Category Archives: Food

Times Food Guide 2016 – Chandigarh

DSC_8123It’s out. Actually it’s been out for nearly a month, just didn’t get around to gloating about it. The launch of the Times Food Guide for Chandigarh (Mohali & Panchkula included as separate sections) took place at The Lalit on 29th March at the high decibel Times Food & Nightlife Awards ceremony.

It was released by one of the finest Sufi voices from Punjab – Hans Raj Hans. Perhaps not the last word on fusilli, but he sure knows a thing or two about that ‘silli silli…hawa’! The glittering evening also saw a number of other celebrities give away well-deserved awards to those that made the Winners’ list.


Pssst…Did I mention I authored it?

Get your copy here.

In Goa, Must Mustard

IMG_9278Seldom do I recommend an experience sans encounters of the empirical kind; much less if it involves unsuspecting taste-buds. But I had been hearing such wonderful things about this one the past year, I made a rider-hitched–the messenger requests that she please not be shot–exception for it. Then I sat back many months to await unbiased reviews from knowledgeable palates (not to mention the perfect season for a Goa visit) before I eventually showed up at the charming teal-and-white balcao of the century-old Portuguese villa that houses Mustard.

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Times Food Guide

Authoring the 2015 Times Food Guide for Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali counts as yet another first. Challenging, but still. It is no secret that the Tricity is not topping charts as a gourmand’s destination, unlike say a Delhi or an Amritsar, but it did throw up some little-known gems that I hope will stay the course.

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Ab Goli Kha!

goli5It can get awfully frustrating for a foodie who finds herself in lands bequeathed abundantly with innate splendour peopled by a friendly lot yet woefully inadequate far as palate pleasures go. True story from my visit to Chhattisgarh last month. Naturally, I am not talking about traditional cuisine here–as elsewhere, there are innumerable variants of rice (chilla), wheat (khurmi), grams (thethri), and vegetable (pyaaz bhaaji) preparations. I refer mainly to quick bites, food-on-the-move, street-side savouries; energizing stuff to take you through long days on the road. Honestly, how many bananas–boiled peanuts, even–can one eat?

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Eat-Treats In Kerala

IMG_0039It was with happy anticipation I had looked towards my trip to Kerala, recently concluded. Not least for the eating I hoped to experience; also for the breathtaking splendour of the tropical frondescence that the monsoon months accord it. Little wonder this period, karkidakam in local parlance, is considered most suitable for rejuvenating therapies.  Having had a first-row view of it, I will never tire of saying this – it is the rainy season which truly underscores this coastal land’s validation for the ‘God’s Own Country’ moniker.

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Gunehar: Where & Why

4R6On a visit to Palampur last summer, at the urging of those at Norwood Green I found myself headed for a day-trip to village Gunehar, hitherto unheard of. Located in close proximity to Bir, largely known as a paragliding destination when twinned with Billing – an activity I have not yet had the desire (read courage) to experience. You see, my sense of adventure extends far beyond the pale, to the palate. Wolfing down meals at all sorts of dubious places works just as well for me, if not my innards. Indeed my aim even that day last year was to locate this cafe, supposed haven of culinary treats that its owner Frank Schlichtmann created himself. In that sense, it was a wasted effort; a hot coffee and hurried chat across the cab boot was all I got.

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Gur: Streetside Sweet

IMG_0001The ensuing weeks will find me trotting around my home state of Punjab on an exciting new assignment. That aside, I look forward to re-acquainting with the idea of Punjabiyat – an elusive ethos that once was – of a shared way of life. A brief glimpse of which I caught on my visit to the Rauza Sharif last year.  Like most elsewhere, Punjabi tradition, too, demands a new beginning be marked by ingesting something sweet. Surely, a jaggery-laced post makes for as befitting a tribute as any barfi or ladoo, don’t you think?

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The Himalayan Wonder Weed

Now that I have your attention, meet sea-buckthorn. A prickly deciduous shrub that has grown wild in China, Mongolia, Tibet and the Trans-Himalayan zone of India for many million years. Said to contain over 250 bio-active ingredients, it is today feted as the ‘Most Perfect Plant in the Whole World’.

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I was not expecting Dharamsala to throw up any surprises on the culinary front given its mix of visitors, and their traditional pockets of patronage. The Western tourist typically hangs out in Mcleodganj, the Punjabi in Bhagsunag, and the Israeli in Dharamkot. There was one aberration, however, in Illiterati on lower Jogibara Road. On both visits, it was brimming with all manner of disciples of fine food.

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chotiwalaSpotted a Chotiwala outlet as I looked around the Ganga ghats for a vantage point from where to view the evening aarti at Haridwar. Endless tales of nostalgia about their puri-aalu/channas-halwa from a closely-related Garhwali (as much in the know of food as he is of films) had seriously spurred my interest in their fare. Not one to pass  up on an opportunity at culinary adventure, I immediately made a note to self to dine there after.

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