dining in Kerala (just FYI: Total cost for 2 – around 4 dollars each!)

Kerala is a state in south India. Like Yorkshire in England, it is referred to as “God’s own country”. Obviously the phrase means, the big man above has a private garden of his own and he assiduously is gracious in welcoming you to come and stay!

But i would first venture out to say that food makes God’s own country so satiating an experience. The hindu  has this delightful article. Total cost for 2 – around 4 dollars each!

Hot black tea arrives on cue, as soon as we take our places. The tea is free and unlimited. The menu, a polished wooden board, presents a variety of naadannon-vegetarian options with an entire side dedicated to seafood delicacies. The gastronomic adventure kicks off with fluffy appams and fiery Kottayam neimeen (king fish) curry. Appam soaked in super-spicy chilli gravy is a delight to have with well-cooked cubes of fish. It is the same story with puttu and Kainakari duck. The thick, peppery curry has duck pieces that melts with a bite and is perfect with the soft puttu.

Meanwhile, the centrepiece of the feast arrives. Marinated in an assortment of spices, wrapped and cooked in banana leaf, the classic avoli pollichathu arrives in a steamy bundle dressed with tomato and onion slices. The fish, big enough for two, is fried and flavoured to perfection. After devouring it within no time and still not having enough of it, we go for a final round with prawn roast and appam. Fat prawns cooked in masala gravy arrive within a few minutes in an earthen platter. Chunky prawn doused in the caramelised gravy sets off an explosion of flavours when had with the appam. We wash it all down with another glass of black tea and call it a day.

Apart from the usual assortment of breads, Pankayam also serves special puttu variants with chicken, beef and mutton. For those looking for flavoured rice, there is the Pankayam pulao. Chicken and quail fries too are on the list.

Although most of the fish delicacies are available all through the day, traditional sadya is the only main course option at lunch with a never-ending supply of pappadam and lime juice.

mangoes in india – sweet and succulent; raw and sour

mangoes festival.jpg

sweet and succulent with history

I have eaten mangoes from the time I remember as a young kid in Hyderabad, India. Three were the interests of the summer holidays – mangoes, detective stories, and cricket. I’ll talk about mangoes.

for pickling

The season is in full swing in India. Right from the middle of April to June. My mom pickles the fresh raw green ones. As big as a pear. They have a awesome tangy flavor. It is a ritual in every household in south India that you gather with your relatives and pickle them. My mom’s eldest sister – my mom is the youngest child born to my granddad. The age difference is around 15 years, would come over and it is a day long process. At last at the end of the day the dishes with the reminder of masalas and ohhh heavenly, would be wiped clean with white rice. God bless them.

Now, I have always dreamt of a food vacation – and the Hindu business line has one such village. In Rataul village in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district.

Uttar_Pradesh_district_location_map_Bagpat_svg

Pic : source

“What is known, however, is that when Sheikh Mohd Afaq Faridi returned to the village after completing his inter college in 1905, he noticed this mango tree in its infancy near one of the farms. He asked a gardener to graft the plant, and in a year’s time, four mango trees sprouted. Thus began the young boy’s love affair with mangoes.”

“Years later, Afaq Faridi resigned from his job and devoted his life to this ‘sweet mission’.

After his marriage, he set up a mango nursery christened Shohra-e-afaq in 1928 and got it registered in 1935. He named this mango variety Anwar Rataul, now popularly known simply as the Rataul mango.”

And here is Mr.. Steve Parle’s article in the telegraph.

Early in the season (which starts in mid-March), alphonso mangoes are prohibitively expensive. I stretch them out by serving only half a mango, with a glass of chilled, spiced, sweetened milk: a beautiful combination

Source for the top picture is here

 

 

4350 Miles on

INDIA TRI-NATION HIGHWAYthis is a great story

Bengaluru to Bangkok on a 110cc ride

With the tri-nation highway connecting India with Thailand through Myanmar, which opened last September, emerging as the latest test of endurance and grit, a 28-year-old Bengaluru-based IIT graduate recently took up this arduous challenge to complete the solo journey across 6,786 km in 25 days.

Quitting his lucrative job at Cognizant here, Arunabh Majumdar also chose an unconventional TVS Star City Plus, a 110 cc motorcycle associated with an office ride.

“I got all the paperwork ready and on last Christmas day, I throttled on into my biggest road trip from Bengaluru,” said the youngster, who rode through Tirupati, Visakhapatnam, Konark and reached Kolkata for his first rest period of the trip.

“During the second part, I passed through Guwahati, Silchar and Imphal to reach Moreh,” said Mr. Majumdar, who crossed the iconic white and yellow bridge (yellow falls on Myanmar side) from Moreh to enter the Burmese territory and encounter his first border check at Tamu town.

However, Mr. Majumdar’s journey to the border was not easy. A minor collision with a car at Raiganj, West Bengal, forced him on detour to Darjeeling, where he fixed his motorcycle before starting up again.

“I always had a passion for long rides on any vehicle I could get my hands on. During my IIT-Bombay days, I just took off one day on my mother’s Honda Activa through the scenic Western Ghats to reach home at BEL Circle in Bengaluru,” he told The Hindu .

For the diehard biker, Myanmar was a surprising paradise with good roads, welcoming people and pristine locations. “I had a guide and an agent from the Tourism Department who escorted me for nine days of riding through the country where I visited many spots, including the historically significant city of Bagan,” he said.

Mr. Majumdar crossed into Thailand on January 16 through the last Burmese town of Myawaddy and entered the Thai district of Mae Sot. He rode on for another 600 km to reach Bangkok and end his expedition on January 18. “It was one hell of a ride and I think every biker must take that route and go through the experience,” said the Bengaluru youth, who has shipped his bike.

Source : The hindu newspaper – here

Former Headhunters of of Northeast India

the last tribeThe Konyak are a Naga people, and are recognized among other Naga by their tattoos, which they have all over their face and hands; facial tattoos were earned for taking an enemy’s head. They are called the land of Angh’s. They have the largest population among the Nagas.

The remote village of Longwa, with Myanmar’s dense forests on one side and India’s rich agricultural lands on the other, is home to the fierce Konyak Naga tribe. The largest of 16 tribes living in the remote northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, the Konyaks were warriors with brutal pasts, using inter-village fights to accede land and ascertain power. As such, Konyak villages are situated on ridge tops, so they can easily monitor and identify an enemy attack

640px-Ceremonial_basket_Konyak_NagaKnown as head hunters of North East India. In the recent past, they were known as war loving and often attacked nearby villages of other tribes taking the heads of opposing warriors as trophies to hang in the Morong (a communal house). The number of heads indicated the power of a warrior and the tribe and becomes a collective totem. With the exception of these behaviors, the tribal members maintain a very disciplined community life with strict duties and responsibilities for every individual.

tattooed face

From the tribe’s conception centuries ago, until the gruesome practice was banned in 1940s, the Konyaks were fierce headhunters. Killing and severing an enemy’s head was considered a rite of passage for young boys, and success was rewarded with a prestigious facial tattoo. With the last headhunting case in Nagaland reported in 1969, older tribesmen like Pangshong (pictured) belong to the last generation with these striking facial tattoos. (Neelima Vallangi)

skullsThe source of this article is here.

Happy Traveling

Goan Eatings

Goan (Goa, and it’s vicinities, India) cuisine is a melange of Konkan, Portuguese and Arabic influences. While Goa’s two major communities—Hindus and Catholics—both make liberal use of spices and seafood, Catholics use coconut vinegar, beef and pork—ingredients introduced by the Portuguese. The colonisers also introduced bread-making techniques and foodstuffs brought from other international colonies such as chilli, cashew nut, guava, pineapple, tomato and potato. Their dishes were given local twists: the spicy vinegar-infused vindaloo is a Goan version of a Portuguese meat stew cooked with garlic and wine (vinho e alhos). Here are five ways to discover how locals use spices and fresh produce to create mouth-watering dishes.

Take a spice plantation tour
Several spice plantations clustered around Ponda in south Goa offer an introductory tour, followed by a traditional lunch. This is an interesting way to learn about the organic cultivation of spices such as pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg; trees such as cashew and areca nut; and fruits such as jackfruit, custard apple, mango and pineapple.

Goa has several excellent restaurants which represent the culinary diversity of the state. Among the best is Panaji’s Mum’s Kitchen, which offers a mix of familiar dishes like xacuti (a curry with coconut, spices and poppy seeds), balchao (a fiery tomato-chilli curry) and cafreal (fried chicken marinated with spices).

Cook like a Goan
If your passion for food goes beyond eating, enrol yourself at the Siolim Cooking School to discover local culinary secrets. The classes are conducted at Siolim House, a heritage hotel in Bardez. Participants are taken to a market, introduced to local spices and ingredients, and given insights into the cultural and religious importance of food. They are also taught well-known Goan dishes such as chicken cafreal, pork sorpotel (a spicy curry of vinegar and chillies), xacuti and fish curry. Siolim House also runs cooking holidays for hotel guests.

Happy eating and traveling
Source of this article is Happy Trips here.

TripAdvisor TripIndex Room Service

Asia Travel is by far the most rewarding experience  – especially to places like south India, Indonesia, Sir-Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. China.

Once you get there, it is the cheapest place on the world to stay comfortably for a month with money spent on 10 Starbucks Venti Caffé Mocha Cappuccino per day. I am serious – you can live comfortably (good room, delicious food – breakfast, lunch and dinner), conveyance, and money to spare.

March 2014 release, amounts in British Pound Sterling. 1.7 US Dollars = 1 British Pound.

TRIP INDEX

This report indicates

Europe as a whole dominates the most expensive list laying claim to six of the top ten. Helsinki in Finland and Oslo in Norway take first and second place respectively while Zurich, Stockholm and Paris are placed fourth, fifth and sixth. Seoul is the only non-European city to be named in the top five most expensive destinations.

Travelers looking to bag a bargain should head south to Africa where three of the continent’s destinations feature in the top five places offering the best value – Tunis in Tunisia, Cape Town in South Africa and Marrakesh in Morocco. In Europe, the least expensive city destination for room service is Budapest, where a full set of basket items will cost over a third of the price of the equivalent items’ cost in Helsinki.

London is often considered one of the world’s most expensive destinations, but when it comes to the common costs incurred once checked-in to a hotel, the capital actually provides better value than many rival European cities. This year, the capital city is ranked 13th place in the priciest list – making it a cheaper option than New York, Paris or Tokyo. On average, London is more than two times cheaper than the most expensive destination, Helsinki, for each TripIndex Room Service item. In London, a club sandwich is £11.90, bottle of water £0.42, peanuts are £4.67, a can of coke £2.85, mini bottle of vodka £5.82 and to dry clean a shirt is £6.00. All together the basket of items costs £31.66 in London

Jakarta best value for room service and room rates combined.

While Tunis is revealed as the number one destination for best value room service, when you consider the cost of room service and room rate combined, at £111.87, the North African destination drops down to eighteenth place in the league table. With a total combined cost of £71.02, Jakarta, Indonesia replaces Tunis as number one destination for value overall.

In the most expensive list, it seems that pricey room service and pricey hotel room rates go hand-in-hand as eight of the costliest destinations remain in the top 10. This time however, New York City replaces Helsinki as the most expensive with a total cost of £258.35 compared with Helsinki’s £173.25, taking it down to eighth place in the league table.

Happy Traveling

Pulicat Lake and Bird Santuary – Madras (Chennai)

Pulicat book Cover page Pulicat book Cover page

 

Pulicat Lake is the second largest brackish water lake in India ( Brackishwater has a salt content (salinity) via media, between freshwater and sea water. Estuaries (river-mouths) and lagoons (bays or backwaters) usually have brackishwater. Brackishwater in such ecosystems is said to be highly productive biologically, more productive than fresh or sea water. Over and above this, tropical brackishwaters are more productive than temperate brackishwaters.)

It is very shallow lake (around1 meter depth, less than 3.5 meet!), and therefore a very large boon for migratory birds. A total of 168 different fish species have been identified in the lake.

Every year approximately 15,000 Greater Flamingos are reported to visit the lake along with pelicans, kingfishers, herons, painted storks, spoonbills and ducks. The highest concentrations of flamingo are found in the periphery of the lagoon where the water level is below40 centimetres (16 in). The concentrations of flamingos are also associated with high algal, fish and benthic diversity. Other water birds in the area include Spot-billed Pelican, seven species of herons and egrets, Painted Stork, Greater Flamingos, ducks, 20 species of shorebirds, gulls, terns, Little Grebe, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Asian Openbill Stork, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Lesser Whistling Teal, Spotbill Duck, Great Thick-knee and Stone Curlew.

Several species of wintering waterfowl have been noted including Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Brown-headed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern and Caspian Tern Birds of prey which appear in winter are the: White-bellied Sea Eagle, Osprey, Harriers and Peregrine Falcons.

It is close to Chennai (Madras), and also Andhra Pradesh

the lake is around 350 Sq.km. only. 84% of the lake is in Andhra Pradesh and the remaining 16% is in Tamil Nadu. This lake is divided from the sea by a spindle shaped island Sriharikota where the Satish Dhawan space centre is located. Three rivers namely Arni, Kalangi and the Swarnamukhi flow into the Pulicat lake at different points. At present the mouth of Swarnamukhi on the north, is fully silted up. River Kalangi meets on the North West and the Arni meets the lake on the South. The lake contains two inhabitated islands on the northern side namely Venaadu and Irukkam.

 

Hi all ..been to India and back

Wow, and Whew

Wow because I did not expect to have such a good time in India and whew because it is so cold here.

India is wonderful. I wish everyone would travel to it. Just this Sunday edition of the New York Times has this. It is truly a culinary delight. Man on MAN – the food is wonderful and cheap. Health and Hygienic (It is usually boiling hot). I recommend not to consume anything that is not boiling hot. Get it and wait till you can eat it. One my good friends from England says that I have an ‘asbestos tongue.’ Ha Ha, never mind. It’s worth to get slightly burned when one eats Indian food. Sweat, eat, Sweat again. Phew!

“Within five minutes of ordering three deluxe thalis at the large and bustling Bharawan da Dhaba in Amritsar, India, a waiter brought us round steel trays filled with our $3 lunch. There were a half-dozen bowls on each, which included spicy chickpeas with a hint of pomegranate powder, the black lentils known as daal and the Punjabi comfort food equivalents of macaroni and cheese — the creamy mustard greens called sarso ka saag and kadhi, a yellow chickpea flour and yogurt curry swimming with fried onion fritters. Lachedar parantha, whole wheat butter-layered bread, fresh from the tandoor clay oven, was our accompaniment.”

Happy eating and Journeying