefully go back there someday!Leh, Kashmir 2014

Leh, Kashmir 2014India is as diverse as diverse can be. Every nook and corner has something special to offer. Living in the NCR makes travel to cities like Agra, Jaipur and Amritsar quite easy to visit. Just a road trip away, it’s time to dive into one of my favourite cities to explore – Jaipur. With good expressways that lead to a city ready for international tourists, if you drive to Jaipur, make sure you take a breakfast or tea break at one of the dhabas en route!En route Jaipur, November 2014Winter is generally high season and even though there are a number of budget hotels in Jaipur, getting a reservation is quite difficult. Book in advance if possible, especially if you plan to be there during the festival season.  We visited Jaipur a couple of months ago as guests of the JW Marriott. While this might cater to slightly high budget guests, there are a number of affordable hotels in Jaipur as well.

Jaipur MarriottWith festivals like the Jaipur Literature Festival held annually since 2006, there are a plethora of hotel options available. If on a shoestring budget like friends of mine who visited in November last year, the best option would be bed and breakfast hotels in Jaipur.  Once comfortably settled in, the city is yours to enjoy.

Jaipur Marriott, O2 SpaWe had a really nice tour guide and taxi that the hotel provided. What ensured was two days of fun, fun and more fun. Jaipur is a beautiful city with the awe inspiring architecture, so well looked after too. Heritage around every corner, it is really well planned. The Pink City as Jaipur is also called, is truly ready for the global tourist, and is a photographers delight!

Jaipur , the Pink City courtesy Jaipur MarriottSpots not to be missed … to begin with , the City Palace. It can knock your breath away. Beautifully maintained, clean, embellished  doors in the central courtyard for every season, puppet shows, some souvenir shops too. Interesting bric a brac, old buggeys, family trees all delight the visitor.

Jaipur IndiaJust outside the city palace is Hawa Mahal, an architectural marvel. Dated in history, it’s a beautiful facade that has hundreds of small balconies and windows that allowed women in purdah to sit within and watch processions in the days of yore. The Hawa Mahal has a fascinating facade, while interesting shops dot the street around. Clothes, quilts, leather, silver, accessories, souvenirs … but don’t forget to bargain as you can get easily fleeced!Jaipur IndiaYour next stop should be Amer Fort sitting atop a hill. Just the drive up to the fort will amaze you. Precision of architecture, huge bolstered walls made of heavy rocks, beautiful landscape. One is filled with wonder at how something so gigantic and perfect could have been constructed so many hundred years ago. Yet another well maintained historical building, and it is heartening to see so many local tourists visiting the fort over weekends.

lunch @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottHow can you visit a city and not eat? If you are looking for fine dining, head straight for the JW Marriot. With four classy restaurants, there is something for everyone there. The 24 hour coffee shop will leave you wishing your stomach was an endless pit. The choice blows you away, with the freshest best food. If it’s Indian you crave, the Saffron is highly recommended. Make sure you try a signature smoked butter chicken, silky smooth saffron paneer, finger licking good maa ki dal and garlic naan. Also make time to stop by the Jaipur Baking Company at the hotel as it churns out the best freshly baked goodies money can buy!

Spice Court JaipurIf you are out in the city, and would like a quick meal stop then the Spice Court will not disappoint. We had the best famous Lal Maas at the beautiful Spice Court. The restaurant has a colonial feel to it, and offers a nice laid back atmosphere. No one seems to be in a hurry. For the sweet tooth, just alongside is a patisserie which offers the great desserts. Enter it and for a moment you get transported to a Parisian cafe.

Jaipur, IndiaWe hit the best local food joints too, and we couldn’t get enough of them. Must tries include pani poories, local word famous ghewar and of course the kachoris. Go with an appetite because the kachoris in Jaipur cannot be found elsewhere. Rawat ki Kachori has the best {read BEST} kachoris in town. Eat a couple, pack a few …you will not regret carrying back ‘the taste of Jaipur’. It one of the only ways to keep the holiday alive after you leave the Pink City!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Product Review & Soup | Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette in the Philips SoupMaker … and a giveaway

“Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite.”
Auguste Escoffie

Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette 600Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette made in the Philips SoupMaker. Days in the lives of food bloggers are sometimes very interesting. It was an exciting day when ‘it’ arrived. An appliance that was highly anticipated, and lived up to it’s expectations… after a few hiccups while I figured the soup maker out of course! From there on, it was smooth sailing! What followed was conversations that flowed smoothly {and sometimes chunkily} over soup of many kinds.

Soups on PAB I admire good kitchen designs. How fun and creative can minds get. I have been using the Thermomix now for several years and was always fascinated by it’s ability to cook and blend like magic. Along comes another option, at a fraction of the price, almost a tenth actually, and promises fuss free simple soups the winter through, and smoothies galore through summer. Bonus…frozen yogurts and fruit compotes too!Kitchen appliancesNew toys are always fascinating for food bloggers and this one shone. It’s a simple machine, though a better manual with CLEAR instructions might have helped. It took me a little figuring out, cleaning my steamed spectacles a few times. I wish there was a better manual to go with it, maybe better online videos. After sifting through very vocal and gibberish Spanish videos galore, an advertorial video on the website, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong.Mushroom Walnut Oats SoupFor my second experiment, a mushroom walnut oat soup, one of my all time favourites that I cooked with Chef Vikas Khanna for Food Food Tv. I wanted chunky soup and presumed that it would give me ‘chunky chop’. So I cooked it, and cooked it…and cooked it again. Thought the machine was spoilt. Later, the better half suggested that maybe chunky is cooked but with the choice of pre-cut sizes. Obviously he was right!! I turned to something quite genius the machine offers – a manual blend!Soups on PAB In the beginning I forgot to add oil, butter etc. Later I realised that it didn’t really matter. You can always top soup with some EVOO, a vinaigrette, butter or Parmesan. Once I got the hang of things, we were swinging soups by a dime a dozen! I loved some things about the soup maker, not least how sleek and shiny it was.

  • It fits small on the counter, so is great for compact kitchens. Of course, it’s great for big kitchens too. Mine is spacious, and the soup maker is sitting happily next to the Thermomix and Philips AirFryer
  • It’s simple to use once you get the hang of it. Just put everything in, give it a good stir, shut it and forget about it. Turns off after the soup is made.
  • Makes a comfortable serving of 4.
  • Keeps the soup nice and warm since the body is like a thermos.
  • Is handy to take to the table as the cord slips off easily, transforming the soup maker into an elegant jug.
  • Has a clean, non drip, pourable spout.
  • Last but certainly not the least, it’s a quick wash and dry design. No uncomfortable bits an bobs to deal with, a straight clean jug.
  • Did I tell you that the finger touch menu buttons on the top are neat, fascinating and so simple? {Don’t push them too often the first time, or the poor thing gets confused. I know because I confused the poor machine, then called Ruchira for advice! My problem was eventually the ‘chunky chop’}

Baby Mustard Greens, Turnip & Almond Soup with a Mustard Vinaigrette The good thing is that once you get a HANG of things which should ‘happen’ almost instantly {I confused mine with my Thermomix which behaves a little differently}, there’s no looking back. Suddenly soups are all you want and your creativity takes over. I’ve been in this healthy ‘fitfoodie‘ frame of mind even more of late while working with Saffola as part of their Fit Foodie Panel. The soup maker makes me think out of the box even more! It takes the ‘work out of the soup’.

Saffola Oats Fit FoodieIf you are looking for inspiration, the Philips SoupMaker comes with a packed book of recipes. Interesting smooth to chunky soups across seasons, hot & cold soup recipes, smoothies, compotes, frozen yogurts too. Use local produce like fresh beetroot, baby mustard greens, or go gourmet with ingredients like courgettes and Gorgonzola cheese, the book has something for everyone. Even quick recipes for fruit compotes with apples and plums, and smoothies! A quick strawberry fro yo tempts you so. I know where the mangoes will head this summer!

Fresh produceQuick, easy and pleasing to the eye is how Philips as a brand has developed kitchen appliances. The AirFryer was one such example, and the rice cooker is another. Philips has been nice to offer a Daily Rice Cooker as a giveaway to a reader of my blog.

Philips Rice Cooker

To qualify,
All you need to do is leave a comment telling me what your favourite soup is.
Please leave a valid email address. Will pick a random winner at the end of the month.
The giveaway is open to anyone who has a permanent address in India.
Thank you for being part of the giveaway!

 

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Feature | Walking through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning #winter #food #props #delhi

‘Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.”
Jonathan Safran Foer

Old DelhiThere can be nothing better than an impromptu walk through the streets of Old Delhi on a cold winter morning. Unplanned turned out even better. One day, a couple of weeks ago, I tumbled out of bed feeling restless and tired of work. The cold had been getting to me, work progressing slow and somewhat unsatisfactory! I needed a fix, and for me it was an instant decision.

Old Delhi With Mr PAB away in HKG, it was a free day. I literally tumbled out of bed into a very foggy and cold morning. Then bitten by the familiar addictive ‘old delhi bug‘ once again, within the hour I was on a train into the beautiful old city. The experience is always enriching, and to my delight, I found this impulsive visit an eye opener.Old Delhi 3For me, Purani Dilli or Old Delhi, or the walled city too as it is sometimes called, is synonymous with two things. Prop shopping is the big bait for the incorrigible prop collector that I am. And obviously, some of the best places to eat in Delhi is the other. It’s the ambiance that charms you, tempts you to go back over and over again – the flavours, the sights and sounds, the cacophony!

Old Delhi No North Indian food is complete without sweets, and the streets of the old city do not disappoint! Having never been to Old Delhi during the peak of winter, I was elated to dive straight into a light, airy and heavenly bowl of the elusive Daulat ki Chaat. Pure love!! It was everything Pamela Timms wrote it to be in her beautifully written book on Old Delhi – Kheer, Korma & Kismet! In the back of my head, the pages of her book turned, one by one. So much connect. Felt like kismet.

Old Delhi A quick chat with the gentle, sweet salesman and a few quick clicks later, I set off towards Jama Masjid. I wandered down the street which is home to some of the best restaurants in Delhi that offer old world rustic charm. Fresh, artisan food, aromatic, as spicy as you like it, flavours hard to find elsewhere. It was early and I wasn’t hungry for a meal, so just took in the flavours wafting through the air while lunch was being prepared. No sense of urgency at all, a languid charm, a nip in the air, lots of tea brewing everywhere..

Old Delhi Like most restaurants in Delhi, there is plenty of choice on offer here, though mainly North Indian cuisine. Since I was alone, I had plenty of time to take it all in. One place that caught my eye was a tiny little eatery offering Wazwan, Kashmiri cuisine. The tables already full with folk enjoying a late breakfast or an early lunch perhaps, the restaurant owner, an old man, was quite happy to chat with me. Old Delhi We talked about Srinagar since I had been there just last year, typical dishes {goshtaba, rajma, haaq, tabaq maaz, rogan josh}, that they cook everything on the first floor, how people come from far and wide to eat their food. I was really tempted but alas, with no appetite, instead opted for a nice cup of Kashmiri Namak Chai {salted tea}. What a revelation. Salty tea … deep, earthy, warming. Almost soup like! The best part was that the old man refused to take money for it. And that stunning samovar… a thing of everlasting beauty!

Old Delhi The samovar reminding me of why I was here, but sadly the shop I went in search for was shut. Quite disheartened, I hailed a rickshaw back to Chawri Bazaar and reluctantly stopped at a random copperware shop. Must have been my lucky day as the owners were more than happy to oblige! I returned giddily happy with stuff I fell in love with, stuff they couldn’t understand why I was so happy to buy. Once cleaned up, it shone. And how!!Old Delhi , food propsSpirits revived, it was another rickshaw ride again, this time to Khari Baoli as I had a promise to keep. Since it was past noon, the market is packed. Being Asia’s biggest spice market, trading is at a frenzy. The crowds carry you along, and it’s easy to get lost in all this mayhem. Visit it during winters as in summer the crowds can be pretty overpowering if you know what I mean. Bought some enamelware for a friend, some dry fruits that are always a part of the shopping list, took in the sights, sounds and smells… then very satisfied headed back to the train station. It was time to go back.

Old Delhi With a head full of memories and a bagful of goodies I reached home cold, exhausted but so so happy! I love any trip into the old city. The next trip will be on an empty stomach and with friends. The charm beckons you, the aromas call your name … kormas, rotis, rusks, sewain… it’s a food paradise. A food prop paradise too if you are lucky!

Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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