Monday, May 29, 2017

travel kit tips from wanderlust women

I come from a line of wonderful wanderlusting women; women who are gorgeous inside out and look ravishing in every travel picture they share, online or with their friends. 

One is a grandmother to a toddler and an internationally acclaimed speaker on childhood asthma, the second is a teacher who is considered a rockstar by her students,the third is a gynaecologist and mother of two teenagers, and the fourth is in the blooming best of her twenties with the flush of youth no makeup brand can emulate. 

As part of the fifth birthday of my travel blog, I asked my mom, aunts and cousin to share their travel kit pictures and their travel essentials. 

Here is a treasure trove of great information, amazingly versatile products for
 age group ranging four decades. take your pick !


Most of my travels are work related where I squeeze in some exciting moments, and sometimes it is a pure holiday. 
The travel make up kit remains more or less same. But since when work related it's to deliver a talk, I wear saree hence I put in my red bindi and some safety pins first! Imagine a no bindi traditional saree look or the saree slipping while on the dias!
The rest of the kit is essentials first, tooth paste tooth brush, face wash(one which removes eye makeup too!), sun block, moisturizer, face care (day and night). 
Presently I use products from little bottles which are leak proof and occupy very less space.
 Bobby Brown remedies for day and O3 Age lock at night. These products change from time to time. But whichever I am using at that time, I swear by them. If it's a long trip then take my undereye care, been loyal to No7 for sometime. I carry a shower cap as sometimes they are not available in the hotels that I am staying at. I carry a hair grip and a rubber band. 
A complete face cover up after moisturizing is BB for me, Mac's Prep+ Prine BB SPF 35 is fantastic.
At night or for that special photography session make apply Nars face illuminator. 
I have to put my black kohl, feel insecure without it. 
I carry to pencil lid liners a blue and a green, just in case I want to feel glamorous. 
I carry a pink and a cinnamon brown lipstick, both matte, long lasting, Mac's. 
Between the two they can go with any coloured outfit. 
For perfume I carry Pleasures ( Estée Lauder), if off to a beach, a little pack of talc!
Since I travel twice a month, and have been doing so for over a decade, I do it quick. 
And oh yes my travel kit is partially see through so that I can access products quick if in a rush!

sunning in Maldives

asthma talk in Mahapedicaon


My idea of holiday is to chill at home doing nothing!!!

But whenever out on a holiday, some essentials would be  
  Agelock Vit C serum,bODY SHOP  Oil of life gel cream for day along with LotuS matte gel sunscreen, an SPF 50 loose powder, Maybeline Colassal kajals in black, blue, green & their mascara, lip pencil & current fav lip colours in pink & cinnamon.

 Maybeline Total Clean preferable over Loreal Gentle make up remover, that empties its bottle before you reach your first destination!

Night pampering would be Body Shop Oil of life cream or Forest Essentisls Soundarya serum. Boroline for chapped lips & Body shop beautifying oil pre sleep & post bath!! And of course, keo karpin sandal body oil. 

Hair care would be of L'Oréal X tenso shampoo, mask & serum.

 And not to forget ear buds for perfecting make up, tweezers, mirror with magnification, nail polish remover & the nail paint used, wads of cotton & wet wipes,nail cutter, safety pins, rubber bands, grips, scarves for a bad hair day, set of threads & needle, yes of course threader too. Rayban & an extra pair of reading glasses!! Pleasures by Estee Lauder of course!! 

And packed not in pouches, however attractive they are. I lay them out in empty saree boxe😂, easy to locate & retrieve.

vacationing in Venice


I love to travel and the family tries to squeeze in two holidays a year. most of my holidays are for over a week, and I prefer to carry all most of my products. I swear by vaseline petroleum jelly, as well as body lotion and would never leave without Maybelline's colllosal kajal. 

Creams, cleanser, tonic, compact are my is a nail clipper , nail file and tweezers.
Make up- kajal in various colours , mascara, liner, highlighter, eyeshadow, lipstick.

 I carry my shampoo Loreal Absolut repair and conditioner L'Oreal extenso. Perfume has to be Jadore by Christian Dior. 

I am very particular about makeup removal and never ever forget to pack extra cotton and tissues, make up is essential, but removing it is even more so! 

Contact lens paraphernalia, anyone who wears contact lenses would agree with the me here. I carry an extra pair of monthly disposable contact lenses in the event I lose my pair.
i carry a separate bag for accesories as well.

strolling the streets of Spain

family holiday Sikkim


I love cosmetics, I wont lie. But my hair is my crowning glory, on a holiday I prefer to carry my straightening tongs as well as my hair care products, so that I never have a bad hair day.

1. Moroccan oil smooth conditioner and repair shampoo - for all sightseeing  
2. Kerastase thermique heat protectant - before hair styling 
3. Makeup revolution London - basic eye shadows, highlighter, blush - all in one 
4. Perfumes - Estee Lauder 'pleasure' and Gcci 'bamboo' limited edition 
5. Lakme sunscreen powder
6. Body shop night cream 
7. Hand sanitizer, handy M&S cream 
8. Lotus herbal spf 50 sunscreen 
9. Serums: Kerastase elixir ultime hair serum and clinique ' revitalizing serum'.
10. Multipurpose earrings - S,M,L size 
11. MK rose gold watch, prada sunglasses - basic black sunglasses 
12. Black Lakme eyeliner, Mac ruby woo lipstick, lakme absolute lip post-production (magenta magic), loreal exclusive collection (delicate rose)
13. Maybelline colossal mascara
14. Plum black kajal 
15. Loreal lip and eye makeup remover 
16. Gillete satin care - for shaving 
17. Lakme foundation

disney princess

Honestly I had lots to learn from the ladies . here are some of the take home messages.

1. carry stuff in individual see through pouches.
2. always pack essentials like bindi and safety pins, cotton to take off makeup, tweezers and shaving cream, depending what your 'essentials' are.
3. multipurpose your lipsticks, carry some great shades, one compact colour palette, and BB creams which can double as sunscreen.
4. dont forget hair care
5. dont forget makeup removers.
6. carry a perfume which suits your signature style.

read these fabulous tips about staying fresh on long distance air travel HERE 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Goa on my plate : review , Habanero

Habanero Goa is the newest addition to the Tex Mex chain of restaurants , with branches already in Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. Situated in the calangute Baga stretch, where many a restaurant has mushroomed in the bylanes, this one is situated in a lane called milky way, find it on google maps, or call for directions.
Valet parking, something of a rarity especially in the calangute baga area, followed by a garden like setting complete with lanterns hung on trees, and posters quintessentially Goan , like the cashew fruit and the river ferries, help set the mood of the place. Colourful tropics , is the word that comes to mind with the stained glass lanterns over the tables, and the backdrop of the bar. The restaurant has a three tiered seating, it has an AC section , a rooftop seating as well as a garden seating. A stage where live events take place over weekends and a microbrewery which hopefully will open by the end of the month are added attractions.
Food: This place is famous for the Tex Mex, so while they also serve a few other continenetal, sea food grills, and pizzas , it makes sense to come try the Tex Mex cuisine. So what is Tex Mex cuisine?  Well Mexico, and Texas share a long border, the one Mr Trump, hopes to create a wall over, so that America stops being influenced by Mexican culture. But that already happened a few years ago, with the Texan and Mexican cuisine taking over the taste buds of the world.
Most of the cuisine was about trying flavour combinations tpgether, like the famous Texan chicken roasts got a chipotle rub, and a fiery meaty dish was born, worthy of summer BBQs. The chipotle marinated chicken at Habanero, with a lipsmacking hot and spicy marinade is worth trying as well.
Even the story of Nachos is fascinating. Named after the Mexican man Nacho, who at closing time , found three Texan women come in to his diner , situated on the Tex Mex border, and ask for lunch. He was all out of Burritos and had only a few tortillas available. He cut these roti like corn tortillas, fried them, and topped them with everything in the fridge, like lettuce, tomatoes, olives, lemon wedges, and topped it off with cheese. It was an instant hit, and when asked the name of the dish he said “Nacho’s special” . the Macho nachos at Habanero are something of a meal in itself. The tortilla chips are really outstanding and the addition of beans is what makes them a complete meal with legumes, salad and chicken.
Try the sesame lime shrimp tostada, for beautifully cooked prawns. The fajitas which come with a sizzling plate of grilled veggies and meats, as well as cold dressing and additions, is fun to construct. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the menu, and I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did, try the samplers. A sampler plate has a burrito (without rice) , bean and rice,soft shell tacos, cream cheese, crisp tortillas, salsa dip, and is big portioned to share with your friend .
The churros were the highlight of the meal. The best till date in Goa. Many restauranteurs have previously complained about the heat and humidity not allowing for great churros in Goa, and yet we went to Habanero on the muggiest day of March and these were perfectly crunchy, justthe right amount of sweet, and served with chocolate sauce for the match made in heaven.
The down side of the meal? The guacamole lacked spice and verve, the tres leches was not moist at all as they serve the leches on the side, and only the Uno leches , non the tres. The fish in the en fibil, is a basa, a fish not deserving of a Goan seafood menu.                
A word on the service which is extremely hospitable , by Goan standards, and one of the reasons could be the hefty service charge. Hefty because most Indians barely dish out 10 % of their meal in tips, and the internationally accepted 15 to 18 % in itself is difficult to ensure in even five star restaurants. But remember well paid staff, means good service.
Food: 4 plates
Ambience: 4 plates
Service: 4 plates
Go here for:
Macho nachos

Chipotle chicken

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kashmir by any other name

“And over there is Azaad Kashmir”, pointed Jameel , the driver of our rented taxi.
We were on our way to Gulmarg, when the rolling hills dappled with forget-me-nots and butter cups seemed to blur like water spilt over a painted landscape.

Azaad Kashmir” the words set off warning bells in my head; ‘The-driver-might-be-a-terrorist’ kind of bells.

 Kashmir had been like a woman caught between two lovers, namely India and Pakistan. Crystal blue lakes interspersed with dense forests of Chinar, valleys gurgling with springs and snow-capped peaks majestic against the skies; it was easy to see why Kashmir was so passionately fought over. The last skirmish between the jealous lovers, had led to certain areas of Kashmir being captured by Pakistan. These areas were called ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir” by Indians, and ‘azaad or free Kashmir” by those who believed that Kashmir belonged with Pakistan.

You can understand my alarm, when I heard our Kashmiri driver refer to ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’ as Azaad.

Jameel reminded me of the horses of Gulmarg; tall and brown. Who knew what feelings of hate and discontent he bridled in?  But such a description would hardly be of any help to the police, if the need arose.

Green or grey? I tried to guess the colour of his eyes in the mirror     
 I realised my unsuspecting husband continued to sleep in the passenger seat. Beyond my reach, and yet a knife swipe away from our driver, if he decided to turn into a freedom-fighting Kashmiri ‘mujahideen’ .

I took out my phone with the intent of sending my family back home a message to explain my predicament, but we had no signal!

With no way of reaching out to my friends, or my husband, I resorted to hostage survival skills 101.
 Engage your captor in conversation; “What is the best time to visit Gulmarg? “
Use flattery; “The meat here is so tender!”

Personalise and use emotion “We are on our honeymoon in Kashmir.”

 Mounting paranoia had me nervously chatting, and while on the outside it seemed like friendly touristy banter, it felt like waltzing in a land mine.

 “where are you from?” he asked.


“Goa is lovely, India has many beautiful places.” He said.

I bit back the urge to add, Kashmir is part of this beautiful India too.

 For that day I let the borders dividing two nations blur, I was content in Shakespeare , “what’s in a name, Kashmir by any name …


This was my entry to the world Nomad travel story writing competition. In a mere 2500 characters, including spaces, it was tough to tell a story which inspired emotions, as well as propogated dialogue. For this blog I have put some of the pictures from our Kashmir holiday. It is a beautiful place, and through my interractions with not one but many of the locals there I realised that they have a very hospitable nature, as any place which depends heavily on tourism should, they also love Indians, but just the way Italians would love Indians, or Americans would; as tourists to their land. Welcoming and hospitable and yet mindful of the differences. Or was it all in my head? Was I over thinking and over analysing the presumed conflict? 

that's me trying to get a picture of the driver in the mirror !

The above story is a true narrative, and even though we were not on our honeymoon it was a mere 6 months since the wedding, and I did use the ploy to get out of what I presumed was a sticky situation.

To read a more detailed and fun foodie take on our trip read HERE 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Grand Mango Mania at Grand Hyatt Goa

Indians have a love of mangoes that can only be termed manic, and the Grand Hyatt in Bambolim Goa has taken it to another level of devotion with their Grand Mango Mania, all of May.
Executive chef Mark a Long, sous chef  Prasad Metrani and his team have taken the Mango on a whirlwind trip around the world and paired it in eclectic combinations among exotic cuisine, to create a culinary experience nothing short of Genius. 

We began the meal with a cold spiced mango soup. Imagine your favourite alphanso aamras, paired with mexican jalapenos, and topped of with a south east asian thai red curry coconut sorbet. The absolute burst of flavours, the crunch of the jalapeno chunks, under the soothing smooth touch of a mango aamras, all tied together with the umami sorbet, had us oohing and aahing.

But we were in for a surprise for our next course. The salty prosciutto, aged parmegiano , paired with chunks of mango,arugula and cucumber flowers was in a word sublime. it honestly looked too pretty to eat. it is the kind of dish which gets featured on magazine covers, and on instagram posts by Gastroart with hashtags like #platedtoperfection . again the flavour combinations were spot on. The thin slivers of ham placed cheek and jowl with tropical mangoes, and just letting the produce shine without any excess handling or pretentious dressings was a masterstroke.

The raw mango slivers in a thai inspired salad with crispy calamari rings was the next course but it surrendered to the perfection that was the previous two dishes.

for our main course we had a chicken dish , a seafood dish, and a vegetarian dish. each one splendid.

It was the first time I was having a sous vide meal. Sous-vide, the term made popular by Masterchef contests , is a method of cooking where the food item is vacuum sealed in a bag and then cooked in a temperature regulated water bath which cooked the food evenly and retained moisture. The sous vide chicken here was cooked for over two hours, beautifully frenched legs of meat were then finished of on the pan in a mango teriyaki glaze.

The sea food main course was a perfectly cooked crispy skin fillet of sea bass, which was vertically plated in a pyre of portobello mushroom , a nest of curried spinach, all surrounded by an inspired mango mustard Kasundi sauce. for a bengali , mustard and fish are a match made in heaven, and to add a twist of mango to a classic combination was impressive. Did it work? yes it did! The sweetness of the mangoes, balanced of against the bitterness of the spinach, and the earthy mushrooms against the sting of kasundi.

But the prize for the most innovative use of Mango goes to the vegetarian mango gnocchi served in a laksa inspired broth, with a crispy noodle bowl. Italian gnocchi meets far east Laksa? Well apparently in a match where Mango played Padri.

That's when the heavens decided to join in, and we were greeted with unseasonal showers in the middle of summer! We sat staring at the torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightening. 

The wait for the desserts had me pacing to the open kitchens, and I could see a lot of hustling and bustling, and boy were we treated to a grand finale!

A tempered chocolate dome was flambed into submission by whicky and Mango flambe, giving way to a deconstructed mango pennacota, which had bits of chortcrust biscuit, some sponge and add to that the melted chocolate, and warm mango oozy goodness.

Watch the video on facebook page The Foodietrails.

The other one was again pretty like a spring garden in full bloom. fruits and flowers and micro herbs, peaked out from underneath coconut meringues of different colours, cream and crushed pistachio to come up with the Mango eton mess. 

The curated meal or any of the stand alone dishes are available the whole of May 2017 at the Verandah at Grand Hyatt Goa. you can request for the menu at any of their other restaurants aswell.

Cocktails and mocktails are part of the fray aswell. white rum infused ripe mangoes, and whisky infused with raw mangoes, play base notes in this orchestra, allowing the flavours of mango to subtly blend in the cocktails.

Baby foodie too enjoyed a moango pulp vanilla icecream creation, aptly called the Mango delight.

Read more about Mangoes read HERE

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The grape escapade 2017 , and Zampa Grover wines

The Grape escapade is Goa's answer to your Wine quests and comes with a lot of Grape expectations, ahem great expectations.

This time around I got invited to sample some of the wines by the Zampa Grover vineyards. These guys have twin locations at the Nandi hills in Karnataka and Nashik Valley, thus giving them the beneft from the best in the country.
The whole wine festival functions as a tasting session where you go from one counter to another trying out all possible flavour and floral bouquets, till you are floating on a cloud of grape coloured , well, grapes. \

Zampa and Grover were two wine houses which have now merged to give us some stellar award winning wines. We tasted a whole lot of them but I will share the really good ones with you here.

First off the Grover La reserve which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. It is a deep purple burgundy colour and has been aged in french oak barrels for at least 6 months. This is also the best red wine in the country claimed by Hardik our guide and wine connoisseur of the evening. of the 82 wine awards that the company has won, 40 of them have been for this lady in red. A sure fire winner, this is the perfect gift for someone who loves a red wine.they even export it to the wine drinking capital of the world, in France.

We also tried the Sante Shuraz, which was a floral spicy red wine perfect for Sangrias. It comes in a bottle inspired by Mario Miranda paintings, and it is a very affordable red wine, which delivers more than its price range.

pouring wine into disposable but also keepsake wine glasses. 

I love a little bubbly, and the sparkling wines were both very good. Infact Hardik informed us that the techniques used were the same as used to make Champagne in France. except for the use of Indian grapes, this one is as close as you could get to the region. the Zampa Soiree Brut, and the zampa Soiree Brut Rose, both are excellent celebratory drinks. the bottles look elegant . The presence of the fine bubbles and a persistent mousse meant that the carbonation was natural and the subtle yeasty character was because it had been fermented over yeast . A dry finish , clean fresh flavours made these wines a favourite.

the Grape escapade organised by Goa tourism also boasts tons of eateries, and the kebabs at Mughlai munch were perfect with the wines. so do the crab sticks from the Gadre store. 

The art collection is the medium range wines from the house of Zampa and Grover. They are essentially non aged wines, which are prepared in a unique and arty version, the bottles each have a painting by the great masters from the world of art. From Chenin Blancs, and Sauvignon Blancs with herbaceous notes, to the Viognier wine with increased viscosity and verve, to the reds of an arty Merlot, Shiraz and a Cabernet Shiraz, there is a lot to tempt the palate and gladden the heart.
an entire bouquet of wines, on ice
There were a host of things to do at the wine festival, like fashion shows, live music,