Tunday Kababi Gurgaon

When I first heard of Tunday Kababi, I had my usual apprehensions that it would be far from the original, but the place does live up to one’s expectations.

For all the newbies – this place is literally a minuscule spot in the market and can easily be pretermitted …far from fine dining. Do not go near it, if you are picky about cleanliness. They have a few tables on which food is served and have no sit-down set-up. One could even order from the car parked outside Qutub plaza and eat sitting in the privacy of your little spot. This place is only for real foodies whose sense for taste makes them overlook these relatively minor shortcomings.

The galouti kebabs are a must try – real gentle meat which melts in the mouth. Seekh kebabs are very soft and every morsel conveyed the refined marinade – super juicy, countrified and yummy. Coming from a family that relishes kebabs, we did not even get close to the main course biryani, or their signature ulte tawe ke parathe and warqi parathe.

The good part is that this is exactly the kind of food you can digest when winters are setting afoot – not a cuisine for the charring heat in the summers, you may need to dash for a bottle of Digene otherwise. Overall a good experience. A meal for 2 would be about Rs. 500.

Elusive Leopard at Kabini

Kabini road directions

The season of wildlife is kicking in with wonderful cat sightings in Kabini for 2013 since January. The drive to Kabini “Jungle Lodges and Resorts” property is quite nice with good roads except for the last 12km. The last stretch of road is being built when I went there 4 days back. Below you will find Kabini road directions from Bangalore.

  1. Take the Bangalore-Mysore Highway and drive for around 150 km after which you will enter the town of Srirangapatna.
  2. Cross the Tipu Sultan town, now heritage city, Srirangapatna and keep an eye on your right side to find Columbia Asia hospital on a major traffic signal junction.
  3. Take right from this traffic signal and go till the dead end of this road. It should be around 15km upwards.
  4. At the dead-end, take right and continue till “HD Kote Hand post” landmark. It should be around 30 km.
  5. The “HD Kote Hand post” landmark is a round-about of the HD Kote region and very popular.
  6. Keep continuing straight from this junction and “Jungle Lodges and Resorts” is around 30km from this place
  7. When you are following this road, you will reach a barricade at around 20km which is guarded by Forest guards. Only Forest vehicles are allowed beyond this point.
  8. You will have to take a left turn from there. Apart from JLR, other resorts are also on this route. This 12 km stretch is under construction with patchy tarred roads.

The above directions will safely take you to Kabini Jungle Lodges and Resorts OR any other resort in the place. The signage at JLR entrance says Bangalore is 224 km.

Elusive Leopard at Kabini
Elusive Leopard at Kabini

Enjoy the Safari’s and Big Cat sightings there. Kabini is a nice place for Leopard sightings and Tigers are a bonus. I had my share of sightings for both the big cats apart from other predators and wonderful bird views.

Trip to Aum Farms - Mogly

Trip to Aum Farms – Mogly’s

Trip to Aum Farms - Mogly
Trip to Aum Farms – Mogly

We had a great time over the weekend, taking Sam to a “non-mall” outing. Something that I always had on my mind, but did not come across a worthwhile activity. This Saturday was exactly that – a plan to go see farm animals. My husband and I had our reservations about it, thinking that it will be a recap of all the animals we see wandering out on the roads, but still thought it would be a welcome change for Sam. So we went to Aum Farms in Bijwasan (about 30 minutes drive from home) for an activity organised by Moglys.

The weather was just perfect for the start, nice bright sunny…a chirpy morning…gave a sense of the gloomy winters fading away soon. Upon walking into the farms, we witnessed a huge expanse of greenery and were instructed to wait for the other kids to come, for the ‘activity’. In the meantime we could feed the rabbits some healthy farm picked spinach leaves. Sam was apprehensive to begin with, but eventually caught up on seeing mumma feeding them, and the rabbits eating with so much fervour. With the quorum complete, we were guided to a route and on the way passed by some ducks splashing in a small water body. All parents and kids collected in what looked like a playground, complete with tables, chairs, garden umbrellas, sanitizers, cycles, a few activity tables and a Segway model for kids to ride on.

We started with the tour of the facility to explore the farm animals. Starting with the ducks – we saw a group of different type of ducks, geese and one duck carefully brooding over her eggs. We also saw the gorgeous dove aptly named Masakkali, looked every bit from the song, just as pretty. Then it was time to move onto the cattle – the cows and the buffaloes with the calf. Very friendly – we could pat on them. So were the sheep and the goats – at least now Sam knows where the wool on his sweater comes from…the fat woolly sheep.

Trip to Aum Farms - Mogly
Trip to Aum Farms – Mogly

He wanted to touch all the animals but was daunted, upon encouragement and seeing us touch the animals he wanted to pat them repeatedly. Then we saw the chicken and its nice trail of little chicks. There was turkey too, running all over. Sam was charmed by the fowl, and even got his daddy to run around and catch it for him, but it was way too swift.

Trip to Aum Farms - Mogly
Trip to Aum Farms – Mogly

Moving on to the farm, we saw the farm grown cauliflower, broccoli, green onion bulbs, coriander, parsley, radish, carrots and lots of other vegetables. An absolute treat to see so much greenery around. Post the round, it was time to collect at the assembly area…and on the way Sam besotted by the Segway, took a little break and let me take a few pictures of him on the new tool! Back at the assembly area, it was time for the kids to make a collage of the animals they saw with pictures of the farm animals, chart papers and glue each one of them got on the activity tables. Sam enjoyed distracting me while I tried putting together the collage for him. Then it was time for some fresh radish and carrots to be served – salad in advance of the yummy food awaiting us. Alongside of the salad, the kids could play around with a few puppies from the farm, and feed the rabbits in a cage, or be charmed by a cage of pretty white mice. Lots of landscaping, accompanied by availability of swings and trampoline made the day complete for the kids. Sam thoroughly enjoyed being out in the sun and running around all over. Menu for the day included Makki ki roti and sarson ka saag with fresh white butter and sugarcane juice! For kids there were paranthas, home made fresh curd, khichdi and juices. Great food, cooked with a lot of love. After a lot of time we had great sugarcane juice!

An afternoon well spent and a day completely relished by us – Sam had fun feeding the animals and experience nature giving him the opportunity to develop a sense of wonder and joy for the natural world.

Cafe E DLF Emporio Mall

Cafe E, DLF Emporio, Delhi

Cafe E DLF Emporio Mall
Cafe E DLF Emporio Mall

A very dulcet location for a shopaholic who also wants to enjoy some healthy food is Cafe E. Set in the earmarked location; this atrium lounge cafe is set in the uber-luxurious Emporio Mall. One can enjoy eyeshot to the sybaritic stores like Armani, Christian Louboutin and the like, as well as make you aware of the trends by seeing the visitants make headway into the much written-about stores.

While the mall has some great dining options, if you are in a mood to have something healthy and quick, Cafe E is a great choice. From the European cuisine, it offers scrumptious crepes, salubrious soups and sandwiches, freshly made salads and coffee. Finding a place may get difficult if you go there during the peak lunch hours. It has an unwound setup with sofas, cushioned chairs and small round coffee tables. You are served water only upon request, not by default. The coffee tables sometimes are so small that you may end up not finding space to keep all that your order. I have seen silverware fall off guests tables (thankfully not mine yet!). I have always loved their fresh vegetable and fruit juices. Service is prompt and they are willing to customise dishes per the customer requirements.

A meal for 2 would typically cost about Rs. 1,500.

Wobbly Boat

My love for water has taken me places—from islands to rivers to waterfalls. However, at times happiness, joy and excitement come in disguise. How else do I explain it? This was one office trip I reluctantly had to be a part of. I wanted to relax and sleep over the weekend but destiny had other plans for me. So here I was dressed in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt standing at my pick up point at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning.

We reached our destination where as a part of a team building activity, a lot of games had been organised. However I might favour team building, I just hate those kiddish games! But I was in for a pleasant surprise, we had real adventurous sports and the icing on the cake was a real treat! We were given some bamboo logs, some coir, a kind of a ballistic tank and a huge free flowing lake! Now it is anybody’s guess as to what we were made to do! We were asked to make a boat out of the raw material and cross the lake.

Wobbly boat
Wobbly boat

Every team had four players and we have to first tie the Bamboo logs with the coir and attach the ballistic tank to ensure that the logs stayed afloat throughout our journey on the lake. It was a truly out of this world experience. Here we were actually going to sail through the lake in a wobbly boat made all by ourselves! It got hilarious as we could not keep the bamboo logs intact, as soon as we would place it in the water, something or the other would come falling apart.

What I would describe as my “alive is awesome” experience would be when we actually released our boat into the water and all four of us sat on it! You need to see the images to understand what I am trying to say, though afloat, we were literally submerged in the water! But somehow, we were floating. The biggest challenge was balancing the different weights of our team mates and ensuring that the wobbly boat did not capsize. I am just not ashamed in saying that what we made turned out to be this super wobbly piece of craft. We did manage to sail through without dropping any of our team members into the waters and come back to our starting point. My suggestion would be to team enemies together in such a situation and see them turn into friends! Experience this alive and feel the awesomeness…

However, the adventurous soul in me is not satisfied with this. You would think I have gone bonkers but I wish I can someday be stuck in a situation with all these raw materials near a river or say a sea? Well, well, words do come true at times!

Taming the mighty waters

When I told my parents that I would be visiting Rishikesh in a group of ten, I am sure they did not imagine in their wildest dreams that it would be anything but a religious affair.

Thanks to the foreigners who some three decades back introduced us to our own mighty waters of the Ganges, white water rafting has become a trend of sorts now and camping in the backyard of the river is sought after.

So, to live this experience, we all packed our bags and headed to our destination which is some 270 kilometres from the national capital of India, Delhi in the scorching heat of May. It was late in the night by the time we reached and had to take another 300 steps of downhill trek to reach the campsite. Ironically, it was very cold so much so that we wished we were wearing some warm clothes.

After having a quick dinner, we retired into our cosy tents. We were so tired that we fell asleep without exploring much around. We had decided to get up a bit late; after all it was our holiday.

I woke up all of a sudden, oops, somebody had left the tap open! I came out of the tent and it was an amazing scene! The river was flowing right behind our tent—in the darkness of the night we did not realise where we were camping! And there were a couple of monkeys many vibrant birds among us, the urban chimps!

Mighty waters
Mighty waters

In a matter of an hour, we were to hit the calm waters of the Ganges for our first ever rafting experience. And in another hour we were to understand that the river is anything but calm! Our rafting instructor taught us various sign languages and techniques to sail through the 14 km distance to be covered in two hours. We were asked not to shout and yell so that we could clearly hear all his instructions.

Despite his instructions, we continued to be our excited self and carried on singing songs and shouting! And then the force of the water started to accelerate. It was then that he asked us to jump out of the raft, no kidding! He did ask us to do that and most of us started sweating—some, just from the terrible heat. I told him that I did not know how to swim! He said that it was the best reason why I should jump myself and befriend the water! I asked him to go back and he said that option had long expired. Reluctantly, all of us slipped into the waters. Ooh! The water was freezing! He asked us to sail with the raft holding onto the lifeline. I decided at that very time and point that if I come out alive, I am going to learn how to swim!

He then asked us to help each other to come back onto the raft. He took us through the 14 kms and introduced us to the various rapids like body surfing, roller coaster, three blind mice and others. Many a times it was almost as if the raft will hit the rock and we will all drown but thankfully, we did not! We successfully covered 14 kms and it was then adrenaline rush had just begun. We decided to do another 14 kms and enter a bit more adventurous zone. The rapids here were really quick and fast! I do not remember the name of the rapid now but we saw it and our guide instructed us to duck and sit inside the raft! Which all of us did not pay heed to and guess what, the next thing we knew was, water water everywhere! I was sure that I was holding onto the lifeline with both hands and I was doubly sure that the raft was upside down. But what I was not sure was if I could sail like this forever! Those five minutes were like the longest five minutes ever. It was one alive is awesome feeling and to be back on the raft was a super awesome feeling.

Mighty waters
Mighty waters

Just when we thought that the excitement was all over and we were just famished, we were told that we should not miss the cliff jumping. In the right spirit, we decided to take one last plunge to come our splashing out of the cold river waters! And yes, we did come out alive and yes I am learning how to swim!

By the way, before we started off on our sojourn, we were made to sign some papers which in our excitement, we did not read. All that the papers said were, “I and only I am responsible if anything happens”!

All the best and be careful!

Philips Foodathon 2012

Philips Foodathon
Philips Foodathon

For aficionados of food and drink like Rahul and me, the very mention of Foodathon made us pay heed to the details. We got invited to the ‘one-of-a-kind’ event, Philips Foodathon 2012, organised by 20:20 MSL at V Spot Cafe in Gurgaon on 27th October. Of course, we obliged. The invite did not divulge any details of what the event would entail, even better to keep up our exhilaration.

Bloggers are very much in demand – almost an infantile community growing at a hotfooting acceleration. Blogging is now becoming increasingly mainstream as companies use them for outreach, marketing products, commercializing and opinion forming. In one phrase – bloggers are people that ‘businesses cannot ignore’. That being the premise we reached V Spot Cafe. I am not sure why the venue was chosen, since it is typically a building visited by people for the fabulous salons it houses. Upon entering, I found an entire epicurean community listening intently to a lady demonstrating the products from Philips.

Philips Foodathon
Philips Foodathon

This was followed by an interesting live demonstration of a new product from Philips called Air Fryer. They called it a revolutionary kitchen appliance…hmm ‘revolutionary’. I was actually amazed to see that it could churn out crunchy delicious French fries without the use of oil. Apparently it uses some air technology…really? Air for the crunch? How???!!. The product actually did what it claimed. What looked interesting was divine to eat as well – I gorged onto the yummy, fat-free chicken tikkas, fries and aloo tikkis. The Air Fryer looked like a product which was not too difficult to clean as well – they demonstrated the cleaning too!

Chef Darren Conole (executive chef at Shangri-La) took centre stage thereafter talking about plating food, how it has transformed from a technic to an art, and the key elements, colours that are now considered before presenting food. Hemant Sud walked us through the nuances of photography and how it does not depend as much on the equipment, as it does on the artistic vision of the mortal clicking pictures. He emphasized that we should be able to answer 2 simple questions – why did we click the picture, and does it have a story to tell. With so much learning, it was time to put it into practice through a live plating contest judged by Chef Darren.

The exciting conclusion of the event was a sumptuous buffet lunch organised by V Spot Cafe comprising of salads, fish, lasagne and chocolate mousse. The spread was a gastronomical adventure, well prepared and very delectable. A couple of asks – investing in a good compère and good audio video equipment for the entire audience to hear the speakers. Overall, the event was well-organised, kept the momentum high throughout the 3 hours, synergistic and well-balanced with the right amount of fun and learning.

Lakshadweep scuba diving experience

Lakshadweep scuba diving island
Lakshadweep scuba diving island – Kavaratti

It was a small hesitant step from the boat into the water. As I put my other foot into the water, I was struck with some hard-hitting facts – that I had not learnt swimming till date, that I will now have to forget that I have a nose and breathe through my mouth into the respiratory instrument I was carrying and that the waters that I have stepped into encompass the islands of Lakshadweep (about 350 kms from the Indian mainland) to eventually merge with the vast Indian ocean.

But that one small step introduced me to an unknown world. There was some sort of calmness there, probably because humans cannot talk or blow horns inside water? But I was already in love with the peace out there.  The colourful electric orange coloured fish were swimming like they were in no rush to reach wherever they were going. I wanted to stop and ask them, where are you going? Even this big wise turtle that was wading through the waters did not stop to look at me, the intruder. There were corals all around and this particular one looked like a human brain. Then I saw this sea cucumber almost at my arm’s distance, I wanted to touch one and feel it but realised it was not as near as it appeared to be.

Lakshadweep scuba diving
Lakshadweep scuba diving – It’s me!

This is how it is when you are inside, it is a different landscape, a different terrain and a different world altogether. The underwater world has its own hillocks, pathways and probably the channels of communication are different.

The feeling of being underwater and being a witness to all this cannot be compared to anything else.  A  experience of Lakshadweep scuba diving is one top most “alive is awesome” feeling. You just need to be careful about a few things like controlling your breathing underwater, getting used to the sensation, understanding when your body says NO, remembering to not touch anything and communicating using symbols.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckSw_5abS-I]

Splash of life

My memory is so clear, as if it all happened yesterday. There were ten of us, or probably more. All of us were dressed in the worst of our clothes, yes worst! Undoubtedly all of us looked like major wardrobe disasters of the first order complete with oil dripping from each part of our body—from the tallest hair tip to the longest nail on our feet. Hah! That was exactly what we wanted.

Satisfied with our looks, we ventured out of our rooms. Every minute of the watch was witness to some more like us joining our gang. Noisily we marched towards the large open area that we had zeroed in out on last night.

We looked at each other, making sure that each of us truly defined the word ugly. Did we? Yes we did. But no, there was one who decided to not be a part of our prestigious gang. He decided to sit there at a distance and watch us. How could he defy the rules of the land?

Splash of life
Splash of life

Fire! Fire! Yes, that was my leader shouting. I decided to throw the first bomb! There it went and landed on the left hand side of a dirty white shirt leaving a bright red mark behind. And then it was chaos all around. All of us were throwing water balloons at each and throwing water bombs at each other. Every year, our entire class would wake up early in the morning on Holi, the festival of colours, to assemble at this large ground. We would then divide ourselves into groups and seemed as if we were acting out the battle of Kurukshetra with water and colours. And we spared no one, nobody was allowed to be “clean” and “untouched”.

That year was our final year and thus it had to be just brilliant. So, we decided to use all weapons—buckets of water, water balloons and lots of colour. We had even organised a grand lunch to celebrate the festival.

However, fate had “grander” plans for us!! Just when we decided to call it a day and take a bath before heading for lunch, our warden declared that there was no water in the hostel! What??! We now wanted a makeover, enough of looking our worst. We badly needed to take a bath and here we were told that we need to wait another hour or so for the water tank to be filled.

Splash of life
Splash of life

But boys are boys and fun is never too far away. We could not stop laughing every time someone would complain of “colourful” water or “frothy” water coming out of their taps!! What did you expect us to do? Wait for the water to reach our bathrooms from the water tank when we had the license to get dirty that day? It was so much fun getting into the massive tank and getting rid of the colours! Soon, the entire tank was in shades of pink, red, green and yellow! Such a splash of life makes you believe that being alive is awesome!

And for all those who refused to participate, we left some colours in their taps!

Rajdhani, Metropolitan Mall Gurgaon

It is a restaurant tucked away in the Metropolitan Mall in Gurgaon. They serve Gujarati and Rajasthani cuisine. The vegetarian food is delectable and staff is very cordial. I was very impressed when I visited them about 7 or 8 years ago, with the generous helpings, great quality of food and very mumsy hospitality.

Before serving food a waiter comes to help you wash your hands in a traditional looking ‘finger bowl’. Food is served in conventional steel thalis and bowls. The concept of menu does not exist and the waiters start serving food the moment you are done with the hand wash. First come the salad and starters – we had dhokla and a mini samosa a mixed salad (chopped tomatoes, onions, cucumber), 3 kinds of chutneys (garlic, coriander and tamarind).

Rajdhani Metropolitan Mall, Gurgaon
Rajdhani Metropolitan Mall, Gurgaon Image Credit

The main course followed shortly with the teekhi dal, meethi dal, kadhi, paneer, parwal, chanas and papad. There were three different sorts of breads served, all of them unique in flavour and texture and accompanied with generous amounts of ghee (which you can refuse if you are very health conscious). It is a bottomless serving and the trick (as my husband pointed out) is to take only 1 roti at a time – if you take more, you run the risk of eating cold rotis. Once done with this, they serve rice and khichdi. I really relished the latter since it was soothing on the stomach. All this food is accompanied with a drink, and in our case it was buttermilk. Yummy and really helps endure the immoderate indulgence.

The dinner was concluded on a sweet note with a choice between three desserts – suji halwa, barfi and custard. Overall good value for money, but the quality and the ambience have devolved over time. Do visit Rajdhani metropolitan mall for the experience, at least one time.

A meal for 2 costs Rs. 500, and this place does not serve alcohol.

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