I don’t belong to Mumbai. Or shall I say that I thought I didn’t till recently. I have spent 14 years in this city, just 4 years short of the number of years I spent at my birthplace. It was around the same time – Ganesh Chaturthi – when I first set foot here oblivious to how my life was going to be tossed and turned around; that from being a jobless nobody, I will see my name (and recently my face too) published in some of the best magazines and newspapers. Every time I thought the city took away from me, it doubled it up and gave back, not always in ways I expected.
I do not like kottu roti (the Sri Lankan/Tamilian street food made with flatbread, chicken, vegetables. Everything is fried on a tawa together and served in a big heap with a curry poured over it)
Now that we’re through with it let me talk about what I actually loved about Sri Lankan food. To be honest I absolutely disliked my first two meals there – string hoppers with fish curry and kottu roti. These were also some of the recommendation I got on social media. But the best ones were from my friend and teacher Kurush Dalal. He really knows Sri Lankan food well. This is a list of everything that I tried and loved in Sri Lanka.
In 2016 I travelled to Japan with my best friend (7 Things You Should Know To Plan Your Japan Trip). My first question to her when we met at the airport was, “is that your luggage for 10 days?” She had the same question for me. We were definitely on two extreme ends of the packing spectrum. Her luggage was over 20kgs while mine only 8kgs. She got my point when we both had to pickup our trolley bags and climb a few flight of stairs at the subways where there were no elevators or escalators. Before she threatens to beat me up for sharing this disclaimer publicly, here’s a disclaimer – her packing skills have improved considerably and now she packs her as well as her baby’s stuff in just one suitcase.
I have a love-hate relationship with Mumbai’s weather. Every summer I hate it to the core, going into hybernation and refusing to step out of my room. Every monsoon I fall in love with it again, ogling at every green patch I can find, planning trips to the city’s outskirts. Traveling through the Konkan belt during monsoon is bliss and I make it a point to be out there soaking in the weather, even if it’s just for a weekend.
Last weekend I was in Wai, a small town in Maharashtra’s Satara district located on the Krishna river. It’s surrounded by the gorgeous Sahyadris with the clouds floating low, kissing the hills. The site is healing to the eyes and soul with all shades of green vying for your attention. I spent my day walking down to the river, letting my feet soak in its chilled water and inhaling the freshness of my surroundings.
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.