Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “food and travel”

Where I go to Eat in Hyderabad

I love travelling to the city of Hyderabad when my work takes me there. And to be fair, it’s pretty often. I don’t want to put a number on it, but my mother is convinced I’m staying there and occasionally come to Delhi to show my face!
My first tryst with the city was way back in 1999 when in the summer my parents took the sister and I on a month-long exploration trip of the Southern part of India. We went to Andhra Pradesh (now broken into AP and Telangana), Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Oh what a glorious month it was. From seeing and visiting historical gems to bathing in the seaside, gorging on local spicy food to learning what Indian history books have neglected in teaching courses. Of course, the trip is etched in my memory because of my first summer crush in the form of a very handsome marine engineer but that’s a story for another time!

The Charminar in Old Hyderabad

The Charminar in Old Hyderabad

Coming to Hyderabad, I remember really liking the city. The hustle and bustle of the old city, the view of the Charminar from the gate, the smells of spices and perfumes, the first old Golconda Fort to the first taste of succulent Hyderabadi biryani. I found the place to be a mix of the modern and old, a combination of what cities should be.
Over the years, every time I go back on work, I feel the city growing rapidly. The suburbs which were empty are now booming IT areas. There are more designer stores and luxury cars but what I love about Hyderabad is that it still retains the grandeur which exists along with the modernity.
It’s never possible to go back to all the places I love eating at in every trip so I try to go to rotate. If I gorge on biryani in one trip, I go to my favourite kebab place on the next one. Here’s a list of my favourite eating spots in Hyderabad. Try out a few on your next trip there and let me know how you like them!

Succulent Mutton Biryani at Hotel Shadab
Located in the Old City near the Charminar and Chowmahalla Palace, this place is buzzing with customers all the time. And why not when they serve the best mutton biryani in the city? Well, at least according to me. Squeeze yourself onto the wooden benches which can be a pain if you haven’t run in a few days and place your order. As the bowl of rice comes to your table the aroma hits you. The server is a pro and serves you a big helping of the biryani along with pieces of the oh-so-succulent mutton. Your mouth waters. Mix the saalan and youghurt with the rice and meat. You’ll know why this place is so popular the moment the first bite hits your taste buds. Finish your meal with a helping of sweet milky tea and you don’t need to eat the whole day.
Pocket pinch: Rs 500 for 2 (approx)

Oh the gorgeous biryani

Oh the gorgeous biryani

Try the keema samosa with milky tea

Try the keema samosa with milky tea

Fried Chicken at Siddique Kabab Centre
There are four locations across the city and they serve the best fried chicken kebabs one can have. I end up going to the one near Kondapur because work is nearby. Pay at the counter and take a coupon. The smell of freshly grilled chicken is everywhere. Of course they have other kebabs but go there for the fried chicken. They serve a half plate with eight big pieces. It’s fried in front of your eyes by a pro with asbestos hands. He places the piping hot pieces on your plate and all you need is a roti to go with the gorgeous red pieces of chicken.
Pocket pinch: Rs 400 for 2

Fried Chicken kebabs with rotis

Fried Chicken kebabs with rotis

Rayalaseema Ruchulu for Regional Delicacies
They have outlets in the city and you must visit one to eat the food from the Rayalaseema region. Hot, spicy and delicious, I try to go back on every single visit. My favourite is the Gongura Mamsam or mutton cooked with Sorrel leaves. For an appetizer, try the Miryala Royyalu (prawns with pepper) because it just gets the taste buds going. It has the right amount of tanginess which bodes well with steamed rice. My recommendation is to try the platter which has goat, chicken and brain. It gives you a taste of what the food in the region is like.
Pocket pinch: Rs 1500 for 2

The platter where one can sample mutton, brain and chicken

The platter where one can sample mutton, brain and chicken

Prawns with spices

Prawns with spices

Breakfast at Chutney’s
There are a ton of dosa joints all over the city but I love going to an outlet of Chutney’s just for their namesake chutneys! Order yourself a steamed dosa or idly and gorge on them with a big helping of the different chutneys kept on every table. They are tasty, thick in consistency and each one has a unique flavour. What I also love about their presentation is they serve the food on banana leaves!
Pocket pinch: Rs 700 for 2

Breakfast with different chutneys

Breakfast with different chutneys

Time to let go of that diet?

Time to let go of that diet?

Kebabs at Paradise
Biryani from Paradise is synonymous with Hyderabad. Though I don’t go there often, one must say when I have to bring back Hyderabadi biryani to Delhi, they do a marvelous job in packaging. Packed in sturdy boxes, there’s no chance of leakage. All one has to do is heat the meal at home and devour a taste of Hyderabad. Personally, more than the biryani, their kebabs deserve an ovation. From the mutton pepper to mutton sheek to the kalmi kebab, each take centre stage.
Pocket pinch: Rs 700 for 2

Little pieces of happiness

Little pieces of happiness

All for me? Oh well, thank god I run!

All for me? Oh well, thank god I run!

PS: If you think I should try out something new, do let me know! I know I’ll be back in Hyderabad again very soon!

Advertisements

Food in Calcutta: Tiretti Bazaar’s Chinese Breakfast

 

Homemade Chinese delicacies

Homemade Chinese delicacies

The steaming bowl of broth and fish balls beckoned invitingly. The woman who had set up her stall by the roadside looked at her container on the fire that kept the soup warm for customers. She had just ladled out a serving along with handmade fish balls in a red bowl keeping up with the Christmas week celebrations. I bent down to smell the contents. All it needed was the customary decking with soy and it was ready. The table next to her is always kept ready with seasonings and cutlery. Break the generous fish ball and take a bite. Wash it down with the hot broth and that’s when you realise why you made that early morning journey to Tiretti Bazaar in Central Calcutta (Kolkata). (Do pardon me but I’m used to calling the city I grew up in Calcutta and not Kolkata).

The steaming soup container

The steaming soup container

Recently a lot has been written and discussed about the unique Chinese Breakfast in Calcutta. Many have called it a recent discovery while some have ventured out to try the food because of the visibility on social media. But for the old timers, it’s a matter of habit. I was introduced to Poddar Court about 10 years ago on a chilly winter morning by a dear friend. Having picked me up from home in the wee hours, we drove through the empty roads to reach the central part of the city.

Fish ball soup and Pork Bun

This time round when I visited home for Christmas and impromptu brekkie plans were made, I realised I was going there with the same friend. We were older but not wiser, yet our appetite for Chinese food remained the same!

Get them buns steaming hot. You get a choice between chicken and pork

Get them buns steaming hot. You get a choice between chicken and pork

You can shop for wallets as you devour pork spring rolls!

You can shop for wallets as you devour pork spring rolls!

Years ago, Chinese immigrants made Calcutta their home. They brought their food and culture to the expanding city and today, they form a unique part of Calcutta’s cultural heritage. As Chinese restaurants blossom, a visit to Tiretti Bazar will give you a taste into delicious homemade Chinese delicacies. From dumplings filled with minced meat to steaming buns with homemade fillings, sausages to prawn crackers, delicate broths to deep fried meat balls.

As you enter the road, you’re greeted with the view of a market. Fresh roses the flower seller sets up are gorgeous and red. Walk further down and you encounter fresh vegetables and greens – from bok choy to Chinese cabbage. Then you have the meat and fish sellers showcasing their wares and finally, the smell of steaming dumplings tell you you’ve reached your destination. The number of sellers has dwindled over the years but that does not stop a handful of enthusiasts from selling their homemade delicacies every single day no matter the weather. “Even if it’s raining, you will find one of us at least selling food so that no one goes back empty handed,” said the man who sells crumbed spring rolls along with wallets. The stalls are set up early in the morning, about 5ish and they wrap by when their stocks run out, which is pretty early if I can add. If you decide to come here at your leisure, you’ll be disappointed. The earlier you arrive, the more food you will get!

Steamed dumplings

Steamed dumplings

You want more? There's plenty!

You want more? There’s plenty!

Work never ends. Preps for the buns start in the evening while for items like dumplings and rolls, early morning plays a crucial role. As I dug into fish ball soup, prawn spring rolls, pork and fish dumplings and steaming pork baos, I craved roasted pork. If you want to try it, make sure you go there on the weekends because that’s the only time you’ll get it. If you’re in Calcutta and want to do something local, eating Chinese breakfast at Tiretti Bazaar must be on your to-do list!

Get some sausages to cook at home!

Get some sausages to cook at home!

Buy what goes into the sausage so you can attempt making them yourself!

Buy what goes into the sausage so you can attempt making them yourself!

After breakfast, why don't you complete your veggie shopping too?

After breakfast, why don’t you complete your veggie shopping too?

The roses that greet you when you enter and leave the breakfast road!

The roses that greet you when you enter and leave the breakfast road!

PS: Pocket pinch for 2 hungry eaters: Rs 300 approx
How to reach: Nearest metro station is Central. The food place is walking distance with the help of strangers whom you’ll have to ask for directions. If driving, then park in front of Poddar Court, near Lal Bazar

Hot And Sour Chicken Soup with Brown Rice

I love soups. They are comforting and healthy (usually). I love those days when you want to stay in bed with a book and making soup to feed yourself hardly takes time. I love those snug winter evenings when only hot soups can warm you. This one time in Kathmandu, while winter was receeding and it wasn’t yet summer, only a homemade bowl of hot soup could uplift me! And those soups taste the best!
In the winters I prefer the thick continental ones which need to be pureed. In the summers I prefer more broth-based ones which are simple to make and easy on the stomach.
Most South East Asian broths call for handmade egg noodles in them. I prefer to add brown rice in mine because it’s healthier and makes a wholesome balanced meal. Devour a bowl and you’re left satisfied.
PS: Since I’ve been on this South-East Asian flavours swing for a couple of weeks now, making this over and over again is my excuse!
Ingredients
250g boiled chicken (shredded)
1 small carrot (chopped finely)
1 onion (chopped finely)
2 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
2 tsp Tom Yum paste
1 cup button mushrooms (roughly chopped)
1 cup oyster mushrooms (shredded with hands)
1 litre chicken stock
1 lime (juiced)
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup brown rice
Salt to season
Handful bean sprouts
chives to decorate
1 tsp vegetable oil
– Heat the oil in a deep container which can hold a lot of liquid
– Sweat the carrots, onion and garlic till fragnant (about two minutes)
– Add the Tom Yum paste and saute till everything is a nice reddish colour
– Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil
– Then bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Add the mushrooms, salt, boiled chicken and brown rice.
– Clamp on a lid and let the soup be till the rice is cooked through. (about 10 minutes)
– Pour the lemon juice, fish sauce and give everything a good stir. Check for seasoning.
– Ladle a serving in a bowl, garnish with chives and bean sprouts!
A bowl of warmth in winter!

A bowl of warmth in winter!

In photos: Eating My Way Through Spain

Have I mentioned earlier how much I adore Spanish food? If not, let me clarify — I love food from Spain. The spicy chorizo, the creamy Valencia paella with meat, the gorgeous saffron-flavoured seafood paella from Barcelona, the delicately spiced prawns drenched in olive oil perfect with bread, deep-fried churros dipped in hot chocolate, jugs of sangria to accompany every meal… I can go on and on.

I had the opportunity to visit to Spain in November last year. The week-long work-vacation was a wonderful experience. Though it was my second time visiting the gorgeous sun-kissed country, I can never get bored and will probably end up visiting Spain again in the future.

As in every other country, the cuisine differs from region to region. With such a vast history starting from Roman conquests to introduction of chocolate and paprika during the 15th century, Spanish cuisine is richly diverse and gorgeous in flavour. This time I had the opportunity to visit Valencia and Barcelona. No trip to Spain is ever-complete without learning about Gaudi the genius. But just like his beautiful creations, Spanish cuisine is complex in character, texture and taste. Every bite leaves you wanting more. Here’s my ode to one of my favourite countries…

How can you not have churros when in Spain? The deep-fried delight with oodles of sugar is sinful as it's delectable.

How can you not have churros when in Spain? The deep-fried delight with oodles of sugar is sinful as it’s delectable.

One of the most gorgeous veggie dishes ever. Lettuce drenched in olive oil and tomatoes.

One of the most gorgeous veggie dishes ever. Lettuce drenched in olive oil and tomatoes.

No meal is complete without delicate slices of Jamón...

No meal is complete without delicate slices of Jamón…

Pulpo a la gallega... Boiled octopus with sea salt and paprika

Pulpo a la gallega… Boiled octopus with sea salt and paprika

Piping hot Croquetas!

Piping hot Croquetas!

The icing on the cake: Seafood paella in La Rambla

The icing on the cake: Seafood paella in La Rambla

Over loading on fried prawns, calamari and mussels at La Boqueria

Over loading on fried prawns, calamari and mussels at La Boqueria

The olive love story!

The olive love story!

Seafood salad and lots of it

Seafood salad and lots of it

I love cheese don't I?

I love cheese don’t I?

Hello happiness - Sangria can melt away all your troubles. And the background helps too!

Hello happiness – Sangria can melt away all your troubles. And the background helps too!

And ending on a sweet tooth - colourful and delicious

And ending on a sweet tooth – colourful and delicious

Promises to Myself

It’s been a few months since I’ve written a blog post. Though I’ve been active on Instagram (@sharmi86) and have been posting pictures from my recent trips on my Facebook page (SharmiOnTheTrot), I guess I’ve been feeling lethargic to pen down a post. I honestly don’t know why though because I write for a living.

But, with the new year I’ve decided to stop the laziness. In just a short span of time, not only have I become more active I’ve also started to eat healthy and on the whole become more positive about things. It’s important, I think, to wake up in the morning feeling happy.

A friend recently said something which completely made sense to my wandering mind. He missed a flight and had to shell out a huge amount of money to book a new one that very day. “The time is now. I want to do it now. So what I  missed a flight. What will I do with all that money saved up?” So true. I was really lucky to have been able to travel almost every month last year despite my full-time job. And every time I thought I would write about something, I kept putting it off. Tomorrow would become day-after, then day-day-after. You get the drift. But, not any longer.

So, not only do I promise to be more active on social media with a host of new recipes, travelogues, photographs and anecdotes, I’m planning to bring in some changes to the existing blog format. Suggestions are welcome dear people. It’s high time I stop being so technologically challenged and instead, start embracing social media!

One of the most beautiful sunsets I've seen. It was taken in Egypt last December. I have recently posted it on Instagram

One of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen. It was taken in Egypt last December. I have recently posted it on Instagram

Oh wanderlust, please never cease

I’m happiest when I’m about to travel. I really am. I revel in the anticipation of the place I’m going to, to immerse myself in its history, taste delicious cuisines and all that have influenced them. Every time I have one of my most treasured possessions in my hand, I know the coming days will be exciting because an immigration stamp always gives me the biggest smile. Last night as I sat in the airport lounge, waiting impatiently to board, it reconfirmed what I had believed in for so long – I have wanderlust and it’s here to stay.

My treasured possession

My treasured possession

It all began when my parents decided to whisk me off to Assam when I was just barely a year old. Though I don’t remember the adventures (due to obvious reasons), my parents insist that I stopped crying the moment I saw a gigantic elephant. With a toothy grin I stared at the animal, and then almost leaped out from my mother’s arms to touch the trunk. A memory which I do recollect, albeit vaguely, is when I was four years old, the parents decided I needed to see India. So a month long summer break turned into a hot desert adventure in Rajasthan. The next year it was cold Madhya Pradesh.

I think I have to thank my parents because they had never stopped me from travelling even during my teen years. Not once would they say ‘you can’t go’. In fact, since I and then my sister moved out, they’ve travelled more than the two of us have managed to! When I call them, I sometimes find out that they are somewhere in the wilderness of the Bengal jungles or lying on some sandy beach soaking up the sun.

I do get to travel a fair bit thanks to my job. It really is fascinating I assure you because not many people can get to do what I do. I write on sports in newspapers which can be fun. You get to meet interesting people, visit exotic countries, cover different kinds of sports… so there really is nothing to complain about. But at the same time, unlike many people, I love to live out of a suitcase. My backpack or suitcase (whichever can be applicable in different trips) is always packed. When I travel I can stay anywhere as long as I get to soak in different cultures, eat like the locals, meet friendly and warm people… I often think if I could do it full time. Maybe? Who knows what the future holds, right?

As the plane touched down at the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok early morning, I smiled to myself. During immigration when I got my first Thai stamp, I knew it wouldn’t be my last. I just keep my fingers crossed that the wanderlust never ceases.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: