I had the pleasure of being part of a very special birthday bash, last weekend, and am here to tell you all about it!
Hilton Hotels & Resorts has always been known for its hospitality and excellent service. The chain completed 100 years this May, an event that was celebrated with a grand bash last weekend at DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, Sarjapur, Bangalore. I thoroughly enjoyed the celebrations, along with some other bloggers from the city.
Asia Alive, the restaurant at DoubleTree Suites By Hilton, Sarjapur, was home to a lavish brunch affair on this day. A unique brunch was served to us to commemorate the special occasion, including favourites from Hilton hotels across the globe. Specially curated by Executive Chef Tanmoy Majumder, the brunch spread was quite elaborate – from North Indian curries to maki rolls, various salads and desserts to dimsums and noodles!
I loved most of the food I tried out from the brunch buffet, but the Aloo Methi Masala, Waldorf Salad, Ratatouille Stuffed Peppers, Avocado Sesame Rolls, Lauki Ka Kofta, PapdiChaat and Chocolate Brownies stole my heart. The live music playing at the venue kept us humming throughout the brunch.
After the brunch, we were shown a demonstration on the making of the chocolate chip cookies that DoubleTree is known for, the world over. It was a treat to watch the pastry chef take us through the steps in the baking of these sweet treats. The freshly-baked cookies were nothing short of fantabulous, and I now understand why they are so much loved!
Mr. Subhabrata Roy, General Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore, then went on to deliver a note of welcome. He was joined by Mr. Bhojraj Sharma, F&B Manager, DoubleTree Suites By Hilton – Bangalore.
The guests present at the brunch and the bloggers then joined the Hilton team in lighting earthen lamps, to commemorate the special occasion.
The afternoon ended with the cutting of a magnificent cake that was just as unique as the brunch. Check it out for yourselves!
Would you like to experience the beautiful brunch that I enjoyed, too? The brunch is open for all at Asia Alive on June 2 and 9, 2019, between 12.30 and 4 PM. The buffet is priced at INR 1299 per head with soft beverages and at INR 1699 per head with alcoholic beverages, plus taxes. This is something you must try out, people!
One of these days, you must surely visit Kammanahalli and lunch at Oki. The long trek across the city, braving the heat and the traffic, will be totally worth it, I can tell you that. Now, you have all the more reason to trek across the city to this eatery (if you don’t live in that neck of the woods, that is) – Oki has come up with a fantastic new menu, which is all set to launch on May 20!
I had the privilege of sampling Oki’s new menu recently, expertly curated by Chef Surajit Ghara, along with a few other food bloggers from the city. I ended up getting wowed by the experience, by the sheer variety of the new dishes on offer, the perfection with which they have been executed, and the loveliness that they were taste-wise. Oki has created a name for itself in serving some amazing Pan-Asian food, and every bit of the new menu lives up to those standards.
The decor at Oki at simple but neat and chic. Tastefully chosen accents here and there – like silk pillows in Oriental style or the painting of elegant Chinese ladies on the walls – add class to the place. The food at Oki reflects the same philosophy – it is simple, but tastefully done, the flavours clean and bold. Let me take you, visually and literally, through all that we tried out at Oki, and all that I fell in love with at first bite.
We tried out the vegetarian version of the Gimbap or Korean sushi, which was beautifully done. The vegetable-filled sushi had clean flavours, and was extremely delicious. The same was the case with the Beetroot & Feta Maki Rolls we tried next – the sweetness of the beetroot melded perfectly with the saltiness of the feta, to create a delectable whole. The Burmese Tea Leaf Salad was very well done, too, though it was a bit too pungent for my tastebuds.
The Flatbread with 5 Mushrooms, Pesto Cream & Jalapeno-Olive Salsa was absolutely, mind-blowingly delicious and, I would say, my most favourite dish of all that we tasted at Oki. The soft flatbread was cooked to perfection, the pesto cream silky smooth and fragrant, the plentiful toppings complementing the rest beautifully. I would highly recommend you try this out at Oki!
The dish we were served next, Garlic Bread With Artichoke Pate, went on to become a fast favourite with me too. The artichoke pate was so, so delicious I could eat it with all my meals every single day! It made for just the perfect accompaniment to the well-toasted, garlicky bread. This is another dish I cannot recommend highly enough at Oki!
I adore a well-made bowl of khao soi, and Oki’s Spicy Chiang Mai Khao Soi was exactly that. The coconut milk broth was supremely flavourful and, ladled over the flat rice noodles, it made for a hearty and filling meal.
The Kimchi Ramen was brilliantly executed too. Ramen noodles were served in a flavourful broth that was generously proportioned with various types of mushrooms. The taste was a tad too strong for me, though.
Next up, we were served Oki’s special Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles, which I absolutely loved. The noodles were served with a generous dose of vegetables, in a spicy and delicious broth made using chilli oil and Sichuan pepper. You’ve got to try this out!
The Peach Berry Sauce Feta Crostini bowled me over. Sweet and sour and salty combined together in this dish to create a lovely, lovely whole. Slivers of peach served atop well-toasted bread, topped with sweet-sour cranberry sauce and a drizzle of salty feta – what’s to not love?
Oki does not serve alcohol at the moment, but does have some gorgeous mocktails on offer. To go with our meal, we were served two mocktails that will soon be part of the new menu here. The first, Chilli Mango Margarita, was one perfectly made drink, pretty inside and out! The mango was fresh and gorgeous, the hint of chilli in it only accentuating its flavour! This is something you absolutely mustn’t miss at Oki. The second, Coconut Orange Lemongrass Martini, was supremely beautiful in taste too. The flavours of coconut, orange and lemongrass melded perfectly to create this surprisingly light drink. I can’t recommend this highly enough!
And then, it was time for dessert! We were served Peach Cinnamon Apple Crepes WithOrange-Butter Sauce, which was sheer brilliance. The crepes were pillow-soft, stuffed with delectable slivers of apple and peach. The orange-butter sauce drizzled on top was fruity and tangy, just the right amount of sweet and all kinds of delicious. The crepes were served topped with just a bit of sweet cream, which took the taste quotient up quite a few notches.
I loved my meal at Oki, and am sure it is something you will not regret either. It is one of the hidden gems of Bangalore, a highly under-rated place that deserves to be spoken of and eaten at. Don’t miss a gastronomical voyage at Oki – you can thank me later!
Limited parking is available.
Address: 403, Mariappa Road, Off Kammanahalli Main Road, Near Sena Vihar, Kammanahalli, Bangalore
While holidaying in Calcutta a few years ago, experiencing Kali Pujo, the husband and I would often come across streams of people gulping down glasses of some sort of watery drink, at the carts of street-side vendors. The drink surely looked interesting, a pale brown in colour, with finely chopped onions, green chillies and coriander in it. Back then, we didn’t know what it was, but it surely looked like a thirst quencher – the heat was killing, and the drink seemed to be offering people some respite. We didn’t try it out. It was much later that I learnt what that drink was – Sattu Ka Ghol, or a savoury sherbet made using roasted black chickpea flour aka sattu or chane ka sattu.
I recently saw the recipe for Sattu Ka Gholon Sasmita’s blog, First Timer Cook, and absolutely had to try it out. I made it with black pepper powder instead of green chillies, and kept it quite watery. It turned out simply beautiful – delicious, very refreshing, just the thing you need on a hot summer’s day. It took me not more than 5 minutes to put the Sattu Ka Ghol together!
Sattu is a powerhouse of nutrients, with several health benefits to it. No wonder blue-collar workers in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal have been consuming it for ages! Of late, the many benefits of sattu are being recognised the world over, and it isbeing touted as a superfood. This Sattu Ka Ghol is a supremely easy (not to forget delish!) way of getting all those health benefits in! This is a vegan, completely plant-based drink, and a gluten-free one as well.
If you haven’t tried out Sattu Ka Ghol ever, you must definitely do so this summer. Here’s how I made it, following the recipe from Sasmita’s blog, with a few minor variations.
Ingredients (makes about 4 small glasses):
3 heaped tablespoons sattu
2 cups of chilled water or as required
Black salt to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper powder or as per taste
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or as per taste
Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
2 tablespoons very finely chopped onion (optional)
1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh coriander
1. Take the sattu in a mixing bowl. Add in about 1/2 cup of the chilled water, and mix well till the sattu gets completely dissolved in the water.
2. Now, add in the rest of the chilled water, along with the black salt, black pepper powder, roasted cumin powder and lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined together.
3. Pour the drink into serving glasses. Add some finely chopped onion (if using) and coriander to each serving glass. Serve immediately.
I have used store-bought sattu here, but you can make your own at home if you so prefer.
Using the black salt is highly recommended, as it adds a lovely flavour and taste to the Sattu Ka Ghol. Do not substitute regular table salt for it, unless you absolutely cannot avoid doing so.
Adjust the quantitites of all the above ingredients depending upon personal taste preferences and how light/thick you would prefer the Sattu Ka Ghol to be.
Finely chopped green chillies can be used in place of the black pepper powder. I prefer using the black pepper powder, as I can avoid the danger of biting into a green chilly bit by doing so. 🙂
If you so prefer, you can use a mix of finely chopped green chillies and black pepper powder to spice up the Sattu Ka Ghol.
I have used home-made black pepper powder and roasted cumin powder here.
Finely chopped fresh mint leaves can be added to the drink too. I haven’t.
Adding the finely chopped onion to the Sattu Ka Ghol is optional, but I would highly recommend doing so. It adds a lovely bite and flavour to the drink.
Make sure you use chilled water to make the drink. I prefer using water naturally chilled in an earthen pot over refrigerated water.
Ensure that the sattu is well dissolved in the little water you initially add in, without any lumps, before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!
This post is for the Food Bloggers Recipe Swap group. Every month, the food bloggers who are part of this group pair up, with every pair cooking a recipe from each other’s blog. I was paired with Sasmita this month, and chose this Sattu Ka Ghol recipe from her blog.
The bustling 12th Main in Indiranagar is home to several restaurants, serving a variety of cuisines. Bombay Brasserie, one of the eateries on this road, has managed to create a loyal clientele for itself, in the two or so years of its inception. The place is almost always packed, especially so on the weekends. There is a Street Food Festival running at Bombay Brasserie now, and I was recently invited over to sample the special festival menu. I ended up having a lovely experience!
I have always loved the charming, rustic decor of Bombay Brasserie and the warm, lively vibes here. Think lots of blue and white wood, good use of glass, ample natural light and greenery, rope-strung lights and cutesy antiques on display. The inside can get a bit noisy, but the outdoor seating is simply lovely, and that is just where I was seated to sample the Street Food Festival Menu.
This is just the sort of eatery you can unwind at with your family. This is not a cramped, dull space, but a spacious one, youthful and vibrant, full of chic.
Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie
The regular menu at Bombay Brasserie is a good blend of interesting food and drinks from around India, which is something I love. There are classics from across the country, some of which have been retained in their original form while some have been given an unique twist. The Street Food Festival menu is an extension of this – it includes flavours from the streets all over India. There’s Juhu Beach Gola or Bhatiyar Galli (Ahmedabad) Mutton Tikka, for instance, or Benares-style Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa, Chinese Bhel and Cochin’s famed Kulukki Sherbet.
What I tried out
Here’s a low-down on the things I sampled at Bombay Brasserie, and those that I loved the best.
From the drinks menu, I had:
Kairi Sherbet – A sweet and sour and salty sherbet made with raw mango, which hit all the right spots. It was delightfully refreshing, especially so on the hot summer’s day when I visited.
Kutchi Beer – This is a ‘beer without beer’, as the folks at Bombay Brasserie put it. It is, in fact, buttermilk mixed with black salt, cumin, green chillies, mint and coriander, served in a beer bottle. The Kutchi Beer I was served was a bit too high on salt, which prevented the other flavours from coming through.
Cochin Kulukki Sherbet – This is a lemon-green chilli-ginger sherbet that is always shaken, never stirred, from the bylanes of Cochin. A potent concoction this is, perfect for hot days. The Bombay Brasserie version was quite different from the sabja seed-laden Kulukki Sherbet of Cochin, but was delish nonetheless.
From the appetisers, here’s what I sampled:
Aam Puri Chaat– Staying true to the current mango season everywhere, this is Bombay Brasserie’s version of aamgolgappas. Crispy puris are served with a sweet-spicy-tangy mango paani, topped with lots and lots of sev. The abundance of cold paani in the puris was a tad overwhelming for me, but I understand this dish has received rave reviews from most mango lovers.
Crispy Suji Bites – These savoury cakes are made using suji (semolina/rava), crisp on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside. They are served topped with coarsely crushed fine peanuts from Bharuch, fried garlic and chilli, along with some in-house dips. Quite an interesting play of flavours and textures this was, and I loved it.
1960 ‘Atho‘ Salad – This is popular street food in Madras, made popular by the Burmese immigrants in Tamil Nadu. It is a cold salad made with noodles, wheat crispies, tamarind, cabbage, onions, chilli and garlic – does that sound like a weird combination? I wouldn’t say I loved this, but I liked it quite a bit.
What did we have for main course? Here goes:
Mattar Stuffed Kulcha & Aloo Rassa – This was one exquisite platter, hailing from the streets of Benares, that had me licking my fingers. The Aloo Rassa was beautiful, potatoes cooked to perfection in achaari masala. It made for the perfect complement to the kulcha, supremely soft and stuffed with a delectable green-pea filling. This is a must-try at Bombay Brasserie, according to me.
Tarkari Masaledar – I absolutely loved the Tarkari Masaledar, a melange of vegetables and paneer served in a spicy, slightly sweet, caramelised onion gravy. It was perfectly done, cooked just right. The fragrant spice mix used in the sabzi bowled me over!
I ended the meal with two sweet treats:
Juhu Beach Gola – This was one soul-satisfying affair! The kala khatta ice gola was simply perfect, a lovely blend of sweet and sour. It instantly transported me back to my childhood when I would patiently wait for my final exams to get over, so I could get my hands on an ice gola off the streets. This gola, though, was prepared in a highly hygienic manner! Served in a cutting chai glass, this was a delight to eat and photograph. I would highly recommend you to try this out!
Bombay Falooda – This was another beautiful dessert by Bombay Brasserie! The falooda was perfectly made, everything in it just right – from the sevai and the toasted nuts to the rose milk. It brought back fond memories of summer holidays spent sipping on cool, fragrant, home-made rose milk. Don’t miss this, I say!
I hope you guys had fun on this gastronomical journey with me!
Do check out the Street Food Festival at Bombay Brasserie, Indiranagar, too. There’s a range of interesting dishes up for grabs. The festival is on till May 31, 2019.
A Bengali meal is incomplete without a chutney, especially so on festive occasions. Chutney (rather, ‘Chaatni‘ in the local language) is eaten at the end of a Bengali meal, as a dessert, rather than meaning it to be an accompaniment to the other dishes. It is literally licked off the plate – therefore the name ‘Chaatni‘. And why not? The Bengali Chaatni is, after all, a beautiful medley of flavours sweet and sour with just a hint of spice to keep it intriguing, raisins adding a lovely texture to it. Quite different from the South Indian chutneys we are so used to!
Bengali Chaatnis are also quite intriguing in the sense of what they are made up of. Often, a fruit – think tomato, dried dates, pineapple and mango leather – finds its way into a Chaatni. Then, there’s the one made using raw papaya, called Plastic Chaatni because it resembles shiny plastic in appearance. The recipe I share with you today is for AnarosherChaatni, pineapple chutney Bengali-style.
We stayed at a hotel in the New Market area of Calcutta, on a holiday there, a few years ago. It was there that we encountered Chaatni for the first-ever time, and whole-heartedly fell in love with. My interest in Bengali cuisine piqued, I would ask the hotel staff about this dish and that. They were kind enough to enlighten me, and even teach me how to make this Anarosher Chaatni and the gorgeous Bengali BhogerKhichuri.
I recently recreated this Anarosher Chaatni based on recollections of passionate foodie conversations with those hotel staff of a few years past. It was a huge hit, with everyone at home loving it to bits. It was licked clean within minutes – I kid you not! I served it alongside rotis and cabbage sabzi, and it made for a wonderful accompaniment. Spiced with panch phoron, this pineapple chutney, Bengali style, jazzed up our meal like no one’s business!
This chutney is such a simple affair, but an absolute treat to the senses! I have made it with minimal jaggery (rather than sugar) and oil. It is entirely plant-based, vegan and gluten-free by its very nature. Come to think of it, this low-oil Anarosher Chaatni would make for a relatively healthy vegan dessert treat as well!
Let us now check out the recipe for this Pineapple Chutney, Bengali Style, shall we?
Ingredients (makes 1 cup):
1 heaped cup of chopped ripe pineapple, thorns removed
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon panch phoron or Bengali five-spice mix
2 small bay leaves
2 dried red chillies
1 tablespoon raisins
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
A dash of red chilli powder or to taste
1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1. Take the chopped pineapple in a large, wide vessel. Add in a little water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles on high flame. Switch off gas and allow the pressure to come down naturally.
2. Allow the cooked pineapple to cool down fully. Then, grind it coarsely in a mixer, along with the water it was cooked in.
3. Heat the oil in a pan. Add in the panch phoron, dried red chillies and bay leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.
4. To the pan, add the coarse pineapple puree. Add salt, red chilli powder, raisins and jaggery powder. Mix well.
5. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook the mixture on medium flame till the chutney thickens slightly, 3-4 minutes. Switch off gas when it is still quite runny, for it thickens further on cooling.
6. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight box. Store refrigerated.
1. Panch phoron is a Bengali-style mix of five spices – cumin, mustard, fennel, fenugreek and nigella seeds. You can make your own panch phoron or buy a ready-to-use packet – it is commonly available in most departmental stores. I use a store-bought version that I am quite happy with.
2. A lot of Bengali families use sugar in their chaatni. I have used jaggery here, instead, to make the dish healthier.
3. Adjust the quantity of sugar/jaggery depending upon how sweet the pineapple is.
4. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder, salt and other spices as per personal taste preferences.
5. For best results, use a ripe, juicy, sweet pineapple that is not overly sour. Make sure all thorns are removed before using the pineapple in the Anarosher Chaatni.
6. I have coarsely pulsed the cooked pineapple here, so I got a mix of puree and pieces of the fruit. This lent a very interesting texture to the chaatni. You could keep the pineapple pieces whole or make a fine puree, as you please.
7. Make sure the pineapple is cooked fully, before using it in making the chaatni.
8. Switch off the gas when the Anarosher Chaatni is still quite runny. It is supposed to be runny, and thickens a bit on cooling as well.
9. I have used refined oil to make the Anarosher Chaatni, as opposed to the pungent mustard oil that is typically used in most Bengali cooking.
This post is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a Facebook group that I am part of. Every Monday, a bunch of us food bloggers present dishes based on a pre-determined theme.
The theme this week is #BengaliFoodFest, wherein we are cooking dishes from the vast Bengali cuisine. The theme was suggested by Sujata Roy, who writes at Batter Up With Sujata.
The moment summer sets in, most of us begin to dream of mangoes. The love of mangoes is what gets most Indians through the intense heat of summer. And who can blame us? Eating a mango is an unparalleled experience – be it the sweet and juicy, yellow-orange flesh of the ripe fruit or the lip-puckeringly sour raw mango. Using raw and ripe mangoes in various culinary confections is de rigueur in India in the months of summer. That’s what the Aamlicious festival at Rajdhani, Bangalore, is all about – the play of mangoes in various forms, dishes, textures, ingredients and flavours.
Aamlicious is a hugely anticipated affair at Rajdhani every year, and why not? The kitchen team comes up with a huge variety of dishes made with the mango, the ‘king of fruits’, each one surpassing the other. I had the pleasure of experiencing the Aamlicious feast at Rajdhani’s Indiranagar outlet a few days back, along with a few other foodies from the city, and ended up utterly awed by all of it.
There is no better way to describe the mango-laden thali we were served, other than calling it ‘a veritable feast’. The Rajdhani team has come up with an astounding array of over 30 dishes with mango, mostly from the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Aam Ki Launji, Kairi Ka Panna, Aam Palak Patta Chaat, Raw Mango Muthia, Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi, Mango Pulao, KesarAam Thandai, Aam Jalebi, Aam Ras and Aam Basundi are just some examples of the stuff that is on offer. There’s a mind-boggling variety of mango-based appetisers, curries, daal, kadhi, drinks and desserts – what’s to not love?
Mr. Sugata Sengupta, Corporate Chef – Rajdhani, spoke to us food bloggers about the sheer hard work that has gone into creating the thali for the Aamlicious festival this season. This feast has been designed after over a month of research, trials and testing, and the hard work surely shows!
I loved most of the ‘aam‘ creations on offer at Aamlicious, but I will share my top picks here.
Among the drinks, the Kesar Aam Thandai (a delicious mango twist added to the regular thandai) and Kairi Panna (a traditional Indian-spiced raw mango cooler) were brilliantly done. From the appetisers, the Kaccha Aam Na Muthiya (Gujarati steamed wheat-flour dumplings made with raw mango) tantalized my taste buds.
The Aam Ras (ripe mango pureed with milk and sugar) was delectable too, bringing back fond memories of hot summer afternoons spent lunching on it with pooris, back in Ahmedabad. The utterly delectable Kairi Samose Ki Sabzi (raw mango samosas cooked in a spicy-tangy gravy, based on a traditional Rajasthani recipe) was something very new to me. I also adored the Aam Ki Launji and Ker Sangri Amboliya too, both Rajasthani dishes made using raw mangoes.
Both the mango-special desserts served to us bowled me over. Mango Jalebi Rabdi (jalebi stuffed with ripe mango and served with creamy rabdi) and Gulkand Paan Malpua Mango Rabdi (malpua made with ripe mango, served with rose jam and pureed betel leaves on top) were extremely well-done, supremely decadent and lip-smackingly delicious.
This is one festival you don’t want to miss. Do check it out – it’s on till May 31 at all Rajdhani outlets in Bangalore! Please do note that the dishes are served on a rotational basis, so it is best to call them and check in case you are interested in a particular dish.
Any destination we head to, the husband and I definitely make it a point to visit the local bazaars. A stop (or two, or three!) at the local markets is a great way of getting exposed to the culture and traditions of the place, at the very root level. And, of course, it teaches you a whole lot about the food of that region – the ingredients that the locals use, the ways in which they cook, their indigenous foods, et al. Thailand was no exception. That was how, one bright and sunny day during our recent holiday in Thailand, the two of us headed to Pattaya Floating Market, with the bub in tow. And, hey, this is a floating market – a market actually on water – and how do we not check out that?!
Internet-shaped impressions of the Pattaya Floating Market
The little reading I did on the Internet before we headed out to Thailand told me that if I was charmed by the idea of floating markets, the ones in Bangkok are what I should be visiting. All of Thailand used to commute via waterways in the olden times, trading in markets included. While transport in Thailand is presently largely by road, the waterways still exist, as do the floating markets. Bangkok has several of these floating markets, many of them as major tourist attractions, while a couple still operate as hard-core trading centres. Most Internetizens suggested visiting the Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets in Bangkok, and against going to the one in Pattaya. According to them, the Pattaya floating market is pure tourist trap, messy and filthy, a hotbed for scams of various types.
As luck would have it, we never got a chance to visit any of Bangkok’s famed floating markets on our holiday. It just never happened! This left us hugely disappointed and, tourist trap or not, we decided to head to the Pattaya floating market, to get a feel of the place if nothing else. And you know what? We weren’t disappointed one bit. Agreed, the market is chaotic, there are some tacky things around, and that there are better ways to learn about Thai culture and heritage – but, we loved the Pattaya Floating Market!
Pattaya Floating Market left us with a vast range of emotions – happy, awe-struck, sad, angry, overwhelmed, all at the same time. Overall, though, it left us feeling enriched for having visited. We are glad we chose to visit the market, in spite of there being conflicting information about the place on the Internet. We are glad for the opportunity it gave us to get a wee bit closer to Thai culture and heritage, food and traditions.
Postcards from the Pattaya Floating Market
Let me tell you about the experiences that stood out most prominently for us, at the Pattaya Floating Market.
Food, food and more food
One of the things that strike you as you walk around the Pattaya Floating Market is the humongous amount of food that is on offer. Food being cooked and sold on boats, food stalls lining the water, fresh fruit, roasted chestnuts and sweet treats – there’s food, literally, everywhere!
Fried octopus, various kinds of grilled fish, whole frozen mangoes, various traditional Thai desserts, palm fruit juice, snake fruit and durian, noodle hotpots, the most beautifully presented milkshakes and ice creams are some examples of the food we came across here. Some of the eatables here didn’t look very hygienically prepared, while some others were just fine – take your pick carefully if you decide to eat here. There wasn’t much on offer for vegetarians, though, apart from the milkshakes, ice creams and desserts.
Dirty waters, but charming nonetheless
Charming as the Pattaya Floating Market is, one can’t help noticing that the waters on which it stands are far from clean. The waters are filthy and murky and, as we walked around, we kept wishing this part had been better maintained.
We chose to focus instead on the prettier sights the market had to offer, instead – the rows and rows of shops, some with rather interesting merchandise on sale, the big bus-like boats that ran on the water ferrying people around, the Thai Cultural Village tucked away within the market that offered us a glimpse into the real Thailand, a huge Thai water buffalo making the rounds of the market and posing for photographs, the ongoing dance and music shows, and artists at work busy making glow-in-the-dark paintings that you find all over Thailand.
The tall, tall, tall drag queens
Drag queens are everywhere in Thailand, and the Pattaya Floating Market is no exception. Standing on tall, tall, tall stilts, they welcome you at the entrance. They are dressed so gorgeously you can’t take your eyes off them! They are all smiles, posing candidly for cameras from across the globe.
My heart hurt for them, these drag queens. Were they being forced to dress up and pose for pictures, thanks to poverty? Was the smile plastered on their faces just for the sake of tourists? Just how happy were they on the inside? Well, at least, they were living in a country that doesn’t make a big deal of it, that accepts people as they come.
Some interesting souvenirs
Most of the stuff up for sale at the Pattaya Floating Market is shiny and pretty, sure to catch your eyes. Crazy shoes and glamorous earrings, funky purses and dresses, Thai elephant statues and paper umbrellas, cute dolls and keychains are some of the stuff that is on offer – the same things you would come across anywhere else in Thailand too.
We didn’t really shop here, thanks to the astronomical prices for stuff we were being quoted at every stall. All we bought were some little cute souvenirs to get back home with us, which we felt were reasonably priced.
Great photo ops
Touristy, commercial and a bit filthy as the Pattaya Floating Market was, we found it fascinating nonetheless. We were charmed by this and that, and ended up walking around the market for hours on end. We took countless pictures – I think we actually went a bit crazy here taking photographs. Who can resist, considering the innumerable gorgeous photo ops available here?
Every single lane you turn into is pretty, in a quaint sort of way. You would inevitably want to capture all of that in frames! If you love photography, the floating market is definitely not something that you should miss, I say.
The wonderful Thai Cultural Village
A little makeshift village in the midst of the Pattaya Floating Market, the Thai Cultural Village offers a peak into real life in the country. There are live stations where you learn about the various types of dried food stuff available in Thailand, silk cultivation in the country, music and dance forms and, of course, Thai massage. For a first-time visitor to Thailand, this place can offer invaluable learning about the country under a single roof. Yes, quite touristy, but quite informative too if you look at it the right way.
All visitors to the Thai Cultural Village are treated to a little free-of-charge session of Thai massage. A hot cloth pouch filled with ancient Thai medicinal herbs is used, quite a common form of massage in the country. We found the massage quite relaxing and rejuvenating after our long, tiring walk around the market.
The plight of the long-necked Karen
The Karenni (also called the Karen or the Red Karen) are an ethnic minority tribe from Myanmar (Burma). They have a distinct dressing style of their own, including the wearing of several thin brass rings around their necks to make them appear long. For this reason, they are also called the Long-Necked Karen. Several hundreds of these Long-Necked Karen fled to neighbouring Thailand over the years, thanks to political unrest in their own country. As most of these Karen were illegal immigrants in Thailand, they are not official Thai citizens and opportunities for them stay limited. The Thai government has bestowed a couple of villages to the Karen (maybe considering the huge potential of these villages to become tourist attractions?), to make their own, to reside in and earn their living. These habitats of the Karen draw tourists by the horde – many interested in photographing the long-necked women and/or buying the various handicrafts that they make.
The Karen villages are quite on the outskirts of Thailand and not very easy to access – at least not with the bub in tow – so we dropped the idea of visiting them. Personally, I’m quite conflicted about wanting to visit the Karen habitats and not wanting to. We were, however, happy to note that there were stalls by a couple of the Karen in Pattaya Floating Market’s Thai Cultural Village. We dropped by, and were thrilled to interact with them (a task that was not at all easy considering their extremely limited knowledge of English). It surely felt like we had stepped into a documentary by National Geographic! They happily posed for pictures for us, too.
Everything was going fine till we came across a little wooden enclosure, not unlike a pen in a zoo. A lone Karen child was walking around, 4 or 5 years of age, calling out to passing tourists and smiling at them. Many got out their cameras to take pictures. ‘Burmese refugee child!’, our guide cried out, excitedly. At that precise moment, my heart shattered into a million pieces and I lost all interest in the place or taking any more pictures.
Too much to take in
Like many indigenous markets around the world, the Pattaya Floating Market too is a bit too much to take in in a single visit. It gets overwhelming after a while – the crowds, the touristy-ness of it, the scale of the market. We kind of zoned out after some time, a plight brought about also by the fact that it was a supremely hot day and our little daughter was getting crankier by the minute. Thankfully, there are benches laid out here and there, and we took short breaks in the midst of checking out the market, which really helped refresh us. Please do bear this in mind when you decide to visit, too. I don’t think we managed to do justice to the market, in the few hours we were there. We probably need a few more visits, a more leisurely frame of mind, and more congenial weather to do so.
Thankfully, our drive to and from the floating market, our entry tickets and boat ride had all been arranged for beforehand by our hotel – I don’t know what we would have done if this hadn’t gone as smoothly as it did. I had read a number of stories on the Internet of tourists getting scammed here and being charged an exorbitant entrance fee, and was super scared! If you plan to visit the Pattaya Floating Market, I would suggest you do so via the tourism desk at your hotel too.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey through the Pattaya Floating Market, and that this post offered you helpful tips to plan your visit here too! Do let me know, in your comments!
The much-loved Farzi Cafe in UB City, Bangalore, recently launched a brand new Winter Special menu. I had the pleasure of sampling this new menu last week, along with a few other city bloggers and, I must say, I absolutely loved the experience!
I’m mightily impressed by the ‘Farzified’ versions of various typical Indian dishes that are part of the new menu. In fact, this has got to be one of the best renditions of the menu I have tried out so far, at Farzi!
I love how the new menu seems to be focused more on local favourites and ingredients, and how care has been taken to ensure that the dishes taste just as beautiful as they look. The ‘uru‘s ellu and bella becomes Farzi’s new Upside-Down Black Sesame & Jaggery Ice Cream, while basket chaat gets a new avatar in the form of Burrata Tokri Chaat. There are some interesting new mocktails and cocktails that have been introduced, too. Now, without further ado, I’ll leave you with some visuals from the new menu sampling!
We started the meal with some Assorted Poppadums & Dips. Now, poppadoms we have all had, but definitely not this way. We were presented with a grandiose tower containing papads, fryums and sabudana fritters of various types. Alongside were some highly imaginative dips, of which I absolutely loved the Achaari Mayo. What a unique twist to the regular mayo – who’d have thunk of jazzing it up with achaari spices?
Next up, we were served these really cute, little Chilli Cheese Kulchas with aBurnt Garlic Dip. One bite into them, and we realised just how potent they were! Filled with ooey-gooey cheese, with just a hint of chilli, these bite-sized beauties just blew us away. You have to try these out to realize just how awesome they were – I think you won’t regret ordering these. These were one of my most favourites from the entire meal.
The ardent chaat lover that I am, I absolutely adored the dish that came next – Burrata Tokri Chaat With Dhokla Sponge. The regular basket chaat was served with a Farzi twist, upside down, the delectable sweet-sour-spicy filling oozing out of it. The dhokla was truly sponge-like, super soft, super juicy, super-duper delicious. And, oh, the soft burrata cheese the chaat was served with was simply mind-bogglingly fresh and awesome. This one is another must try from the new menu, I tell you!
We also sampled some of the new mocktails that have been added to the menu. Some very interesting combinations of flavours there! I loved the fruity, refreshing pink drink I had – it was so very well done!
And then, we were in between courses. It was time for the main course to be brought in and, hence, to cleanse our palates. A foaming, frothing palate cleanser came in, which had all of guessing at what exactly would it be. A tasting later, we were all hooked – it was sweet-spicy-sour aam panna served in the fashion of old-world ‘Pepsi’, chilled in little plastic bags. Such a delightful thing that brought back fond memories of school days!
Next was the turn of the Farmer’s Land Tacos, a desi version of tacos as we know them. Crunchy taco shells were served, loaded with an Indian-spiced moth bean filling. These were topped with the cutest of little pickled onions. IMHO, the filling could have done with a bit more flavour, but the tacos were still really good.
The Ratatouille Pav Bhaji that came next was beautifully done, loaded with veggies, cheese and flavour. It was served with pillow-soft masala buns, which made for the perfect complement to it.
Then came the desserts! The first one was the Deconstructed Lemon Tart, which I fell in love with at first bite. Sheer brilliance, I tell you! The tart is placed upside down on a bed of cookie crumbs, and there’s a beautiful, beautiful lemony surprise waiting for you inside as you break open the crust. Those who like lemon in their desserts, like me, this is a must-try!
The Upside-Down Black Sesame & Jaggery Ice Cream came next, served on a bed of almond chikki crumble. The cone was topsy-turvy all right, but the taste of the ice cream was definitely not! The classic combination of sesame and jaggery has been enchantingly brought together in this dessert – perfectly done! The chikki crumble added an interesting texture to the ice cream, too.
We ended the meal with some cotton-candy paan straight off a little potted plant. See for yourself. Quirk galore! 🙂
Overall, I had a very satisfying, lovely time at Farzi Cafe’s new menu sampling. Kudos to Team Farzi for honing these dishes to perfection!
This is one menu you don’t want to miss out on. Do check it out at Farzi Cafe’s UB City, Bangalore, outlet. A meal for two would cost somewhere in the vicinity of INR 1800-2000. My top picks from the menu would be the Burrata Tokri Chaat, Chilli Cheese Kulcha and the Deconstructed Lemon Tart.
Don’t forget to let me know how your Farzi experience was!
Tattamangalam, a village near Palakkad in Kerala, is a small place if you compare it to the sprawling cities of today. However, it is quite big if you choose to compare it to the surrounding villages. It is the village where my mother-in-law was born and grew up, a cherished childhood and adolescence, judging from the several anecdotes she has narrated to us of the customs and traditions, the people and the lifestyle of her hometown. I have visited Tattamangalam a couple of times with her in the past and it is, indeed, a quiet and charming place, a world that is far, far away from the hustle and bustle of my own today. However, it is very recently, towards the fag end of 2018, that I got an opportunity to witness the Ayappan festival celebrations that are an annual affair in this village.
For the last 74 years, Tattamangalam has been conducting festivities to commemorate ‘Ayappan season’, the period between Diwali (October-November) till Pongal (January 14), which is when the maximum number of pilgrims visit the holy temple of Lord Ayappa at Sabarimala. These festivities in Tattamangalam, typically held towards the end of every December, are quite grand, I have always been told, including parades by elephants, performances by music artistes, large-scale community meals, frenzied beats of drums and cymbals, and the blowing of trumpets. In December 2018, Tattamangalam celebrated the 75th edition of the Ayappan Festival Celebrations, and my extended family and I figured it was time to pay a visit. I am glad we booked our tickets at the very last minute (we were lucky to even get them, indeed!) and visited, for the festival was bigger and better than ever.
Many families staying away from Tattamangalam had had the same thoughts as we did, I suppose, as we saw an influx of city-dwellers to witness the festivities. I was, naturally, thrilled to see the magnificence of it all, in a relatively less crowded setting at that, and went crazy clicking pictures with my camera. It was lovely meeting my mother-in-law’s old friends and acquaintances, and just walking around the clean village roads, breathing in the pure air. We even managed to do some shopping for the bub in the fair that came up in the village streets, on the occasion of the festival celebrations.
I leave you with some pictures from the celebrations, of the pretty stalls that came up all over, of our walks around Tattamangalam.
The nearest railway station to Tattamangalam village is at Palakkad. From Palakkad, it is quite easy to find a cab that will take you to Tattamangalam. The roads are in excellent condition, and the on-road journey takes barely half an hour.
The nearest airport is at Coimbatore. From Coimbatore, it is a roughly 1.5-hour journey on road to Palakkad, with the roads in excellent condition. Local trains also ply between Coimbatore and Palakkad.
There are no great stay options in Tattamangalam, as far as I know, considering that it is but a small village. Your best bet would be to rent a hotel/stay in Palakkad, and hire a cab to reach Tattamangalam.
Please do find out the exact dates and timings for the Ayappan festival timings in Tattamangalam from the presiding body, the Sri Dharma Sastha Utsavam Trust, if at all you plan to witness them.
I am pretty sure there are several villages across Kerala that host similar festivities for the Ayappan festival. Tattamangalam’s celebrations are believed to be among the best, though. I don’t have any information about the festivals that might be conducted in other villages, but we do receive the schedule for Tattamangalam, as it is my mom-in-law’s ancestral place.
I hope you guys enjoyed the visuals! Please do let me know, in your comments!
Winter is when you get out your shawls and sweaters and jackets. It is when you bundle up in warm blankets and spend entire days reading, gulping down cups of hot cocoa or chai. Winter is also the time to ogle at all those beautiful, beautiful Christmas trees and decorations that seem to be everywhere. Winter is also feasting time – when an abundance of gorgeous vegetables flood the markets, waiting to be converted into delectable, piping hot winter treats. For Bangaloreans, winter is also the time to feast on the delights at Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya.
Swad Kesariya, the winter-special menu at Rajdhani, is a much anticipated affair in Bangalore every year. This year too, Rajdhani recently launched the winter menu, which I had the pleasure of sampling yesterday.
There are several winter delicacies from Gujarat and Rajashtan on offer at Swad Kesariya, including Kand Ki Tikki (patties made using root vegetables), Undhiyu (a Gujarati slow-cooked delicacy made with loads of winter vegetables), Kela Methi NaGota (Gujarati-style deep-fried fritters using bananas and fenugreek greens), Hare Chane Ki Sabzi (fresh green chickpea curry cooked the Jaisalmer way), Mogri Peru (a curry made using Mogri, a special vegetable that is available only during winters), Kacchi Haldi Ki Sabzi (a Rajasthani curry made using fresh turmeric root), Shakarkandi Halwa (a dessert made using sweet potato) and everyone’s favourite Gajar Ka Halwa (a winter-special sweet treat typically made using those beautiful red Delhi carrots).
I was especially thrilled to see and taste the Undhiyu at Rajdhani’s winter-special festival, as it is something I have grown up with in Gujarat, and have always loved to bits. I am happy to report this Undhiyu tasted every bit as delicious as the one I remember from back home.
Apart from the Undhiyu, my other favourites from Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya menu were the Lilva Kachoris and the gorgeous chutneys made with wood apples. I also loved the Adadiya Pak (a Gujarati winter-special sweet made using urad daal flour), Gajar KaHalwa and the Shakarkandi Halwa too. As always, the home-style, simple Daal Khichdi at Rajdhani delighted. The Kesar (saffron) Lassi was just perfect, great to wash down the hearty meal we had.
Well, I hope you enjoyed the visuals from Rajdhani’s Swad Kesariya!
If you are in Bangalore or plan to be here sometime soon, don’t miss this chance to grab some exclusive North Indian winter delights in the ‘Uru. The Swad Kesariya menu will be available at all Rajdhani outlets across the city for a couple of months, depending upon ingredient availability.
PS: Please do note that the above is a showcase of all the dishes that are part of the winter-special menu at Rajdhani. While the Swad Kesariya menu is available every day at all Rajdhani outlets, all of these dishes might not be served every day. The menu rotates every day, so it is best to call the outlet and check availability if you are looking forward to sample any dish in particular. That said, major dishes like Undhiyu are served at all outlets on an everyday basis.