Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Train Ride in India

I was browsing through my cell phone photos yesterday when I stumbled across the ones I took on our train ride in India. Travelling by train in India is something that you need to experience; I just love it! Earlier I used to travel by the overnight train between Kolkata and Malda (my hometown); but this time we decided to take the superfast day train instead as we didn't want to miss the scenic beauty along the way.

Howrah Station

Kolkata to Malda is approximately a 6-8 hour journey and the route runs along villages, suburbs, small towns, farms, local markets, ponds, across the Ganges, bridges, highways. So its a perfect opportunity to experience and live India on one single ride. Once the train leaves behind the busy life of the cities and gets into the suburbs you will love the feel of it running along with the lush green trees, ponds filled with lotus & lilies, absorb the laid back life of the villagers, see farmers ploughing their land, fishermen busy tugging their nets in the pond, school girls riding cycles, women cleaning dishes in their backyards, playful kids running along the train track waving their hands bidding good bye to you, see the golden sun setting over the horizon. I realized how much I missed this train ride!!! Also, I love people watching, so you can imagine how much fun I had on this trip!

Being a food critic I cannot resist but share my take on the food served on-board Shatabdi Express. The train served lunch as well as snacks and the food was really good, catered by Meals on Wheels. They serve you so much food that you will not be able to eat them all. They had both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The food quality (and portion size) is great, specially the yogurt they serve in earthen cup is absolutely delicious!

Here are few photos of the food that were served on the Shatabdi Express from Howrah to Malda.

These are photos taken on our travel by Shatabdi Express back from Malda to Howrah.

Lunch - Veg & Nonveg

It was after a long hiatus that we traveled by train in India and we thoroughly enjoyed our ride. Penned this post to mostly digitize our memory and share with you until our next visit to India.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Restaurant Review - Istanbul'lu (Somerville, MA)

We went to a Turkish restaurant, Istanbul'lu, in Somerville for lunch today. It's a small place right at the corner of busy Teele square, easy to miss while driving by. The restaurant has very good reviews, so we were expecting a big crowd and that we might have to stand in a queue for tables, but luckily we got our table within a few minutes.

They welcomed us with freshly baked bread and a red pepper dip. Their menu has a wide range of options from sandwiches, veggie dishes, egg dishes, hot & cold dishes to kebabs. Even though every item had a small description, there were lot of unfamiliar ingredients listed; our hostess patiently answered all of our questions.

For appetizer we ordered a plate of Turkish mornings (beyaz peynir, kasar peynir, Turkish olives, sucuk, pastirma, boiled eggs, imported honey, recel, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers) for the table; peynir is a kind of Turkish cheese. Specially wanted to mention that I really loved the honey, it was very fresh and tasty.

For main course we ordered - Menemen, Izmir Kofte, Adana Kebab and Lamb Kebab

Menemen (Turkish style omelet with tomatoes, onions,
red bell peppers, green peppers, cooked with beyaz peynir and spices)

Izmir Kofte (Kofte baked in the oven with peppers, onions, mushrooms,
eggplant, potatoes and carrots in tomato sauce and served with rice and yogurt)

Adana Kebab (Ground lamb mixed with onions, red bell pepper,
garlic and Turkish spices and served over rice with Coban salad)

Lamb Kebab (Cubed lean lamb meat marinated in our special regional sauce,
grilled and served with rice and grilled peppers and tomatoes)

We really liked the food. Everything was fresh and delicious. The kebabs & kofte had the perfect balance of flavors. Also liked the rice and salad that came with the dishes.

We wanted to have kunefe for dessert, but they were out of it. So instead we ordered the baklava and Turkish rice pudding. Though I did not like the rice pudding that much, but the Baklava was too good (just melted in my mouth)!

To finish off, we had Turkish tea and Turkish coffee; the tea was not that special but the coffee was good. We will definitely go back to Istanbul'lu.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Restaurant Review - Hakuna Matata (Park Street, Kolkata)

This is the first time I went to Park street on Christmas. By early evening itself there were so many people that it was difficult to walk without bumping into unknown pedestrians. I have heard earlier that finding a table at a Park street restaurant on Christmas night is an arduous task, but now I understand how bad it can be! Most of the good restaurants had almost a 2 hour wait time. We decided to eat at Hakuna Matata as they had tables available. The restaurant serves fusion food with small portion sizes. The restaurant itself is not very big and they have arranged the tables very close to each other, which is kind of uncomfortable specially when people sitting on the  adjacent tables are busy clicking "duckface" selfies throughout the time they were there. Also not sure if it was a Christmas special or on regular days as well they play the music so loud. It was so outrageously loud that you can't even hear the person having dinner with you. No wonder I got a headache in just 5 minutes.

For drinks we ordered virgin mojito & kokotini and for food we ordered curd rice arancini, manchurian vada pav & Indian inspired Mezze platter. The virgin mojito was good but kokotini was not served cold and it was too sweet! All items they served looked good but everything that's good about the place ends there!!

First bite of the curd rice arancini seemed promising; but then the filling was not really curd rice, rather it tasted more like tamarind rice/puliogre. Moreover they served the arancini with a dollop of pickle on top which made it so very tangy. I felt that just a hint of pickle would have been a better choice.

The manchurian vada pav was equally bad. The pav was not crunchy like an authentic vada pav would be and the manchurian sauce was again too salty & bland.

The worst of the lot was the mezze platter. The platter had baingan bharta/mashed & spiced eggplant, dal pakoda/lentil fritters, chana masala hummus/chickpea curry hummus, raita, salad and paratha. The lentil fritters were dry; the eggplant and hummus were too salty and on top of it the chef added generous amount of garam masala to it which made it impossible to eat. They named the dish Indian inspired mezze platter, but I have no idea what inspiration they meant by that. The dish was no way Mediterranean nor did it have any Indian flavor!

All in all the ambiance and food were both bad; no way I am going back there again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Traveling from Boston to Kolkata

Hello from the other side of the world!!! We reached Kolkata! Yay! I am so excited that am not yet feeling tired even after the arduous journey of almost 24 hrs. Pretty sure jet lag will hit me soon!! I slept the whole time in flight. Whenever I take a flight, I feel like I am drugged or something, I sleep so much!  Here is a sneak peak of our journey from Boston to Kolkata. All photos were taken on my cell phone (One Plus 2) camera, so please don't mind the picture quality.

For lunch on Emirates Boston to Dubai, I opted for Hindu non-veg meal. They served a cold orzo salad, bread-butter, cheese, bread sticks & goat cooked with pesto (served with green beans, pumpkin & roasted potatoes). The orzo salad was pretty good, however the goat meat was a little overcooked. Dessert was chocolate cherry crisp which was really tasty!

For breakfast they served omelet with baked beans, sauted mushrooms, croissant, fruits & orange juice.

We had a 6 hours layover at Dubai International Airport. We roamed around the  airport checking out the duty free shops. You will never get bored at this airport as there are so many stores to visit. No matter what time in the night it is, this place is always alive!

Before boarding the next flight, we had to eat something and we had food vouchers from Emirates. It listed restaurants where you can use the vouchers. Obviously D cannot think of anything else if he sees any mention of biryani on the menu. So we had chicken biryani at Wafi Goumet and it was a bad choice! It will be an understatement even if I say that the food was bad.

The 2nd leg of the flight, from Dubai to Kolkata was a much shorter haul of 4hrs. They served only breakfast on this flight. It was spiced scrambled eggs, spiced potatoes with peas, jalapeno bites, fruits, bread & cake. The eggs were so salty and watery, I couldn't even make out that it was eggs!

So finally after a 24 hour journey, we reached Kolkata and you can understand how excited I am. So much so that I am decided to blog about my experience today itself! Please check my Facebook page and Instagram feed for more photos and stories of my travelogue.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Restaurant Review - Winsor Dim Sum Café (Chinatown - Boston, MA)

This past weekend we went to Chinatown to have brunch at Winsor Dim Sum Café.
Both me & my husband love to eat dim sum(s); since both Yelp and TripAdvisor listed Winsor as the best place for dim sum brunch, we have been planning for a while now to go there.

If you have ever been to Chinatown, then you probably know that getting a street parking is akin to winning a jackpot, even on a Sunday morning. We drove around the restaurant for atleast 15 minutes before we managed to find a street parking. The restaurant starts serving at 9AM; we were at the door by 10AM, but we still had to wait for another 30 minutes before a table was available. All this while you have to wait (rather stand) on a narrow pavement. This restaurant is very small; they have only a few 4 seater table and a few big round tables. Our party of 4, had to share one of those big tables with a group of strangers. By the time we were seated I was so hungry, that I did not mind sharing a table; I just wanted to eat dim sum! The service was very quick but the servers were grumpy (you will see that on their face). But the food is so delicious, that nothing else mattered.

At the table there was a pot of tea for us. Generally in Chinese restaurants, tea is complimentary; but we were surprised to find out that they charged us for the tea and we did not even ask for it. From the menu, we ordered Wanton Soup, Scallion Pancakes, Fried Shrimp Balls, House Pan Fried Pork Dumplings, Steamed Shrimp Dumplings, Shark Fin Pork Dumplings, Jade Pearl Dumpling with Crab Meat, Steamed Shrimp & Chives Dumplings, Steamed Chicken Buns, Steamed Rice Noodles with Dry Shrimp & Scallion, Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings, Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf Packets and Pan Fried White Turnip Cake. Only the Fried Shrimp Balls & House Pan Fried Pork Dumplings were priced around $7. Everything else was priced below $4. We liked each and every bit of the food; everything was super fresh and tasty!

If you want to eat good quality dim sum and you are not looking for a fancy place then I will definitely recommend Winsor Dim Sum Café. It's so worth it. They serve 3/4 dim sum(s) in an order, which is very reasonable. I will suggest that you go early in the day, then you will be able to get a parking spot as well as don't have to wait in line for very long. We really enjoyed the food and can't wait to visit Winsor again!