Obanzai Ryori – My introduction to Kyoto’s home-style cooking

Japanese cooking is a vast universe, way beyond the sushi, sashimi and ramen that we know of. (Read: Going beyond sushi: Eating my way through Japan). While every region has different styles of cooking, the food and cooking style varies within regions too, case in point the three cuisines of Kyoto – Kaiseki (the cuisine that invovles different cooking techniques and has evolved from the tea ceremony culture), Shojin ryori (the no meat, no onion-garlic cooking of the Buddhist monks) and Obanzai ryori (the simple home-style cooking of Kyoto). While the three styles differ from each other, they have a few things in common – using local and seasonal produce, minimal ingredients and simple flavours.

My introduction to Obanzai style of cooking happened at a local’s home in Kyoto, an experience I booked through Traveling Spoon. We drove through the Kamigamo river to reach our host Keiko Morita’s house in Koyama Kamigamo on the outskirts of Kyoto where she lives with her parents.

Kamigamo River, Kyoto

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Varanasi – The city that runs on high vibration

“Ye sheher nahi hai shakhsiyat hai.” (It’s not a city, it’s a personality.)

Said my host Saurav as I sat in the beautiful haveli of the father of modern Hindi literature Bhartendu Harishchandra. It’s my second visit to the city – just a few months after my first – and I am still trying to grab the pulse of Varanasi (or Kashi or Banaras), the oldest living city in the world. We sit under a beautifully lit gazebo in Bhartendu Bhawan discussing the city’s culture, its love for literature and performing arts and the famous Banarasi thaath (the lavish lifestyle, not literally but figuratively). The caretaker of the house makes baati chokha (rustic meal of Eastern UP) as Saurav recites Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja, Bhartendu’s famous satire. I am transported to an era that’s forgotten; it can’t get better than this. Continue reading

Anuradhapura – The ancient capital of Sri Lanka

Anuradhapura, ‘the sacred city’ of the teardrop island has Buddhist culture seeped-in to its core. There are absolutely no tourist traps and the city feels much safer (saying this from the point of view of a solo traveler).

After spending first 3 days of my Sri Lanka trip in Galle and exploring the SoutWest Coast of Sri Lanka, I lugged my backpack on my shoulders and hopped on a train to Anuradhapura. While the train route was spectacular – coastline till Colombo and then beautiful countryside – taking a train might not be the best decision for long routes (it’s painfully slow). However, I enjoyed the slow journey mostly looking out of the window and munching every kind of snack that was being sold on the train – sliced apples and pineapple sprinkled with masala, daal vadais stuffed with prawns, peanuts etc.

On the way to Anuradhapura

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A weekend in Phuket – Here’s what you can do

Pristine beaches, island hopping, party – 3 things that come to mind when you think of Phuket. While all of these is what makes Phuket a perfect holiday destination with friends, there’re plenty of things that you can do if you’re traveling alone or are not particularly interested in partying. During my week long trip to Thailand, I had a two-day stay in Phuket which I mostly explored on my own. If you’re planning a trip to Thailand, I suggest you hop over to Phuket for just a weekend. Here’s all that you can do (apart from watching sunsets at the lovely beaches).

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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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