Media Fam Trip | Jaipur Marriott … memories of a lifetime #JaipurMarriott #roadtrip #travel #Jaipur #India

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
Arthur Conan Doyle

Jaipur MarriottIt was a weekend to remember, a road-trip to Jaipur that took us for the most beautiful and memorable time well spent. It was an experience that brought whole new meaning to the phrase “little things that matter”. A visit to Jaipur, the Pink City, will always hold the promise of magic. A visit to the Pink City hosted by the Jaipur Marriott resulted in magic, also doubling the joy and memories.

Jaipur Marriott, JaipurIt was also a ‘WEEKEND of EXCESSES’ … excessive pampering, excessive fun, excessive food and excessive care. ‘Little things that matter’ took whole new meaning at Jaipur Marriott. It was a media fam trip that has left us with withdrawal symptoms and nostalgia. ‘Yeh dil maange mor‘ was the common feeling. The Pink City grows on you. So does the Jaipur Marriott and the brilliant team behind it!

Jaipur, IndiaWe were a small ‘privileged’ group of 7, a mix of media, travel and food bloggers, and many of us were meeting for the first time. With us too was the very sweet and chirpy Binisha who was the best coordinator ever. Someone who never stopped charming us with those characteristic dimples, exuberant energy, positive attitude helping make the weekend totally worthwhile. There was of course the team from the hotel … exemplary in every way.

Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New DelhiIt went like clockwork from word go. Picked up from home on the dot as advised, we proceed to the Delhi Baking Company, JW Marriott, New Delhi to meet for breakfast. Couldn’t have been a better beginning! It was a beautiful start with possibly the best croissants we’ve had in town. Ceramic mugs of hot tea, coffee & chocolate, tall glasses of cold coffee and fresh juice did the rounds. Efficient breakfast service, fresh muffins, cupcakes. Then a stunning handmade card from General Manager Rohit Dar, Jaipur Marriott as a pre-welcome with a  box of goodies from the DBC… and off we went.

en route jaipur The promises of a languishing sleep, resting along the way from Ruchira were blown in the wind as we drove. It was non stop banter, mad laughter and ‘eyes popping-jaw dropping‘ information exchanged as we bonded. Strangely enough, most of were meeting for the first time and we hit it off splendidly. En route Jaipur, November 2014First stop en route … a local dhaba on the way for addictively good stuffed parathas and piping hot sweet tea! Yes indeed, the promise of fun days to follow! The next stop was the Jaipur Marriott. A different world from the dhaba, but beautiful again. I love how we can change gears from one world to another in seconds … from croissants to parathas … and much more.

Jaipur MarriottJaipur Marriott Hotel is entrenched with the cultural legacy of the Pink City and sports refined elegance and a contemporary look. The Hotel displays the finest blend of contemporary architecture with subtle ethnic design elements. Plenty of natural light in play with natural elements of water, plants, stone, bamboo offer a peaceful soothing ambiance. With 317 keys and the option of going up to 365, this is perhaps the biggest hotel in Jaipur.

Jaipur Marriott Given the royal treatment on arrival with tilaks, welcome drinks and silk scarves, we were individually escorted to our rooms, checked in within minutes and soon headed for lunch to Okra. I love the name the Jaipur Marriott has coined for this all day dining restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet, supported by an exotic ala carte menu available 24 X 7. Okra offers a wide array of continental and Indian delicacies, the ‘world on a plate’, leaving you spoilt for choice! With bakes from the Jaipur Baking Company adding delicious weight to the menu, go prepared and on an empty stomach.breakfast @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottHeading Okra is the affable and talented Executive Chef Sahil Arora, his vast experience and expertise in heading the team shines through. It is easy to see how popular the restaurant is as it is always buzzing with activity, run like clockwork by an efficient and passionate team. The Sunday brunch appears to be extremely popular. Given the range out on offer, and the sumptuous lunch and breakfasts  we devoured there, it is easy to see why.

lunch @ Okra, Jaipur MarriottChef Sahil brings with him the vast experience and multicultural learning through a rich career spanning various countries and diverse cuisines. His areas of expertise include Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine. He also possesses strong skills in French and Italian cooking, the influences visible in the extensive laid out menu. Jaipur Marriott, O2 SpaIt was a long, delightful lunch … after which we retired to our rooms to rest, and then set off for a complimentary spa session at the O2 Spa. Located at the pool side, O2 is a celebration of nature, right from ambiance and décor to the luxury treatments. Rejuvenated and fresh from the spa experience, keeping in line with a pretty paced schedule it was time for Lounge 18.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18An interesting concept this one. The lounge was conceptualised as an experiment of sorts and is a transitional lounge. By day it’s a lounge for the business traveler, well equipped and stylish, or for friends to get together, unwind and sit back. By night it transforms into one of the most successful nightclubs that Jaipur hosts. With a DJ zone, ample room inside with a spill-out next to the pool, it’s a concept that has even party goers from the NCR heading for a weekend break. Playing  exclusively house and techno rap, the lounge invites DJs to play there over weekends.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 2 We enjoyed an informal earlyish evening there. Sangria, Pomegranate Cosmo and other cocktails did the rounds along with some well thought up mezze platters. With a great assortment of cheese, fruit, cold cuts and crackers, the cheese platter was addictive and is a great addition to the menu as well. Finger foods galore poured in from both Saffron and Okra…and we were pampered once again! Just when we thought we couldn’t have another bite, along came dinner!! Keeping us great company were GM Rohit Dar, Lovesh Sharma, Director of Sales and Marketing and Sudeep Sharma, Director of Food and Beverages. It was a lovely relaxed evening.

Jaipur Marriott Lounge 18 The best end to the day was dessert – the most divine apple crumble with an in house cinnamon ice cream that was to die for! The pictures don’t do justice as the light was dimming quickly, with the bouncers now taking position, queues building up outside and the music beats going up. One peep outside and the lobby was filling up with the young and restless headed to the club! We called it a night as we’d been on the go since early morning.

Jaipur , the Pink City courtesy Jaipur MarriottUp early the next morning, it was a filling breakfast at Okra again, before we headed off into the heart of the Pink City for a day tour. Such a beautiful day, such wonderful company! Looked after like royals once again, accompanied by the ever sweet Ankit from the  Jaipur Marriott and a city guide from the hotel, we fell in love with Jaipur. So much heritage, a city steeped in culture, and so well maintained.

Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava @ Mystic Foodie Mantra

‘The Jaipur Gang’ – Photo courtesy Maneesh Srivastava@ Mystic Foodie Mantra

Jaipur CityIt was a day well spent, with most things on our to do list touched on. No shopping as such as Jaipur markets are largely closed on Sunday. We did buy the worlds best ghewar at LMB, some bangles at the City Palace etc.

Around JaipurIt was a long tiring day and heading back to the comfort of the hotel was like coming home! Tranquil surroundings, familiar feel and faces, a special gift bag in our rooms to greet us, we couldn’t have asked for more. A little rejuvenating rest later it was off to a much awaited dinner at Saffron, the contemporary specialty Indian restaurant that offers signature dishes from North India and Hyderabad. Saffron is headed by the enthusiastic, creative and talented Chef Paramjit Singh Oberoi.

Saffron, Jaipur MarriottIt was a nice surprise to see the set up outdoors at the poolside. Interestingly, Saffron opens into a deck along the poolside and is ideal for hosting  small private parties and get togethers. The hotel has been thoughtfully designed and the flexibility to use additional space alongside restaurants, the banquet halls etc is praiseworthy! Little wonder that ‘Weddings by Marriott’ is a concept that has become really popular here.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Chef Paramjits enthusiasm and creativity soon had us eating or rather overeating out of his hands. Melt in the mouth outstanding mushroom galouti kebabs,  chicken tikkas, garlic prawns, crisp crumb fried paneer, mutton kebabs,  and plenty more. The poolside ambiance was beautiful yet low lighting meant I abandoned my camera pretty soon. Dinner was set to be served indoors, but given that the party was flowing so well outdoors, an impromptu decision was made to shift the service out poolside. I love the flexibility of decisions, the informal camaraderie and the ease with which the team works.

Saffron, Jaipur Marriott Dinner was outstanding with possibly the best raan {leg of lamb} we’ve had, to a signature smoked butter chicken, , silky smooth saffron paneer, finger licking good maa ki dal and garlic naan to die for. On the side were a plethora of pickles and preserves that Chef Paramjit has learnt from his mother – garlic pickle, amla murabba, ginger murabba. And yes there was dessert too. Award winning crisp brandy schnappes with gulukand ice cream. Also phirini tartlets and an ingenious tomato halwa. Live ghazals played in the restaurant within, while light piped music filled the air outside. A fitting farewell dinner for a pampered weekend.

Jaipur Baking Company, Jaipur Marriott 600Time to bid adieu next morning, and we stopped by briefly at the Jaipur Baking Company. Led by Pastry Chef Anil Dutt, whose parents were incidentally great cooks too, the JBC has a drool-worthy menu on offer. The patisserie counters are magical, the baguettes and sourdough breads freshly baked every morning. There is even a candy counter at this bakery and  café which overlooks the pool. If there was one thing I missed, it was a visit to Chef Dutts bakery to see him at work. I would love to stop by and help him in his kitchen some day. I guess that’ll be another story!

Outside Lounge 18, Jaipur Marriott, Jaipur.Thank you General Manager Rohit Dar and your entire team for looking after us superbly. You have left us rejuvenated, in love with Jaipur and with a lifetime of fond memories.

Baking | Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies … #comfortfood #cookies #eggless #wholegrain

“You’ll never convince me that there’s more to life than chocolate chip cookies”
Charles M. Shultz

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain CookiesEggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies … cookies that are meant to be shared! I haven’t posted a cookie recipe for a while on PAB. Possibly since I don’t make new variations very often, or when I do, I forget to jot the recipe down. Ones that I regularly make are all time favourites like Wholewheat & Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies & these Not Quite Anzac cookies.

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies That morning I was due to meet a sweet girl who was coming in to meet me from halfway across India. I knew she was a vegetarian and I wanted to bake something eggless for her. Cookies seemed a good idea for the coffee morning. I had some Strawberry & Cape Gooseberry Quark Mousse chilling in the fridge for her too.

Spring Spring has all but given way to summer. Mornings and evenings are beautifully pleasant; the season inspires like no other. Flowers bloom, fruits spill off bazaar shelves, birds chirp, butterflies zip around. Baking is fun in this weather though baking cookies is fun any time!!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies The cookies came out delicious, even better since they were packed with nutrition and whole grains. I love the idea of adding nut meal to cookies. In my case I have to since the daughter dislikes nuts with a vengeance. She loves cookies with nut meal though!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies I baked another batch soon after as we flew into breathtakingly beautiful Srinagar for a short vacation. It’s always nice to carry a ‘taste of home’ with us. Though Srinagar is known for its little bakeries that dot the length and breadth of the city, my humble cookies were much in demand with the kids too! Srinagar, India ... paradise on earthOne look at the ingredients in the recipe and you’ll see the cookie goodness I am talking about. Almonds, whole wheat, amaranth {my latest obsession}, oats, and honey instead of  corn syrup!  Told you … these are deliciously healthy cookies. Indulgent too!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies Try them. Cookies don’t get simpler than these. One bowl goodness, fun to make, get the kids involved. Do watch them towards the end of baking. Honey in baked goods tends to lead to faster browning. So do keep an eye!

Eggless Almond Honey Wholegrain Cookies Healthy, fun recipes with amaranth, whole grains, oats {read lots of oats}, unrefined sugars, honey etc have kept me busy of late. I’ve been involved in doing a project for Saffola Oats here in India.

Whole foodShot two recipe videos with the very sweet Michelin Starred Chef Vikas Khanna for Food Food Channel, India as part of the engagement. You can catch the first episode for a Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Gateau {Gluten free} which has been uploaded onto You-tube.

Travel feature| GOA – everyone must have a plan to visit Goa!

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”
Earl Wilson

GoaHello again! It’s been a while since I blogged. Just got back from a short vacation in Goa. It’s a beautiful city, even though it was off season, a visit some folk may call no-brainer, but we LOVED it! The laid back lifestyle, the quaintness, the gentle mild folk, the lilting beaches and the Portuguese flavour all leave a song in your heart! For starters, I bring to you a bit quite a bit of colourful, vibrant Goa … then in my next post a Black Forest Cake that I made just before leaving Delhi.GoaReaching there from the mad hustle bustle of North India put us in the slow lane immediately. It’s a city of pubs, bars, sea, sand, sea-food, beaches, tattoos, more beaches, barges, beer, two wheelers, cashew nuts, coconuts, ceramic tiles, churches, tiled roofs, wonderful warm folk … and COLOUR! My visit couldn’t have ‘happened‘ so beautifully without Aparna who I finally got to meet after years of virtual blog talk! She’s been in Goa for years, got me the best cab driver ever, and helped me find my way around the city!GoaThe ‘now beginning to be quite terrible‘ pre-teen and me hit Miramar beach early in the morning, while the ‘not quite so terrible anymore’ teen snoozed! It was just me and the kids in Goa as Mr PAB was busy at work, so I tried to work around their interests which were quite limited actually. Sleep, beach, food, TV, sleep, beach, food, TV, sleep, beach, food, TV … and a little shopping. Go to Goa folks. It’s got something for everyone!!GoaI haven’t seen them smile so much in a while, loving the sea, enjoying the sand {and each others company} … almost like when they were toddlers! Goa did it to them … {they are back to being grumpy again as the temperature here in North India hits 45C and rising}.GoaOh and I also very bravely took the kids in a rickety old boat to the mouth of the Arabian Sea to see dolphins, but chickened out halfway through as the sea was really CHOPPY … and we had no life jackets!!Goa GoaJimmy Guzder's Bungalow, Goa We sailed past Mumbai  millionaire  Jimmy Guzder’s beautifully landscaped bungalow, which stood in stark contrast to the the Aguada Jail a few heartbeats away! Then the others on the boat panicked big time as the rickety old boat hit the waters alarmingly. Much to the horror of the kids, we turned the boat around even as they were ready to swim the choppy seas! No dolphin sighting for us!! Sahakari Spice Farms Goa En route to a south Goa beach, Majorda, I stole a devious detour and off we went to the Sahakari Spice Farm. We were welcomed with flower garlands and a warm lemon-grass ginger tea {very refreshing indeed}. Then led for an eye opening tour of the farm by the very affable guide Sachin. I thought I knew all a lot of spices, and was proved absolutely wrong! GoaTo end the spicy tour we were all served some fermented cashew drink before it became traditional Goan cashew feni... GoaIn the few days we were there, we did a short drive through of Old Goa, and managed a Mandovi river cruise  as well ….GoaGoa… and ended the trip with a second early morning visit to Miramar beach which was a brisk walk from the Vivanta Taj where we stayed!Black Forest CakeIt’s been ages since I made a Black Forest Cake. Cherries, plump, black, juicy and delicious ones have flooded the market of late and this quintessential cherry dessert cake called my name! Typically, the day I decided to bake the cake every silly thing went wrong, leaving me in a race against time … and I had to turn to a jar of canned cherries! The Black Forest Cake is a cake lovers delight … and that’s up next!!

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


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