In Photos – Exploring Sri Lanka’s southwest coast

“From India? Oh! Mother Country!” exclaimed my tuktuk driver when I told him I was from India. Many of them spoke fluent Hindi and were just happy to know that I was from neighbouring country. A lot of them were just amused by my hair (I had a head full of turquoise hair then; it’s violet now). The first three of my trip to Sri Lanka were spent exploring the southwest coast – Colombo to Galle and around. The weather was largely unpredictable here – from too hot and humid to heavy rains which ate up on my beach time. However, I covered a considerable part of the coast. Here’s my journey in pictures.

A TRAIN RIDE TO REMEMBER

Beautiful Sri Lankan countryside view at one side and the gorgeous Indian Ocean on the other. The train ride from Colombo to Galle had my eyes glued to the window.

Train ride from Colombo to Galle

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Being moved by love

What do I travel for?

A question I have constantly asked myself with every trip. Yes, the blog says it loud and clear “Will Travel For Food” and that’s true to a certain extent. But does it mean food only in the literal sense? Food for body? Or does it mean food for thought, soul and heart? All my travels in the last one year have been as much about the latter as they’ve been about the former.

In the beginning of 2017, when I was going through a low phase, both in terms of personal as well as financial, I booked a trip to Meghalaya on a whim. It was with a travel company Chalo Hoppo  that operates in North East India. I decided to go for their group tour to Meghalaya. I was completely on my own and didn’t know anyone. So I set out with a group of complete strangers. Little did I know that this trip was just the first step to the journey of my healing. I made friends for life – food for soul.

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The best meals of 2017 – Where and what I ate

How you begin the new year sets the tone for the rest of it…

It’s true. I started 2017 with a langar at a Gurudwara in New Bombay, wishing for  equally great meals in the coming year. And what a fabulous food year it was. I traveled to various cities for food. Took a trip to Pune to try the famous Bedekar misal and loved it, went to Surat to eat the locho and visited the ponkh market, traveled to Indore (done that twice this year already) and found another food city to fall in love with, took a solo trip to Calcutta and Meghalaya (where I ended up making some most amazing friends), traveled to Goa to learn sourdough which became one of the most brilliant experiences of 2017, traveled to Indore (again) and ended the year with a trip to Srilanka. Apart from all the good food I ate at these places, there were umpteen fabulous meals cooked by my mother, a couple of trips to Lucknow that involved loads of chaat, and some amazing beef curry/fish curry and rice meals at Chetna (PositivityAngel’s) house. Don’t think I can be thankful enough for this year.

I am an atheist, but somehow going to a Gurudwara doesn't feel like I am confirming to any religion. The idea of following a teacher and learning from his/her experiences sounds more logical to me than blind faith. Also, what fascinates me is their self-less service and the feeling of giving back to the community. Eating at a langar with people from different casts, religions and financial backgrounds and accepting your food with a feeling of gratitude is a humbling experience. So glad to start my food journey this year with such a beautiful meal. I hope the food that I eat this year helps me connect to my roots and make me aware of the efforts people put-in to put that food on my table. Also, here's a big thankyou to all the people who came into my life this past year, taught me new things, gave me new experiences and motivated me to be better than myself. I don't know whether all of you will be part of my journey onwards, but I will always cherish and value those times, learnings and experiences. Wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful new year. #NewYear #gratitude #CircleOfPositivity #Happy2017 #gurudwara #food #langar #feelinghumbled #thankyou #HappyNewYear

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A comprehensive guide to eating chaat in Lucknow

Log bohot chatore hote hain,” (people really love to eat chaat) overheard outside chaat shop. Aur Lucknow ke log to kuch zyada hi chatore hote hain (and people in Lucknow even more so). The chaat of this city turns you into one. I think the word chatore must have been coined in Lucknow seeing the love people have here for chaat. It comes from the word chaatna or licking cause you will definitely want to lick clean your plate of chaat, and it’s a socially acceptable practice. The evening plans in Lucknow are made around eating chaat. Shopping is fun here cause you can take a quick chaat break. As a kid my only reason to accompany my mother for shopping was a post shopping treat of pani ke batashe and hot aloo tikkis. For the uninitiated, chaat is sold mostly in the evenings so don’t come to Lucknow expecting to eat chaat in the middle of the day.

Dahi chutney ke batashe at Jain Chaat

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Mushroom and Cheese Tortellini – Calvin & Hobbes: The Literary Kitchen #16

“Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”

– Bill Watterson

There are two kinds of people, one who’re Calvin & Hobbes fans and the other who haven’t read the comic at all. About a decade ago, a friend bought a volume of Calvin & Hobbes comics which I read cover to cover; I have been a fan since then. For the uninitiated, the comic is about a 6 year old boy Calvin and his stuffed tiger Hobbes created by Bill Watterson; as far as Calvin is concerned the tiger is real. The comic is a satire taking pot shot at politics, the consumer culture of America, rat race and life in general. Much of it is creators own thought process and in that quote above he has pretty much summed up his idea of life and success.

So what’s this post about? What’s the connection between Calvin & Hobbes and food? Calvin hates food. Not just hates it, he is disgusted by pretty much everything his mom cooks. Most of the times the nonchalant mother doesn’t pay attention to his over the top attempts to avoid food and sometimes she pretends that the food is actually goop from outer space or stewed monkey brains to make him eat (yeah, for some strange reason Calvin digs the idea).

So, the recipe here is Tortellini stuffed with mushroom and cheese and tossed in lemon, butter, and sage sauce.

Mushroom Tortellini, Calvin & Hobbes, The Literary Kitchen

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