UDUPI

UDUPI‘ – What strikes your mind, When you come across this word?

South Indian food joint which serves Dosa, Idli in general along side some other South Indian food or a veg only restaurant ?

At one point in time I used to think Udupi is a South Indian restaurant chain with a head office somewhere down south and branch restaurants across the subcontinent. Then I read somewhere that the owners of these restaurants are different in different cities.

Only recently did I discover this truth that ‘Udupi’ is actually a name of a place from where Udupi cuisine has originated. While planning a family trip to Karnataka in April, 2019; I started with Coorg and ended up adding Udupi in our itinerary.

On the way to Udupi

The coastal district to the south western parts of Karnataka, some 400Kms from Bangalore and 55Kms from Mangalore is specialised with many cultural aspects.

Paper Masala Dosa

According to historian P.Thankappan Nair, Udupi is the place from where dosa has originated.

Sri Krishna Matha Complex

Udupi cuisine, a part of Tuluva-Mangalorean cuisine comprises pure vegetarian food, which is termed as ‘Satvik Ahar’ (no meat, flesh, fish, shell fish, egg and no onion and garlic). It has its origin from the Ashta Mathas (8 temples) of Udupi town.

Sri Krishna Temple

Ashta Matha‘ administers Sri Krishna Matha, where certain restrictions in cooking ingredients are followed during ‘Chaturmasa’ (4 months) of monsoon. These restrictions led to innovation of different veg food, adding variety to Udupi cuisine.

MTR

Mahavalli Tiffin Room (MTR), well known for their South Indian packaged ready to eat food and instant mixes, has a branch restaurant in Udupi.

Kaup Beach

The other parts of the district tells altogether a different story of beaches, harbours, sea food and theatre dance.

Malpe Beach after sunset
Malpe Beach in the morning

6Kms west of Udupi town lies Malpe, a natural port and largest fishing harbour of Karnataka.

Beach sports, Malpe beach

This part of the city, close to the Arabian Sea, serves awesome sea food.

Meen Gassi (fish curry) with steamed rice

Geotectonics is so fascinating !!!
History and Geography beautifully sculpted the St.Marys Island, a 30 minutes boat ride away from Malpe beach.

About 88 millions years ago when African plate and Indian plate drifted, Madagascar remained in the other part and islands formed due to volcanic eruption. Basaltic lava formed these hexagonal rock structures,

Basaltic columns

The island was named by Vasco da Gama as ‘St. Mary’s’.

A village named, Kundapura is the place where theatre dance, Yakshagana originated. Udupi has a Yakshagana research centre.

Gudbud

To end the trip I added Gudbud, a Mangalorean dessert to my dinner.

This small beach district of Karnataka is itself a package of beautiful beaches, yummy food and art and culture.

Reference: Trip to Udupi, Google, YouTube

Courtesy: Udupi

Inspiration: Love for South India, food, culture, beaches

MUKHOSH PARA – The Mask Making Village

Mukhosh Para, as the name says, it is the locality of masks; in ‘Chorda’ or ‘Charida’ village of Bagmundi block of Purulia district in West Bengal.

This is an area of ‘Chhou’ mask makers; on the lap of Ajodhya Hills, to the extreme western parts of Rarh region of West Bengal, bordered by Jharkhand to it’s west.

The dry region is some 300kms west of Kolkata, houses to around 500 families in the block with 150 families traditionally involved in the business and artistry of Chhou mask making.

A road, dotted with shops of Chhou masks on both sides, nearly divides the village into halves. As per few of the artists and shop owners, this mask making activity is prevalent in the area for about 5 generations.

Chhou dance originated from Sutradhar community, previously the mask making was restricted only to lower caste but now caste bias is fading away. Over the past couple of years Mukhosh Para has opened doors for tourists.

The shops here have a wide variety of masks from Hindu gods and goddesses to tribal women and men.

Not all the masks are used during Chhou dance; some are just used as decorative piece on wall.

Process behind mask creation

To make these masks, soft clay is collected from the bank of a river flowing through this village.

Layers of newspapers attached to the clay after shaping it into masks. Then ‘bele mati’ (a special type of sand mixed soil) is covered on it and cloth dabbed to create facial features. Cloth is removed once the structure is sun dried.

Then the structures get strokes of ‘khori mati’ (calcium mixed soil),

painted with glue mixed colours on them and

ornamented with beads, artificial flowers and leaves, which are sourced from Bagri and Bara Bazar of Kolkata.

Finally they are ready to be worn by a Chhou dancer or to decorate somebody’s living room wall.

Current Status

In 2018, this beautiful Chhou mask received GI (Geographical Indication) tag.

Yearly Chhou mask festival is held in this Mukhosh para during winter. Artists from this village have travelled to other countries to showcase their talent of Chhou mask making and to popularize Chhou.

Reference: The Hindu (newspaper)

Courtesy: Mukhosh Para

Inspiration: Heritage and dance

My Experiences of Thai Food

Better late than never; so before I could manage to take out time to write a full travelogue on Thailand and before my experiences get completely washed away from memory, thought of documenting the experiences of Thai food during my trip to Thailand with two of my best friends in January this year. Food is an integral part of a place and apart from everything else there is so much to write only about food we had during the trip.

With lots of Thai Spas and restaurants springing up in our localities for the past couple of years, Thai cuisine has gained quite a lot of popularity. Like many others I also had experienced Thai food in local Thai restaurants and gathered some basic idea of what Thai cuisine could be and all that I knew was exorbitant use of lemon, lemon grass, coconut and galangal (Thai ginger) giving each food a tangy taste and some a coconut flavour.

From our trip mainly to Bangkok in the heart of the coutry and Phuket, Krabi and Phi Phi to the southern part, we got to experience two of the five cuisines of Thailand; i.e ‘Bangkok Cuisine‘ which has Vietnamese and western influence and ‘Southern Cuisine‘ which has Hainanese and Cantonese influence with flavour of coconut influenced by Indian, Malaysian and Indonesian cuisine.

So here’s my experience of Thai cuisine for foodies, non foodies, those who love to try and experiment with food, those who are planning a trip to Thailand and to those who can’t go there physically but just want to enjoy the food virtually.

This is a basic Thai prawn noodle served with a small bowl of peanut powder and garnished with lettuce and lemon grass. With prawn being the key element, there were some basic ingredients alongwith some Thai sauce, lemon grass and galangal. While we were struggling with the peanut powder bowl, unaware of it’s significance in the food; one of the waitresses came and told us to spread it over the noodles. We sprinkled the powder accordingly and yes the taste got enhanced. Noodle with peanut powder, turned out to be great.

Forgot the name of this so I named it as ‘fruit punch chicken‘. Never knew fruits can go so well with chicken. Apart from chicken, the bowl contains red apples, green apples, pineapples, cherry tomatoes cut into cubicle pieces; topped with some lemon grass, basil and tiny pieces galangal. When you take a spoon full of this combo into your mouth, the juicy, succulent chicken blends in with the fruit juices and the flavour of ginger and basil.

A street food stall in Phuket, serving fried pork and chicken.

Chicken phanaeng curry with Sticky rice, very basic Thai food at a restaurant in Phuket.

A regular Thai tea

Fried food in night street food market of Phuket.

Calamari fried in the night street food market of Phuket.

Plates full of fried food in the night street food market of Phuket. These have a variety of fishes, prawns, porks, squid, chicken, sea shells.

Variety of raw sea food can be selected from the row and you can get it fried in front of you, dip in a bowl of Thai sauce and experience hot and crispy sea food from street stalls in Phuket.

Lobsters dressed in salt and ice, waiting to get into someone’s stomach.

My plate of crispy fried prawn, fish and calamari.

Pineapple fried rice served in pineapple. The fried rice is very basic with beans, carrots, American corn, spring onions and some cashews and raisins but small pieces of pineapple makes it special. So this is highly recommended.

Squid in black pepper at a restaurant in Krabi. A very light, less spicy, healthy and tasty squid and vegetable curry.

Thai omelette. The egg was not of duck or chicken, not really sure which bird, but it tasted good.

Coconut icecream served in tender coconut in Krabi. This delicious dessert is a must have. This is available in small street side stalls as well as in big restaurants across the country.

A moderately elaborate Thai breakfast at our hotel in Krabi, consisting of porridge with a flavour of coconut, some boiled veggies, sausages, Thai omelette and Thai tea.

Thai milk iced tea. Milk iced tea could be this amazing, had no idea. It is sweet and refreshing with nice flavour of the tea.

Pla pon la mai‘ in Thai language. This is basically fruit salad with crispy fried snapper fish. The taste of red and green apples and pineapples, coated with a Thai tangy pickle balanced the bland crispy pieces of fish.

Fish cake with Thai red sauce. Some sea fish mashed and mixed with spices, shaped into small disc forms and baked in minimum oil. A very tasty and healthy snack.

Beef massaman curry. Massaman curry is a rich, relatively mild Thai curry. Not much used spices in Thai cuisine like Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves (Indian Garam Masala), star annis, cumin, bay leaves, nutmeg and mace combined with some local ingredients like dried chilli peppers, cilantro seeds, lemongrass, galangal, white peppers, shrimp paste, shallot and garlic to make the massaman curry paste.

Prawn and pineapple roast. Steamed prawns in a gravy of pineapple.

Sea food noodles. Noodles with a wide variety of sea food and veggies.

Mango Sticky Rice. This is a must have in Thailand for those who are fond of mangoes in particular and for those who are fond of food in general. Available across the country this can be a main course as well as a dessert. Rice soaked in coconut milk served with scoops of mango with a topping of coconut cream and tiny pieces of fried coconut.

Green papaya salad with crab. Thid is quite prevalent and we had this in Bangkok. It tastes sour and is not highly recommended to those who don’t like sea food much as the crabs are just immersed into boiling water before serving alongside salad. Just the salad without any kind of sea food is also available.

Yummy coconut icecream served in coconut. A variety of toppings from peanuts, cherries, pieces of fried coconut and American sweet corn act as catalyst to the taste of this simple yet delicious dessert.

EAT TILL YOU DROP‘ was something we took very seriously and kept on eating and trying different types of Thai food. Even on our way back home, we tried some new food at the Don Mueang Airport (Bangkok).

Thai style Pork stew with rice at Airport food counter. A very light and healthy pork stew with aromas of galangal. The pork pieces were so soft that it melted in mouth.

Thai style Fish curry with rice. Crispy deep fried sea fish tossed in onion and some Thai sauce. It had a spicy, tangy taste.

Ending with this iced tea ice cream as dessert. This one was also good but nothing can beat coconut icecream.

Last but not the least:

crispy fried pupa.

I tasted at a shop of Chatuchak market in Bangkok. The shop and many other shops like this have a wide variety of fried insects of various flavours. I brought home a packet full of Schezwan flavoured crispy fried pupa.

This is only a part, there are lot of Thai food from other parts of Thailand yet to be experienced.

Reference: Wikipedia

Courtesy: The Trip (Series), restaurants and street side food stalls of Thailand.

Inspiration: Best friends and food

Mera Bachpan

Shahar ko badalte hue dekha

Setu gidte hue dekha

Ghar todte hue dekha aur phir unhi mitti me nanhi si jaan ko dafnate hue dekha

Dhadkan dhadakte hue suna, dil tutte aur jodte hue dekha.

Saanse rukte hue dekha.

Pehli suraj ki kirne aur pehli baarish ki boond dekha.

Mandir ki ghantiya aur Masjid se namaz yahake hawao me ghulte hue suna.

Itar ki khushboo aur Durga puja se pehle Shiuli ki mahek anubhav kia.

Asmaan se taare tutte hue dekha aur saal ki aakhir me bagal vale ghar taaro se sajte hue dekha.

Pehli dost bante aur bichharte hue dekha.

Vidyalay se mahavidyalay tak mausam badalte hue dekha.

Kamyabi dekha aur asafalta bhi.

Sinhasan palatte hue bhakti jagte hue dekha.

Aj bhi gunjta hai bachpan ki kilkariya in galiyon me.

Mera bachpan yaha beette hue dekha.

img_20190529_1858463034232979699126442.jpg

Inspiration: 20 years of life

 

19th Century Dorm Turned Restaurant

This 1896 building located in one of the bylanes of Territi Bazar of Kolkata’s old China Town area is a dormitory turned restaurant. The building once housed many Chinese families, now renovated and serves authentic Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese food.

The red coloured building stands unique in the neighbourhood with the restaurant to the rear side of the building and a club beside it.

The name of the restaurant (SEI VUI) written in Chinese, attracts major attention.

Interior is naturally air conditioned with common colonial structural attributes of thick walls, high ceilings with wooden beams, tall wooden doors and lunet structure windows with some Chinese paintings and decorations on the wall.

Ringing of the temple bell in the evening is an add-on to the ambience.

The restaurant occupies a large portion of the building with descent sitting arrangements and nice decor.

Coming to the food; it is delicious and absolutely pocket friendly.

Among starters chicken sui mai, gold coin, veg spring rolls, chili mushroom are must tries. Hokein noodles (a combination of Haka and Cantonese noodles) is their signature. Chicken tausi, lemon chicken and fish are some of the lip smacking dishes in side dish main course.

The structures, the bell ring and the authentic finger licking and mouth watering food give a feel like sitting in some Chinese village in the colonial era.

Reference: Google

Courtesy: Sei Vui Restaurant, Heritage Walk Calcutta

Inspiration: Heritage and Chinese food