Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the month “November, 2014”

When Roasted Veggies Are The Way To Go

I love simple food. It’s a life saver when you’re back from a 30-hour jet-lagged journey and exhausted. Recipes which call for a zillion ingredients and a lot of time, I don’t really have the patience for. So, when I opened the fridge to find two aubergines and tomatoes staring at me, shouting ‘eat me, eat me’, I just couldn’t help myself.
It’s November when the weather is neither hot or cold — just the perfect balance. A time you need comforting food for the troubled soul.
Out came the roasting pan and on the stove went a pot of salted water. In 30 minutes I was hungrily digging into a plate of roasted vegetables with Penne, topped with grated cheese all gorgeous and oozing with flavour.

Roasted Vegetables with Penne

Penne (handful)
2 tomatoes (chopped roughly)
2 aubergines (chopped roughly)
4-5 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried oregano
1 tbs dried chilly flakes
Pinch of salt and sugar
Grated cheese (for garnishing)

Pre-heat the oven to 250 degree C.

Cook the Penne as per packet instructions in salted water.

In a roasting dish, put all the ingredients and toss so everything is coated with the oil. Cover with foil and pop into the over for 25 minutes.

By the time the vegetables are roasted, the pasta would have cooked. Keep aside a bit of the starchy water.

Mix the Penne with the vegetables. Add the water if there’s not enough sauce to coat everything.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve hot!

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

Hot and delicious! Hits the right spot

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Learning to raft and live camp-style

My eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness around me. As I held the kerosene lantern up and the white cold sand pressed against my feet, I shivered slightly. I could hear the gurgling of the Ganga flowing right by the camp en route to places far and away. But it was the night sky that left me spellbound. Thousands of stars twinkled in the clear sky. My phone had died and it was finally then, I felt at peace with myself.

That's the peaceful, serene viwe

That’s the peaceful, serene view

I’m not particularly a nature person but as the plan to visit Rishikesh unfolded, I couldn’t help but jump with excitement. I had been wanting to go white-water rafting for ages but somehow, every plan would get scuttled thanks to work. But, no excuses this time round.

Rishikesh is barely 250 km away from Delhi. But we (my friends and I) decided to stay in a place called Kaudiyala, 40km above Rishikesh. It was probably the best decision because we were the only ones there. Tents pitched on the sand, the aqua green coloured river touching the banks, pipping hot tea, no electricity, just the sound of birds and the water – what more could you ask for?

How clean the Ganga is!

How clean the Ganga is!

Rafting did bring me here and indeed we went to Marine Drive. The 26km stretch, which was included in our booking, began from the point. The life jackets and helmets were firmly fastened as we descended to the beach from the road. If its your first time, the commands of ‘stop’, ‘forward’ and ‘back’ can take some time to get used to but once the first rapid comes and goes, you’re a pro.

I can’t even begin to explain how exhilarating rafting is. It’s you trying to paddle against the elements with the trainer trying to keep the raft steady in the swirling rapids. As the rapids crashed against our raft and the cold water drenched us, I smiled. I couldn’t believe how alive I felt. I’ve tried zip lining (Read about my adventures here), rock climbing and paragliding but they don’t come close to the joys of rafting.

As the rapids give way to calm, you get a chance to look around. Steep rocks dot the river. Dense trees and little waterfalls complete the beauty. You come across stretches of white sand and pitched tents with fellow travellers sunbathing or waddling in the safe zones. My favourite rapid was the Rollercoaster. I could barely hear the commands as the loud road drowned every other noise. The raft leapt up on its own free will over the rapid and gave a feeling you were actually riding a rollercoaster at an amusement park. With forward paddles we managed to reach the still water, my heart still racing with excitement. Oh how I loved it so.

Starting point - Marine Drive. PC: Ranjan Verma

Starting point – Marine Drive. PC: Ranjan Verma

Drenched and sandy, hot maggi kept us company as we waited for a drop up to the camp. I know of people who love to camp. They go out most weekends, pitch their tents and fall in love with nature all over again. After staying in the Kaudiyala camp, I can fathom what they mean. It’s beautiful. The best part is that without any electricity prevalent, one can actually enjoy the warmth of nature and the breeze of the wind. The silence around you is broken by the water — it’s the perfect accompaniment.

Piping hot food makes all the difference. Holidays do make you hungry and you tend to eat more than what you usually do. We stuffed ourselves silly with rotis, curry, vegetables and rice. Seriously, food tastes better outdoors. As night fell, a bonfire was lit. If anyone flew overhead, they would see little specks of light dotting the length of the river. I even fell asleep writing in my ever-faithful little dairy. The day couldn’t have gone any better. The sore arm and tired feet were totally worth it.

Welcome to the 'Beatles Ashram'

Welcome to the ‘Beatles Ashram’

When at Rishikesh you can also visit the ‘Beatles Ashram’ (real name: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram. In 1968, the Beatles had come to this place to meditate)
It’s old, dilapidated, overgrown with weeds, silent but still so beautiful. It’s off the beaten path and will take time to find. But once you enter and walk towards the Beatles Cathedral, the murals will put a smile on your face. Vivid colours, bold strokes and peaceful messages on the walls. A perfect way to end a weekend getaway.

The Beatles Gallery

The Beatles Gallery

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