Pondicherry: A Colonial Paradise

It’s 4:45 a.m. I struggle to open my eyes at the sound of the alarm. A little disoriented, I look around. It takes some time to remind myself of where I am. And what I have to do.

I wake them up, and we head down to the beach, a spectacle of jagged rocks, waves hitting against them and spraying the water of the sea onto our faces. A cool breeze caresses, as the fishermen begin their journeys and the early morning walkers start their exercise. Any minute now.

The sky begins to change. Subtle. A hint of blue, the promise of a sun.

And then comes shades of lilac, brilliant orange, a smidge of pink, a dash of red…

And before I know it, it has arrived. Another new day.

Pondicherry is a union territory located near Tamil Nadu in India. Previously under rule of the French, following Indian Independence, Pondicherry became independent as well. However, traces of French culture still lie in its preserved architecture, mostly along the Rocky Beach and the French Colony, hinting strongly of Pondicherry’s colonial legacy.

But Pondicherry surprised me in so many ways, because it wasn’t just a place of beauty and history, it was a food lover’s paradise. One of the must try places in Pondicherry is Cafe Xtasi, where they make pizzas so huge you can feed a table of five, and the vegetarian pizzas are better than the meat pizzas. Another place that is worth a mention is the Indian Xpress Kaffe, which delivers wholesome filling breakfasts, and is equally proficient in both Continental and Indian Cuisine. Their waffles are just about as good as it gets.

The Gelato Place located on Beach Road is simply to die for. Along with normal flavours like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, they have really refreshing flavours like lemon and ginger, roast almond, raspberry (with real pieces of fruit!), and tiramisu.

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The best part about Pondicherry is that transport is so different from that in other crowded cities. Since the French Colony sees less traffic, it’s possible to cycle with ease. Filled with shady lanes and quaint neighborhoods, cycling along Beach Road and through the Colony allows you to feel the vibe of the area. In fact, taking accommodation in this area is the best choice. It’s very easy to rent cycles, and rates are usually cheap, at 100 rupees for the day. Visitors can contact the Tourism Office located on Beach Road and it is convenient for any other information you may require.

Pondicherry is not a party place, it’s not a place filled with young people, it’s not modern. It’s a place that revels in its past, lives in its history, and breathes in its culture…

That sunrise? That is what Pondicherry is all about. Being one with yourself. The calm before the commotion of life. It isn’t the most beautiful sunrise in the world, but it is the most beautiful feeling. And that is what makes it worth it.

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Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes

It’s finally time to post a recipe!

I’ve been searching everywhere for the perfect eggless cake recipes, they tend to come in handy when you bake for friends who are completely vegan. However, with all my previous attempts, the lack of egg was a bit obvious, and they fell….flat.

And then. I finally found it! Thank you internet!

They came out light, fluffy, and decadent. I daresay it was probably healthier than any other cake I’ve ever made. And you can’t even tell that there are no eggs. They just might (might) taste better too.

It’s a straight-in for the recipe book.

Here’s a link to the recipe I used! Give it a try. I guarantee results.

Eggless chocolate cupcakes recipe | Eggless cupcakes

I did increase the measurements to make 24 cupcakes. So that would be:

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes: {24 cupcakes}

2 cups flour

1 1/3 cup sugar

4/9 cup cocoa powder

1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup water

2/3 cup oil

1 1/3 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/3 tablespoon vinegar

 

 

An Ode to Bread…

I walk into the kitchen. The smell fills the air. Warm, like a hug after a long tiring day. Comforting, like a mother’s caress. And I’m home…in the truest sense. Bread is one of those things that isn’t just about the end product, but also about the process, journey, effort and love that go into making it. I’m not talking about the cheap bread that comes in a plastic bag, I’m talking about the real deal. Freshly baked, homemade bread. I recently took a baking class, where I learned how to make various bakery and confectionery items. But my favorite classes were always about bread.

There’s something almost sensual in the way the dough is kneaded. Like you can take flour, yeast, water, sugar, and eggs, and literally dance around with it, while it incorporates into a dough that’s as soft as a baby bottom. It’s not just the hands that are at work while you knead dough, but your entire body. Mentally, you can let go of all your frustration, and embrace the art of patience and love. There is nothing more comforting than the scent of freshly baked bread wafting through the air and teasing your senses. Nothing. Until you taste it. If you get it just right… you can glimpse heaven.

Source:https://adventuresinshaw.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/cheesy-bread-inside-view.jpg

Martin’s Corner… Martin’s Comfort…. Betalbatim (Goa)

I love places that tell a story. When you walk into a restaurant, while on the outside seeming normal or ordinary, you can always find a unique quirk, something unusual. And I just can’t wait to uncover that story.

My final night in Goa, and I finally visited South Goa’s most famous restaurant, Martin’s Corner. Located in Betalbatim, Martin’s is a place frequented by locals, tourists, and celebrities alike. It’s away from the main road, in what seems to be a regular neighborhood, with residential houses all around. The restaurant was actually started by one woman, Ms. Carafina Pereira, after her husband’s retirement (the places is also named Martin’s in his honor). What started out in 1989 as a couple of tables and chairs, where the local kids could hang out and play caroms, and taxi drivers could eat prawn curry rice while their clients ate at high end restaurants, eventually turned into one of the most famous places to eat in Goa.

Long gone are the days when Martin’s was just tables in the frontyard of a house. It has transformed into a beautiful restuarant. Walking into the place that night, my eyes were arrested by all the lights. Red checkered tablecloth, and wicker chairs, with a live singer and colorful paintings all over the walls… and the bar was set to look just like a tavern with glasses hanging around. One wall is entirely covered with pictures of celebrities who have visited the place over the years. The face that stands out to me most is Sachin Tendulkar, India’s star cricket player. He even has an item on the menu, a king crab dish, in his honor. While Martin’s caters to other cuisines (Chinese and continental), it’s famous for what it started out as… authentic Goan cuisine.

There are tiger prawns, lobsters, crab, shark, and varieties of fish (pomfret, kingfish, snapper, modso, and chonok) in varieties of ways, fried in masala, rava, or butter and garlic. You can also opt for your fish to be served in the Indian tandoori style. But perhaps the most reknowned of all the styles must be the Recheado masala, a Goan spice mix that is a perfect compliment to fish. Martin’s also makes one of their signature dishes, which has been there since the time of its inception, the pork fry.

I kept my meal light, having steamed rice with rava masala fried kingfish. Along with that, I enjoyed a vegetable coconut gravy, similar to Kerala’s kadala curry, with spicy undertones, to counteract the sweetness of the fish. It was divine, the fish was just so fresh I could practically taste the sea with every bite. As I swayed to the music I couldn’t help but think: life was good.

Martin’s has atmosphere… It’s lively, intoxicating, and happening. But more importantly, it’s a tribute to a journey. A journey of hardwork and perserverance. A journey of a woman who created something huge out of something that started out small. And I think that’s a beautiful story…

From the Shacks of Goa…

A few years ago, when I first started living in Bangalore, street food was my ultimate nemesis. My main concerns were hygiene, tastiness, and fear of stomach diseases. I’d heard enough stories by then from friends and relatives about the hazards of street food. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve started to experiment more with food; try different things, and I’m so glad I did, because let me tell you, the best food is in the smallest places.

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Palolem Beach

Sitting on the beach in Goa. The roar of the waves, and a drink in my hand. The ultimate bliss. Goa is famous for its parties, fun-loving lifestyle, beaches and one more important thing. Seafood. Even hard-core vegetarians find themselves tempted and lured in by the promises of varieties of fish, crab, lobster, prawns… you name it, it’s in the shacks of Goa. Sitting on the plastic chair, with my feet buried in the sand, and the wind from the sea blowing at my back, I ask him what the catch of the day is. To my astonishment he brings me the most beautiful red snapper, grilled with masala and smelling beautiful. As I dig in, I can taste the freshness of the fish, moist and melting in my mouth, first with the spiciness, and then sinking into the tanginess of the lemon, leaving my senses tingling. I didn’t leave very much behind. 🙂 These days, some of the shacks specialize in other types of food as well, such as pastas. While this is not their main attraction, I was surprised to find out how tasty it was. A word about what to pick at the shacks: stick to the catch of the day, or grilled items. Try to avoid curries, and the like, they tend not to be as mindblowing. However, if you are adamant to remain vegetarian (in which case you may be missing out) contrary to perceptions, there are quite a few vegetarian options as well, such as pastas, curries, salads, and various starters, typically mainstream Indian food.

Red Snapper: grilled, with french fries and lemon rice

Red Snapper: grilled, with french fries and lemon rice

The reason I can’t name a specific shack in Goa is for one reason. It won’t be there next year. According to a lovely taxi driver who we met, come monsoon season, and the shacks are dismantled. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, new ones are resurrected in the coming tourist season.

If you ever happen to be in Goa, I’d say get out of that hotel restaurant and head to the beach to see what you can find. Number one, you will get to experience authentic Goan cuisine, rather than a mashup of all kinds of food (which is what you would find in a commercial hotel) Number two, shacks are right on the beach. You can spend hours with good company, a nice beer and the waves. Some of these shacks, such as the ones located in the Calangute area even give foot massages.

Goa has long been divided into two. North and South, in that the North is full of party people and the South is generally where people go with their families, the more quiet, relaxed side of the state. Having experienced both sides of the state, I’d say the best shacks in South Goa belong to Palolem Beach (Paradise Beach). North Goa has plenty to choose from as well, such as the shacks in Calangute, and Baga, which is actually part of the same stretch of the beach.

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No matter how many times I go to Goa, I can always find something new, something different, and something memorable. This time, I discovered the shacks. It’s true what they say: the best food really does come from the smallest places. The shack isn’t just a food experience though, it’s an experience of the mind, body, and soul. It can bring people together, creating an atmosphere that you will never find anywhere else…

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My Central Perk (Hole Lotta Love, Koramangala)

I have watched, and fell in love with the show F.R.I.E.N.D.S over and over again, alongside most of the world. Being the person I am, my favorite parts of the show have always been the scenes where all of them are sitting in Central Perk, on that same old couch… same coffee… same company… but new memories each time (and of course food food food, because for some reason, whenever I read a book or watch a show, I’m always curious to see what people have eaten) I never thought I’d find myself one of those, until I did.

Hole Lotta Love, Koramangala, is a small cafe, on the road right past the JNC College. It’s quaint, homely, and rustic. My theory is that it used to be a house, and was recently remodeled into a restaurant. As soon as we walked in, we saw it. Our place. In the corner, away from the rest of the restaurant, a huge comfy sofa, next to a bookshelf and some games.

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The best part about this place is that they have no Wifi. In today’s day and age we can’t go a couple of hours without looking at our phone, it was like an escape from the world. And the food. Amazing.

Most of their menu consists of breakfast items: varieties of pancakes, waffles, french toast, eggs, etc. They also have all kinds of burgers and sandwiches.

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Bean Burger

Funky Monkey Waffles- Waffles with banana and chocolate chips

Funky Monkey Waffles- Waffles with banana and chocolate chips

The first thing I ever ordered here was waffles with peanut butter and chocolate cream. I’m the kind of person who gets really really really excited about food, and the anticipation practically kills me. So, as the waiter approached with my meal, I’ll be honest, I was disappointed. But the first bite… It was an intense creaminess, with an undertone of the nutty flavour and a good balance between the sweetness of the chocolate, and the saltiness of the peanut butter and the hot chocolate, while simple, was delicious, warm, and comforting. I fell in love again. That day was especially memorable for so many reasons. Good food, good company, and not just that, but I felt like a kid again, and I think that everyone should have that. Everyone should have a place where they can really feel happy. Their Central Perk. And I think I may have finally found mine.

Waffles with peanut butter and chocolate cream

Waffles with peanut butter and chocolate cream

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French toast stuffed with peaches and cream

Things tried and tasty:

Tomato Basil and Cheese Sandwich

Chocolate Smoothie

Bleu cheese and mushroom sub

Chocolate Peanut butter waffles

Lime and Ginger juice

Hot Chocolate

Banana and chocolate chip waffles

Bean Burger

Things to avoid:

French toast stuffed with peanut butter and banana

Prices range between 60- 350 rupees per item