Sunday, January 29, 2017

Meeting the Mother of Exiles

It was a hotly debated topic “to visit the Statue of Liberty or not.”

We were on our international fellowship and the team pro visiting the statue of Liberty said,
 “I have have been in new york for over two months now, and still haven’t seen the symbol of New york! The symbol of USA to the world! “

The team against visiting the statue of Liberty said,
 “ It is nothing but yet nother grossly over marketed, big bold and brash sign of US consumerism. We have already seen the staue of liberty, on our televisions, on tee shirts , on coffee mugs, on table covers, and even on fridge magnets, we might as well visit a souvenir shop , click a picture with one of the life size statues and get done with it. Rather than spend a whiole precious day standing in lines. And correction the statue is not the symbol of new york, times square is."

It went back and forth , for weeks, until one fine day the team pro visiting statue, said, “fine, you don’t come, I am going alone.”

how you look at the Statue of Liberty is a matter of perspective.

The team pro visiting was the husband. The team against visiting was me.

I decided to go along as well. Why?
It was our last weekend in US, I most certainly wanted to go somewhere, I realized if I went along, I might be able to hustle our way into the lines faster and then (hopefully) do a speedy round up of the lady in green, and then drag my husband to Brooklyn , and the bridge to my fav part of NYC. It didn't quite happen like that, as we landed up at china town buying 15 souvenirs of the said statue, but more on that another time.

 Ok, let’s go, and make this quick.”was my reply to going to visit the statue of liberty.

As I had feared there were serpentine lines, EVERYWHERE! Lines to the ticketing counter, to get on the ferry, to collect the audio phones, to get back on the ferry.

Anyhow, once on the island, the husband went on his pilgrimage around the Statue. He plugged on the audio set and religiously listened to every entry and sound bite about the statue of liberty.

I did not.

I flicked the channels, listening to what interested me, and changing channels from what I termed “ American history, not American, not interested." Yes, I was being a particularly bad traveller on that day. Sulking even. To be dragged out in the cold, seeing a statue, I had seen so many times on the dresser at home anyhow.

Barbie statue of Liberty , height of merchandising

zoom in and see the 'made in India' tag on that Amerciacn souvenir. 

While the husband toured, I took pics of food.even the burgers are named after famous American symbols of nationalist pride

But, I learnt some very interesting facts about the Statue.
 First that it was built by the same man who made the Eiffel tower (which I love). Second, it was a gift to the USA for having managed what most of Europe had still not, abolishment of slavery, as a testament that USA had done what other nations had not , out of the collective conscientious-ness of its public.

And the third was a poem at the base of the statue by Emma Lazarus.

“a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning,
From her beacon hand glows world wide welcome.

Her mild eyes command the air bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep , ancient land, your storied pomp.” cries she.

With silent lips , give me your tired, your poor, your huddled
masses yearning to breathe free,

the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these , the homeless, tempest tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the Golden door!”

The audio recording on the audio set was fabulous. I could feel the goosebumps on my back, and suddenly I saw the much marketed symbol of America in new light.

She was not about all that was bad in America, the overt show-offism, the blatant marketing, she stood for acceptance, she stood for unjudgmental open armed welcome of people from around the world. Countries like India, we blame America for the brain drain phenomenon, where our brightest head out towards the beacon of the statue, mesmerized by her beauty, but infact it is because the mother of Exiles, has always valued those who seek refuge.

I listened to the poem once more, came home and googled about it. And forgot to write a blog, though I had meant to about it.

I write about my experience today because there is a man with his ‘storied pomp’ living in his own tower of pomp, who refuses the exiles, because the very ‘symbol ‘ of American acceptance, might be relegated to being an American souvenir.

Well what do I care, you might ask. and true on that day while visiting the statue of liberty , I had the " not American, not interested" attitude towards the excessive merchandising of the American National pride, but by the end I realised the statue was not about America , it was about the people who came, from outside, who were welcomed, who were exiled, who had been tossed in the tempest.  

And I realise that America today has the much maligned attitude of a 'big bully brother among nations' but it had started out by being a 'mother of exiles'. 

read more of my New York travel tales Ramen foodie trailMeeting Kim Kardashiannew York dessert trail 

Monday, January 23, 2017

brunching with baby; a foodblogger mom shows you how

As a mother, doctor, and a professional food writer, I find very few times when all three of my roles come rolled into one. But one of those rare occasions is when I take my son to restaurants. These are generally during lunches/brunches, these are at family holidays and or Sunday brunches, when the idea of leaving the little one at home with his nanny is just too sad, or not possible since nanny is not on said holiday with us.

Over the past 18 months of my dsons life, we have spent almost a week at Maldives, a weekend at Mahabaleshwar, a few weekends on staycations in Goa itself, and sometimes he has accompanied me on a few of my professional food reviews.

brunching at Park hyatt, Goa

Here are my quick tips on brunching with a baby.

1.       Call in advance to find out if they have a high chair. Many restaurants we have visited do not have one, and at those times we take him in the stroller which doubles as a chair for meals, or carry along the booster chair.

the stroller doubles as a chair, at a restaurant in Baga
2.       Call also to make reservations , because nothing is more danting than waiting endlessly outside an eatery with a bawling kid.

3.       Choose a table which is a little apart from the other diners. These are generally in the patio, or in a recess, or on the sides. This ensures that even if your child is having a melt down, drumming on plates with his spoons, or throwing food on the floor, you are atleast not the glaring center of attention, and allow other diners a peaceful meal aswell. Seat away from the music. If carrying stroller, see that it is not blocking the path for wait staff and other diners.

4.       Once baby is settled in high chair, make your rounds of the spread.
5.       I ask for a plastic plate and spoon, or carry your own.

6.       Immediately get something for baby to drink or munch on. If we are at a breakfast spread, I get him a small bowl of cheerios, or if at lunch I get him some peas, potatoes from the salad bar, a cupcake from the dessert counter or even boiled eggs from the cold salad. Basically something to keep him busy.

7.       Then starts the long drawn process of finding something tasty,nutritious  and yet baby friendly.

poached fish, roast chicken, mushrooms, and a cupcake brunch at the grand hyatt

8.       When he was barely 10 months old, we stayed at the Park Hyatt Goa, and shreyu had peas idli , for breakfast, poached fish, roti, and southern style corn bread for lunch, he even had pasta for dinner.

9.       When he was 14 months we had scrambled eggs for breakfast, no cold cuts, no prawns and no uncooked fish . he enjoyed noodles, and had taken a huge liking to desserts, cakes .

10.   By 16 months he was a pro and managed to sip on a straw, have his own fresh juice, attempted to feed himself with forks and spoons, and enjoyed omelettes, dosas, roast chicken, sauted chinese vegetables, new found love for mushrooms, and sweet corn.

with his own spoon and fork at Le meridien, Mahabaleshwar
11.   By 18 months he knows what he likes and does not. he loves his fish, he is able to handle a few spicy dishes. So biryani is fine, but spicy goan curry makes him spit. He will try almost everything once. He enjoys icecream , just the way he enjoyed it at 12 months of age.

12.   My point is that you hardly ever have to resort to the childrens menu, the adult menu is varied enough for children. The childrens menu is generally deep fried, high on food colourings, high on sugar, and fizzy drinks. I let my son have colourful mocktails, made with fruit juices, but not soft drinks. I let him have potato wedges, or baked potatoes, but not the hash brownies. He has just discovered his love for tomato ketchup, but is willing to try other food items along with it.

the average kiddy brunch is filled deep fried nutrient poor food

thankfully he did not take a liking to these ... yet!

13.   Watching him eat and enjoy the various things and my treasure hunt at every meal to find something he will like has transformed our eating outs into adventures I will treasure forever.

to read more of Baby foodies brunching tales
brunching at labrise
brunching at grand hyatt, goa
brunching at maldives
traveling with a toddler
brunching in park hyatt
brunching for adults

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

5 reasons to visit Devaaya Ayurveda and Nature cure centre in Goa

The new year had me pondering on the tide of time. While I am a firm believer that life is not about how many breaths you take, but how many moments that take your breath away, I also understand the need to value the life we have.

In keeping with my new year resolution to, honour the passing of time, as well as realising that I am not getting any younger, I began my quest to lead a life of wellnees. within the confines of my daily responsibilities.

It began with my previous post on Siwa spa, and continues with Devaaya ayurveda center.

while I am an allopathy doctor, I appreciate that ayurveda can help in helping prevent so many problems of our modern lives. while the whole world travels to india, to avail of its healing powers, we Indians need to appreciate what is available in our own backyards.

watch the video we made at devaaya

Here are 5 reasons why I would highly recommend a stay at Devaaya ayurveda centre.

1.       It is situated on Divar island. : An Island in the middle of a river , situated just 10 kilometers from the capital city of Panjim, and yet in a cocoon of calm all its own. The people of Divar have famously refused a bridge to be built to the island, to prevent too many people on their island, and for good reason. Once on the island, I spot the large tree in the middle of a farm land, the place many a Bollywood movie has been shot. Think finding fanny. In fact even on my way back from Devaaya, a moviw was being shot under the self same tree, ow converted into a whole village scene. Experience the quaint village life , on your evening walks on the island, during your stay at Devaaya.

the treatment huts, Devaaya

2.       Realise who you are inside and out. Ayurveda means the study or knowledge of life. And while each of our definitions of what life is differs. Ayurveda defines life as sharira (body) indriya (senses) salva (mind) and atma (soul) . at Devaaya, we had panchakarma or 5 actions which help detox the body, senses, mind and soul. Dr Mahesh at the Devaaya center explained the 5 elements that make our body , such as air, space, fire, water, and earth and how the combination of these is the sum total of our internal mental makeup as well as our bodily functions.

3.       A holistic approach to health. One thing is for sure Devaaya ayurvedic center is not a party or a vacation. It is a commitment you make to yourself. And everything at the resort is channelled towards holistic healing. We started the morning at 6:30 with yoga asanas, suryanamaskars, breathing exercises or pranayama, laughter exercises, games to strengthen the mind and body connections, then 8 :30 is a wholesome and VPK balanced ayurvedic breakfast everything is vegetarian, for the entire stay at the resort. Rest of the morning is spent undergoing treatments and massages at the center, all prescribed by the ayurvedic doctors. Fruits and lunch are also served as per the schedule. An advanced yoga session and a meditation session in the evening helps to round off the day as well as balance the mind and body. Dinner is served early at 7 to 8:30 and the center believes in an “early to bed, early to rise.” principle.

4.       A home away from home: While we just spent a weekend at the resort, it is highly recommended to stay the entire 7 to 14 days. As the ayurvedic doctor explained to me , an eye surgeon, during my surgeries we have a preoperative, operative and post operative course of treatment, Ayurveda too has a pre treatment session which last 3 to 4 days, followed by the panchakarma treatment to balance your doshas, and the post treatment restorative phase. That means you meet the same people for 14 days, people from around the my short time there I interacted with a young , very fit couple who have been coming to Devaaya for 5 years in a row!And as one of the other guests mentioned ,” we westerners might not be as commited tour marriages and our relationships, but we are commited to self care.” He was hinting at a lady who used to earlier come with her husband, but even though they are now divorced, she continues her relationship with Yoga and Ayurveda.

5.       Add days to your lives, as well as life to your days : Go back home with new knowledge and skills which will not only help in leading a more balanced and healthier life, but also add value to the life of your family. A lady from Finland, on her very first trip to India, had spent 20 days at the resort, and she spoke highly of the place. “ It’s minus 30 celsius n Finland, and we last saw the sun in November, we are a completely nonvegetarian family back home, but I am impressed by the food here. I went and bought some spices from the panjim market, and with the help odf the cooking classes at Devaaya , I hope to cook these meals in Finland as well.” health and wellbeing should not be restricted to a few days in the year. Learn life skills such as Surya namaskar, meditation techniques, VPK balanced ayurvedic food, and pranayama at the center as well.

I think health and wellness travel is making a huge mark on travel plans of people , and for good reason. Travel to gain new insights, not just of the world around you, but also of the world within you. 
follow my journey on instagram @kuhelib.
and my Devaaya story, including videos and pictures with #divinedevaaya

find out more about room bookings at

enjoyed reading this?

other interesting experiences in Goa

luxury yacht cruise

homestay on a spice farm

thai cooking class at arpora

pan asian cuisine in Panjim

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Gorge on Greek food at Greco, Radisson Blu

The word Greco is an English prefix, meaning hailing from or connected to Greece, and so it is interesting that a Greek restaurant go by the name which literally means, hailing from Greece.
The Radisson blu hotel in Cavellosim has recently opened the doors to it’s blue and white themed dining space serving authentic Greek food; Greco.

Ambience: the outer white washed walls hold promise, so do the blue and white waves on the floor tiles within, the wall hangings with Athens and pi are athrowback to ancient Greece. And yet, the fact that this was previously a discotheque converted into a greek restaurant is not lost. The strobe lights and the dance floor are still intact, and will now be used for dance performances . And while Russian belly dancers dance to the tune of a Russian DJ, the Grecian ethos is somewhat diluted.

Food: Chef Stelios from Athens heads the kitchen, and has been to Goa a number of times over the years, and by his own admition is a goaphile. Already aware of the huge popularity a Greek restaurant in the North of Goa holds, as well as the presence of a small colony of Greeks who have made Goa their home, he is looking forward to his time in the sunny state.

The calamari tiganito is a must try, a staple in almost every psarotaverna, this is the Grecian version of batter fried calamari, served on the beach shacks of Goa. Instead of batter, they use dry flour as dusting, and the end result is simple yet tasty fried calamri, served with lemon wedges tomato and a hung curd dipping , almost like a tzatziki.

The salad, Xoriatikh, a tossed salad of cucumbers tomato, pepers, olives and feta was a healthy way to begin the year, and the meal. Keftedakia, which was beef meat balls served with greek yogurt is another recommended dish. Saucy meatballs, generously lathered in tomato based sauce, meatballs themselves the size of tennis balls, and the cheesy creamy yogurt dip were all in perfect harmony.
Souvlaki, is a greek fast food, and one of the more recognizable dishes on the menu. At its heart it is a meat roll or wrap, which is served with grilled meats , cooked on a skewer, and pita bread along with veggies and potatoes. We had the chicken souvalki and it was dry. I would suggest to try someof the more exotic dishes on the menu, rather than the tried and tested. Also to opt for the pork version rather than the chicken.


fried calamari


chicken souvlaki

veg moussaka

meat balls



Moussaka, another popular Greek dish is a layered dish with layers of aubergines,zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and at Greco it is a vegetarian versionand no meats are added. Held together by a Bechamel sauce, this dish is a wonderful cooked down version of veggies. Moussaka is one dish which is available in almost all of the ottoman nations, in some form or the other, and Turkey, Greece, Egypt all have moussaka. Even some of the Italian layered dishes, such as aubergine parmigiana have similar flavour combinations, and layering techniques.

For desserts we couldn't make a decision between the three desserts and decided to try all three, new year resolutions of weightloss and sugar control were suspended for the evening.
The galaktoboureko is the dessert to order, if you plan to have just one of the three on offer. A crisp , golden baked phyloo layers, hold within them a custard filling, and the phyllo pastyr is drizzled with a sugary syrup on the outside. What one gets is a textural dish of wafer thin crispy filo and creamy custard.

Portokalopita is essentially a cake with orange syrup, but actually it is a lot more complicated and nuanced. This is a cake made with shredded phylo pastry layers, and the difference can be made in the texture of the cake itself, also it contains yogurt in the cake mix aswell, which like most yogurt based cakes pair very well with citrus fruits. And here the hot cake is drenched in orange syrup and then served cool, with icecream. And interesting authentic dish, worth trying.
The third dessert Ambrosia, while is known to be a dessert for the Gods, was not as good as the rest. One reason could be the use of hung curd instead of original greek yogurt. As chef pointed out that he has had trouble finding authentic greek yogurt in Goa, also the fruits and vegetables as well taste different and react differently to cooking than the ones he is used to.
The simpler the dish the more difficult it is to replicate in a foreign country. Many Mediterranean dishes allow the ingredients to shine without any addition of condiments or even cooking. Cut slices of tomato with a drizzle of olive oil, with parsley leaves is almost a staple at every mezze, but the taste is completely different in India, where the toamtoes are not the ones grown near the salty airof the Mediterranean sea, the olive oil is not grown in the nearby orchards,a dn even the parsley leaf lacks the pepperiness of its native land.
Chef Stelios from Athens, has his work cut out for him, first to convince people about greek cuisine and then as he puts it ,” making Indian tomatoes taste like greek tomatoes, and making indian oranges taste like Greek oranges!”
Food: 3.5 plates
Ambience: 3 plates
Service: 3.5 plates

visit the radisson blu website for more details.

the lavish spread

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Spalicious Siwa Spa in Goa

It was the first Monday of the new year. This year new year's eve was strategically on a Saturday, and that meant extended revelries stretching into a Grand brunch on Sunday , and merriment for two whole days.

That meant bringing in the work year in on a Monday.

Luckily for me, I had something to kick start my new year resolutions of health, wellness, and making time for myself , with one visit to the spa.

Nestled in the by lanes of Miramar, in the lane going towards Goa Marriott, is a tiny piece of Thailand complete with a restaurant and a spa, by a husband and wife duo. Thai n wok restaurant
and siwa salon and spa are just the kind of Thai experience that was needed to bring in the new year.

The spa itself is on the first floor of the Siwa salon and spa, with the salon on the ground floor.
I was ushered into one of the six treatment rooms. they have a couple of lounge sofas for foot massage and reflexology, as well couple therapy rooms as well. The place is done up with paintings on wood panels, very much like many of the spas we had visited on a holidays to Bangkok , Phuket and Pattaya.

The therapy: A luxurious 90 minute therapy of whole body massage with aromatic oils, followed by a facial using medicinal herbs from Thailand , followed by a rejuvenating body scrub.
The aromatic oils work in tandem with the kneading motions of the masseuse to hydrate the skin, eliminate toxins and improve skin tone and texture.
As the muted music, and the centuries old healing techniques lull you into a feeling of bliss and well being, let your mind wander.

The facial is the next step in this intensive rejuvenation routine. Again the days of sun bathing in Goa, as well as the nights of makeup during the party season, leaves the skin parched and in need of intense hydration. The use of luxurious products as well as rhythmic massage, and pressure on the marma pressure points leads to release of pent up toxins and better lymphatic flow.

The last and final phase of the therapy is an invigorating scrub, which helps exfoliate the dead skin, and symbolically shedding the old and bringing in the new, also after a relaxing massage, the final step, energizes and leaves you with a sense of exuberance.

The attached washrooms, allow to have a quick shower and shampoo before heading out into the world with focus and intention.

The holiday season of christmas and new year in Goa, though very enjoyable, can be very taxing on the biorhythm. the many nights of wakefulness, can distrupt the sleep-wake cycle, leaving the body hungover, and the mind unbalanced.

Irritation, mood swings, depression and withdrawn from social interactions are just a few of the side effects of Late night new year revelleries, and that is no way to start a year.

While detoxing with warm lemon water and green tea, is a quick fix, for an extended and much more intensive recovery, I would highly recommend a day at the spa.i

The Siwa spa was a spantastic way to begin the year, and I hope you have a year of health and well being ahead.

Do visit my instagram @kuhelib. my facebook page @thefoodietrails, for more pictures and videos.

A few more blog posts which might interest you :
detox at the luxurious Shamana Spa at the Grand Hyatt

The scenic simply grills restaurant in Goa Marriott

tips on how to stay fresh on long flights