We had pre booked most of our stays and had plans to stay at a budget hotel in Bekal through a popular travel site. Needless to say there was a major screw as we reached Bekal and found out while eating egg pakodas at the beach.
Breakfast is an important meal in India it is more of an emotional need. The variety of breakfast items one can find in India, I am yet to see in another country. Every state that I have been to and I have been to around 20 states and 3 Union territories has bowled me over with the variety of food and the gastronomic experience that India provides. This is by no means an exhaustive list but features 10 unique breakfast dishes that should definitely make way into your stomach.
Poha is a very humble dish and simple to make but only the best cooks can make poha the gastronomic wonder that it is. Poha is prepared with flattened rice, lemon, onion and green chilies. This humble dish is prepared and favored across the states of Maharashtra in the form of Kanda poha, Madhya Pradesh and Gujrat. Most states in India have a form of flattened rice recipe but poha with a topping of namkeen is my favorite.
Credit – By Raxio00 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Oh man this one I think has ode’s written for it. The vada pav what students, workers and well anyone who can afford a 10 Rs can have for breakfast with tea. Take a bite, nip a green chilli and take a sip with tea. Vada pav ofcourse is very Maharashtrian and possibly embodies the spirit of Maharashtra humble but fiery.
Paratha With Butter
Paratha with butter is most suited for the tough terrain and the cold in North India, a popular Punjabi breakfast item. A paratha is quite versatile as one can stuff it with various stuffings like potato, onion, cheese or plain with different types of flour. A big (no make that ginormous) dollop of butter and you are set for the day! I have heard ‘rumors’ that this breakfast is then followed down with a lassi, that makes for some serious appetite.
Puttu With Kadala
Puttu kadala is from Kerala and though many others who are not from the state underestimate the taste of this healthy steamed and down to earth recipe. There are Keralites who will miss it and create makeshift puttu vessels just so that they can make their favorite breakfast or add it to the zoo advertisement that they have been commissioned to create.
Credits – By Simile Krishnakumar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Kothu Paratha is from Tamil Nadu and quite popular in Sri Lanka as well. Kothu paratha takes care of left over paratha from the previous night and gives it a make over so terrific that it catapults itself in the breakfast runway as a star.
Pongal happens to be my staple go to at any Sarvana Bhavan or Adayar Ananda Bhavan this Tamil beauty is rich as well as simple. An Italian friend once likened it to risotto. Pongal comes in sweet and savory and I recommend both depending on your mood. The dish is a mainstay in the Tamil New Year festivities of pongal. They named their New Year after this dish, need I say more?
Momos with Thukpa
Momos and thukpas have quickly become mainstream in the rest of India which has a migrant North eastern population. Momos for breakfast is quite filling and soul satisfying I must say. North east has many more such unknown gems that should have their rightful place.
Fafada and Jalebi
This is a very weird combination for breakfast for a south Indian but try it with an open mind. It is definitely worth it but then again I am sucker for Gujrati food. This combination is popular on street corners in Gujrat along with dhoklas.
Credits – By Sarika 1410 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Kachori with Aloo
Very popular in U.P and a few other northern states. Kachori as a breakfast dish has not yet reached mainstream but it is quite an interesting option any way.
Screw pine leaves or kedige is used as mould for the idli batter to give it a distinct taste. Mude idli is an authentic Kanadiga breakfast which is not very common today. Kamat Lokaruchi on Mysore road near Bangalore is where you can sample this rustic beauty.
Pictures Credits – Razor Rasu, Traveling Noodles and Wikicommons where credited.
I recently brushed off the last of the dust from our weekend camping trip to a farm in Mandya district near Bangalore. Hence I am writing this post when the euphoria is still fresh. This was a trip I had my eye on for quite a while because it had been a while since I had taken a nap under a mango tree or seen the naked stars in the sky!
A common question I hear from friends when asking about a trip is, ‘So, what is there to do?’ The truth is that if you are outdoors one does not need to manufacture anything to do or make packed itineraries because life happens. Here is what we did at the farm for not one but two days ( we ended up extending our stay). We drove into the farm after night had fallen (which is not advised as one needs to acclimatize at a camp) and got over fear of the dark as the people were genuine and friendly. We drank fresh cows milk right after it was milked and realized the difference first hand.
Sat around the bonfire and looked at the wilderness and talked to each other instead of at each other. Ate delicious barbecue right off the bon fire followed by a healthy and rustic dinner. Slept in a tent with a very excited toddler. Woke up the next morning to ducks quacking, chickens walking around and the ‘usual’ sights and sounds of rural farm life. Found duck eggs near the pond, made friends with a kitten and a puppy.
Met a chicken who had adopted ducklings as her own and waited for them at the bank as they took a swim in the pond. Rubbed a kitten’s belly who had taken it upon himself to protect the farm. Heard an elephant’s trumpet from the forest. Tasted some smashing dishes in which the masalas were ground by the village women nearby. Fed the hungry ducks their breakfast, read a book on a hammock and promptly went off to sleep. Decided to stay another day.
Woke up at the crack of dawn and watched the sun rise over the mountains, walked through lush farms in a small hamlet. Set off on a trek with a supportive toddler who climbed with us for 3 hours with short bursts of carrying him. Sipped endless glasses of lemon juice, heard farm stories and exchanged tales. What we did not do was bathe (though they have common toilets and running water but who has the time right) or get bored.
Photographs credited to Razor Rasu. This is a farm 90 kms from Bangalore near Kanchanahalli village, for more details head to Linger – Do Nothing Vacations.
The north east of India has a lot to offer especially for someone who is far removed from this culture and traditions. We had absolutely no idea about the food in Shillong that we would encounter. We knew the staple was a rice but beyond that we wanted to be surprised. (surprised is also code for too lazy to do research)
So for the ignorant me, my first agenda when I reached Shillong was to collect as much information as I could but from locals and not from the net and when it came to food in Shillong, this page from the hotel menu at Ri Kynjai, Shillong was my guiding beacon.
The items that we tried from this menu were Jastem, Khaw Khasi (red rice), Bastenga Chicken, Bastenga Pork, Chirapunjee chicken curry, Doh Thed Sdeh and Do O Pura. My personal favorites out of this list were Doh Thed Sdeh, Bastenga, the red rice of course and Chirapunjee chicken curry. I did not fancy Do O Pura or Jastem much however I did order this as I was a bit under the weather at the time. Also strangely my toddler rekindled his romance with noodles that he had encountered in Singapore.
A popular joint in Shillong happens to be Cafe Shillong which is a hangout place for the youth. This small cafe with walls adorned by football heroes and guitars dishes out some very yummy momos with amazing chutney and lemon tea. Cafe Shillong also has contemporary cuisine for someone who would like to go back to eat something more comfortable.
The local market has some amazing tantalizing tastes in unexpected places. We went searching for the ghost pepper in Bara Bazaar and encountered amazing pineapples, the kind that take you over the moon and back, dried fish (I am not a fan but I know people who are) and pickled bamboo shoots which is again an acquired taste as the oil used is typically strong mustard oil.
Meghalaya definitely has some very unique experiences in store and what I love about the place is that it is eco tourism and responsible tourism that is practiced ( so far atleast). The beauty of the north east is that each place has its unique culture, cuisines and folk tales that are better accessible these days.
Child Free Zones on aircraft are not only unfair to parents who shell out extra for kids – they are also practically useless and unfriendly to women. Here’s why.
While many countries are adopting child friendly policies, a very popular airline in one of the most populated countries with a lot of children among its occupants (i.e India) is planning to introducing child free zones on aircrafts. So just by virtue of being and having a kid, my ticket paying child (full fare since age 2) and I will be relegated to the back of the aircraft or some such place.
My kid is the most well behaved little human being when he is on the road but not quite so when at home; hence maybe I should have a child free zone at home! (Well, even the bathroom is not spared here).
I have traveled a fair share and my kid has traveled quite a bit since he was 3 months old. We have been on long haul flights, smaller aircrafts and most modes of transport except on a truck. In all these years of travel, I have maybe had one or two isolated instances when a kid (not mine) was crying or ‘being a nuisance’ and they did calm down after a bit.
In these stray cases the kids are genuinely unwell or possibly bored; maybe that is what the airlines should focus on instead of discriminating on precious leg space and making travelling parents feel like the scum of travellers. I agree there are kids who can be unruly but I can vouch for this that the parents of such kids would rarely venture on travel and if they do, they are doing so under duress (so show some tolerance people!)
Among the countries where I have traveled to, child free zones seem to be quite popular in the US whereas Asian countries especially China and Singapore are possibly more child friendly. Between these two approaches I would definitely vote for child friendly, where bathrooms have baby seats that moms can place kid in when they are taking a leak, play areas near the boarding gates for the young travellers and car shaped luggage trolleys – as the biggest loads (albeit cute loads) moms carry is usually their babies.
These policies are not only child friendly but also women friendly, because guess who is usually the primary care giver and solo traveller with two kids in tow? (Yes, there are many such brave souls). While we are on this topic of being child friendly, another distinct improvement which China and Singapore boast of are diaper changing beds in men’s bathrooms at airports and malls – because men love their babies too. In my opinion, these policies are more inclusive than such discriminatory practices and empty money making strategies.
I call these empty money making strategies because even if you buy your seat in the child free zones and feel quite smug and tweet something like,”I hate kids, child free all the way!” – if a two year old wants to be heard, you will hear him for sure unless the airline offers child free zones and sound proofing!
The only benefit of a child free zones could be that you would not see a child around you – but hear her you will. It is true that kids kick seats and that can be quite irritating but I have lost count of the number of grown-ups who have reclined their seats fully in the cramped space and fallen on my lap as I try to stuff a croisant in my mouth without any falling on the forehead of the person in front of me. Travelling is about tolerance and doing the best you can with the given space – or have we forgotten that?
On my first long haul flight with my then 5 month old, we pooled all our points and money and got one ticket in business class and paid the mandatory percentage for the baby’s ticket which almost equaled a full ticket in economy. When I took my seat with my baby an Indian ‘gentleman’ next to me was visibly shaken and informed his friend over the phone that business class is filled with kids, he was probably expecting child free zones!
First published on Women’s Web. Image copyright and credited to TravelingNoodles.