Food and Drink

MY 7000 MILE CULINARY JOURNEY

REFLECTIONS ON THE RECENT FOODIE MOVIE - THE HUNDRED -FOOT JOURNEY

The Hundred - Foot Journey 

100FootJourney539b2906cfd77-692x1024

Producers: Juliet Blake, Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg
Director: Lasse Hallstrom”
Based on story : Richard Morais
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon
Music : AR Rahman

10533873_816097535067059_8874631130108471737_o

                                                                                             
 Photo : juliet Blake/facebook

Amazing cast and producers of the movie 

10557100_816097178400428_273490790858356959_o

                                                 Photo :Juliet Blake/facebook

                                Music director AR Rahman and producer Juliet Blake 

    I was honored to be invited by the Washington Post for the advanced prescreening of the movie -  The Hundred - Foot Journey. In my opinion, this is an outstanding movie. Very entertaining, well researched and the food shots make your mouth salvitate. Having personally worked in both French and Indian kitchens, I felt it was a very good representation of both.

 

Om puri

With Actor Om Puri at the National Geographic reception and advanced screening.

Juliet blakewith the Producer Juliet Blake at the National Geogrpahic, Washington DC

This movie took me back to my days in New Delhi, as a fresh graduate of Hotel Management I joined the Ashok Hotel as chef trainee; I had an opportunity to work under the Master French Chef Roger Moncourt, who introduced French cuisine to India. In the year 1983, I had the proud privilege of opening a French Restaurant called Burgundy under the tutelage of Chef Moncourt .There are so many scenes in the movie that bring back fond memories; However, I do not want to go on to describe each one of them as many of you have not seen the movie yet. 

3251877215_2c1cf16eea_o (1)

With my mentor (late) Chef Roger Moncourt at Burgundy Restaurant, New Delhi

One classic test for a new cook in a French kitchen was to see how good of an omelette one could make.  In this movie, the omelette looked delectable with the addition of green chilies and cilantro, making it a "masala omelette". I still can remember the emphasis given on making the omelette at the right temperature, right shape (half moon shape etc), how to beat the eggs with a fork in a circular motion and so on and so forth.... I think the movie has depicted these scenes very well. I understand that my friend Chef Floyd Cardoz played a big role ... Kudos to him.

704924_10151192982712815_680550250_o

Chef Floyd Cardoz at Indique in Cleveland Park, Washington DC

3251872829_c5519b7596_o

 1985 - Festival of India - Smithsonian Institution - Washington DC

The Indian kitchen in the movie was also well shown with the 'Tandoors', 'Thalis' and display of the old spice boxes passed on from generations. This reminded me of my 7479 mile culinary  journey from New Delhi to Washington DC in 1985 along with the 'Tandoors' (drum tandoors) that I brought with me to the Smithsonian Institution to organize the Festival of India. 

In the movie actress Helen Mirren plays a fabuluos role as the proprietor of a michelin star french restaurant. One of the scenes that took me back many years was the making of the five basic mother sauces; particulary the making the mayonnaise from  scratch. Believe it or not, we used to make it by hand - No kitchen aids or mixers, just bare hands. Yes you read it right - just bare hands. These were made in fairly large quantities, and needless to say -  going to the gym was not required, as this was a very vigorous task.

3251874679_8743e26602_o

Above: With the former First Lady of France, Madame Pompidou, when she visited India.

Now comparing the two cuisines - The French and Indian  - French have their cooking techniques, standardized recipes, subtle sauces etc while Indian cooking is diverse, not standardized, and influenced by other cultures, regions, traditions that have swept across India over the centuries. I feel no clash or competition between these two great culinary traditions! Rather,I feel that knowledge of both cuisines enhances the talent base of the Chef and presents a richer more diverse offering to the foodie.Indeed at Indique we have offered variety of traditional indian dishes that are influenced by French techniques.

  Gulabjamungood

Flambéd 'Gulab Jamun' at Indique in Cleveland Park.

I would highly recommend that you see this movie!  Bring back your movie stub to Indique and enjoy a Gulab Jamun Flambé on us with your dinner.Try a "Masala Omelette" at recently introduced "Bottomless Sunday Brunch at Indique.
 BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH - EVERY SUNDAY  - 11 AM TO 3 PM - $ 24.00  
 

 


Photo of the Week - Assorted snacks of India

IMG_9942_3copyright
Spiced green peas and assorted mixtures on the streets of Mysore # Culinary tour of India#cuisine tour#food tours


Puttu - A breakfast specialty of Kerala

"Puttu" - A specialty of Kerala - Photo of the Week

IMG_9984_2copyright

 A simple dish made with rice flour, cumin and coconut and salt. Coarsely ground rice flour is sprinkled with water and mixed with freshly grated coconut ,cumin and salt : to resemble breadcrumbs. This mixture is steamed in a  "putti kutti" - a cylinderical piece of bamboo as shown in the picture above. Alternatively they are also steamed in coconut shells.(the eyes of the coconut are pierced so that the steam can pass through). Traditionally  seerved with black chickpea curry or with ripe plantains and papadam. This picture was taken on a recent trip to India at a toddy shop about 12 kms from Kochi called - "Mulla Pandhal", which serves some amazing food.... 

More about " Mulla Pandhal" on a future post.


"Kappa" & Meen Curry (Kerala fish curry)

PICTURE OF THE WEEK 

Steamed "KAPPA" ( YUCCA/CASAVA with KERALA FISH CURRY made with "Kodampuli" (Garcinia Cambogia)

_MG_1665_3


Taste of India with Chef Vinod - October 2014

Culinary Tour 2014

Come, join me on a splendid culinary tour to India. This 13 days and 12 nights are going to be a lot of fun. I can assure you of that. Given below is the itinerary of the tour. As you can see from the list, we will be staying in all luxurious and boutique Hotels. Here are some pictures from my previous trip....

IMG_0052

Checking in to the Lalit Mahal Palace Hotel in Mysore, India.  IMG_0064

At a tea planation in Kerala, South India 

IMG_0161

 At the Devaraja Fruit and Vegetable Market in Mysore. IMG_0013

IMG_0174 Checking in to "Kadavu Resorts" in Calicut, Kerala, South India

  At the Kumarakom Lake Resort with the Executive Chef of the Hotel after a cooking demonstration. This is a beautiful property and here is where Prince Charles stayed during his recent visit to Kumarakom. 

IMG_2832

 At the Devaraja Market in Mysore.

IMG_2354_3

  Devaraja Market , MysoreIMG_0025e

At the Maharaja's Palace, Mysore.

DSC_4539

DSC_4542

On the streets of Mysore demonstrating the making of "Paani Puri and Chaats"

IMG_9918   

In Kochi, Kerala, South India, pulling the ropes of the chinese fishing net  

IMG_0407

On the way to the house boat in Allepey, Kerala,we purchased some fresh Sardines to be cooked on the boat. I demonstrated how to cook the Sardines "Kerala style"'

IMG_0438

At the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu.

_MG_2181

In Mala, Kerala in a paddy field  

IMG_3072_1

IMG_3093

 In Aleppey, Kerala driving the house boat.

IMG_0458

IMG_9899_1At the houseboat in Alleppey, Kerala, India    

IMG_0462

In the houseboat in Kerala after the cooking demonstration and lunch. 

_MG_2541_1

On the streets of Kochi in Kerala

IMG_2232

At a cooking demonstration at the Taj West End in Bangalore, India. 

IMG_2113

Inside the Ekambareswar temple in Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu.

 At Mammalapuram, Tamilnadu, India

IMG_2014

_MG_1956

On the streets of Chennai, India. 

IMG_3107

In a village in Kerala, India.

IMG_3098

 On a coconut tree in Kerala.

IMG_3026

 At a farmer's market in Irinjalakuda, Kerala.

IMG_2852

At a cooking demonstration at the Taj Vivanta, Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

IMG_2873

 At the Taj Vivanta, Trivandrum after the cooking demonstration.

IMG_2983

In Trichur, Kerala - Nutmeg

_MG_2470

In  sweet shop in Calicut, Kerala. 

IMG_0384

At the residence of the famous cooking teacher Nimmy Paul in Kochi, Kerala, India. 

IMG_9939

 On the streets of Mysore... snacks galore....

IMG_9966

IMG_9911

At the Maharajah's palce in Mysore.

IMG_9871

Street Vendor selling peanuts in Bangalore, India

IMG_0356_1

"Kathakali" the famous dance of Kerala

_MG_7503_1

This picuture was taken from our houseboat when it was drizzling.

IMG_7508

A hoseboat ready to dock on the backwaters of Allepey.

 

ITINERARY OF THE UPCOMING TOUR :

DAY 1

OCT 22: DELHI 


Welcome to Delhi, India! a monumental city with a vibrant mix of old and new teeming bazaars, stately British boulevards, powerful Mughal palaces and forts, and intricate, ethereal towers, temples and tombs. On arrival at Delhi International Airport you will be met and assisted by our company executive and transferred to your hotel for check in. Overnight in Delhi 

DAY 2
 
OCT 23: DELHI (B, D)
After breakfast tour Old Delhi with a visit to the Jama Masjid, the royal mosque built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1656. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world and is constructed in red sandstone and white marble. The main prayer hall has a seating capacity of more than 20,000 worshippers. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi. Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan designed this commercial area in 1648. Walk through the by-lanes of the Wedding Street and the Jeweler’s Lane to savor a 350 year old culture up close. The tour culminates at the Spice Market also known as Khari Baoli. This is Asia's largest wholesale spice market. At present, the street is a congested and busy market with shops on both sides selling spices, nuts and herbs. You will enjoy a unique experience watching the process of loading, carrying and unloading of huge sacks of items from manual trolleys, shopkeepers busy dealing with their customers, customers selecting large quantities of items and weary laborers resting and chatting aloud. It all seems to be very chaotic but in reality it is a very well managed market area! After a light lunch drive past the Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) where the Viceroy once lived but is now the official residence of the President of India. Then visit the Qutb Minar, a stunning 240-foot minaret, the tallest in the world, surrounded by an elaborate complex built in the Indo-Islamic architectural tradition. 

A spectacular dinner has been organized for this evening celebrating Diwali with Indian family in Delhi. Experience the real Indian traditions’ with your Indian host for the evening. Overnight in Delhi

DAY 3
 
OCT 24: DELHI – AGRA (B, D) (203 KMS/05 HRS)
After breakfast drive to Agra via Sikandra the last resting place of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jehangir, who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Upon arrival in Agra, check in to the hotel. This evening visit the Taj Mahal at sunset. Often considered the pinnacle of Mughal art in India, the Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. When declaring it a world heritage site, UNESCO described it as “the jewel of Muslim art in India”. There are few words that can describe the magnificence of this monument. Marvel as light and colors transform this stunning monument in the beautiful sunset glow.

Later on this evening participate in the local gaiety, sample exotic cuisines, and enjoy a colourful music and cultural dance show. “Kathak” is a classical dance form performed in the Mughal courts to entertain the Emperors that will enthrall guests. Overnight in Agra 


DAY 4
 
OCT 25: AGRA – JAIPUR (B, L, D) (232 KMS/05 HRS)
After breakfast, we set out to explore the Agra Fort, the work of Akbar the Great, who built it over the course of eight years (1565-1573). The fort was successively occupied by Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan; the latter died here, imprisoned by his son, left to gaze at the Taj Mahal he had built. We cross the Yamuna River to visit Itmad ud Daula. The mausoleum was built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622 in memory of her father. It is a notable representation of the fine inlaid stonework and translucent marble. Many historians believe that this monument was Shah Jahan’s inspiration for building the Taj and is often described as the “petite Taj.” Continue overland to Jaipur en-route visiting the old deserted town of Fatehpur Sikri the eerily abandoned capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. Akbar built this city to celebrate the birth of his son and future heir to the thrown, Emperor Jahangir. While Akbar is believed to have been illiterate, he took great interest in the arts and architecture; Fatehpur Sikri is one of his masterworks. Sadly, it served as a capital for little more than a decade, eventually abandoned for lack of accessible water. 

Stop for lunch at Laxmi Vilas Palace previously known as Raghunath Niwas. In 1994 the palace was converted into the now famous Laxmi Vilas Palace. Bharatpur Palaces have played host to such dignitaries as the Duke of Edinburgh, Shah of Iran, King of Nepal and the Shah of Afghan and has been a prime witness to, and a participant in almost every eventful experience that took place in the princely state of Bharatpur, be it royal weddings, affairs of the court or Royal duck shoots.

Upon arrival in Jaipur, check in to the hotel. Jaipur, the fascinating capital of the state of Rajasthan.This evening discover a definitive dining experience at LMB! This is where the whole city buys exceptional traditional delicacies when celebrating special occasions and festivals! Overnight in Jaipur

DAY 5
 
OCT 26: JAIPUR (B, D)
This morning we will drive a short distance outside of the city to Amber Fort and Palace. Perched on a hillside on the outskirts of town, the palace was constructed in the 1590s by Maharaja Man Singh, the commander of Akbar’s army, and was largely motivated by the highly defensible location. This is a beautiful and very well preserved structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins, which served as the backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” We then return to the city for a look at the grand Hawa Mahal often called the Palace of Winds and a striking landmark. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh specifically for the women in the royal family, this building allowed them to watch the city’s processions through tiny, latticed windows and balconies without ever being seen. This five-storey pyramidal monument resembles a giant honeycomb and gets its name from the pink wind vanes that are perpetually in motion.

This afternoon visit the City Palace and impressive Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Sing II, the great warrior-astronomer to which this city owes its name. Then learn the art of an Indian tattoo design on your hand by a professional artist. This Heena (Mehendi) design is associated with lots of things; a good dark design is a sign of good luck for a marital couple. It is common for the names of the bride and groom to be hidden in the Mehendi design; and the wedding night cannot commence until the groom has found the names. Some examples of popular traditional images used in Mehendi designs are the peacock, which is the national bird of India, the lotus flower, and an elephant with a raised trunk a symbol of good luck. 

Dinner tonight will be at the Samode Palace where you will enjoy a Royal dinner. Overnight in Jaipur

DAY 6
 
OCT 27: JAIPUR – UDAIPUR (B, D) (410 KMS/08 HRS)
After breakfast drive to Udaipur, the majestic city of lakes and palaces. Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 and fondly referred to as Rajasthan’s most romantic city, its rich history is matched by its picturesque setting among the Aravalli Mountains and three manmade lakes. Early this evening, we will take a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola, sailing past its picturesque ghats and palaces, stopping at the island of Jag Mandir, a 17th century water palace that witnessed two important historical events. It was the refuge for Prince Khurram, later known as Shah Jahan, when he was exiled by his father. During the uprising of 1857, the island offered safety to several British families who fled from nearby Neemuch. Dinner will be at your hotel this evening, Overnight in Udaipur

DAY 7
 
OCT 28: UDAIPUR (B, D)
We begin our day at the City Palace, overlooking the blue waters of Lake Pichola. Maharana Udai Singh initiated construction in 1559 A.D. and it was subsequently expanded, with impressive uniformity, by several succeeding Maharanas. The palace consists of a number of beautiful courtyards and gardens. The main hall has been converted into a museum, housing opulent artifacts and original works of art. Inside the complex we will find the exquisite crystal gallery, exhibiting 19th century pieces including crystal chandeliers, tables, sofas and beds. We will continue walking towards the Jagdish Temple to study its many remarkable friezes. Lavishly built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, it is easy to understand why Jagdish is the most venerated Hindu temple in Udaipur. Afterwards we will explore the Old City, wandering through its bustling streets lined with art shops, spice vendors, tailors and more.

Return to hotel and enjoy dinner at the Top Terrace at Fatehgarh; a perfect way to soak in the beauty of nature surrounding Fatehgarh. Overnight in Udaipur

DAY 8
 
OCT 29: UDAIPUR – MUMBAI (B, D) (FLIGHT S23094:0655/0810 HRS)
Early this morning you will be transferred to Jaipur domestic airport for a flight to Mumbai. Mumbai's culture is a blend of traditional festivals, food, music and theatres. The city offers a cosmopolitan and diverse lifestyle with a variety of food, entertainment and night life, available in a form and abundance comparable to that in other world capitals. On arrival our representative and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon you will meet celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and if time permits he will do a cooking demonstration for the group. Overnight in Mumbai

DAY 9
 
OCT 30: MUMBAI (B, D)
This morning depart for the Gateway of India, the principal landmark in Mumbai, and originally the principal port when visitors came to India by ship. The gateway was conceived, following the visit of King George V to India in 1911, and was officially opened in 1924. Its architecture is akin to the conventional Arc de Triomphe, with elements derived from the Muslim styles of the 16th century Gujarat. Here you will board a motorized boat for the one hour excursion to Elephanta Island (closed on Mondays) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is famous for its great cave shrine, excavated in the sixth century, dating back to the period, when the island was known as Gharapuri, the Fortress City. The cave temple, which is the pride of Elephanta, sprawls over an area of approximately 5000 square meters, is reached by climbing a flight of approximately 100 steps, to the top of a hill. One's attention is immediately drawn to a series of marvellous sculptured panels, nine in all, which are set like tableaux on the walls. The afternoon is at your leisure. 

This evening enjoy dinner at Khyber at Fort Restaurant. Nostalgia and seductive antiquity slowly surround you as you enter through a wooden door decorated with Urdu couplets. Khyber welcomes you with its rugged frontier charm, old oil lanterns and frost weathered woodwork. A definite gateway to India’s rich heritage infused with all modern day comforts. As you sit surrounded by huge urns and ancient Mughal royalties on the walls, you are served authentic Indian cuisine which can be easily coined as Ambrosia – the food of the Gods. The flavours and aroma have seduced many for years in this equally intriguing city. Thumris and ghazals softly playing in the background inspire your appetite for some of the most exotic delicacies prepared from fresh and select ingredients with great care and passion. Overnight in Mumbai

DAY 10
 
OCT 31: MUMBAI - COCHIN (B, D) (BY FLIGHT SG103:1350/1600 HRS) COCHIN - KUMARAKOM (50KM/1.5h)
Today you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Cochin. On arrival in Cochin you will be met and driven overland to Kumarakom the enchanting backwater destination that slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and tributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. Kumarakom is an unbelievable beautiful paradise!! The blue backwaters and the surface of Vembanad Lake reflect the azure sky. The amazing shades of green of the vegetation that include mangroves, coconut palms, and paddy fields cover the verdant countryside. The gorgeous green of the fringed palms ripple in the blue waters and blend into wavelets. 

This evening dine at Ettukettu. This regal restaurant is home to ethnic Kerala cuisine with a slew of fragrant spices lending the cuisine its very own flavour. Specialties served include Syrian Christian Duck Roast, Duck Curry, Karimeen Pollichathu, Karimeen Mappas, Appam, Thamarappam and Idiappams (string-hoppers). Overnight in Kumarakom


DAY 11
 
NOV 01: KUMARAKOM (B, D)
Enjoy the day at leisure, perhaps enjoy spa or ayurveda treatments or just relax. This evening enjoy a very special dinner with Philipkuttys Farm where you will have a two hour demonstration including group participation. Kerala cuisine is renowned for its use of local spices and flavours and you are sure to come home with new culinary skills. Overnight in Kumarakom

DAY 12
 
NOV 02: ALLEPPEY (B, L, D)
Today you will be transferred to Alleppey to board our private Houseboat for lunch and the start of our cruise through a splendid waterway of canals, lakes and coves. Also called kettuvalloms, the houseboats of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length. It takes great skill and meticulousness to construct these giants by tying huge planks of jack wood together. Curiously enough, not a single nail is used in their making. Modified to meet a novel concept of holidaying, the kettuvalloms are comfortably furnished with an open lounge, bedrooms, several shared bathrooms and a kitchenette. Every boat is manned by a crew of 3, usually a cook, a guide and an oarsman. The afternoon can be spent sunbathing on the deck or lounging in the shade of the main cabin. Dining onboard is a delicious blend of home style cooking with selections of savory spices and robust ingredients in dishes that explode with flavor. As we drift along, it is amazing to observe how life is lived on the water. People sail, fish, swim, wash their laundry and bathe themselves here. Socializing is a water activity too. It is not unusual to see people talking for an hour or more, while immersed up to their necks in water. Canoes with huge sails still transport the locals and you can find vegetable sellers, fisherman and other household materials being brought door to door in small wooden boats. Overnight onboard the House boat

DAY 13
 
NOV 03: ALLEPPEY - COCHIN (B)
After breakfast drive back to Cochin, the commercial capital of Kerala with its modern part Ernakulam and the old peninsular district of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, Cochin is situated on the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula. Over the years, Cochin has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India (after Mumbai/Bombay). Cochin was an important spice-trading center on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century onwards. It was the first European colonial settlement in India. First the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and the British ruled here until the 19th century. Visit the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays & Saturdays) built in 1568. Scrolls of the Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved here. The building was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch two years later. Then visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church constructed by the Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1510; it housed the remains of Vasco da Gama for 14 years before it was transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Also visit Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese in 1555. The Palace was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. The palace was known as the Dutch Palace, resulting from substantial renovation by the Dutch after 1663. The central hall was the Coronation Hall of the Rajas. Their dresses, turbans and palanquins and murals from Hindu mythology are all beautiful and worth seeing. After touring you will be transferred to Cochin International Airport for your onward flight. 

 What are you waiting for? Book now and avoid disappointment. It is usually a small group and it get filled up quickly. 

- See more at: http://www.indus.travel/tour/taste-of-india-with-chef-vinod#sthash.QE0ADGCm.dpuf

Taste Of India With Chef Vinod 13 Days

 
DAY
1
OCT 22: DELHI 
Welcome to Delhi, India! a monumental city with a vibrant mix of old and new teeming bazaars, stately British boulevards, powerful Mughal palaces and forts, and intricate, ethereal towers, temples and tombs. On arrival at Delhi International Airport you will be met and assisted by our company executive and transferred to your hotel for check in. Overnight in Delhi 

DAY
2
OCT 23: DELHI (B, D)
After breakfast tour Old Delhi with a visit to the Jama Masjid, the royal mosque built by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan in 1656. It is one of the largest and most beautiful mosques in the world and is constructed in red sandstone and white marble. The main prayer hall has a seating capacity of more than 20,000 worshippers. Enjoy a cycle rickshaw ride through the narrow lanes of Chandi Chowk, the spine of Old Delhi. Jahanara Begum, the daughter of Shah Jahan designed this commercial area in 1648. Walk through the by-lanes of the Wedding Street and the Jeweler’s Lane to savor a 350 year old culture up close. The tour culminates at the Spice Market also known as Khari Baoli. This is Asia's largest wholesale spice market. At present, the street is a congested and busy market with shops on both sides selling spices, nuts and herbs. You will enjoy a unique experience watching the process of loading, carrying and unloading of huge sacks of items from manual trolleys, shopkeepers busy dealing with their customers, customers selecting large quantities of items and weary laborers resting and chatting aloud. It all seems to be very chaotic but in reality it is a very well managed market area! After a light lunch drive past the Rashtrapati Bhawan (Presidential Palace) where the Viceroy once lived but is now the official residence of the President of India. Then visit the Qutb Minar, a stunning 240-foot minaret, the tallest in the world, surrounded by an elaborate complex built in the Indo-Islamic architectural tradition. 

A spectacular dinner has been organized for this evening celebrating Diwali with Indian family in Delhi. Experience the real Indian traditions’ with your Indian host for the evening. Overnight in Delhi

DAY
3
OCT 24: DELHI – AGRA (B, D) (203 KMS/05 HRS)
After breakfast drive to Agra via Sikandra the last resting place of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The tomb of Akbar lies here in the centre of the large garden. Akbar started its construction himself but it was completed by his son Jehangir, who significantly modified the original plans which accounts for the somewhat cluttered architectural lines of the tomb. Upon arrival in Agra, check in to the hotel. This evening visit the Taj Mahal at sunset. Often considered the pinnacle of Mughal art in India, the Taj was built by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. When declaring it a world heritage site, UNESCO described it as “the jewel of Muslim art in India”. There are few words that can describe the magnificence of this monument. Marvel as light and colors transform this stunning monument in the beautiful sunset glow.

Later on this evening participate in the local gaiety, sample exotic cuisines, and enjoy a colourful music and cultural dance show. “Kathak” is a classical dance form performed in the Mughal courts to entertain the Emperors that will enthrall guests. Overnight in Agra 


DAY
4
OCT 25: AGRA – JAIPUR (B, L, D) (232 KMS/05 HRS)
After breakfast, we set out to explore the Agra Fort, the work of Akbar the Great, who built it over the course of eight years (1565-1573). The fort was successively occupied by Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan; the latter died here, imprisoned by his son, left to gaze at the Taj Mahal he had built. We cross the Yamuna River to visit Itmad ud Daula. The mausoleum was built by Queen Nur Jahan in 1622 in memory of her father. It is a notable representation of the fine inlaid stonework and translucent marble. Many historians believe that this monument was Shah Jahan’s inspiration for building the Taj and is often described as the “petite Taj.” Continue overland to Jaipur en-route visiting the old deserted town of Fatehpur Sikri the eerily abandoned capital of the Mughal Empire between 1570 and 1586. Akbar built this city to celebrate the birth of his son and future heir to the thrown, Emperor Jahangir. While Akbar is believed to have been illiterate, he took great interest in the arts and architecture; Fatehpur Sikri is one of his masterworks. Sadly, it served as a capital for little more than a decade, eventually abandoned for lack of accessible water. 

Stop for lunch at Laxmi Vilas Palace previously known as Raghunath Niwas. In 1994 the palace was converted into the now famous Laxmi Vilas Palace. Bharatpur Palaces have played host to such dignitaries as the Duke of Edinburgh, Shah of Iran, King of Nepal and the Shah of Afghan and has been a prime witness to, and a participant in almost every eventful experience that took place in the princely state of Bharatpur, be it royal weddings, affairs of the court or Royal duck shoots.

Upon arrival in Jaipur, check in to the hotel. Jaipur, the fascinating capital of the state of Rajasthan.This evening discover a definitive dining experience at LMB! This is where the whole city buys exceptional traditional delicacies when celebrating special occasions and festivals! Overnight in Jaipur

DAY
5
OCT 26: JAIPUR (B, D)
This morning we will drive a short distance outside of the city to Amber Fort and Palace. Perched on a hillside on the outskirts of town, the palace was constructed in the 1590s by Maharaja Man Singh, the commander of Akbar’s army, and was largely motivated by the highly defensible location. This is a beautiful and very well preserved structure, built on four levels and surrounded by ruins, which served as the backdrop for the Mira Nair movie “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love.” We then return to the city for a look at the grand Hawa Mahal often called the Palace of Winds and a striking landmark. Built in 1799 by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh specifically for the women in the royal family, this building allowed them to watch the city’s processions through tiny, latticed windows and balconies without ever being seen. This five-storey pyramidal monument resembles a giant honeycomb and gets its name from the pink wind vanes that are perpetually in motion.

This afternoon visit the City Palace and impressive Jantar Mantar, an astronomical observatory built in the early 1700s by Maharaja Jai Sing II, the great warrior-astronomer to which this city owes its name. Then learn the art of an Indian tattoo design on your hand by a professional artist. This Heena (Mehendi) design is associated with lots of things; a good dark design is a sign of good luck for a marital couple. It is common for the names of the bride and groom to be hidden in the Mehendi design; and the wedding night cannot commence until the groom has found the names. Some examples of popular traditional images used in Mehendi designs are the peacock, which is the national bird of India, the lotus flower, and an elephant with a raised trunk a symbol of good luck. 

Dinner tonight will be at the Samode Palace where you will enjoy a Royal dinner. Overnight in Jaipur

DAY
6
OCT 27: JAIPUR – UDAIPUR (B, D) (410 KMS/08 HRS)
After breakfast drive to Udaipur, the majestic city of lakes and palaces. Founded by Maharana Udai Singh in 1559 and fondly referred to as Rajasthan’s most romantic city, its rich history is matched by its picturesque setting among the Aravalli Mountains and three manmade lakes. Early this evening, we will take a sunset cruise on Lake Pichola, sailing past its picturesque ghats and palaces, stopping at the island of Jag Mandir, a 17th century water palace that witnessed two important historical events. It was the refuge for Prince Khurram, later known as Shah Jahan, when he was exiled by his father. During the uprising of 1857, the island offered safety to several British families who fled from nearby Neemuch. Dinner will be at your hotel this evening, Overnight in Udaipur

DAY
7
OCT 28: UDAIPUR (B, D)
We begin our day at the City Palace, overlooking the blue waters of Lake Pichola. Maharana Udai Singh initiated construction in 1559 A.D. and it was subsequently expanded, with impressive uniformity, by several succeeding Maharanas. The palace consists of a number of beautiful courtyards and gardens. The main hall has been converted into a museum, housing opulent artifacts and original works of art. Inside the complex we will find the exquisite crystal gallery, exhibiting 19th century pieces including crystal chandeliers, tables, sofas and beds. We will continue walking towards the Jagdish Temple to study its many remarkable friezes. Lavishly built in 1651 by Maharana Jagat Singh, it is easy to understand why Jagdish is the most venerated Hindu temple in Udaipur. Afterwards we will explore the Old City, wandering through its bustling streets lined with art shops, spice vendors, tailors and more.

Return to hotel and enjoy dinner at the Top Terrace at Fatehgarh; a perfect way to soak in the beauty of nature surrounding Fatehgarh. Overnight in Udaipur

DAY
8
OCT 29: UDAIPUR – MUMBAI (B, D) (FLIGHT S23094:0655/0810 HRS)
Early this morning you will be transferred to Jaipur domestic airport for a flight to Mumbai. Mumbai's culture is a blend of traditional festivals, food, music and theatres. The city offers a cosmopolitan and diverse lifestyle with a variety of food, entertainment and night life, available in a form and abundance comparable to that in other world capitals. On arrival our representative and transfer to the hotel. This afternoon you will meet celebrity Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and if time permits he will do a cooking demonstration for the group. Overnight in Mumbai

DAY
9
OCT 30: MUMBAI (B, D)
This morning depart for the Gateway of India, the principal landmark in Mumbai, and originally the principal port when visitors came to India by ship. The gateway was conceived, following the visit of King George V to India in 1911, and was officially opened in 1924. Its architecture is akin to the conventional Arc de Triomphe, with elements derived from the Muslim styles of the 16th century Gujarat. Here you will board a motorized boat for the one hour excursion to Elephanta Island (closed on Mondays) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is famous for its great cave shrine, excavated in the sixth century, dating back to the period, when the island was known as Gharapuri, the Fortress City. The cave temple, which is the pride of Elephanta, sprawls over an area of approximately 5000 square meters, is reached by climbing a flight of approximately 100 steps, to the top of a hill. One's attention is immediately drawn to a series of marvellous sculptured panels, nine in all, which are set like tableaux on the walls. The afternoon is at your leisure. 

This evening enjoy dinner at Khyber at Fort Restaurant. Nostalgia and seductive antiquity slowly surround you as you enter through a wooden door decorated with Urdu couplets. Khyber welcomes you with its rugged frontier charm, old oil lanterns and frost weathered woodwork. A definite gateway to India’s rich heritage infused with all modern day comforts. As you sit surrounded by huge urns and ancient Mughal royalties on the walls, you are served authentic Indian cuisine which can be easily coined as Ambrosia – the food of the Gods. The flavours and aroma have seduced many for years in this equally intriguing city. Thumris and ghazals softly playing in the background inspire your appetite for some of the most exotic delicacies prepared from fresh and select ingredients with great care and passion. Overnight in Mumbai

DAY
10
OCT 31: MUMBAI - COCHIN (B, D) (BY FLIGHT SG103:1350/1600 HRS) COCHIN - KUMARAKOM (50KM/1.5h)
Today you will be transferred to the airport to board a flight to Cochin. On arrival in Cochin you will be met and driven overland to Kumarakom the enchanting backwater destination that slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and tributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. Kumarakom is an unbelievable beautiful paradise!! The blue backwaters and the surface of Vembanad Lake reflect the azure sky. The amazing shades of green of the vegetation that include mangroves, coconut palms, and paddy fields cover the verdant countryside. The gorgeous green of the fringed palms ripple in the blue waters and blend into wavelets. 

This evening dine at Ettukettu. This regal restaurant is home to ethnic Kerala cuisine with a slew of fragrant spices lending the cuisine its very own flavour. Specialties served include Syrian Christian Duck Roast, Duck Curry, Karimeen Pollichathu, Karimeen Mappas, Appam, Thamarappam and Idiappams (string-hoppers). Overnight in Kumarakom


DAY
11
NOV 01: KUMARAKOM (B, D)
Enjoy the day at leisure, perhaps enjoy spa or ayurveda treatments or just relax. This evening enjoy a very special dinner with Philipkuttys Farm where you will have a two hour demonstration including group participation. Kerala cuisine is renowned for its use of local spices and flavours and you are sure to come home with new culinary skills. Overnight in Kumarakom

DAY
12
NOV 02: ALLEPPEY (B, L, D)
Today you will be transferred to Alleppey to board our private Houseboat for lunch and the start of our cruise through a splendid waterway of canals, lakes and coves. Also called kettuvalloms, the houseboats of Kerala are giant country crafts, measuring up to 80 feet in length. It takes great skill and meticulousness to construct these giants by tying huge planks of jack wood together. Curiously enough, not a single nail is used in their making. Modified to meet a novel concept of holidaying, the kettuvalloms are comfortably furnished with an open lounge, bedrooms, several shared bathrooms and a kitchenette. Every boat is manned by a crew of 3, usually a cook, a guide and an oarsman. The afternoon can be spent sunbathing on the deck or lounging in the shade of the main cabin. Dining onboard is a delicious blend of home style cooking with selections of savory spices and robust ingredients in dishes that explode with flavor. As we drift along, it is amazing to observe how life is lived on the water. People sail, fish, swim, wash their laundry and bathe themselves here. Socializing is a water activity too. It is not unusual to see people talking for an hour or more, while immersed up to their necks in water. Canoes with huge sails still transport the locals and you can find vegetable sellers, fisherman and other household materials being brought door to door in small wooden boats. Overnight onboard the House boat

DAY
13
NOV 03: ALLEPPEY - COCHIN (B)
After breakfast drive back to Cochin, the commercial capital of Kerala with its modern part Ernakulam and the old peninsular district of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry, Cochin is situated on the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula. Over the years, Cochin has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India (after Mumbai/Bombay). Cochin was an important spice-trading center on the Arabian Sea coast from the 14th century onwards. It was the first European colonial settlement in India. First the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and the British ruled here until the 19th century. Visit the Jewish Synagogue (closed on Fridays & Saturdays) built in 1568. Scrolls of the Old Testament and a number of copper plates inscribed in Hebrew script are preserved here. The building was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662 and rebuilt by the Dutch two years later. Then visit St. Francis Church, the oldest church constructed by the Europeans in India. Built by the Portuguese in 1510; it housed the remains of Vasco da Gama for 14 years before it was transferred to Lisbon. His tombstone can be seen inside the church. Also visit Mattancherry Palace built by the Portuguese in 1555. The Palace was presented to the Raja of Cochin as a gesture of goodwill. The palace was known as the Dutch Palace, resulting from substantial renovation by the Dutch after 1663. The central hall was the Coronation Hall of the Rajas. Their dresses, turbans and palanquins and murals from Hindu mythology are all beautiful and worth seeing. After touring you will be transferred to Cochin International Airport for your onward flight. 

 
So, what are you waiting for? Book early and avoid disappointment. It is usually a small group and it gets filled quickly.
 
Source: Indus Travels.
 

Sips and Suppers 2014

Sunday Night Suppers is a $600/- per head dinner organzied by Chef Alice Waters, Chef Jose Andres and cookbook author Joan Nathan to benefit the DC Central Kitchen  and Martha's table. The dinners are held in small groups of 20-25 in private homes around Washington DC. Each dinner is hosted by two chefs and about 25-30 dinners are held simultaneously. Chefs are invited from different parts of the country .

This year, I was once again honored to be invited to host one of these dinners along with Chef Daniel Asher from Linger and Root down restaurants, Denver, Colorado. A huge thanks to Maggie and Marcus Farley for opening up their home for us.

I am so glad to hear that this years events raised $500,000/- for the DCCK and Martha's table. Here are some pictures from the events and also the list of Chefs who participated in the event.

Photo-33
  This is from the Sips event held on the 25th at the Newseum where guest paid $95/- per head to taste from the top restaurants of Washington DC.

Photo-25 Photo-26
Our day started on Saturday morning with a trip to the White house. Chef Bill Yosses briefing the chefs.

Photo-22

 Irrespective of the number of times that you have been to the White house it is always a great feeling!

Photo-28

This is first lady Michelle Obama's kitchen garden during the peak of winter and here is a shot below of how it looks during summer! 

Biil-vinodWH

Photo-30

 Inside the White House kitchen Chef Bill Yosses chatting with the chefs.

_MG_1513

Chef Bill Yosses came to greet and escort us. It is such a pleasure to know him. It is always very enlightening to spend some time with Bill.He is such a wealth of knowledge ; sometimes I wonder if he is a chef or a historian? 

  IMG_7036

 Maryland Rockfish, lobster koftas, coconut - kokum sauce, microgreens- lemon grass vinaigrette.

IMG_7039

Chef Daniel Asher finishing the third course - Flight of Pickled and Fermented Edibles with Anchovy pear Kimchi, Calendula flower Sauerkraut, Pickled beets and kale, fax pumpkin seed crisps.

IMG_7041

Chef Bala and Daniel plating the 36 hour Braised Aspen Short Rib with Crispy Brussels, Butternut celeriac puree and poached pastured Egg.

IMG_7066

 With the gracious hostess Maggie Farley and Chef Daniel Asher of Denver, Colorado.IMG_7072

With chef Carla Hall at the after party.

IMG_7024
 with Alice Waters at the brunch hosted by Joan Nathan at her residence.

IMG_7025At Joan Nathan's residence with the renowned cook book Author Nathalie Dupree

Overall it was a great experience interacting with such knowledgeable chefs.It is really wonderful to know that that one of my favorite institutions DC Central Kitchen and Martha's Table will benefit from these charity events.On behalf of all the Chefs, would like to thank each one you who came and supported this great event. My special thanks to Chef Bala and my team at Indique. 

Thank you Jose Andres, Joan Nathan and Alice Waters!