Friday, 17 October 2014

Faith, Flowers and the Market

Just outside Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, there are rows and rows of vendors selling beautiful fresh flowers for the faithful to take in as offering to Lord Buddha. I was absolutely captivated by the flowers,the different colors of lotus flowers and the sweet, intoxicating scent of jasmine and frangipani.

It's strange when you visit a place, you go with a goal to see certain specific sights and to tick them off your list. But its often the mundane,the simple things that you encounter on the journey that end up leaving lasting memories. A taste, a smell, a conversation... it's these tiny things that you treasure the most.

I guess that quote, "Its not about the destination, it's about the journey to get there" is true, unless of course you are stuck on a plane of course :) Have a great weekend everyone!

[All Images- Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Casual Sunday Meet-up @ Bootleggers Republic Cafe

[Image courtesy- Vickrham Vicky]

Let me start by saying, this is not a restaurant review... it's more of me sharing with you the biggest perk of being a blogger... meeting amazing people :)

It may come as a surprise (except for those that know me well) but I'm somewhat of an introvert. Meeting people for the first time is quite stressful for me... in fact when I was younger, a lot of friends thought I was a bit of a snob, until they got to know me better and realised that I was just reserved, and completely stressed out about meeting new people !

As a blogger though, you have to put yourself out there and meet new people. In the beginning it was quite tough... I used to be terrified, and I'd end up not sleeping the night before a meet :) Thankfully I'm pretty much over this fear... that's why I love blogging. I guess it allows me to experience new things, be in new situations and meet so many wonderful, interesting and inspirational people.

Last week I got an invite to attend a bloggers meet from someone I hugely admire and respect... someone with tons of experience in the hospitality industry, Mr Avininder Singh of Escapades of a Foodie Surdie. Avininder ji organised a get together of sorts, especially for bloggers, and graciously hosted by Viju Raj, owner of Bootleggers Republic Cafe. All this inspite of Avininder ji suffering from a hairline fracture in his ankle and being in a lot of pain! It was quite an informal, unstructured meet where we got an opportunity to connect, share opinions and discuss various things happening in the food world, the blogging world and the hospitality industry. But more importantly get to know the person behind the blogs :)

10 bloggers were present, including some who I follow very closely. We started off the afternoon as acquaintances, some of us hadn't ever met, others recognised each other from various Facebook groups and a few were good friends, but by the end of an amazing 3 hours that seemed to fly by, and after some lip smackingly good starters and blissfully well made cocktails, we were chatting like old friends who have met after years and had tons to catch up on. It's incredible how this happens when people who have a similar passion get together... It was a great pleasure to meet the likes of Vickrham Vicky of Food Maniacs, Sudipto De from Hmm, Sidharth Bhan Gupta (Let's Trip), Anubhav Sapra of Delhi Food Walks, Sneha Lata Saikia (The Kitchen Affairs), Rosme Chaube (whatsup Gurgaon), Nimi Vashi, Sangeeta & Kavita Bahuguna (Dine Out Club), Soumbha Ray Chaudhuri of Foodaholix and of course the Avininder Singh, whose incredible idea this was. 

Bootleggers is where Mochas used to be and I've been wanting to visit ever since it opened about a month ago. I had heard that the drinks are amazing and the food, a strong positive in their favour. So it was with high expectations that I got down to tasting. There is nothing like good food and good drink to get foodies talking and sharing :) I really enjoyed a spiced rum based cocktail that reminded me of an old fashioned. It really hit the spot. To be honest, I was enjoying the conversation so much that I don't really remember the other beer based cocktail I tasted. I did however love their Whiskey sour! The starters were really, really good, the highlights being the Sriracha fish, the soy galouti kebabs and the smokey glazed chicken wings. Since this is not a proper review I won't be going into details, but I definitely plan to visit again and do a proper review :) The afternoon was rounded up perfectly with sweet treats by Jasmeen Kaur Malhotra of Cake Couture. 

We ate...

[Image courtesy- Sneha Lata Saikia]

We Drank...

We made merry...

By the time the afternoon came to an end, I felt like I had made a whole bunch of friends who also happened to be bloggers. I look forward to keeping in touch with them all and am happy to have been a part of such a talented, exciting and just a little crazy bunch of food lovers. It was nice spending an afternoon with people who get you and your borderline psychotic love of food,  who don't judge and roll their eyes when you whip out your camera and start clicking at food as soon as it arrives :) Guys we should definitely do this again!

[Unless mentioned all images by Shalini Pereira]

Monday, 13 October 2014

World Food Festival @ Cafe Wanderlust

Cafe Wanderlust is one of my favorite places to go when I'm in the mood for snacks that are tasty and homey and unpretentious. So when I saw an update on their Facebook page, about the World Food Festival being presented by Cafe Wanderlust, I made a mental note to myself to go. As luck would have it, Disha, the ever gracious owner of Cafe Wanderlust, seemed to read my mind and connected with me about coming over and tasting their festival menu. How could I refuse?

So off I went and dragged the hubby along (not that he needed much convincing since he is an even bigger fan of CW then I am). While we were munching away, Disha explained to us that this time, rather than trying to replicate international classics, they decided to give their own twist to things... Here's what we tried...

First up was chaat... it was really good... there was a competition between 
the hubby and I on who could guzzle it down fastest :)

The platter consists of a veg doner kebab, tacos (with the shell made in-house), 
Pyaz kachori & Kashmiri rot

The accompaniments... chutneys, aloo curry & a deliciously rich peanut dip

Meetha chilla and laal rabri, this is a favorite from the Banarasi 
food festival that they had earlier this year... I just loved it!

Tea with scones, jam and cream

The highlights

My favorites were... 

The Chaat which was full of chatpata warmth and comfort ... 

The pyaaz kachori which is an all time favorite of mine...

The Kashmiri rot which was sweet, salty and moorish and I loved the sesame seeds that added a little nutty flavour to this bite sized morsel of biscuity deliciousness...

Meetha chilla and laal rabri... soooo good... can't say more really... & I can see why it's a favourite.

The tacos, which while not authentic, had an interesting Indian twist that I liked, although I would have liked the shell to be a little crispier...

Things that could have been better...

The Doner kebab which was a combination of mushroom and soy granules, was good, but the kebab itself was a little dry and needed more flavour. I think this is something that could definitely be worked on to make it a great dish...

The scones, and I'm being ultra critical here, because I love scones with a passion that borders on craziness, while tasty, needed to be a little lighter and more buttery. 

So rounding things up... if you're in the mood for some delicious international classics with an Indian twist, that remind you of your mom's cooking... hop over to Cafe Wanderlust and experience their World Food Festival which is on till 22nd October. There are also some interesting travel talks, comedy open mics and movie screenings that can liven up a dull day. 

[All images- Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission] 

A Spiritual Afternoon Among Monkeys, Men and Lotus Flowers- Damulla Caves, Sri Lanka

One of the day trips we made from Kandy was a visit to Sigiriya and Dambulla. I had heard that Sigriya was an awesome sight and Dambulla was a bit over rated. But to be really honest I much preferred my visit to the Dambulla Caves. 

I'm not exactly a spiritual person and, as I grow older, I find myself leaning more and more towards atheism, but the visit to Dambulla struck a chord in me for some reason. The caves had a quality about them... a sort of stillness and sense of peace that I found comforting. I can understand why it is a place of pilgrimage for so many. 

Dating back to the 1st century BC, and now a World Heritage Site, the complex consists of five caves carved from the base of a 150m high rock. We visited in the afternoon and luckily there wasn't too much of a crowd. I used the chance to click as many pictures as I could... here are a few of my favourites. 

[All Images- Shalini Pereira. Please do not use without prior written permission]

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A Bohemian Look for the Festive Season

I recently contributed some Diwali decor ideas towards the GoodHomes Magazine Diwali issue, and I promised I would share more images with you, so here they are! My theme was Diwali on a budget and I wanted to sort of demonstrate that we can create pretty spaces from bits and bobs that we have in our homes... So the theme was simple, elegant and bohemian with a little dash of India here and there. I think it represents us as a family quite well... our quirks and all :) It was great fun setting this up and I hope you like it. 

[All images clicked my Shalini Pereira- Please do not use without prior written permission]

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Our Sri Lankan Food Odyssey

Aside from the fact that we had an amazing time in Sri Lanka, our stomachs had an equally amazing time! While there we made it a point to try all kinds of things... street food, bakery food, joints where the locals eat, places highly recommended on tripadvisor and some lesser known, but equally amazing places. 

Food in Sri Lanka is quite similar to the food you would find in Kerala and Goa even, but it's a little spicer... something the hubby really enjoyed. I enjoyed it equally, but was popping antacids after every meal :) Lots of vegetarian options and amazing seafood.  Here is our food journey documented through pictures I clicked along the way...

Curry Rice

You can't visit Sri Lanka and not enjoy some curry rice! It comes with some vegetable side dishes, a meat or fish curry, coconut sambal, popadoms and dal. I loved devilled chicken and devilled potatoes, but i wasn't a fan of the dried fish dishes I tried in Sri Lanka... true to my Goan roots, I think the Goan style dried fish is much much better :)

The best curry rice I had was at a CHC (Ceylon Hotels Corporation) Rest 
House, Sigiriya, just before the Sigiriya site

The second best rice curry I had was at Rockview Restaurant, just outside of Kandy, in pahala Kadugannawa. This restaurant offers amazing views and at around noon you can see the train chugging up the hill... its a great place for lunch.

The incredible view from Rockview Restaurant


No EGB, No Food! That's the catch line for this delicious ginger beer drink that is EGB. It is a VERY popular soft drink in Sri Lanka and the most refreshing drink I've ever had! The perfect pick me up in the afternoons, when it's hot and energy levels are dropping :) The hubby and I drank so much of it and even had it on the flight back... I wish the Elephant Company, which manufactures EGB would start selling it in India. (hope someone high up in Elephant Co. is reading this)

Paratha Roti 

This one is really bad for you... but like all things that are bad for you, it tastes amazing :) the parata roti is like a cross between a malabar paratha and a maida batura. It's light and fluffy, flakey and greasy and so good with curry.

It's also quite an art form to make it- very difficult and you need to be quite 
skilled... a real theatrical performance 


Roti is like a stuffed paratha, but its much thicker and in the shape of a triangle. Its a very popular breakfast snack or anytime snack. You get rotis stuffed with chicken, keema, vegetables and egg. I heard that you also get rotis stuffed with banana and nutella, but sadly i never came across any :( The best roti we had was in Kandy Muslim Restaurant in Kandy... it was really spicy and the hubby loved it. The staff there were mostly Tamilian and assumed the hubby was one too... luckily the hubby knows Tamil, so they were happily chatting with him throughout our meal.

Kuttu Roti

Another popular meal is kuttu roti. Like a Sri Lankan hakka noodle except the noodles are replaced with chopped up strips of roti. You get different versions with vegetables, chicken or egg and all are delicious. Kuttu roti is served with two gravy accompaniments - a spicy gravy and a bland gravy. The hubby and I disagree when it comes to the place for the best kuttu roti... the hubby liked the kuttu at Kandy Muslim Restaurant, while I liked the kuttu at Ella Roti Hut in Ella. 


Food is quite cheap in Sri Lanka, especially when you compare it to Gurgaon or Delhi, especially when it comes to seafood. So if you love your seafood, eat as much of it as you can while you are in Sri Lanka. The seafood is so fresh! We really enjoyed our seafood once we got to the coast of Sri Lanka. In Tangalle, Galle and Colombo. I ate a lot of crab! I think I shocked the hubby when he saw me eat a whole crab :)

Some nice grilled prawns that we really delicious. We had this at our hotel 
in Tangalle, Serein Beach Hotel

Crab I devoured at Reef Edge Restaurant on polhena Beach Road, polhena, 
Matara... amazing seafood... not so great vegetarian options... 
so the hubby was not impressed

And food always tastes better in a setting like this... you can taste the salt in 
the air, smell the sea and it felt we were floating on the ocean... one of the 
most stunning settings to enjoy a meal.

On our last day in Colombo, we made a pilgrimage to the very Famous Beach Wadiya... This is a totally unpretentious restaurant that has some really famous clientele. The food here is awesome for both vegetarians as well as seafood lovers. Sit outside and look out at the beach and the waves, but you will have to beware of the crows that swoop down and attempt to steal food off your plate :) 

We ate baked chilli crab (this place is famous for it), devilled potatoes, stir fry spinach and egg fried rice. We washed all this down with some beer and we paid around Rs 1500/-!!! Can you imagine! 

Drink lots of Lion Beer!

I know as a proud Indian I shouldn't say this... but I love Lion Beer... I think it puts Kingfisher to shame... go ahead and hate me now :)

Enjoy Sri Lankan Tea

The tea in Sri Lanka is really good. And we had a lot of it and brought a lot of it back as well :) One of the nicest places where we really enjoyed afternoon tea was Mlesna Tea Center. Its a small, quaint little shop in Kandy, on Dalada Vidiya Street. Downstairs you can buy different varieties of tea and if you go up to the first floor, they offer tea and cakes.  We went there twice while we were in Kandy.

The best eclair I have ever tasted was here

Avocado Juice

Avocado juice is another popular juice here. I've not really seen avocado juice anywhere before... smoothies yes, but not juice. We finally got a chance to try some in Galle. Word of advice...if you have a craving for avocado juice in Galle, keep in mind that everything inside Galle Fort is very, very expensive. Take a short walk to the city centre, outside the fort and enjoy juices at unbelievable prices!

This was a place near the fruit market in Galle. Cost of juice inside the fort is 
SLR 250-300... SLR 40 outside :)

Have a meal at The Gallery Cafe, Colombo

If you are in Colombo for a day stop of here for a meal or tea or even a cocktail. The Gallery Cafe is located in what used to be Geoffrey Bawa's office. It's a beautiful setting and a must visit if you a designer, architect or if you love courtyard architecture. The Gallery Cafe is located in quite a posh, up-market area so be on the look out for celebrities... we ran into Arvinda DeSilva here:) The food and cocktails here are really good too. Unfortunately we visited for dinner and the lighting was too low to take any decent pictures. Whatever you eat here, make sure you leave room for dessert. I recommend the vanilla panna cotta and if you are a chocolate lover like me... the chocolate nemesis, which is a baked chocolate mousse, is a thing of beauty!  

[All Images- Shalini Pereira. Please do not reproduce without prior written permission]

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