Saturday, 28 February 2015

Cabbage Foogath

Goa!!! That word surely make my eyes shine as my love for that place grows each and every time i visit it. I must have visited Goa every year before i shifted to Delhi, and each time i have come back a little happier, a little wiser. Yes, Goa has a lot to offer than just beaches and beer. There is so much to learn about the history, culture, traditions and of course cuisine. Though Goa is known for it's seafood, there is a wide variety of choices for vegetarians too. Not to miss the amount of spices and variety of vinegar available there only adds to to the variety of dishes.

Though world cuisine has taken it's spread in Goa, there is still an immense influence of Portuguese food in a lot of traditional dishes served. We all know the famous Vindaloo. Traditionally, the name was Vin-dahlo (meaning vinegar and garlic). So, the basic recipe of Vindahlo was with Garlic, shallots, sea salt, pork, some khada masala as cinnamon, black pepper, cloves and of course vinegar! That's it! It was slow cooked on wood-fire in clay pots for hours together which would be carried by people travelling in ships from one place to other.

Less spices (majorly whole spices), slow cooking (usually on traditional stove-tops of wood or coal) and using what was available locally together amalgamated this wonderful fusion cooking. So, East Indian cuisine has a lot of influence of British, Portuguese and Maharashtrian cuisine. I will have a different post about it someday. But just for the information, East Indians were the original inhabitants of Mumbai !! The details caught my eye on a recent television show i saw recently and hubby gifted me this amazing cookbook by Chef Michael Swamy :

Cabbage Foogath is a recipe i adapted from this book. Foogath is a Goan word that came from the Portuguese word " Refogar " meaning "to fry with oil or butter and seasoning". So, foogath is basically a vegetable side dish that is cooked with minimal ingredients and is ready within minutes. It is extremely easy and extremely flavourful. Foogath can be made from french beans, ivy gourd or even capsicum. Some add curry leaves, some add fresh grated coconut on top. I didn't have both, so i skipped (neither has it been mentioned in the recipe book). Some even add cashews or vinegar for a different taste.


Cabbage : 250 gm
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Salt - to taste (Sea salt or rock salt tastes great, but normal salt would do too)
Pepper - to taste
Garlic - 8-10 sliced thinly
Poppy seeds (Khus khus) - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 small (chopped) The recipe didn't call for it, but i added for a different taste.


Wash and Grate/ shred the cabbage finely.

In a pan, heat ghee. You can use oil too.

Add poppy seeds. When they splutter, add the garlic. Saute till they are brown.

Add the onions and saute till they are translucent.

Add in the cabbage , salt and pepper.

Mix well and saute for about 5 minutes.

Cover the pan with lid and steam cook for another 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning and ensure even cooking.

Traditionally, it is served hot with rice, but tastes great with a roti or paratha too. 

Happy Cooking :)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Cabbage Cucumber soup

As i have mentioned before, cooking is an art learnt through observation, sharing and practicing. Once you learn the basics, the sky is the limit. There are times when a dish goes wrong - it turns out too salty, or too sweet or little too hard or little too bland. But there are always some additions or subtractions that can be done to make it right! Or altogether make it into a new dish :) But that's how one learns, isn't it?

Writing this blog is not only giving me immense happiness but has changed my eating habits too. The desire to make something new, or to keep on upgrading my cooking skills (Majorly to get that smile of a full satisfied tummy on hubby's face) has resulted in me starting to eat ingredients that i was not much fond of, a few years back! I don't know whether i have developed that taste, or my palate has changed, or its excitement of trying something different... but it surely is all happening for good and i am thoroughly enjoying this journey.

Just as i was not much fond of soups except the regular Tomato soup or Sweet corn soup, these days i enjoy gulping down a bowl of different varieties of them. And more so, to make and try them at home! I tried the spring onion soup recently, of which i haven't taken a pic, so i will make it again and post the recipe. This cabbage cucumber soup is one rich, creamy thick soup and has mild flavours. It is filling and goes absolutely great with a salad, noodles or a sandwich.


Cabbage - 1 n half cups chopped
Cucumber - 1 medium chopped
Salt- to taste
Garlic - 6-7 chopped
Onion - 1 small chopped (optional)
Pepper - to taste
Cream - on top to garnish (I used homemade cream - just whisked it smooth)
Butter - 2 tbsp
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Bay leaf - 1
Cumin powder - to garnish
Water - about 2-3 cups (Add more if required)


Wash and chop the vegetables well.

In a pan/pot, add butter. Now add the bay leaf. 

Add the garlic and saute till they turn brown. Add in the onions (if adding) and saute till they are translucent.

Add cabbage and mix it all well. Cabbage will start leaving water slowly and cook it its own steam. Keep stirring, so it doesn't stick to the bottom and burn. If you find it happening so, add in a little water or vegetable stock. Let it cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the chopped cucumber, salt, corriander powder and pepper. Mix it all well. Cover the pan with lid and cook for about 2 minutes.

Now add the vegetable stock or water and let it come to boil.

Cover and cook till the vegetables turn soft.

Let it cool. Remove the bay leaf.

Make a smooth paste of the cooked vegetables in a mixer-grinder or with a hand blender.

Put this creamy rich soup back in the pan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add more water if the soup is too thick. Check for seasoning.

Garnish with cumin powder and cream.

Happy Cooking :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Lemon Rice

Me and hubby are not so much of rice-eating people, but just so that we should have a balanced diet, we have started incorporating rice once or twice a week in our diet. Also, on suggestion of a friend of mine to include lot of rice dishes in the blog, i have started making different types of rice at home. A normal rice dish at our home would have been daal-rice or biryani. But past few days, i have made palak rice, masala bhaat, paneer pulao and Lemon rice. I made them all for the first time, hence didn't click pictures as wanted to get a good hold of the flavours. Now that i know the basics, i will make them again and post recipes.

Lemon rice is one of the most easiest and tastiest pot meal i have eaten. Pot meal is basically one dish containing starch, proteins and vegetables and is cooked with no fuss. Normally, one-pot-meal should have all the elements in itself and should not be accompanied by anything else. A risotto (Italian), Noodle soup (Chinese) or a pulao, for that matter would be called a One-pot meal. In today's times of our busy schedules, a pot meal makes for a perfect choice and provides all the nutrients to the body. So, whether you cook in a pressure cooker, a wok or a pan, it has to be all cooked together as the name suggests.

Lemon rice is basically eaten in south of India. The best part of this dish is it can be made with leftover rice. Just add spices to the cooked rice and your meal is ready. As the name suggests, it's basically a subtle hint of lemon and crunchy peanuts mixed with rice to make a non-spicy but flavorful rice dish.


Rice - 3/4 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Lemon juice - 2 tbsp (Add more if you wish to)
Peanuts - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few (I used the dried curry leaves, since i didn't have fresh ones)
Urad daal (Split black gram) - 2 tsp
Red chillies - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste


Cook 3/4 cup rice in enough water till the grains are "just" cooked. Don't overcook the rice as the grains will stick together.

Now drain the extra water (the water will be milky-full of starch), and spread the rice in a plate. Fluff it with fork just to separate the grains.

You can skip this altogether if you have cooked rice (leftover) already ready.

Let the rice cool down.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan/pot/vessel and fry the peanuts till brown in colour. Remove aside.

To the same pan, add 2 tbsp oil. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the hing. Remember to let the mustard seeds crackle.

Add the red chillies and curry leaves. Saute for about 30 seconds and immediately add the urad daal.

Saute till the daal turns brown in colour. Don't make it black or else it will give a burnt taste. So make all of this on a low flame.

Add in the fried peanuts, turmeric powder and salt.

Mix it all well and saute for about 15-20 seconds.

Now switch off the burner. Add in lemon juice and mix in the rice.

Mix well so that the rice is coated with the spices.

Now cover the pan with a lid and let the rice rest for about 5 minutes, so all flavours are blended well.

Serve it along with some Papad or raita or salad. Or have it plain just as it is :)

Happy Cooking :)

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


There are so many types of breads in this world, the list really amazes me! Each country, region or town have their own distinct version of bread. The basic ingredients remain the same, but just "a hint of this, and an addition of that" changes the whole flavour, texture and taste of the bread. One of my blogger friend from Norwegia (Sharon) has recently sent me their local bread recipe, which i am going to make soon and post it on the blog. 

I have grown up with eating Pav from mumbai in my Vada Pav's and Pav bhaji's. So when i came to Delhi, the taste of the Pav was completely different for me. Pav is Indian bread, but the concept of it was introduced to us by the Portuguese in 15th century. The early Portuguese presence in India was "Missionary-heavy" and they made bakeries and baking a priority. These missionaries trained and taught the converts in Goa, the art of baking bread. Since yeast was not readily available, they used to bake with fresh coconut Toddy.

Well, making Pav is super fun. I purposely made small buns and gave them a round shape. But you can shape them as you want. Making them small surely helped since i was making it for the first time and they turned out super soft. 

I served some as a tiffin breakfast to hubby by spreading jam and butter in between. And some, i made into mini-burgers :))

Recipe adapted from : Ammaji's kitchen


Maida (All purpose flour)- 1 and half cups
Yeast - 2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp
Milk - 1/4 cup ( Add more or less as needed)
Butter - 1 tbsp (melted)
Water - 1/4 cup


Take a bowl and grease it with oil. This bowl is to be used for raising the dough, so take a little bigger one.

Yeast: There are two types of yeast. Instant and Active dry. If you have instant yeast, there is no need to activate it. But if you have dry yeast, you have to activate it. This process is called proofing. It is always beneficial if you proof the yeast.

Take 1/4 cup water and warm it. It should be lukewarm and not hot. If it is too hot, the yeast will die and if it is too cold, the yeast will not raise. Add about 1 tsp sugar to it and mix well. Now, add the yeast. Mix and cover the bowl and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes. The yeast will rise a bit.

In another mixing bowl, add flour, salt, sugar and butter.

Now make a small well in between and add the yeast. Mix well and now add milk little by little. The amount of liquid added depends on the strength of the flour. So don't add everything at once.

Add slowly and start kneading the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes.

Place this in the greased bowl, cover and let it sit for about 1 n half hours to raise.

Now, take out the raised dough, spread some flour on the wooden board and knead it for another 5-7 minutes till all air comes out. 

If the dough is too sticky, add some flour and knead again.

Make equal sized balls and flatten them a little or shape according to your wish.

Grease a baking tray with some butter or oil and place the balls in the tray leaving little space in between for them to rise up.

Cover this and let it sit for another 1 n half hours to rise.

Please keep the bowls to raise at room temperature only. 

After about 1 n half hours, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Brush the raised dough balls with olive oil/normal oil or milk and bake them for about 30 minutes till the top becomes golden brown.

Remove from the oven and brush some melted butter on them.

Let them cool.

Pav is ready :)

Happy Cooking :)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Gaazrachi chatni : Carrot Chutney

In my last post of Methi Thepla , i mentioned that i served it along with Carrot Chutney. Normally theplas are served along with pickles, but i made this sweet and spicy chutney and it went very well with them. I made the chutney again, and used it as a spread over bread toast and had them as a snack. That tasted flavourful too! So, this chutney is definitely a hit at our home now. I am sure it will taste great with idli-dosa too. It's very easy to make and lasts for about a 4-5 days in refrigerator in air tight container.

To make it last long, i added a spoonful of hot mustard oil on top when it was done, just before storing it in refrigerator. You can also add vinegar instead of the oil, to get a tangy taste. 


Carrots - 2
Mustard oil - 2 tsp plus 1 tsp on top
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Green chilli - 1
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Onion - 1/2 chopped finely


Wash and peel the carrots, and grate them.

Now, there are two ways to make the recipe. Either blanch the carrots for a while before making a paste or directly make a paste in the blender.

I made the paste directly. Try not to add water. But if needed, add just a spoonful to make a fine paste.

Crush the green chilli coarsely in a mortar and pestle.

Heat oil in a kadhai, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add hing and cumin seeds.

Now add the green chilli paste and onions. Saute till the onions are translucent.

Now add the carrot paste.

Saute for about 2-3 minutes and then add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.

Now keep stirring and mixing it well, till it starts forming a ball. It will leave water (if any) and then start leaving oil. Make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of kadhai.

Now add in the sugar and mix everything well. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Adjust the red chilli powder or Green chillies according to taste.
The sugar is added just to give a sweet taste, but if you want a spicy chutney, skip that.

Carrot chutney is ready :)

Happy Cooking :)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Methi Thepla : Gujrati cuisine

Recently, i came across a very beautiful image shared by a friend on her Facebook wall. Here it is :

The painting says so much...

As much as we are busy with our everyday lives of work, husband, kids, family etc. we should never forget our "girl-friends" or "sisters" !! Just as much, life surprised me a few months back by getting me in touch with my college bestie Beena. We had lost contact and touch for all those years, and now am happy to be chatting almost everyday with this ever smiling lady. On and off, we share recipes with each other and this one is her recipe.

Being a Mumbaiite, i have had Gujrati friends right from childhood. My mother, in fact had a lot of Gujrati neighbors and speaks the language fluently. Having brought up eating a lot of the cuisine, i have developed an immense liking and taste to it, to which a lot of people find it sweet. But khandvis, dhoklas, fafdas... the names itself gets me drooling. 

Thepla is basically a flatbread that is eaten in Gujrat. The difference between paratha and thepla would be parathas are thick, whereas thepla is a think bread. Also the dough of thepla is made with curd and no water. Theplas are light, healthy and mostly eaten as a snack. But they are filling too as a meal when served with curd or "chunda" or any chutney or pickle. They make a great travel snack, as they stay good for almost 2-3 days or even more if packed well.

Methi theplas are so easy to make, and so yummy that i often make them now to incorporate Methi (Fenugreek fresh leaves) in our diet.


Fresh fenugreek leaves (Methi) - 1 cup
Whole wheat flour(Atta) - 1 cup
Besan (chickpea flour) - 1/2 cup
Ginger - 1/2 inch
Green chillies - 1-2
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (Adjust according to taste)
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Oil - to fry the theplas
Lemon juice - 1 tsp
Curd - Use as much required to make a dough (Took me about 1/3 cup)
You can also add sesame seeds for change of taste. 


Wash the methi leaves well and chopped them finely.

Mash the ginger and green chillies to a paste in a mortar and pestle.

Mix Atta and besan, and add the paste, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, hing, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.

Now add the methi leaves and set aside for 5-10 minutes, just in case methi leaves water. That way we will know how much curd to add and the dough wouldn't become too sticky later on.

Now add curd little by little and knead it into a nice soft dough.

If the dough becomes sticky, add a tsp of oil and knead again.

Now divide the dough in equal sized balls.

Roll each ball into a flat roti (The size should not be thick, make it medium or really thin. If you make it too thin, make sure you lift up the thepla carefully or else it will stick and break.)

Now heat a tava, and fry the thepla with oil on both sides till golden spots are seem on the thepla. 

Serve when hot, but tastes great even when they become cold. I served it along with a sweet and spicy carrot chutney, the recipe of which i will post soon.

Wrap them up in an aluminium foil, so they remain soft.

Happy Cooking :)

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Eggless Chewy Brownies

My last year's Valentine special dish was Shahi Tukda . This year i made some chewy, soft brownies that are everyone's favourite!!! Errr, did i say "everyone's"? No, not hubby's!!! Hubby dearest is not much of a chocolate fan, (I never really understand these people who don't like chocolate :)), but i wanted to bake some brownies since a long time! So, i decided to make them today and treat myself :) After all, i am my first Valentine, isn't it? 

You all must be thinking me to be a narcissist, but let me mention here - It is extremely important to love self! To pamper oneself, to take time out for oneself, to think about our own self and do what one likes to do! No, this doesn't mean being selfish, but this way we get a chance to look at our own inner being with a different perspective. The result is pure utter happiness. As is the famous saying, "You can't keep others happy unless you are happy". So at times, it is important to wear what you like to, eat what you relish and do things what makes you ,"YOU".

Well, enough of philosophy. Back to the post, hubby did eat it with vanilla ice cream :) But the brownies tasted great on it's own too. 


All purpose flour (Maida) - 1 cup
Powdered Sugar - 3/4 cup 
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder -1/2 cup
Milk - 1 1/4 cup
Oil - 1/3 cup (i used normal vegetable oil, but you can use olive oil too)
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Almonds and/or walnuts - 1/3 cup chopped
Vinegar - 1 tsp
Dairy milk - 1 medium chopped 


Let all the ingredients be at room temperature.

Grease a baking tray and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.

Put about 1 tsp of flour in the nuts and mix together to coat the nuts. This is so that the nuts don't sink in the cake when you mix them.

Sift together maida, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder twice.

Add powdered sugar to this mixture and mix well.

Mix together milk, vinegar, vanilla essence and oil.

Now fold in the dry mixture into the wet mixture and mix everything lightly. Don't over mix.

Add the nuts and chopped dairy milk.

Transfer the batter to the baking tray and bake till a toothpick comes out clean. Takes about 30 minutes. Start checking after 25 minutes and bake more if required.

Let it cool, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into desired shape.

The home smells of a lovely aroma... Oh, i love baking :))

Happy Cooking :))

Friday, 13 February 2015

Paneer tikka

There is always a debate about the origin of paneer and there are stories around it. Of late, i am following two terrific shows on channel "EPIC" on television. One is "Raja, rasoi aur anya kahaniya" (The king, the kitchen and various stories) and another one being "Lost recipes". Both shows give a lot of information about the history of food and how some ingredients were adapted in Indian cuisine and recipes were evolved.

In one such episode, i learnt that Paneer actually came from Persia. In India, paneer existed in the form of "Chenna" but the word Paneer (also known as Panir) came from Persia. It is so said, that Paneer was accidentally invented when a merchant was carrying milk in a pouch made of raw-Hyde for his days of travel. The heat of the dessert and the rennet in the leather turned milk into Paneer. It started gaining popularity in Indian cuisine during the Mogul ruling period, it's said.

As of today, it's a household dish. Not majorly used in everyday cuisines in west or south of India, but mostly in North India. To a lot of friends of mine from different countries, "Saag paneer", or "Palak paneer" or infact Indian vegetarian cuisine relates to "Paneer". The best or worst part about Paneer is, it doesn't have a taste of it's own, but blends itself so well in whatever spice/curry it is cooked in. So, today i am going to write about Paneer tikka. This is a dry version and not the famous "Paneer tikka masala" with the gravy. This paneer tikka can be served as a starter or a side dish, and mind you, it does make you full with just a few pops in the mouth! Tastes delicious, juicy and just the right amount of spice !!!

Recipe adapted from : Vegrecipesofindia


Paneer - 100 gms
Ginger garlic paste - 1 tsp
Red capsicum (bell pepper) - Half 
Yellow capsicum (bell pepper) - Half

If you don't have both, use any one variety. If not, use green capsicum and/or onions.

Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Corriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Besan or cornflour - 1.5 tbsp
Lemon juice - to sprinkle on top
Oil - for shallow frying 


Cut the paneer and bell peppers in equal size squares.

Take them in the mixing bowl and add everything else except oil.

Mix it all well and let it stand marinated for about 15 minutes.

Now heat oil in a pan.

Attach the paneer and bell pepper alternatively on a toothpick. (Normally 3 fit well in a toothpick and lets it fry well).

Shallow fry these until golden brown. If you fry for a longer time, the paneer will become chewy.

You can sprinkle some chaat masala and lemon juice on top.

Serve along with tomato ketchup.

Easy mouth watering tikkas are ready :))

Happy Cooking :)

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Anniversary special - Part 2 (Soulitude by the Riverside)

Continued from Part 1..

After about one and half hour of trek, we decided to walk downhill crossing some local homes and smiling women doing their daily chores. The guarding dogs always greeted us with their barks, as compared to the cows/buffaloes who didn't seem bothered. The homes, as we saw, were always painted bright in colours of blue, green, pink. There is a lot of use of Batan-Una (Pata-varvanta as we call in Marathi! It is a flat stone and a grinding stone used to process different kinds of foods), mud vessels, metal utensils and food cooked on wood burning village stove. A typical Village stove is made of mud and stones and the fire is lit with the charcoal and/or wood. 

The locals do a lot of farming (mainly Terrace farming), eating their own grown veggies and supplying the abundance to a local towns nearby - Bhowali, Haldwani, Bhimtal etc. Arbi and potatoes are staple diet and some also catch fish from the river and eat. Buffalo milk is preferred as compared to cows', who are mostly used for farming/agricultural purpose. 

Few kids go to town for school, but a lot of them help their parents in the farm. Little girls help their mothers in the kitchen and we saw some washing clothes along the river. As compared to other tourist destinations, they never bother the visitors/tourists but are busy in their own sweet world. Guess the place has made them serene and humble.

We reached a 100-odd year old bridge named "Jhoola-pul" which was built by the British. The bridge offers some breathtaking views on both sides. A 30-40 minute trek crossing the river from the bridge to the resort is a photographer's walk. 

Once back, we were welcomed to an elaborate Kumaoni special lunch. The delicacies still have a taste on my buds. Khada masala chicken, Arbi fry, Bhatt ki daal (also known as Chudkani as told to me by one of our facebook page followers), ragi ki roti, sitaphal sabzi, bhaang ki chutney, homemade pickles, gulab jamun and freshly picked baby carrots from the garden as salad. Can it get better? 

Again over-eating our diet, we went for a small trek with Dinesh, crossing river and jumping on the rocks to the "Paradise on earth"- Pari-tal. This place has crystal clear water made into a natural pool flowing down the mountains like a waterfall. Surrounded by mountains and rocks from all sides, i never wanted to leave that place. So, Dinesh told us a story behind that lake which i would love to share with you all. It is said, that a merchant used to flow down woods from the top to the towns/villages below and on one such occasion, the woods never reached the destination. On finding out the reason, it was seen the woods were absorbed in this lake. The merchant gave a sacrifice of 5 lambs at a nearby temple, and the woods automatically came up and reached the town. It is said so, the merchant left doing this business after that and since then the pool of water is known as "Pari-tal" (Pari meaning angels). 

The place looks as mystical as the story and there are a lot of positive vibes in that place. Back to the resort, we saw the staff at work cutting weeds and planting potatoes for the season. Its so good to see there are so many activities to do in life, than going to malls, shopping or watching movies. 

Evening saw us with some cold winds and we sat by the river having our tea-coffee. And then came surprises one after another!!! To make our anniversary special, we were greeted to a bonfire, some juice, some Elton-john songs and a cake placed in a small decorated shack. A table surrounded with plants, flower petals shaped in hearts and candles. The staff members won our hearts by making us feel so special. 

This was followed by lip-smacking dinner of Matar ke paudhon ki sabzi (Stir fried matar leaves), gobhi mix vegetable, gehad ki daal, mutton curry, roti, cucumber raita, and Shahi tukda. We felt like a king and queen with this royal treatment. 

Now comes the most lovely surprise! We didn't know when these guys came in the room and switched on the heater, the bed-warmer and placed this beautiful flower decoration on our bed!!! Our smiles became wider and wider with each passing moment. So, there we slept under the open sky looking at the moon and stars on a warm bed decorated with flowers in a dim-lit warm room!!! The perfect pampering for our celebration!

I also want to mention about the Bedmi Poori with aloo sabzi. Terrific combination and so tastefully made, that hubby almost had 5-6 of them! 

This place truly brings out a different part of you alive and we would surely want to visit them again! A soulful holiday at Soulitude :)

Friday, 6 February 2015

100th post : Anniversary special- Soulitude by the Riverside

There are some experiences in life which cannot be described in words. I am sure each one of us has gone through this. A moment which could only be felt but expressed, a dish which could only be tasted than reviewed, a scenic beauty which could only be seen through the eyes than captured in a camera or the love that touched your soul than just showed. Well, last few days i have gone through all this! I couldn't find the right words (still can't) to pen it down for all of you. But I will try my best to bring out the soul of my experiences, so you can walk down the memoirs with me!

Well, there are a few vacations from where you don't want to come back home. Just as our last experience at Kasauli ( Part 1 , Part 2 , and Part 3 ) was one memorable holiday, our recent outing to Soulitude by the Riverside was one enriching too! Over initial discussion whether to go to their other property Soulitude in the Himalayas or the riverside one, people who know us well, would have guessed why we went to the latter. For those who don't, my hubby is a fish hobbyist and manages almost 12-odd fish tanks at home for almost over 7-8 years. So, whenever and wherever we see a water body, he wants to cross mountains to get a look at it to study the aquatic life. Here's a look of our Fish room :

After reading tons of positive reviews online and getting a recommendation from a friend who had been to their property before, we knew where we are going for our Anniversary! It had to be a special place for the occasion, and also since we were looking forward to this break since a long time. I have had a busy three months of my pet-sitting bookings due to holiday season and wanted to take some days off. Me and hubby both prefer rustic to luxury, and this place just seemed so for us. But when we reached, we were surprised to see "Rustic marrying luxury".

As mentioned before, we love train journeys, and hence so we took the early morning Shatabdi from Anand Vihar station to Kathgodam Railway station. Until yet, we didn't even know there existed a railway station by the name of Anand Vihar in Delhi. The train went past some nice open fields giving a treat to our eyes of greens, morning sunrise and fresh air. The 5-6 hour journey went past in a jiffy with all the snacks and drinks that Shatabdi offers. I want to mention here about the name of "Nimbu pani" (Lemon-water) that we were served - Dadu!! Dadu means 'Grandpa" and mostly Punjabi's use this term for elder men. 

The pick up car waited for us and the drive was all about twists and turns. We drove uphills through the ghats and the views of the mountains and valleys just seemed to get more and more enthralling. As mentioned in their website, the car drop is only till a particular point after which you need to trek for about 30-40 minutes to reach the place. Hence, it is clearly mentioned to book the place if one is keen on walking/trekking and is not suitable for old people/kids. Since there had been a landslide on the regular route, we went through the other route wherein we trekked downhill for about 30 minutes. Walking on the small path of stones/mud and surrounded by tall pine trees, the walk seemed an enjoyable one!

Once we reached the place, we were greeted with a welcome drink (Cucumber chaas) and guided to our colourful room. 

They have 2 cottages and one Village home consisting of 3 rooms. We had booked the room "Shaant" in the village home, as we were fascinated by the idea of sky-view from the room. The room had opened windows (also in the bathroom), so you actually sleep and bathe under the stars!!! Isn't that pretty cool?

Another most important aspect why we chose to stay here was there are no televisions in the room. There is a common living area in the village home where there is a small TV for those who can't do without it, but we were more inclined towards the book-shelf with some really interesting reads. The place filled us with energy, and though we had done an early morning journey and a small trek, we were keen on exploring around. A small walk with the most helpful and humble Dinesh showing the property around just seemed the right thing to do.

We got our hands dirty picking vegetables from the farm which they grow organically. You name a vegetable/fruit, and they have planted it there! We learnt a lot about seasonal plantings/sowing/plant care etc. from him and also shared some ideas with him about re-cycling kitchen waste which we didn't see them doing. 

For those keen on doing yoga, there is a yoga-hut at the edge of the resort overlooking a small waterfall gushing out of the rocks where one can sit for hours listening to the music of the flowing water. 

The place is surrounded by huge mountains from all sides, which just make you think how small "I" can be (or is). Its places like these, which make you realise the importance of nature, the beauty of it and how much we need to respect it than spoil it. We skipped lunch, and had some snacks. The warm pakoras (bhajiyas) were absolutely crispy and tasty. The sandwich was just okay with cheese, tomato and cucumber filling. The coffee was a little light to my taste, hence was requested to be made strong. A little chat with the Chef Kamal, who is a 22 year old boy (looks even younger), explaining our personal tastes was welcomed by him. As he was open to suggestions, we never had a chance to complain after that and the food just seemed getting better, making us lick our fingers (and plates) clean!!! :)

Dinner was served in the dining room which is decorated like a village room with Clay-pots, metal plates and dinnerware, khaat-like seating (made comfortable with cushions and hand restings), artifacts placed neat-fully around and the special mention to the embroidered frames on the wall made in the shape of a kite. Who wouldn't want to dine in such a colourful place and to top it all, they made it special for us by decorating our table with roses, flowers and candles. Romance sizzled in the air (with songs from the movie 'love aaj kal') with hot trays of sizzlers being placed on our table. 

The momos, the tikkis, the perfectly cooked noodles, steamed and stir fried veggies, french fries - Every item on the plate was just so perfectly done that we over-ate our diet! Oh, and i forgot to mention about the smooth and warm cabbage-cucumber soup that was served to us before! Served in a cup and saucer, the soup was absolutely hearty. The sizzler was followed by a rich, thick, creamy chocolate mousse which was relished by hubby too, who is not much of a chocolate-fan.

Since we were the only guest around during that time, we thoroughly enjoyed the "alone-ness". One very good thing about the staff is they "Never" bother you. The right meaning of the word "freedom" is what you can feel here. It makes it even more special. They are always there to help, to assist or guide when asked, but would never be a hindrance in whatever you want to do. It's good to be by yourself in a place like this- and they totally understand that!

The other rooms are beautifully done too, one of which has a huge rock (with water flowing down it) in the bathroom. One very important thing i observed here is a lot of time and effort has been given to detailing. Each artifact is carefully placed in the right space and hence stands out. The owner Manish Chandra, as told to us, loves collecting stuff and his wife has a huge interest in art and craft. One who would visit the place, would surely know and understand that.

As they say, "Eat breakfast like a king", we were pampered the next day with an artistically decorated breakfast table with juices, cereals, fruits, jams, made-to-order eggs and parathas served with homemade pickles. We loved the stuffed parathas of gobhi and aloo that we had along with fresh curd and chilli and potato pickle. The aloo pickle was to-die-for! I have taken the recipe and someday i will make and post it. After having some nice strong coffee, we left to trek in the forest along with Dinesh. 

This place is a heaven for trekkers. There is no end to how far you can go in the forest. But yes, it is very important to respect Mother Nature or else she bounces back on you. The views along the walk were breathtaking and some beautiful birds were singing music to us, to keep us entertained.

Dinesh gladly was explaining us about the tropical flora and fauna and gave us a lot of information about the local life. I will put pictures and write about some in a separate post. Hubby was keen on exploring waterlife, studying the local plants growing inside it and searching for the local fishes that are found there. And he was not disappointed. We came home with a box full of goodies for our fish-room!!! :)

Our journey continues in Part 2.....