Tag Archives: South India

Golden Star: Delicious Gujarati Thali

During our last visit to Bombay our friends suggested to have Gujarati thali for lunch and mentioned a restaurant name Golden Star. It did not take very long to convince us –another regional thali, another culinary experience. Sounds good to us!

There are two Golden Star restaurants in Bombay, and we visited the one near Air India office. The restaurant seemed very popular, full of locals, and we were lucky to get a table after a few minutes’ waiting. We learnt that people are fond of this simple but cosy restaurant for good reasons: there is a specialty every day and the meals are unlimited. “We serve as long as you can eat” is written on Golden Star’s business card…  Golden Star, BombayOur friend ordered for us and we started to be showered by different thalis of outstanding variety, served by proud young boys. Everything looked amazing and we could not wait to take the first bite. The waiters kept returning to our table to bring more food, and it was a pleasure to watch them. The manager came to talk to us, too, explaining that most dishes are from Gujarat, but some one would find in Rajasthan, too.

Eventually our plate (or should I say table) was full and our friend begun explaining what we were about to eat. A crash course to Indian food’s richness was about to start: dal bati (wheat rolls and lentils), kachori chaat (friend dumplings mixed with yogurt and chutney), spinach and corn curry, rajma (lentils and vegetables curry), shaak (Gujarati name for potato brinjal curry), and cauliflower and pea curry.Golden Star, BombayTo add more complexity to the meal, we tasted every single chutney and pickle from coriander, tamarind and garlic chutney to mango pickle. Amazing and so tasty. Golden Star, BombayBut this was not all; then there were the breads! Bajra rotta (pearl millet flour), deep fried puri, papad, papadi and thin rotli with ghee. Each bread had its purpose, and had to be eaten with a specific dish. The magic of Indian kitchen.

Oh, and then there was also the famous mango aam ras puree! The waiters kept serving us more and more, and we did not decline the offer…Golden Thali, BombayThe meal included sweets (that were served at the same time in the beginning) but this is where my notes and memory get a bit blurry… We did have orange dholkla (steamed dumpling), batata vada (fried potato dumpling), sweet malpua (wheat-flour fritter fried in ghee and dipped in safron, sugar and syrup), but this is all I remember.

I am sure I am forgetting half of the dishes we ate, and I am not in a position to explain how you should eat your Gujarati thali, but I do know that the waiters at Golden Star are very friendly! So, do exit your comfort zone of butter chicken and palak paneer, and experience a Gurajati thali. You won’t be disappointed!

Note: Gujarati food is often vegetarian (many Jains live in that region) and a mixture of sweet, salty and spicy. The cuisine is known to be on the sweeter side (at least sweeter than other regional cuisines of India), but we did not really see any difference. I am not a big fan of sugar in general and I loved the food.

 

Golden Star Thalihttp://www.goldenstarthali.com

Airport Meets Art and Design

If your most recent flight to Mumbai landed prior to January 2014, then probably all you remember is an old airport with long queues and lack of world-class facilities. But if your latest trip took place later, then you know that Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport‘s newest terminal (T2) is a beautiful oasis of art and design. Mumbai Airport Terminal 2Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Chicago-based architects also behind Burj Khalifa, Dubai), Terminal 2 is a true mix of Indian heritage and modernity. We had a chance to spend some time in this terminal just before catching our Emirates A380 flight to Dubai, and highly appreciated our brief visit. The terminal was spacious, white, clean and full of light, and I loved the pillars. In addition, the terminal is home to the world’s largest public art program! Including images of Bollywood stars, of course.Mumbai Airport, Terminal 2What I absolutely loved was the carpet that according to its manufacturer, Brintons from the UK, is inspired by the peacock, India’s national bird. Such lovely colors, such beautiful designs. Walking on this carpet made our departure from India a bit less sad.Brintons carpet in Mumbai, terminal 2From the practical point of view it was –well– very practical! There was no waiting and trolleys were available everywhere. Time between entering the terminal and reaching the departure gate was about 20 minutes. Wow.

Despite the fact that everything worked smoothly, many shops were still closed. For example, I could not buy English-language books because I could not find a book shop (I certainly hope there will be one!). Regarding the restaurant facilities, we did not use any, but I hear that all big names, “usual suspects”, are or will be there. Personally I hope that I will still be able to eat a good old onion rava masala dosa, and that whoever is responsible on distributing the licences loves Indian food as much as I do. Viva dosas, idlies and upma!!

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: http://www.som.com/projects/chhatrapati_shivaji_international_airport__terminal_2

Brintons: http://www.brintons.net/apac/en/project-wall/chhatrapati-shivaji-international-airport-t2-mumbai-india/

Pampered in Bombay

Friday afternoon we flew SpiceJet from Trivandrum to Bombay, so it hasn’t even been 48 hours in this charming city and already we have done so much!BombayStraight from the airport, still carrying sand from the Indian Ocean in our shoes, we were taken to meet an art collector. Afterwards we were treated to amazing homemade parsi food (google parsis if you have never heard about them!). On Saturday we went on a shopping spree: Anokhi and FabIndia, and afterwards tasted super delicious Gujarati thali at Golden Star. In the evening drinks at one of the most exclusive private clubs of Bombay and a fabulous, mouthwatering kebab dinner at Neel, enjoyed with excellent Indian sparkling rosé Chandon and most perfect company… I don’t think even Louis Vuitton City Guide could do better!!

Let’s see what today brings to us! 

GOLDEN START THALI: http://www.goldenstarthali.com/
NEEL AT TOTE ON THE TURF: http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/eat/neel-tote
CHANDON: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5HOEXFNpyU (launched by Moët Hennessy)
ANOKHI: http://www.anokhi.com/
FABINDIA: http://www.fabindia.com/

 

Fishermen of the Indian Ocean

We have not had courage to get up at the dawn but this morning we walked to the beach just after 8 o’clock. It was already humid but a bit misty so we were not exposed to direct sun light (even without sun light it feels about 39C). Fishermen in Chowara, KeralaI love the Chowara beach for fishermen watching. At night you can see hundreds of boats lit and out in the sea, and in the morning the fishermen pull nets back to the shore. In fact the fishing nets are so big and heavy that it takes almost twenty men on both ends of the net to bring it to the shore. Hard work! And beautiful to watch. Chowara beach, Kerala

Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort: http://somatheeram.in/

Fabulous Ayurvedic Treatments

Ever since we decided to return to India for one month it was clear that one of the main destinations would have to be Kerala, because Kerala equals Ayurveda. I truly believe that if there is one type of massage therapy that suits us, it is the ancient healing medicine called Ayurveda. Even when we are in Paris we dream about Ayurvedic massage.

As many of you already know, we have been enjoying ourself at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort since last Friday. Upon arrival we chose a full package (private cottage, three meals and two hours of Ayurvedic treatments per day) and started the therapy immediately. Today we completed the fourth session and we have three more days to go. It has been amazing so far!

Moreover, it has been interesting to observe daily changes of body and mind. For example, this morning my husband said that he feels our bodies look more toned and muscled. We are eating a lot but not gaining weight. Secondly, in the beginning of our stay we were very tired and it took us three full days to feel totally relaxed. I guess this is typical and this is why I am happy we stay seven nights.Ayurveda at SomatheeramThere are two therapists, young local girls, who take care of me. They are gentle but strong, sometimes they giggle (especially at my attempts to wear Indian clothes I think) and often they whisper to each other in their own dialect. By now they are used to seeing me naked, I am familiar with their hands and feet, and they have splashed tens of liters of oil on my body including head. It has been a fascinating encounter.

Today I had a treatment that was new to me, and it is the most curious therapy I have received so far: during fifteen minutes about one liter of hot herbal cow milk was poured on my forehead. Wow. How did it feel? Relaxing. How did it smell? Like some Indian sweets!

This stay has been fabulous and I will miss the herbal oils, the hot milk and the girls. And incredible India that never ceases to impress me.

Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort: http://somatheeram.in/

The most beautiful breakfast view

I will dearly miss this view from my breakfast table!View from Somatheeram restaurant

Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort: http://somatheeram.in/

 

Healthy, gluten-free Kerala style breakfast

I have never seen a country where a simple breakfast varies as much as it does in India. Generally speaking North Indian breakfast that tourists most commonly come across with is about masala omelette or puri (bread made of wheat) served with curry stew, whereas South Indian breakfast is more about eating things cooked with rice flower and coconut.

I have now had two breakfasts at Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort and it has been a great pleasure to sample typical Kerala delicacies while watching the enormous Indian Ocean in front of me. Yesterday I had herbal tea, banana lassi and coffee as drinks. To eat I had curry leaf idly (the round thing in the photo) with sambar, rice puttu (rice flour dough layered with grated coconut) with kadala curry and sweet rice ada (Kerala delicacy cooked in banana leaf).Kerala breakfastThis morning there were some variations so I had green pea curry, tattu dosa (again, made of rice flour) with sambar and chutneys, and steamed banana. Rice ada was the same as yesterday.Kerala breakfastI am neither a big wheat eater nor a great fan of eggs, so I am very happy eating idlies and dosas for breakfast. In fact I like South Indian breakfast so much that I could eat them for breakfast even in Paris –all I would need is a live in South Indian cook!

Note: As Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort welcomes guests that are serious about feeling better by eating well and by following special treatments, there are specific diets available for all sorts of people and illnesses. For example, when I told my Ayurveda doctor during the initial consultation that I don’t stand wheat and eggs very well he directed me towards a gluten-free diet (he printed out a list of items that are good for me to eat!). 

Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort: http://somatheeram.in/