Monday, December 26, 2016

serendipity art festival , Goa

serendipity, the word itself means, a happy or beneficial meeting ,by chance. And while the word itself leaves a lot to destiny, the sernedipity art festival held on the 16-23 of December left very liitle to chance. It had been in the plan for months, and the preparations showed in the coming together of various arts the music, food, dance, photography, paintings, theatre all was celebrated with much gusto , And while I was unable to partake from everything on offer , due to my busy schedule, these are a few glimpses of the serendipity festival.
My interest is two pronged, a I want more people to experience these festivities, because if these become popular and lucrative enough for the organisers, then this will be a regular feature in my city of Panjim, which is truly my city of Joy, and b. i hope my son , the next generation grows up in this thriving environment of the arts.
As a doctor, I may be a practitioner of the sciences, but I have always been a follower of the arts as well. 
Here is a photo album with captions .

a life size mirrored elephant marked the entrance to one of the venues. we have all heard of the 6 blind men and the elephant, this was the first telling of the ophthalmologist and the elephant.

the colourful matkas, another art installation reminded me of the sridevi and jeetender song and dance sequence.

the art installations outside of Kalaacademy, the local art theatre of Panjim, paid homage to the characters from a typical Goan Tiatr, or goan plays. my favourite; the Goan who works abroad. :)

the eyes , this face, is actually a painting!

what medium would you use to depicct pain, and what to depict love? Does the unpredictable but flowing qualities of watercolours speak to your sense of whimsy, or do you crave the brilliance and vibrancy of acrylics and oils? 

i loved reading the captions under the paintings and pictures. this one especially is poignant. a muslim oohoto journalist speaks of the militant buddhists in sri lanka. Militant buddhists? that in itself was an oxymoron for me. 

the picture which accompanied the caption above.

The three pictures above was a photo gallery of rape victims. graphic and gutwrenching were the depictions, while the pictures spoke volumes about their lives post the incident.

The above picture and caption was by far my favourite. The concept was to get ten photographs and have ten writers write a story or narration, depending on what they felt about the picture. A fascinating concept since I myself write stories , with three of my books published this year, write india stories , Mock , stalk and quarrel and shreyu and the musical farm. details of the photo stories and its curator are mentioned in the picture below.
But more about the picture you see on top. A few men dressed in white, typically politician looking men, obviosly in one of their agitated moods, everyone on the phone, possibly dealing with another national crisis. the caption though was from Alice in wonderland, " A Large rose tree, stood near the entrance of the garden ; the roses growing on it were white, but there were three gardeners at it, busily painting them RED. " subtle satire on the state of affairs in our country. Simply brilliant.

Another one titiled the recipe of a domestic Goddess, the picture and poem both attached, to show the tongue in cheek humour of the writer.

The above and below pictures are from the roti, kapda makaan concept of essentials. View the pictures through charming old world, gramophonesque chal chitras. Find the changing trends of roti - food, kapda- clothing, and makaan- homes of India. again very well depicted, thoughtfully curated and aesthetically presented.

The terrace cafe, Perch which overlooked the 'encounter ' installation as well as the mandovi river, can in time become one of the hippest places for a meal, here is hoping. *crosses her fingers.

The evenings had many cultural events happening at various venues, all of them were free of cost, except for the circus, called Talatum. Talatum was an ambitious depiction of shakespeares Tempest in a circus format. considering the quality of exhibits at the museum at Adil Shah palace, we had high expectations from the circus. Unfortunately the narration was weak to almost absent, the scenes were sketchy and disjointed, and the costumes tacky, reducing the quality of the production. the girl who played Aerial had just a few screeches throughout the play, and it was only when she read out the vote of thanks did we realise she has such a sonorous pleasant voice, and clear english diction. clearly the play needs more work, but since it was the very first time it was being plaayed in India. It was worth appreciating.

The serendipity art festival had many firsts. And if I am to believe it all began in trying to resurrect the old secretariat, and the old summer palace of the muslim King 'Adil Shah' . Interestingly, before the Portuguese came to Goa, Goa was rulled by the muslims, and this 16th century palace with sloping roof is one of the oldest in panjim Adil shah palace. At the museum now resides a picture of the then palace and it's surroundings, and can you believe it, much of the buildings are still the same, there now is a petrol pump, where once there was a tree, but other than that, the striking resemblance of yesteryear Panjim, to current panjim is remarkable. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A magical pre christmas dinner at Fort Tiracol , Goa

We spent a pre christmas dinner at fort tiracol heritage resort, and it was everything a meal in a fortress promised. 
Fort Tiracol is in the Northern part of Goa, and is situated on an island, one can reach the place either by ferry or by a bridge, and just like most islands this one too has breathtaking views. the fort is situated ona height allowing for it to be protected against invasions in the days of yore.History says that it was a fort built and gifted by the famous Shivaji Maharaja to the king of Sawantwadi the Bhonsle's, in the 16 th century, to ward of the portuguese influence, and invaders. Ironically then that by 18th century it was finally invaded by the portuguese, and today the residents of the island are almost completely catholics, and there is a church in the center of the fort aswell. 

Built in the typical Maratha style, the fort even has the morts, and faux entry details, made famous by Shivaji, but the most iconic part of the fort however is the church and statue of St Antony.
In a wonderful effort to keep the heritage of the place alive, as well as promote tourism it has now been converted into a heritage hotel

We started with getting our spirits high on Sula wines, I loved something called the brut Tropicale, and it paier wonderfully with the peppery cheeses on offer.

The first course was a watermelon and feta salad with microgreens and a mint chuutney. the watermelons seemed a tad dried, and it is but natural, since the dish might have required hours of prep, and cutting and plating for almost 40 guests. a problem at such large sit down meals.

The filo pastry wrapped around succulent prawns and crisp asparagus was my favourite part of the meal. served with a black tahini and saffron sauce was impeccable. the asparagus was perfectly cooked. it reminded me of the line from the movie, a the hnnderd foot journey where the michelin starred madamof the restaurant holds up a wilted asparagus and says , " In this restaurant we do not serve a tired marriage , but a passionate affair." Being a huge fan of Asparagus , I was delighted to not just have mine, but stole a few off a neighbouring plate as well. I am known to eat extra plates. read about it

The next course was the ambitious take on the fish curry rice and goan pork sausage, and reinventing it as a chorizo risotto served with rawa fried sea bass. We Goans pride ourselves in the freshest catch of the day, and the fish in question here did not live up to it's Goan expectations. I commend the chef on his thought and idea, but it was lost in translation during execution. Again, this might just be the case because they were catering to a very large audience that night. Cooking for such a large group of people in itself is a feat in itself.
As mentioned earlier the setting of this oppulent meal fit for kings was the fort itself, with the lit church as the backdrop.

There are 7 rooms at the resort, each done up individually with attention to detail;, and named after the seven days of the week. the above is the Monday, and who would have said monday could look so inviting!

Midweek never looked as gorgeous as this wednesday wonder of a room.

And yes, that is us, satiated after a happy meal, and a dinner table conversation ranging from what goes into the making of an energy drink, to the rise of a music genre caled Dubtrap, to the gaining of more followers on instagram. 

I end this blog post , with the finale, the dessert. a deconstructed cheese cake, made with silken tofu, with pickled lime, a grilled pineaaple, strawberry and ginger crumble for company. safe to say we started and ended the meal on a high. all the elements married perfectly, and truly brought this passionate affair wth food to a close.

To read more about the fort visit wikipedia page to make bookings, here is the website
To follow my culinary and travel journeys on instagram follow @kuhelib and on twitter @kuheli1 and our FB page @thefoodietrails. @ For

Thursday, December 22, 2016

cooking up a storm at Lotus Blossom, Goa

Few international cuisines have taken the world by storm, the way Thai cuisine has. Some of the reasons for that is the amalgamation of all the five tastes of sweet , salty, sour, spicy and umami in their cuisine. Not just is it a firework of flavour, but the cuisine also boasts of textural elements of crunchy, crispy, soft, and chewy.

So, if you have enjoyed the creaminess of a thai green curry, and have wondered how the dish is made, or have had the tangy green papaya salad and revelled in the many complimentary elements that go in the making of it; head to Lotus Blossom, in Arpora.

raw papaya salad

Lotus Blossom, opened last season for a few months, bbut considers 2016 it’s debut season in Goa. Located opposite a petrol pump, with ample parking space it respects the ‘shack culture’ of Goa. In the sense there are no walls, and is open to the elements of nature. Nothing wrong with that, except it gave mixed signals as to what to expect in terms of quality and pricing. Is it a fine dining restaurant or is it a touristy shack?

Food: On a particular Thursday every month, Lotus blossom invited it’s guests to not only eat a thai meal, but also to learn how to cook one. Chef Samboon, from the famous blue elephant in Bangkok heads this cooking class.

An introduction to the elements which go into cooking a thai meal, a demonstration of a full course meal including som tam or papaya salad, pad thai or rice noodles, rice paper rolls, and thai green curry, makes for an immersive culinary experience.

We began by seeing, smelling and feeling the fragrant kafir lime leaves, galangal, the thai pea egg plants, lemongrass, bird’s eye chillies. We quizzed chef on the difference between palm sugar and indian jaggery, and asked him about oyster sauce and fish sauce. A motley group of participants from all around the globe gathered to learn about thai cooking.

While all of us have enjoyed a green papaya salad; som tam, one of the absolute staples while ordering in a thai restaurant. It’s interesting to note that everything is mixed in a mortar and pestle. In goes the jaggery, and chillies and garlic, and cherry tomatoes, even the runner beans get a smashing in the mortar and pestle. The joy of making our own meal was that we could adjust the spice level to our liking. Incidentally Som Tam or papaya salad is part of a lot of south east Asian cuisine, and is voted one of the top 50 most delicious dishes in the world.

The Padthai noodles were a true revelation, with almost 6 different sauces going in to make the padthai sauce. Garnished with sugar crystals, crushed peanuts and chilli flakes, this dish was a textural riot. While chef samboon demonstrated to us the right way to stir in the ingredients, one realises that thai cooking is very personal. There is really no right or wrong way to make a dish. As chef sanjeev kapoor’s famous lines go it is “swad anusaar” depending on our taste. The ratios and quantities of what sauce is added into the main dish is on approximations. And there in comes the art of cooking. Even though the fish sauce, the light soy and the tomato sauce all come in bottles, it is in the proportions of mixing these that every restaurant has a slightly different flavour. It is very much the way Indian food is cooked aswell.

Next came the thai green curry. This is perhaps the most frequently ordered thai dish in India, while chef Samboon said it isn’t all that famous in Thailand itself. Most people in Thailand prefer to have padthai with a side dish of som tam. What was interesting to note is that the green curry paste has cumin and coriander powder in it, maybe these indian spices make it so popular in India. With the easy availability of ready to cook pastes in the supermarket, thai cooking is easier than ever at home. and with the easy to follow recipes given by the people at lotus blossom, now one can rustle up a full meal at home.

Rice paper rolls, are simple, and quick ways to prepare a healthy snack. Just place a rice paper in water for a minute, wipe it with a dish towel, place your choice of salad greens, vegetables, and proteins and just roll it. The rice papers are easily available in supermarkets, and once you have had a go at rolling it under the guidance of the chefs, there is nothing stopping you from innovating at home.
The food at lotus blossom is rustic, and homely. Served in very beautiful bone china, it gives an overall feel of fine to answer the question I raised in the beginning, is this a fine dining restaurant or a shack? Lotus Blossom has positioned itself comfortably in the middle, I would say. Loved the leaf shaped place mats, too. What really stood out for me was the immersive experience, and an interactive food centric activity, an initiative not many restaurants are replicating in Goa.


Food: 3/5 plates
Service: 3/5 plates

Ambience: 3/5 plates 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cruising on a yacht in Goa, unmissable Goan experience

As a travel blogger living in Goa I endevour to bring quintessential Goan experiences to my readers. travel the unchartered , experience the surreal and make memories which will last a lifetime.

A cruise on the Mandovi river is right up there among the unmissable Goan experiences , here is why.

1. Travel in the lap of luxury, on a speed boat, a single cabin, double cabin or even a triple cabin yacht. Private and personal are the key words.

the blue diamond yacht , part of

at the jetty in Brittona.

2. bespoke itineraries, where you are not tied down by the 'group' entertainment and 'group' activities , while travelling on the many river boat rides on the Mandovi.

3. Enjoy the unseen views of Goa, the mangroves, the fishing trawlers, the passenger rafts, and the skyline.

watch a fishing boat from up close, as it sets sail to the high seas

travelled over the Mandovi bridge? now travel under it.

travellers taking in the natural beauty of the Mangroves near the mandovi river. a protected natural reserve

The penha de franca church of brittona, silhoutted in the sunset

4. Enjoy uninterrupted view of a glorious sunset, with nothing but the sun, sea and the salty breeze for company.

I am the queen of the world!

the susegad lifestyle on the river Mandovi

glorious sunsets, unbeatable views

the playful waters and the peaceful sunsets

5. Get the most envy worthy pre-wedding photo shoot, the most unique setting to propose to your girlfriend, the most romantic setting to celebrate valentines, or a memorable way to celebrate a wedding anniversary. A private yatch is a true #travelgoals #couplegoals moment.

couple time on the yacht, pre wedding, post wedding or even 20 years after marriage.

6. Perfect for a family reunion, or a trip with friends, bring in a graduation, or a 60 th birthday celebration onboard one of the many yachts, depending on your needs and the number of guests.

7. On a budget holiday , but looking for that one special splurge? A yacht is definitely as fancy as you can get.

Let your hair down as you enjoy the sea breeze

make it a fun outing with friends

the polished wood cabin doors, makes for plush interiors

a cozy cabin onboard.

capturing beautiful moments to treasure for a lifetime

happy times

get selfie-ish with your pictures

the thrill of riding the yacht, lux traveller indeed!

enjoying the night sights of Panjim

Make your reservations at Goa Yacht

Goa Yacht google

Goa Yacht facebook page

Avail a 10 percent discount with the code : Goayacht10

want to read other exciting holiday experiences in Goa ?
read on about dining in complete darkness a 'sensational experience, or dine with the best view in Panjim,or  spend a night on a spice farm, or enjoy the saturday night market or revel in the Goa Carnival

more pictures and videos on facebook page the foodietrails