India – Food & Travel Guide

Archive for July 2009

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Waters of the sun god: In Suraj Kund, at the new Claridges hotel

For as long as I can remember, Suraj Kund (“the sun’s pool”), on the outskirts of Delhi, has been known for its crafts fair every February. Sponsored by the tourism authority of India, this is when regional craftsmen from all corners of the country gather to sell art and furniture, embroidered fabric, hand-made fans, marble pick-me-ups, painted shell “animals” and so forth, everything culminating in a colourful extravaganza of folk dance and puppetry and so forth.

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Chasing the eclipse: From New Delhi to Gaya

“This is your first time isn’t it?” No, this respectable German gentleman was not getting up close and personal with me about my private life. Instead, amateur astronomer Christien Woutler and I were discussing the subject which was on everyone’s mind: the eclipse of the century.

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The world’s only all-vegetarian hotel

Despite the prevalence of “Jain” Chinese and Thai (particularly in Mumbai), Udupi restaurants, Gujarati thalis and Vaishnav Bhojanalays, it is a truth universally acknowledged that vegetarians do get a raw deal when eating out. The easy availability of more exotic vegetables and ingredients today — morels and truffles, for instance are much more expensive than the choicest of imported fish and meats – have eased the pain somewhat but most restaurant menus are fairly lopsided.

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India’s Top Chefs rate their Peers

We asked the country’s top chefs to rate their top chefs (excluding themselves).

Manjit Gill, Corporate Chef, ITC

1. Rahul Akerkar, Indigo, Mumbai

2. Ananda Solomon

3. Imtiaz Quereshi

Criteria: A chef’s primary job is to cook.

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India’s most promising young chef – Manu Chandra

India's most promising young chef - Manu Chandra

Chef Manu Chandra, Executive Chef, Olive, Bangalore, Mumbai

Manu ChandraUnlike a decade or two ago, when being a chef was no career option for a young man, it is today seen as a glamorous profession with even popular film stars like Saif Ali Khan playing cool-dude chefs in films.

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Anoothi’s Culinary Experiences in Goa

You wouldn’t think there is either a global recession or an off-season in Goa, crossing the Mandovi in a chartered mini-bus. The vehicle, after all, is just one in a snaking line of several used by hotels to ferry guests to and from the airport.

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Holidaying in India vs South Asia

This summer, there is a curious phenomenon at work at all the popular holiday destinations within India. While travelers from abroad are not coming in at all and hotels have therefore really been forced to cut down on their prices, this very fact has encouraged middle-class Indians to take to traveling with a vengeance.

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Who is India’s best chef?

(A shorter version of the article was published in Business Standard on July 4, 2009)

Monsoon Raga Malhar and a tangy mint chutney, with crisp fritters, on a rainy day. Jaijaiwanti, with its sweet notes, and a delicate phirni, fragrant with rose. Malkaus, Indian Classical music’s somber, mystical raga, and, well, a complex Bordeaux wine ….

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Recipe for Orange-flavoured Chicken Pulao

Chicken Pulao

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 4


Rice, parboiled in rose water with ½ tsp saffron: 2 cups

Chicken, cut into 8 pieces: 800 g

Orange peel, chopped, blanched: ¼ cup

Ghee: 1 ½ cups

Carrots, grated: ½ cup

Almonds: ¼ cup

Sugar: 2 tbsp

Saffron (kesar): ½ tsp

Pistachios, pounded: ¼ cup

Onions, quartered: 1

Salt to taste

Silver leaves (varq): 4


Heat ½ cup ghee on medium heat in a pan; sauté the carrots until soft.

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