Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let the Sunshine In

I hate dreary days in Manhattan. I can take the rain and I can take the cold but both together are the worst combination ever. In India when it rains it is beautiful. You smell the fresh mud as the monsoon cools down the sizzling hot ground. In New York when it rains all I want to do is curl up in bed and do nothing. My bones get lazy and efficiency is at an all time low. Today was such a day; the rain was annoying and slushy. This day reminded me of how great it is when the sun shines. This took my thoughts to Portugal and the time I spent in the Algarve - the southern most tip of Portugal. In the Algarve the weather is perfect; you lie on the beach, swim with the fishes and take long walks. The sunsets are gorgeous; I have never seen so many colors and beautiful cloud formations ever in my life. On dreary days like this I look back to the lovely experiences that the sun has given me and I know even though it is hiding behind those clouds today, it will come out tomorrow or the day after and bring back the warmth; until then I seek it under my covers in bed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We were leaving the flat lands behind and driving up and into the valley. The scenery changed to curvy roads, mountains, meandering rivers and beautiful vistas. For this part of the trip we stayed in a farm house called Quinta de la Rosa that overlooked the Douro River. The pictures show how tranquil and serene this place is. Not sure whether it was the altitude we were at, the creaky wooden floors of the Quinta or the mosquito nets that hugged our beds at night – but something about the Douro valley just put us in a very relaxed state of mind
The DouroMy bed with a machhar dani :)Quinta de la Rosa - our home in Pinhaovista'sTrains
One of our day jaunts in the Douro was to a place called Quinta de Romaneira. This Quinta is tucked deep in the valley and we got thoroughly lost trying to find it. The gentleman who owns this luxury farmhouse is an avid collector of all things unique which include interesting artifacts from various Portuguese colonies, an insect collection from Brazil, a dining table made from a huge African tree truck and old carved chairs from Goa. One of my favorite things about this place was the infinity pool that overlooked the valley – I could laze there for hours. Click below to see some pictures from the Quinta:
Another memorable experience was the dinner at DOC – which is Rui Paula’s restaurant by the Duoro river. My mouth still waters when I think of the scrumptious 7 course meal. The food was fantastic but never before have I been intrigued with the lighting in a restaurant as I was here. Below are some shots I took not of the food but the unique light fixtures.
 Rui Paula - D.O.C. - Best meal everLit furnitureLit Pot
We tasted a lot of wine in the Douro Valley. Wine from Portugal is not as well known; but they can stand up to some of the best wines in the world. The Douro valley was relaxing and surprising; sprinkled with many treats along the way. The next stop was Porto where we would discover the lovely world of Port Wine.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fairytale Land

I want to live in the place of angels, unicorns and elves 
Where the sun shines everyday and rainbows have a pot of gold at the end 
Where there is fairy dust and your dreams come true 
As you sleep the moon sings a lullaby to you. 
Portugal is such a place
Press Play and click on show info to read where these pictures were taken.

Monday, October 3, 2011

NO planes, NO Trains, just Automobile

We picked up the car in Lisbon; this was very exciting as the adventure of driving through Portugal was about to commence. I was the designated driver for the trip and enjoyed every bit of zipping through the countries magnificent highways. There was almost no traffic and the zipping was controlled by Ms. GPS who warned me every time I was going too fast. The two things that made this drive a breeze was the GPS, we almost never got lost and the automatic gears which saved us as the further North we went the more winding and narrow the roads got. After this trip I have come to the conclusion that THE best way to discover a country is to drive it. We could take detours as we pleased, stop to take in the scenery and leave whenever we wanted. No planes, no trains, just our automobile – we were master’s of our time.
Evora was the first destination we drove to. We stayed at the best Bed and Breakfast. It felt like I was at home; sitting on the comfy couch reading my kindle with a glass of red wine. The organic food they served was scrumptious. The B&B is run by a couple from LA (Nina & Peter) who spoke fluent Portuguese as a result of their Brazilian descent. It was the perfect home away from home. Evora is a cute little town – the one ‘must do’ is to find a restaurant called  Botequim da Mouraria it seats only 8 people so get there early if you don’t want to wait. A hole-in-the wall place that is run by an old man – Domingo; who charms the front of the house while his wife – Florabel; cooks with much agility and skill at the back of the house. You will taste authentic delicious Portuguese cuisine here. We visited the city of Monsaraz that is not too far from Evora. The white washed walls and cobble stone roads set against the beautiful vista of lakes and mountains were breathtaking. There was not a person in sight and almost felt like I was in a movie – beautiful and surreal. Herdade de Esparoa is one of the biggest privately owned wineries in Evora and a must visit. We got to crush the grapes, walk in the fields, drink the wine and eat one of the best meals of the trip. Below are pictures that I took along the way:

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Lisbon – a city of seven hills with white winding roads that are so narrow you can barely tell they exist, as you wind up and down them discovering the city one hill at a time. Almost all the buildings have colorful tiles on the outside that make each one of them look majestic; specially when glistening in the sunlight. We spent most of our time roaming the city taking it all in; visiting castles, monasteries and monuments. Sampling Portuguese food was on top of our list. We ate our first exquisite (10 course) meal at 100 Maneiras. We were fed cod on a clothes line among other strange but delicious delicacies. Another hotspot I would recommend is  A Travessa – a restaurant that is situated inside an absolutely breathtaking old monastery. One thing we noticed about Portugal was the lack of people. No place was ever crowded and come afternoon the streets were deserted no matter where you were. We visited near by towns of Belém and Sintra the former has the best pastel de nata at Café Pastéis de Belém. Pastel de nata is a traditional creamy custard pie that is sinful ! Lisbon has many area’s (Bairro Alto, The Alfama, Chiado, The Baixa) that you can walk up and down endlessly. The city is full of white cobble stone roads, monuments, fado music and amazing food ! Stop one on our Portuguese journey was delightful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quin·quen·ni·um /kwinˈkwenēəm/: (Noun) A specified period of five years

My mother and I do "mommy - daughter" trip every five years. It is not something we planned on doing – it just happened. Ten years ago the destination was Italy, five years ago Eastern Europe and then this year we decided to take on Portugal. Of course much planning was done in advance (mainly by mom); and nothing could keep us away. Not Hurricane Irene in New York who hit the weekend I was leaving and not the Portuguese Embassy in India who could not issue a visa for my mom because their systems were down. After much drama she got a hand written visa the day before she was to leave! It was touch and go – we had Scotland as our back-up plan just in case the visa did not come through; but it would not have been the same. 

We spent fourteen days, driving one thousand eight hundred and ninety four kilometers from one end of Portugal to the other. I highly recommend driving through a country – it is the best way to see all of its nooks, crannies & idiosyncrasies. The highlight of our trip was the food. We (I mean .. mom) had done some serious research on restaurants and chefs. Our gastronomical experience spanned "hole in the wall" establishments to simply sinful tasting menu's at much acclaimed Michelin star restaurants. The hotels we stayed at were varied and added to the entire experience. In Lisbon and Porto we wanted to be in the center of it all and stayed at a typical city hotel; while in Condexia a Nova we chose an old traditional Portuguese house. We stayed at the best bed and breakfast I have ever been to in Evora; and in Pinhao it was a farm house (Quinta) that made amazing Port Wine. Finally, we ended our holiday in the Algarve at a Spa Resort right by the beach. Complete relaxation before getting back to reality. Driving, eating, drinking, taking it all in - It was quite a trip. Below is a glimpse of what is to come as I take you through my Portuguese journey in pictures and words.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let’s Run Away

What if you could live another life. What would it be? Would you live on an island in Greece or would you want to have lived in another time. Movies have been made and books written that deal with time travel or living a life other than your own. A few weekends ago I was surrounded by the 1920's. First I watched Midnight in Paris which is a story told (only the way Woody Allen can) about time traveling to the 1920's in Paris. It was so romantic, mesmerizing & whimsical – every character wanted to escape to a place other than their present. The other 1920's experience that weekend was at Governors Island where we came across a 1920's themed day - everyone was dressed as they would in the 20's dancing the day away. It was magical to watch people  escape into a time that seemed simpler and easier.
What is the fascination with wanting to live another life? Why do people want to escape the present? Be curious about what was and what may be - but enjoy your now because it isn't coming back. Below are some pictures from Governors Island that capture the 1920’s era that was.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Today was Manhattanhenge - it is when the sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan grid. One of the many things that you learn when you live in Manhattan. I have been meaning to go view this semiannual occurrence but never got down to it - till today. I walked to 34th street with my husband and kept complaining along the way; there are too many clouds in the sky, its too hazy, we are never going to get good shots. Of course I thought that we were the only two crazy people to walk 25 blocks in the heat. We turned the corner onto 34th street - and oh my; there were 100's of people waiting for the lights to turn red so they could jump to the middle of the road and capture this perfect alignment. I am surprised no one got run over. See below pictures from the amazing Manhattanhenge. I am sure centuries from now when people dig up the ruins of Manhattan they will wonder if it has any significance as we do of Stonehenge today.

Monday, July 11, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons....

When life gives you lemons .......ride a bike.

I bought a bike last year and I absolutely love my 2 wheel wonder. Riding a bike reminds me of my childhood - being carefree with not a care in the world. For the few hours that I am on my bicycle I forget the million things that are looming in my ever fertile mind. My favorite ride in Manhattan is along the west side highway. The Hudson River keeps one company along the bike path that leads to either Fort Lee or the Cloisters (depending on the turns you take). Swerving in and out of traffic also is thrilling; the cab drivers are your worst enemies on the road - so you have to be careful; but the adrenalin rush of beating traffic is so worth it ! Nothing better that riding in the summer and then sipping some lemonade to cool off. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Kachra in Hindi means rubbish. I was introduced to this dish by my grandma’s cook. It is also known as Bhurji or Akuri and is yum specially on a rainy day. I think my cook called it Kachra because he would use the leftovers from the night before that would have gone into the dustbin. The secret to yummy Kachra is three fold use lots of chopped coriander, be lenient with the turmeric and make sure the consistency is wet. Below are pictures and the recipe; takes about ten minutes to make and serves 2.
Ingredients: 1/2 an onion finely chopped, 1/2 a tomato chopped, 1/2 a cup minced fresh coriander, 1 teaspoon ginger chopped,  2 teaspoons turmeric, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 2 curry leaves, 2 chopped green chili's, 4 eggs, 1 tablespoon oil, pinch of red chili powder, salt to taste.
Method: Heat the oil, throw in the curry leaves, onions, ginger, chilies. Let the onions brown. Add the tomato, turmeric, pinch of red chili powder, salt, coriander (powder & leaves) - mix well for about 2 minutes. Lower the heat; add in the whisked eggs and stir so that it does not stick. Turn the heat off when cooked. Make sure that it is not overcooked and still moist. Serve with hot roties or bread. Enjoy !        

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mommy, Me & Molten Chocolate Cake

Last month I was chatting with my mother and I almost fell off my chair when she said, “I just got this amazing recipe for Molten Chocolate Cake.. and it is so easy to make”. Now you might ask, why did I fall off the chair? Well, let me explain; in most traditional Indian families the woman is not only the queen of the house but most certainly the ruler of the kitchen. However, my family is a little different. My non-traditional mother has never entered the kitchen, as a result I was utterly surprised when she mentioned molten chocolate cake, cooking and easy in the same sentence. I slowly discovered that the cooking bug had bitten her; not only was she cooking cakes but also lemon meringue pies, asparagus soufflé and lamb stew. I now look forward to mother & daughter bonding over recipes which, until now, were restricted to father - daughter conversations (Yes, my dad is a fantastic cook!). Below are the pictures and recipe for MCC – pretty easy and a lot of fun !
455g best-quality cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50ml (less than quarter cup) hot espresso or good strong instant coffee
125g butter, plus extra for greasing
6 eggs, free-range or organic, separated
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g rice flour
1 small handful chopped hazelnuts, toasted
Melt 125g chocolate with the coffee, then pour into small ice-cube moulds and freeze until hard. Take 6 small 3 inch pastry rings, dariole moulds or cappuccino cups and grease well with some butter. Place in the fridge while you make your sponge mixture. Melt the remaining chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, then in a separate bowl whisk the egg whites with the sugar until firm. Fold the yolks into the cooled chocolate and butter mixture, then add the almonds and flour. Finish by carefully folding in the egg white mixture. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/gas 5. Take your moulds out of the fridge and spoon a little mixture into each one, then push in a cube of the frozen coffee and chocolate mixture. Cover with the rest of the sponge mixture so each ice cube is completely enveloped. Bake in the preheated oven for about 18–20 minutes, then remove carefully from the moulds while hot. Serve immediately sprinkled with hazelnuts

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rainy Day

If any of you were in New York today you would have experienced the downpour that refused to stop. I ventured out covered in plastic with my weather-sealed Olympus E3. Both the camera and I were drenched. As a kid I loved playing in the rain. Rain in India is always welcomed with open arms – it usually is a break from the scorching heat. Here in NYC it gets cold, damp and depressing. What I like doing when it rains in new york is either sit at home in PJs and watch many movies or go out and have a long brunch session. Today I did the latter and took some pictures along the way. Since the rains are here hopefully that means spring and summer are close by.        

Breakfast for a King or Queen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI am very passionate about eating and cooking food; but most of all I love to cook for people who enjoy food. After a late Friday night what was much needed was a scrumptious breakfast. I cooked a typical Parsi dish called “Wafer par Ida” – Eggs on Chips. It is yummy and really easy to make.

Ingredients: 1 bag of potato chips, 4 eggs, 1/2 a cup of minced coriander, 1/2 a cup of caramelized onions, 1 teaspoon of diced green chilies, a pinch of cayenne pepper powder, salt, a pinch of garam masala powder.

Heat a medium sized skillet.

Break open the bag of chips remove them one handful at a time – dip the chips in water for 30 seconds (you should have a big pot of room temperature water ready) as you remove the wet chips smoosh them together and start creating a layer on the skillet. Keep doing this one handful at a time creating a thin layer on the pan. Pat it down so that it is even. Let this layer simmer for 5 minutes.

Break the 4 eggs on this layer sprinkle the garam masala, salt, cayenne pepper, caramelized onions, green chilies and coriander. Cover the skillet till the eggs are cooked.

I paired this with a simple avocado, radish and tomato salad with olive oil, salt & pepper. It was the perfect breakfast!     

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eating my way through Goa

I have been visiting Goa ever since I was a child. When I think of Goa I see old white-washed churches, beaches that go on forever, restaurants that have unique fusions of food, the crazy trance scene, the hippies, tie and dye shirts, Tito’s, Fenny… I could go on free associating with Goa as I have had so many different experiences there. This visit to Goa was all about food. I literally ate my way through it in the 2 days I was there. Below are the restaurants I visited and highly recommend:

Amigo’s – located below the Nerul bridge near Candolim. It is a small place specializing in Goan food. The menu changes everyday as it depends on what fresh fish is available; so you know the food is going to be great. Call ahead if you want something special. I highly recommend the fish curry rice and crab with garlic butter sauce.

Thalassa Greek Taverna located above Vagator Beach – it is a spot from where the sunset looks absolutely gorgeous – reserve a table and get there before the sun sets (duh!) – the views are breathtaking.   

Lila Café is located in Baga; we went there each morning to get our fill of the amazing coffee, breads and pate’s. One can spend an entire morning being lazy - reading, relaxing and eating the fantastic food.

Savoi Plantation: I could write pages about this place. It is located about 25 km from Panjim (center of Goa). On the day you decide to go (for lunch preferably) make sure you do not eat – you will need your appetite to enjoy this gastronomical delight. The first course consisted of mussels, lobster, tiger prawns and crabs. We then took a break and walked around the plantation’s lush greenery to return to a 15 dish main course. Eating on banana leaves in a tree house only added to this truly unique experience. The food was phenomenal as was the kokum juice that we washed it down with. This is an experience you do not want to miss.
Some places that have a fusion theme to it are J&A’s, I 95, Poisson Rouge & Fiesta. Go to these spots if you are yearning for some Italian or French with a Goan flare to it. Below are a few pictures that I took along the way. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hampi and Badami

By day 2 we were getting used to being tourists in India and were wowed by every aspect of what we saw. Our cameras working over time; we did not want to miss a single shot. We spent the entire second day in Hampi - the capital of the Vijayanagra Empire built between 1336 – 1565 and on the third day we visited the Badami caves that date back to 600 AD; they made of almond colored sandstone and get their name from the stone; almond in Hindi is Badam. The city and the caves were spectacular – I could imagine a civilization flourishing in these surroundings by the banks of the Tungabhadra river. 
As we were exploring Hampi I could not help but compare it to Machu Pichu. We had visited Peru earlier in the year. Both were built around the same time – one was a learning and religious center way up in the mountains and the other was a sprawling capital of an empire that had temples and monuments at every turn. Machu Pichu is made from stone and is a glorious salute to Incan architecture and engineering. While Hampi has beautiful carvings adorning every aspect rich with art and culture. Sadly,  I also noticed was how the Indian government had maintained Hampi; plastic bottles everywhere, graffiti on the walls tarnishing history that goes back thousands of years. In comparison, The Peruvian government has taken the maintenance of Machu Pichu very seriously; restricting the number of tourists that can visit and not allowing visitors to carry anything that would tarnish the the premises. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites that I was fortunate to visit in the same year. Below are some pictures.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Golden Chariot - Day 1

The Chariot was Purple not Golden - but felt like a princess in it. The Golden Chariot is a luxury train that travels through Karnataka, India stopping at key places; from where you go on excursions. The three days I spent on the train were phenomenal. At first it felt a little awkward being a tourist in ones own country. I was used to being the guide for people visiting India not the other way around. I soon accepted that being away for almost 10 years would qualify me as a visitor. The train experience was great - I would compare it to a cruise ship but on a train. It had a spa, restaurant, bar and gym. The rooms were small but comfortable.
We joined the train mid-way at Hassan; from where we had excursions to Shravanabelagola famous for the colossal statue of Gommateshwara in the morning; and in the afternoon we visited Belur and Halebidu - cities that are the epicenter of Hoysala architecture. All three places were simply breathtaking. It amazes me how much history, culture and beauty there is in India - we had only barely scratched the surface. Click below to see pictures from the first day aboard GC.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bombay by Night

Bombay has two sides to her, you can love her or hate her; but at night you can't help but be charmed and mesmerized by this beautiful city. I had interesting experiences (trying) to photograph Bombay at night. As I was clicking a man approached me; he thought I was from a media outlet taking pictures and would not leave until I took a picture of him. Another warned me that I would get arrested for taking pictures because the police would think I was planning a terrorist attack. A third thought I was a lost tourist and offered to help me find my way. Not once did they just let me just take my pictures; but that is India for you everyone is ready to help and poke their nose in your business. It is the way of this country that you can either love or hate. Hope you enjoy the pictures below.
PEDDAR ROAD TRAFFIC: No matter what time of night or day always expect a traffic jam      
VICTORIA TERMINUS: Now called Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus; will always be VT to me 

FLORA FOUNTAIN: She has been observing Bombay since 1864   
ANTILIA: The worlds most expensive residence

Monday, January 17, 2011

India - How I Miss Thee

I spent the last three weeks in India. I go to India almost every year; but this time I had the most amazing vacation ever. It was the perfect storm of friends, family, weddings, traveling, food and new experiences. The highlights of the trip were attending 4 weddings - one of which lasted 4 days, traveling by train, visiting beautiful temples and cities in Karnataka, chilling with friends, spending time with the family, eating our way through Goa, visiting my high school and the food - I ate like there was no tomorrow. I took a lot of pictures, I plan on blogging about all of the above and more - so be prepared for an India overload over the next few weeks !
I am going to start with a picture that I took in Karnataka at Shravanabelagola. It is one of my favorite pictures of the trip. I captured a moment when I look at is calming and serene; but in reality there were hundreds of people around us. Photography is all about what you see and not about what exists. Hope this whets your appetite for the next few posts.