Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Celebrating Vishu the Zambar way

Vishu is the Hindu new year festival celebrated in the state of Kerala and coastal Karnataka. This marks the beginning of the first day of the month called Medam according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar and falls on 14th April. It also connotes the completion of spring equinox ( wherein the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is equal).

I was invited to taste the Vishu Sadhya (feast) at Zambar, which is a fine dining place known for it's coastal delicacies. Vishu feast is a pure vegetarian fare which consists of more than 2 dozen dishes and accompaniments. Here's the menu -

We were served in the traditional Malayali style on the banana leaf. The food looked so tempting that it was very difficult for us to wait till all the items were served. I started nibbling on the Sarkara Varrati which is like our very own Gur (Jaggery) Sev and Banana Upperi ( banana chips). Unniappam is another delight almost like the sweet Pua's we make at home during the rainy season. 

The rice on your plate (banana leaf in this case) is divided into two halves and on one part Sambhar is served while on the other Pariappu curry ( moong dal) is poured. These two portions are eaten with specific veggies which the staff will willingly let you know.

I specially loved the kootu curry, Avial, theeyal which are vegetable preparations eaten with rice( we were served the authentic Kerala rice also known as Bullet rice). To round off our lunch we had Pal Payasam which is Seviyan and Adda Payasam which is an authentic Malayali dessert made up of coconut milk and banana. Both the dessert were exceptionally good but Adda Payasam was the winner for me. 

The food was very simple yet flavorful and rich in nutrition. Do visit the Zambar at Ambience mall on 14th of April to savour the lovely Keralite meal and relish the flavours of God's own country.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Navratri Platter @ Punjab Grill Tappa


The Punjab Grill is synonymous with non vegetarian food and Punjab Grill Tappa is no different. But you will be surprised if I tell you that they serve the most amazing Navratri platter in the town. Yes! I went there on Monday and opted for the Navratri fare. 

I was served a Thandai which was quite refreshing and a pleasant change from the usual mocktails and drinks.

 A Fresh fruits bowl which had seasonal fruits 

and then the main platter. It consisted of Pumpkin Vegetable, Kuttu pooris, Arbi satay, Samak sushi, Sabudana pulav/ khichdi and Chicku shrikhand.

It wasn't just elaborate but also a refreshing change from the usual Navratri Platters available for someone like my hubby who fasts for all 7 days.

The food was mildly flavoured with the select spices and sendha salt. I especially liked the samak sushi which was different, flavourful and melt in the mouth 

 Arbi satay was delectable.

And the chicku shrikhand deserves a special mention.

Also, the staff was extremely courteous and hospitable.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Handloom sarees - My six yards of wonder

Like Mother like daughter goes a popular adage and very rightly so. My mother is a connoisseur of art and she has very well passed it to me. As an art lover, you like everything which is handmade with lots of love and handloom sarees  are no different. A patron of hand loom sarees, she has a whopping 1000 plus sarees in her closet. When she was putting a trousseau for me, she carefully collected a range of sarees from the chanderi, Maheshwari and Bengali muslin for the summers as they were light and fresh to the rich and sophisticated Banarasi's and Kanjivaram's for the festivities. 
A beautiful Kanjivaram saree

My mom gifts me a hand loom Saree (generally 3-4) on each and every festival and there are plenty of such occasions throughout the year.  Over the last decade, I have become a proud owner of atleast 630 such precious pieces. Being a doctor, my mom thought I would have to wear a silhouette which exudes grace and dignity, and what better than a hand loom Saree. I too religiously wore an enchanted piece of craftsmanship each day during the first year as a Consultant Dental surgeon at a leading hospital. But in the chaotic hustle bustle of every day, tying sarees became a chore and these beauties were carefully stacked in the furthest corner in my wardrobe. Every time, I gazed at these fascinating six yards of wonder, my heart ached. The weaver had not only put days of hardwork but a part of his heart and soul too. 

So, I promised myself that no matter what, I will wear a Saree at least once every month and thus #12sareepact came into being. Once you make your mind, it's not that difficult. Last year I wore sarees on each and every occasion - to weddings, PTM's, girlie get together's, to even a plush fine dining.

 It would amaze you to know that there are at least 70 different types of hand loom sarees are found across the country. They are distinguished on the basis of fabric, weaving style or motif. The few prominent ones are

Banarsi, Tanchoi and Shalu from Uttar Pradesh

Chanderi, Maheshwari and Dhokra silk from Madhya pradesh 
Kosa silk from Chhattisgarh

Tant, Jamdani, Muslin, Tussar, Dhakai Katan, Kantha silk, Baluchari, Batic, Korial, Shantipuri from West Bengal  
Mekhla cotton and Moonga silk from Assam
Ikkat silk & cotton, Bomkai, Bapta, Sonepuri , Khandua silk and cotton from Odisha
Manipuri Tant Saree from Manipur

Paithani and Lugade from Maharastra
Bandhini, Patola and Gharchola from Gujarat
Kota Doria and Lehriya from Rajasthan

Mysore silk, Molakalmuru from Karnataka 
Dharmavaram, Chirala, Bandar, Venkatgiri and Mangalagiri from Andhra Pradesh
Pochampally, Gadwal silk from Telangana
Mundam Neriyathum, Balarampuram, Kalpathi, Mayilati silk from Kerala
Kanchipuram ( Kanjivaram), Kumbakonam, Thirubuvanam from Tamil Nadu

These are a symbol of our rich culture and heritage, we need to preserve it before it becomes history and only a part of our text books. These days you don't need to go to the dusty by lanes of Varanasi or Kanjipuram to find yourself that special Saree, you can do that from the comforts of your home by logging on to They have a wide range of handloom sarees which are reasonably priced right at your doorstep.So, now nothing should stop you from owing your perfect 6 yards of wonder.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

5 Reasons why women stay in unhappy marriages

Aparajita is a young, dynamic and successful criminal lawyer. She is married to Prateek, who is a VP in a multinational. She  lives in a plush apartment, drives a swanky car, has the latest mobile phone and dines out in the most fancy restaurants other than the many international holidays the couple takes with their adorable 6 years old daughter. She is a role model to many and an example of the new independent strong women we talk about often. Isn't her life like what dreams are made of!!! I thought so too, Appu as I fondly called her was a neighbour and a friend and we would bump into each other every morning as we dropped our little ones at the bus stop. We would share little moments of our lives with each other, in those 10 minutes at the bus stop, before heading home. A  precious little bond was formed, so much so that Appu would always say, "Now I know, where to head in a moment of despair". And I would laugh it off thinking such a moment would never be there.....
.......But it came, and jolted me out of my deep slumber. My phone rang in the middle of the night, trying to open my eyes, I look at the screen - APPU. I immediately pick up and before I could muster up the courage to speak anything, a shivering voice said,"Open the door". I sprinted downstairs and opened the door with a jerk. She was standing right there - battered, bruised and breathless.  She looked at me and just hugged me, tight, very tight." What happened, where's Prateek, who did this"? I was asking non stop....She looked at me and said "Prateek, who else", I could not believe what I heard, it was as if someone had stabbed me real hard....Prateek, I murmured again. What she told me next swept the floor under my feet. Prateek was having an illicit relationship with his house help  for the last 11 years, even before they got married. She came to know of this around 7 years back, when she was pregnant. Prateek had insisted on getting Rupa, the maid at his parent house, to take care of Appu during her pregnancy. She was fine with it as she needed a reliable help and Rupa had been with the family for years, "who better than her", she had thought!  But the happiness was short lived as she had caught Prateek and Rupa making out in the study one night, when she came to call her husband as she was feeling little uneasy. Aparajita had fainted and when she regained consciousness, she found herself surrounded by her in-laws. She had pourned her heart out to her mother in law, and the lady had comforted her saying she would talk to Prateek and silenced her by talking about family honour. Even after the birth of Adira, nothing had changed. Prateek and his mistress continued with their liasion, with Rupa going back to Prateek's parental home. Her in-laws were also indifferent to her problems now and cited lame excuses like "Men will be men" or "He is doing everything for you and your daughter, so what 's the problem?". She had also made peace with the fact that Rupa will always be a part of their marital relation. But Prateek's going to meet Rupa every weekend drove her mad and was a reason of their constant arguements and fights.

"Why are you taking all this shit? You are educated and independent, why can't you move out?" I said

 Aparajita isn't one of the kind, having worked as a counsellar with an NGO, I had seen all kind of women coming with problems in the marriage - mental tourture, physical abuse, sexual assaults ....and here, we aren't talking about the poor, illiterate and downtrodden women. These were educated, smart, some even working and independent women. What is it that a lot of women remain in the marriage despite violence and abuse.

For the kids - This is the most heard reason of staying in the marriage. Most people are convinced that staying together is best for the kids. It indeed is too! only when the couple is happy together and there is an warm, peaceful environment at home. If the children witness their parents fighting and quarelling all the time, think again about staying together.

Some people say that fighting is an indespensible part of a marriage and all couple do fight. My point is - yes ! all couples fight but fighting all day, everyday is not normal.

Fear - Fear of society is a huge factor why people stay married and miserable. "What will people say",  "At least, you have his name so no one will look at you in a bad way", "how will you survive alone" "in our society a woman need a man" are few phrases which are commonly heard
Fear is something we create for ourselves. We are all born alone, so we can survive without one another. Also, we the people make the society, If we try to be empathetic and non judgemental,  So will the society be.

Finances - This is a biggest nightmare for the couples going for divorce. Dividing the house and bank balance creates a lot of mess. Also a large number of women give up their career due marriage and kids. It becomes very difficult for them to walk out of marriage inspite of years of abuse.

Low self esteem- You will be surprised to know that most of the domestic abuse victims feel that they were at fault and responsible for their messy unhappy marriage.

Hope- A large number of women believe, "one day it will all be okay". Yes! Hope is one of the leading reasons why women stay trapped in loveless alliances. The reassurances from the partner," I will not do it again", " give me one chance" are some honey coated words often used by men to keep their marriage intact.

Give him a fair chance, try to fix the problem,  But if it's beyond repair, there's no point investing your time on it. Just let it go.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 Signs You Are In A Bad Marriage

Marriage is a very sacred institution on our side of the equator. A successful marriage requires lot of hard work and commitment. Problems in marriage are inevitable. But there are 5 big warning signs that will let you know if you are struck in a bad marriage or not.

No Respect for each other - Respect is a most important aspect of a happy marriage. If you respect each other, you will never cross that barrier, even during your most gruesome arguments. If you call each other by awful names and use derogatory langauge while fighting, think again!

  Voilent Behaviour - Any kind of violence is bad for a relationship. It may manifest itself as physical, mental, emotional, financial....

  No Sex - It is the first sign of a bad marriage, usually. Lack of physical affection like hugging or kissing is a huge black flag for your relationship. If you do not like getting phyisically intimate  or are having sex less than 10 times a year...see a marriage counsellor soon.

You resent each other - If being with your spouse in the same room make you jittery and all you want is get out as fast as you could...think again! It is the biggest warning signal that you are in a messy relationship.

Secret and Silences - If you and your partner keep secrets from each other, it dangerous for your marriage. A happy marriage is one where both the partners are able to share and are each other's friends. Also, if you are not communicating with each other and there are long spells of silences, there's a trouble in your paradise. 

Figure out the problem soon and work out before it's too late. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Offbeat Travel - Why a visit to Meera Mahal at Merta is a must!!

On the first day of the new year, I embarked on a week long trip to Rajasthan. On the itinerary were Pushkar, Ajmer, Jodhpur and Bikaner. Little did I know that on this trip, I would be discovering a hidden gem of Rajasthan, Merta. I bet, you may never have even heard of this place, I didn't.

The first stop of the trip was Ajmer so we opted to stay at The Westin, Pushkar coz of it's proximity to Ajmer. This way we would be able to explore both Pushkar and Ajmer. We stayed there for 2 night and on the morning of 3rd we left for Jodhpur, after stuffing ourselves with the scrumptious buffet The Westin had to offer. Jodhpur is around 190 kms from Pushkar ie a 4 hours drive. On the way, we stopped a couple of times to enquire about the route (yes! we were following google maps but still wanted to confirm from the locals), when an elderly local mentioned Merta, the place were Meera Bai was born. I were happy and my eyes sparkled in joy that I would be visiting this illustrious place. 

Around 60 kms from Pushkar towards Jodhpur (taking a small detour) lies this nondescript town where the Rajput Saint Princess Meera Bai was born. Meera Mahal as it is called is a museum depicting the life and times of the mystic poet, whose love and devotion for Lord Krishna in well known, in the form of paintings and sculptures. Incidently, Merta was a prosperous kingdom ruled by the Mertia Rathore rulers, descendents of Rao Jodha. Also, Meera Bai was married to Prince Bhoj Raj, of Chittor. 

Every major event in the life of Meera Bai is created in the form of a story. 

When she was four years of age, she saw a marriage procession in front of her palace and asked her grand mother innocently, "who is my bridegroom"? . Grandmother pointed towards the image of  Krishna and said, " Dear Meera, Lord Krishna is your bridegroom".

Meera Bai drinking poison

Once her relatives sent a cobra in a basket to Meera with the message that it contained a garland. When she opened the basket, it had a garland of flowers.

Every corner of the palace tells you the story of the bygone era. It is also quite well maintained keeping in mind the fact that it attracts only a few visitors. There is a Meera Bai temple in the vicinity called the Chaturbhuja Meera Bai temple.

Meera Mahal lies in the busy bylanes of the city so you could go for a small walk around, grab a cup of tea and soak in the history.

It's a pity that neither this place doesn't get a mention anywhere on the website of Rajasthan tourism nor is on the bucket list of any offbeat traveller to Rajasthan. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Coastal all the way!!

When you think about coastal food, all you think is sea food and other non vegetarian what am I, a vegetarian doing here? Well! I went there to explore the veg food items available. Almost all of my friends are  hardcore non-vegetarians  so inadvertently we end up going to places which serves great non veg fare. 

This is a quaint little place situated  in the plush Galleria market in Gurgaon. 

I ordered the spiced buttermilk which is buttermilk tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves. It was good.
Spiced buttermilk

For starters, I ordered Parappu vada or Daal vada with coconut chutney and Paneer 65. The dal vada were very delectable, loved every bite.  Paneer 65 was different than the ones I had tasted before, this one was much tangy. 
Dal Vada

I ordered a crisp plain dosa which was served with 3 types of chutneys and piping hot sambhar. This is one of the best dosa I have had in a really long time. 

Of course ! my non vegetarian friends relished their meals  completely from chicken stew with appams to the vindaloo to grilled fish. 

Chicken stew with appam and Malbar parantha

I rounded off my meal with kesari, which is the south Indian vesion of sooji ka halwa and payasam, which were finger-licking good.



Friday, February 10, 2017

Sense of spirits - a review

There's something about food which connects people! Isn't it?

 I recently went to this place for a leisurely lunch with a group of friends. What's best about going in with a big group is that you could taste a wide array of dishes. Sense of Spirits is nestled in the food hub of sec - 29 Gurgaon, which makes it easily accessible. It is a plush lounge where you can sit and savour your meal.

Food First - Now the most important stuff, the food. I ordered my dose of caffeine for the day - a cold coffee, which was awesome. I also took a sip of Jack on the banofee, which was good.

 As for the starters, I really liked  the Bharwan Paneer Tikka which was melt in the mouth,  Chilly Mushrooms and honey chilly lotus stems, which were nicely done. The highlight although was the Cheese parcel, which essentially is cheese wrapped in filo sheets. They were crispy on outside with loads of melted cheese stuffed. My non vegetarian friends relished their Bhuna Gosht and Sangam kebabs. 

For the Main course, I had my usual favourites kadhai Paneer  and daal makhni along with missi roti. It was good. 

The Dessert spread was really delectable with the brownie with icecream, gulab jamuns, basbousa, banana split icecream. 

What made this lunch special was the easy flowing conversation, laughter and a great company of friends  with delicious food. 

Why every girl should read Sonam Kapoor's open letter about beauty !

Sonam Kapoor, our fashion queen, has always been known to be very vocal and opinionated. She has been slammed quite a f...