23 Jul 2014

Do you have a Travel Bucket List?

A few weeks ago a book arrived in my mail - Bucket List of a Traveloholic, by Sarika Pandit. "A frenzied quest of not just collecting stamps in her passport, but ticking off items off her ever-expanding bucket list", said the blurb at the back of the book. Pandit's bucket list ranged from 'learning a local language in a country (Spain)' to 'a literary trail of favourite authors (UK)', from 'road tripping to the Sahara (Morocco) to 'bumping into the Big Five (South Africa)'. To be sure, several of these bucket list items seem to have evolved from a trip itself, so technically cannot be called a 'bucket list'!

Nevertheless, as a first book it's a commendable effort. Heck, everyone has a book in them, only a brave few get it out, right? I enjoyed the book in parts; Pandit has a flair for storytelling, but it's a bit inconsistent. The Eastern Europe chapters were my favourites and I am certainly plotting to get there! 

I felt that Pandit's language was a bit blog-like throughout the book, which may work for some readers of course. Also, she seems to have ignored William Faulkner's well-known writing advice - "you must kill all your darlings"! The book is peppered with them and could have done with tighter editing. Overall, a quick, fun read. Have you read it? What did you think?

Talking about bucket lists, here's one experience I would love to add to mine - Volunteering at the Golden Temple langar. I didn't get a chance to do it the last time I visited. But I did see the langar operations firsthand and I wrote about it for National Geographic Traveller; the feature appeared in the June 2014 issue of the Indian edition of the magazine. Read on to know more.  

14 Jul 2014

Chasing the Monsoons, on #CoonoorTrail

Hello from cool and rainy Bangalore! Sorry about the radio silence on the blog, but I have been travelling. After my last trip to Almora, I was back in Mumbai for a bit and then took off again - this time down South. From Bangalore, the husband & I headed off to Coonoor on a whim and had such a fun (working) vacation :) 

If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you'd have seen my updates and photos from Coonoor. If you don't (why not?!), here's a 'storified' version of my #CoonoorTrail. We went chasing the monsoons in the Nilgiris and these photos will surely prompt you to take a monsoon vacation soon! 

17 Jun 2014

My two-year Blogiversary Giveaway is a Treat for You!

A very happy birthday to Deliciously Directionless! Yes, my blog turns 2 today :) Oh, and this is my 100th blogpost! A big, big thank you to all of you lovely readers who have made this possible! And boy, do I have a ‘treat’ for you!

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced on my Facebook Page on June 19th. Congratulations, Neha Borkar! And thank you all for participating :D 

Image courtesy Penguin India

I recently added a delectable book to my cookbook collection. The Big Book of Treats by Pooja Dhingra is just that – a treat to the senses. Not only are the images drool-worthy, the book is packed with tons of baking advice and of course, yummy recipes. It’s especially helpful for novice bakers, but seasoned bakers will also find inspiration in its pages. The book begins with a Baking 101 on ingredients, equipment and techniques, as well as some tips and tricks to help you on your baking journey. There are recipes for cakes, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, tarts, truffles, macarons and more (gosh, I am salivating!). Recipes have been simply presented in an easy-to-follow manner. The book is geared towards the Indian kitchen and uses ingredients that you’d find in your neighbourhood grocery store, supermarket (and Arife).
Image courtesy Pooja Dhingra

9 Jun 2014

Everybody has a summer holiday! Almora: In photos

What is your most cherished childhood memory? Mine are mostly linked to summer holidays. Much as I loved going to school (yes, I was the geek in class), I looked forward to the annual summer vacation with my family. Some years we’d pack our bags and head off to Kolhapur to my nana-nani's place (read my food & travel guide on Kolhapur in BBC Good Food). More often we’d plan a trip to a new place – maps would be unfurled, routes would be marked out and we’d set off, looking for new adventures. 

This year, a wedding brought us to Delhi, so the husband and I decided to venture further north and spend a few days at our home in Almora, Uttarakhand, with my in-laws. It's been an idyllic summer holiday. 

Some photos...

26 May 2014

'The Edible Atlas' Review and Tomatada (Portuguese Soup Recipe)

Can you review a book without reading it completely? I have been debating that as I read The Edible Atlas by Mina Holland. I came across an excerpt of this book in the April 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (which also includes my feature on the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower). So I promptly bought it and have been reading it bit by bit :) 

Holland is a food writer and currently edits Cook, The Guardian's weekly food supplement. The Edible Atlas is her debut book and it chronicles thirty nine cuisines around the world - across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. For each of the cuisines, Holland goes into some detailing of basic ingredients, flavours and techniques, iconic and traditional dishes. For some of the countries, she delves deeper, picking out some regional cuisines; e.g. she explores 5 cuisines across Italy where Tuscany is notable by its absence (read instead Take a Cooking Class in Tuscany), but you have the lesser known cuisine of Calabria to read about. India has been conveniently divided into North and South...

Each chapter begins with a quote from a writer or a book (fiction or non-fiction) that celebrates that region. So of course Provence opens with Peter Mayle and Italy is prefaced by Marcella Hazan's well-known quote; "To make time to eat as Italians still do is to share in their inexhaustible gift for making art out of life". The book is peppered with such quotes, references and several footnotes (which have been distracting me from my reading, but only because I have been making copious notes of books to read and historical references to look up). 

And the recipes! Soups, salads, mains, desserts - all this and more as the book takes you on a wonderful culinary journey. There is a primer for sofrito, that fried base that is the foundation for many a curry and stew. It's used in nearly all cuisines, though the ingredients vary. There is an entire chapter devoted to chillies around the world. The book ends with a country-wise culinary bibliography, which is a treasure trove of excellent food writing.