Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Goa , Seasons greetings ! Happenings in Goa this October

Seasons greetings!

It is that time of the year, while every one else celebrates four or five seasons of the year; Goa celebrates majorly two seasons , the tourist season and the off season.

While Goa continues to be a favourite holiday destination all year round for Indians and people from the subcontinent, it is especially popular with Europeans and Russians , basically anyone with wintry winter climates, tto search for respite in the sunny state of Goa, from the months of October to April.

Thus, on the 1 of October special planes, called charter planes start flying into Goa, restaurants and shacks bloom and mushroom in various parts of Goa, shuttered villas are cleaned and dusted to welcome guests, and entire stretches of Beach come alive with Karaoke bars, and EDM music parties.

It is all quite sudden, the transformation , and also quite exciting to watch.
Each year the tourism department , as well as stand alone 5 star hotels, and even bespoke fashion houses try to push the envelope in terms of trend setting and entertainment.
Food , fashion, entertainment, and events, it’s all happening and a little overwhelming too.
To kickstart the season this year, every month I will be hosting a BLOG PARTY , and every travel/food/fashion blogger can post the happenings of the month in the linky below.


1.       Links need to be of blog posts only, no advertorials please.
2.       Links pertaining to the happenings, events, food festivals , fashion shows from the Month of October in Goa, only to be posted below.
3.       Every month there will be a different link up party, so don’t worry.
4.       Restaurants, hotels, fashion houses, PR agencies can post their blog posts too.
5.       Use the hashtag #Goaseasonsgreetings while sharing your posts on social media.
6.       Comment on one other post in the linky, lets keep it lively and friendly!
please leave me a comment , so that I know where you have joined in from!

So, what all happened in Goa this October? A lot of restaurants held their Oktober fest, many restaurants had their season opening launch parties, many had a change of menu, Diwali parties, Diwali fashion shows, Halloween themed events. The links will help travellers to Goa , as well as those living in the state get a complete and indepth source of all the happenings in Goa.

Bloggers travelling to Goa or based in Goa, wishing all a happy Goa season! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Diwali in Goa no one is talking about

  Imagine celebrating Dussehra during Diwali, and you get Narak chaturdashi. Now, having lived most of my life in North India, with a leniage from West Bengal, and hailing from Maharashtra, I had never seen the likes of a celebration quite like the Naraka chaturdashi in Goa. Legend has it, and again I say, I am not pro- religion but I love traditions and cultures, if we can only separate the lore from creating hate and promote brotherhood, we would succeed. 

I first wrote about Narkasur , as ONE OF THE BEST TIMES TO VISIT GOA, and you can read it HERE

So then , Narakasur was a powerful demon, who was the son of Bhumidevi or Mother Earth, he had asked for a boon that no one but his mother could kill him and that meant that he was immune to all the gods of Heaven and warriors of the earth. As Narakasur got more and more arrogant and ruthless, he pulled the earrings right off the Goddess mother Aditi’s ears! The bleeding and hapless Goddess Aditi, came to Satyabhama , Lord Krishna’s third wife for help, and together Krishna and Satyaabhama attack Narakasur. Narakasur manages to hit Lord Krishna, and Lord Krishna feigns his injury, seeing that Krishna is injured his wife Satyabhama releases a volley of weapons on Narakasur and he actually succumbs. How? Well, Krishna as all of us who have grown up on tales of Mahabharata know is well versed in war politics and subtle subterfuge. He explains that Satyabhama is actually an avatar /form of Bhumidevi/mother earth aka mother of Narakasur.

Legend /lore what ever you may call it, it is a tale of a mothers love, a sons arrogance, and the love of a wife for her husband.

On the night prior to Narak Chaturdashi , the streets of Goa transform into a land of the biggest, brashest and bad boy Narakasurs, They are as tall as three to four storied buidlings, some sport claw hands, others have a snakes tongue, others have eight eyes, and it all depends on the creators imagination, and since most of them are created by youth groups in the state, the imaginations run pretty wild.
But this post is not about the crowd funded Narkasurs, but the home made narkasurs which kids at home plan and prepare weeks in advance.
When I first came to Goa, I was amused by the small to tiny narkasurs being carried by kids of all ages, held in arms, or proudly strung in front of scooters, or hanging out of car windows, these are demons created at home by the kids.

Now I am no big on religion, but how cute is making your own little demon and then destroying evil in the simplified manner overnight. I wish we could destroy all demons with such ease , but that is the power only a child’s imagination holds.
And so I decided that Shreysht, my son will grow up with a solid foundation of Narkasur making .

His first narkasur was a paper plate Narkasur, with a wooden spatula to hold him up. I returned at 8 in the evening, from work. it was way past my 3 month old’s bed time, but I quickly rustled up a narkasur , and got a picture for posterity.
That was also a year we started our annual pre Narkasur burning bash at home, also I didn’t go Narkasur hopping, since we didn’t have a nanny, and I baby sat a sleeping baby.

Next year, I went bold, with a black Narkasur, with silver nail paint, 6 pack abs, some very funky jewellery. And again it was a 2 D chart paper narkasur. At 14 months, we decided to miss the Narkasur hopping for Shreysht .

But this year was different, we not only had a three D Narkasur. I fashioned it in the shape of the Blue whale game, which was an evil game preying on young impressionable minds , driving them to harm themselves also even making them commit suicide.Now that is a kind of evil no mother can tolerate, and I am sure that the mother of the creator of the game would not stand to see such evil either. It made sense then that it be a mothers call to kill Narkasur blue whale.

This year we took shreysht to the market to buy the Narkasur head, he even did a quick recap of all body parts, with ‘big tummy’, big teeth’ and big eyes’ of Narkasur.
He was amused at my making of narkasur, and held up the AC remote as a phone for narkasur. We also went Narkasur hopping for the first time with him , and he loved the larger than life displays of evil.

Mini Narkasurs for sale

That night I left mini Narkasur along with other mini Narkasurs, and there was a twinge of sadness that we had him only for 24 hours. But if in the true sense of the mythology, evil is created within and by us , and only we can destroy it,as well.

If only we could banish all man made evil like pollution, corruption, and women tormentors with the ease that we burn down narkasur each year.
cardboard narkasurs by our neighbours

Naina aunties grandson made this one!

narkasur on a scooter

mini narkasur outside a restaurant with a bottle of Bira

shreysht in his Narkasur tshirt , and holding up the phone for Narkasur

me making our narkasur, and finally placing him with other mini Narkasurs .

And while kids all over the country make cute diyas, and lanterns and rangolis for Diwali, I hope Shreysht and I continue our tradition of making bigger and badder demons to destroy in years to come.
Come join us some year for this spectacle.

While popular media can't get over the fun of Halloween, I had visited USA when I was 15 years old for Halloween, and when I was asked what I thought of it, I had answered that it reminded me of Diwali. My American hosts were amused, but I explained, “ for Diwali we visit other people’s homes, we also dress up, but in new clothes, we also get lots of sweets and food just like Halloween treats, and for tricks, we have fire works and fun games.” The only thing missing were the spook factor, and I think Narkasur adds that to our Diwali celebrations in Goa. 
haloween t shirt doubles as Narkasur Tshirt

With every year our Narakasur gets bigger and brighter. for year 4 : edit . We had an Octopus Narakasur with 8 tentacles, representing the Me too perpetrators. #metoo is a movement against men who use their position of power to gain sexual favours from women. It gained a lot of media support this year in India 2018. and just like last years Blue Whale game it represents all that is evil in our society .
The making of Narakasur, with a few sticks, dried fallen leaves, and old newspaper.

This year Shreysht helped us paint the Narakasur as well.
Goa is no stranger to Interesting Festivals and I have written about many of them , do have a read if you want another view of Goa.

Shigmotsav spring festival of Goa

International film festival everything you needed to know about IFFI with TIPs

Serendipity art festival serrendipity

also don' t miss out the Goan food souvenirs to buy from your holiday to Goa 

Herald Goa, gets my opinion on Narkasurs, thanks Kishore Amati .

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

flavours of Coimbatore at Taj Vivanta Panjim

Taj Vivanta Panjim, decided to bring in the flavours of Coimbatore to Goa, and It reminded me of my days in Madurai . Indafct it was during my stay in Madurai that I began food blogging, and went in search of food items like the dOSA bURGER, the South Indian JIGAR THANDA  and finally learnt the CORRECT WAY TO EAT ON A BANANA LEAF.

All that and more made me nostalgic at the Food festival, which is on till the 15 of October. 

black board with the menu

Neer More or butter milk
We began the meal with buttermilk, and then moved on to a thali. the beautiful silver thalis are a signature dish of the Taj preoperties, and honestly even the most humble food is elevated in both taste and presentaton when it served in such royal looking plates.

The coimbatore food diaries thali

Papad, the Meen or the fish fried in spice paste takes center stage along with the rice , or vellai Saadam

From right to left the eral Kozhambu or the prawn curry, mutton kozhambu or mutton curry. kozhi chettinad, or chicken curry.
The names reminded me of my stay in Tamil Nadu, when I realised that the 'ZH' is in fact pronounced as "L" , much like the Goan "x" is pronounced "sh" .

the veg dishes urulai poriyal, potato sabji, the murungakai sambar or vegetable sambar with drumsticks.
For sweet dish we had the sheera, but we craved more, so headed for the dessert counter, and were treated well for our sinful gluttony.

The above two are from our instagram stories, while every thing on the thali was delicious , it was the Appams which had my heart, because nothing beats a well made soft center crispy edged appam.

Follow my instagram @thefoodietrails for more posts on Goan food scene using the hashtag #goaonmyplate

my twitter @thefoodietrails to share lip smacking tales from Goa and beyond.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dussera to Diwali Detox at Sereno spa , Park Hyatt Goa

If you follow me on Instagram @thefoodietrails, you would know that I am doing a Dussera to Diwali detox . why? Because I over ate during Durga Puja , and I plan to do the same on Diwali.

A few more reasons why a dussera to Diwali detox would work for you is
1.       There are a fixed number of days every year between the two. While Rama trudged from Lanka back to Ayodhya in the excat time, you could use the 18-21 days depending on when Diwali is for you, to use that exact same number of days every year to detox.
2.       In India it is the usual time to cleanse: people decide to paint their homes, clean the surroundings, donate old clothes and buy new ones, and it is generally a time to spruce things up. So why not start with the body?

My detox began with drinking lots of water, adding more beggies and fruits to my diet and today on the tenth day of my Detox, while I have been binging on beer battered chicken wings and such (Read previous post HERE) I have also been feeling a lot more active. I have been scared witless to go back to the gym as yet, because the Dussera holidays really set me back, but I hope that by just eating mindfully and bringing lifestyle changes I can glow as bright as the Diwali lights this Diwali. And I hope by following my journey on Insta , you will be tempted to try it too. If this year rolls by, try it next year!

As part of my glow for Diwali , I went for the Raspberry facial at Sereno Soa at the Park Hyatt Goa. You can read about the award winning spa  HERE.

What the raspberries do, is exactly what the fruits and veggies were doing for me on the inside. The antioxidant rich food and green teas which I was eating and drinking, would be used in a more concentrated form on the outside on the skin, to help reduce the signs of ageing and also brighten my skin.

The products used were fabulously luxurious. I felt indulgent, and deeply relaxed, they even include a head massage while the mask dries on the face. No harsh scrubs are used ,and nor is aggressive steaming part of the facaial. It’s all very gentle, as in using a scrubing gel, and a warm towel , and the facial is for mature skin ( yes, I am growing old) with reduced stretching and pulling.

The Park Hyatt Goa is also celebrating Diwali this year with a Diwali Mela on October 14, their very first event of such a kind, also a Diwali Kids camp from Oct 23 to 28.

Share your pre Diwali glow rituals with me in the comments.Or tag me on instagram with #dusseratodiwalidetox till then SHINE ON 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Beer meets food at Fortune Miramar , Goa on my plate

While the Germans celebrate October fest in September (the culmination of celebrations happen on the first weekend of October , thus October fest), most Of Indian Food and beverage industry rings it in in October.

Goan palate is getting more and more used to international flavours as the dining and hospitality industry starts experimenting with cuisines. ITC Fortune Miramar is a newish property situated in the heart of Panjim city, and this was the first food tasting that I was doing at the property.

The have just one restaurant, but it also doubles as a 24 hour coffee shop.

Here are the highlights from our meal

 The beer and Cheddar soup served within a bread bowl , was the outstanding dish of the evening. the bread bowl held its integrity till the end, the bacon bits in the soup were absolutely stellar, and the rainy Goa weather added to the yum quotient of this beer broth

The beer poached prawns with chilly and garlic is another must have. not so much for the beer flavour in the dish itself, since it was lost in the spices, but for the fantastic pairing of smoothness of the beer and the prawns.another must order.

overnight beer marinated chicken made for aand interesting starter as well.

We were hosted with a lot of hospitality by the service team , especially Manjit, and the restaurant Manager.

The German pork Bratwurst , served with a beer curry sauce was interesting and yes, the sausages have been specially procured for the Beer meets food event. The beer of choice used in all the cooking is the BIRA white.

For main course we tried the yakhni pulao, which was good but lacked beer infusion , the Pork ribs as well as the pork belly dishes were nice tender and juicy , served with mash and even a side of crackling, they would make any pork lover happy.The portions too, for Rs 300 seems a steal.

 I was most looking forward to the Beer Boulllainbaise. The last time we had had bouillabaisse was in Marseiles, and had paid 5000 ruuppees for it.  this one at Rs 300 plus taxes, had prawns,mussels, clams, calamari rings,chunks of fish and a beer broth worth the sea food tag of #goaonmyplate. for the a dish to be representative of Goa, it must either champion Goan produce, or Goan cooking heritage, and here the sea food had been cooked with a lot of respect.
 for two working moms, post a busy midweek work day, we seemed to be having a good time.

 Desserts were fun too. The wheat beer infused icecream, had a low concetration of cream, and was more of a granita. the beer was easily made out in the softy, and I quite enjoyed it. I made mine a beer float, by adding it to the beer, and Hello! a new dessert was born.

My favourite was the beer twinkie. a sponge cake with sugar frosting on top and a beer jelly within. not much can be faulted with that combination.

tthe beer meets food festival  is on till the end of October. and you can call +918326637300 for reservations.

follow more of my food escapades in Goa with the label goa on my plate.

instagram @thefoodietrails

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cool ways to use the Fuji Instax Mini 9 camera for food and travel blogging

I received an Instax mini 9 for my birthday this year, from my travel enthusiast brother. An Instax mini is an instant photo camera, much like the polaroids of yesteryears. Now I may not be that young anymore, but polaroids, and instant photography was even before my time! Digital cameras and mobile phone photography have brought the entire industry of roll film photography to extinction, and instant pictures were even before the time of roll film photographs.

One website mentioned the “instant pictures “ to be ‘hopelessly retro’ and I would have to agree; you get only one print, you cant save it in digital form on the camera, you cant see a preview to the picture before clicking, and even though it is a point and shoot, a basic understanding of light and exposure is beneficial to good pictures.

So why turn back time, and bring something like the Fuji Instax Mini 9 ?

Here are a few funky ways to use your instant camera while travel and food blogging.

1.       Instant ice breaker: Every time I take out my apple green instax mini 9 , I have inquisitive eyes turning to me. After the first click, and the soft whirr of the film coming out of the instant camera, few can hold back their temptation to find out more. Guys find the technology impressive with lines like “ I used to develop film rolls back in the day with my dad.” And Girls are taken in with the cute n stylish colours. This camera by the way comes in 6 colours, including blues and pinks. The instax mini is a cool way to make cool new friends.

2.       Bond with locals: as a travel blogger, I always like to get pictures of local markets, and villagers, and old houses. And while it is exciting to be able to show them the pictures on your digital camera, imagine being able to give an instant print of your rickshaw-wala and his rickshaw. A precious thankyou note, incomparable in thoughtfulness, also the instant pics come with a small strip of paper below to leave a note, or your name, and date. Use it with your local hosts,dinner hosts, fellow bloggers, village women, or market places. Feel bad about letting go of your instax prints? Take a digital picture within a picture photograph; of the rickshawdriver holding the instant picture, while you get a digital picture on your phone.

3.       Use pictures as props: which takes me to my next point . instant pictures make for interesting props within your picture. Hosting an Italian themed dinner party, after your fabulous trip to Rome? Have your instant pictures of piazzas as table décor.or the other way around, pictures of vada pav, against the gateway of India. Or carry an instant picture of your loved ones, scribbled ‘missing you’ in the strip of space below the instant pictures, and hold them up while photographing breathtaking scenes of the places you visit. A sweet gesture that you missed having them around.there are plenty of ways to use the picture within a picture prop idea, with the instant pictures, I would love to try something like the ‘modern family’ for family portraits someday. infact the camera itself is so photogenic that I have used it as a prop in a number of my photographs.
using my camera as a prop :)

for our dussehra/bijoya feast, I used pictures of Durga Puja as table decor

4.       Use your instax as your calling card: have a great picture of you holding up your passport, or your chopsticks? Placing an instax picture anywhere in the frame while food photography, acts as an instant prop for your food styling, but also acts as your own personal calling card. The instant pictures are the size of visiting cards, and are easy to carry, so use them like new-age visiting cards!

5.       Scrapbooking: This one is for mom travellers, also anyone who enjoys scrapbooking their travel stories. I did a travel scrapbook for out honeymoon , it has all kinds of details, like our travel tickets, all the touristy pamphlets we picked up at airports, even our hotel room checkin cards which the hotel didn’t need back, and even an autumn leaf from our walk in the trastevere district in Rome. And sure we took hundreds of digital pictures on our travel, but I haven’t gotten around to selecting the ones I want printed. If I had an Instax back then , scrapbooking would have been so much more easy and fun.

6.       Hold a one of a kind exhibition: Instant prints are one of a kind, literally. Especially in the instax mini 9. No digital storage of images, what you see is what you get. So when you have a great picture of someone, some place or even a dish, you can be assured that there cannot be another one. You literally have to take another picture to have another one, and even thenn the lighting,mood, and angle may not be the same. Hold an exhibition (cum sale if you wish) of your instant pictures. The exclusivity of the prints, and the retro look on them would make for an interesting photo exhibition.

7.       Leave back memories: Plenty of place sin the world have wall graffiti, or places where you can pin up your message or tie a string, or hang a lock. Even youth hostels and air BNB’s have ‘leave a review ‘walls. What better way to say ‘I WAS HERE’ than to say it with a picture ? Instant cameras lole the Fuji Instax series or the new age polaroids allow you to do Just that!

8.       Revamp Grandma’s recipe book: So you have a family heirloom, and have been meaning to get the old crumbling book digitalised or reprinted; scan the pages, add an extra page at the end of each recipe. Prep and take pictures of the dishes. And add your own notes about the dish along with a picture. Voila, a new heirloom is created. Make mom proud with her own recipe book, or gift grandma one, or have it as a cute coffee table book for your friends and family to look over. Dtring up the pictures on your fridge with attachable magnets. So much home food love, that your family will love it.

9.       Wall art: I already have a bunch of pictures strung up on my wall, but they were not instant pictures. They are infact prints from my iphone. The fact that I had pictures already on display in the quintessential “instant picture ‘way, had inspired my brother to gift me an Instax mini in the first place. And I gifted him a ‘travel scratch map ‘ for his birthday. A travel scratch map allows you to scratch the places that you have visited on a large map of the world. And as much as I relaise what a great gift I gifted him, as he has travelled to 28 countries in the 32 years of his life, I think putting up pictures of the places alongside the map, would be a great idea too. String up small visiting card sized instax prints, or polaroid prints of the colourful people and scenes of Leh Ladakh, on a large digital print of the stark terrain of the region. Yes, print on print is not just for fashionistas and fashion bloggers, travel bloggers can now put up maps of countries, and evocative instant travel pics.

And that’s all I have got, atleast for now. But do follow me on my instagram @thefoodietrails to see more pictures , and also @instaxindia to meet other instant photography enthusiasts

I got  the Instax mini bundle , which is at an amazing deal on Amazon. infact it is so cool that I have the link on my blog just for you guys, please click on the picture of the bundle pack in the side bar, to avail of the offer. If you click from my website, I may get a small fee, but to no added expense to you! so it is a win win. so, why get the bundle , as opposed to just the camera? I got a 4 packs of rolls allowing 40 pictures, and cute colour frames to jazz up my pictures, the colour combinations really do help highlight the pictures, also clips to hang my pictures, and a few frames, which would be perfect for gifting the instax prints. it was for 8633, and down to 6399 for a limited period!

CLICK ON THE BELOW IMAGE :) few tips on using the instax mini 9
1. good lighting is important. Use your phone camera torch to light up the faces as additional lighting.
2.flash can never be swutched off, so dont have mirrors in background.
3.Use the macro lens provided with the mini 9 for all selfie pictures. selfies generally come really well.
4.use the Hi res setting for indoor pictures .
4.experiment a lot!