Monday, April 24, 2006

Delhi - 16th to 20th April '05

An opportunity for attending a training on CRM Marketing took me to Delhi on last Sunday (16th April). I won't use up much blogspace talking about the training - but on the whole we were all pretty disappointed with it. During the training I put up at the IBM Guest House at Safdarjung Enclave.

Sumantra and Mousumi came to pick me up at the airport and drove me to my guest house. Mousumi had to leave for Jalandhar on office work that afternoon. After dropping her at her office Sumantra and I headed straight for some 'light refreshments' :-). We went a restaurant called Ruby Tuesday in the PVR Saket Complex where we spent 5 very 'happy hours'....a number of meat platters made their way to oblivion during this time.

In fact on the whole this Delhi trip would be memorable for the excellent food I had. On Monday Sumantra and I went to a Greek restaurant - 'It's Greek To Me'. The place was small - but cosy and comfortable. The presentation of the food was very nice and quantity was ample. We had Lamb Souvlaki for starters. Sumantra ordered a Lamb Moussaka for the main course and I settled for a Chicken Mykonos (Grilled Chicken stuffed with ham).

On Wednesday we went on the search of a Japanese restaurant in New Friend's Colony - but it was closed by the time we reached. Finally we settled for some Thai food at a restaurant called Ego Thai. The food was quite nice - especially the starter course of Chicken Satay with peanut dip.

Each day, most of the time was taken up by the training but I did do some quick sightseeing with Santanu (an IBM colleague who was also in that training). Here are some pictures of my Delhi trip -

South Block, Rastrapati Bhavan, Raisina Hill.

India Gate, Rajpath

Red Fort, Delhi

Qutub Minar

Mehrauli Iron Pillar

Akshardham Temple

In front of the Bahai House of Worship (Lotus Temple)

The Lotus Temple grounds

Our training class

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Trip to Shankarpur (Sankarpur)

The travel bug in me first raised its head when I was in Denmark. Bitten by that bug, I travelled a lot of places in Europe over a relatively small time frame. I started with Paris(which incidentally remains my favourite) then went on to see Italy, Switzerland, Athens, Stockholm, Barcelona, Norway and then the UK.

But I have never really travelled much within India - which I now consider to be rather unfortunate and sad. For example, I feel really ashamed because I have never seen the Taj Mahal. Hope to set this record straight within the next year or so..the destination at the top of my mind is North India - Corbett National Park, Ranthombore, Rajasthan and the Northern Himalayas.

As a small start I went to Shankarpur (or Sankarpur) on March 19 & 20th. This was a mini-reunion of the old gang at Maersk project - with myself, Sanjay-da & Debasree-boudi, Shibaji-da & Durba-boudi & Popai in the touring party. To add to the fun Somnath-da & Sonali-boudi & Sneha and also Pramit joined the gang. The notable absentee was of course Pijush, who dropped out (for a reason which is now part folkfore) at 3 AM (or is it PM, Pijush?) the day we left for Shankarpur.

Shankarpur is around 200 kilometres from Calcutta and we drove there. I had been there before in 2002 but now the roads have improved considerably. It took us around 5 hours to reach there, with numerous 'pit-stops' in between to top-up our 'tanks'.
We put up at the Sandy Bay Hotel, which I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Shankarpur. The hotel is situated right next to the beach with great service and wonderful food.
There is nothing much to do or see in Shankarpur. It is an ideal getaway if good food, good rest and total peace & quiet is what one is looking for.
The beach is clean and wide with very few people. We dived right into the sea after reaching Shankarpur and checking in to the hotel (the photo below is courtesy Shibaji-da).

We went out to the beach in the evening also. The overall ambience is quite different at that time with the sun setting and darkness slowly embracing the beach. We also came out to the beach at night and the combination of moonlight sparking on the top of the waves is magical.

The following morning I planned to wake up early to watch sunrise. However the tiredness from the first day took its toll and I was a bit late in making it to the beach. I missed the moment of the sun rising from the sea horizon but managed to capture the following shot.

Another shot of the beach, early in the morning...

Shankarpur was great fun. It was wonderful to relax in calm & quiet without the hustle & bustle of typically 'touristy' places corrupted by commercial activities. The food too was excellent - especially the pomphret fries...the only thing which we probably regret is missing out on the 'tiffin' on the last evening, as Somnath-da had suggested :-)

We all agreed that we will come back to Shankarpur sometime in the future in the same group - I sincerely hope that that thought materialises!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Food delights found only in Kolkata

Got this list from a friend by mail recently. Would like to thank the kind-hearted soul who took the effort in compiling this. The delight he got from compiling it is pretty evident in hs language :-)

Unfortunately, only people who have lived in Calcutta will realise what these mean or what they taste like. But those for those of us who have - it will help to revive memories and urge us to try them out once again...and again..and again...

These are culinary gems available in only Kolkata!

  • Kabiraji Cutlet from Regent (S N Banerjee Road)
  • Moghlai Parota from Anadi Cabin (S N Banerjee Road)
  • Kosha Mangsho from Golbari (Shyambazar)
  • Phulkopir Singara from Mrityunjoy (Lansdowne)
  • Double Egg Chicken Roll from Kusum / Park Steet)(Campari @ Gariahat & Nizam is a close contender!)
  • Chicken Rezala from Shabbir (off C R Avenue)
  • Steak at Oly pub (with beer!!)
  • Ujjala's Chanachur ( no comparison anywhere)
  • Telebhaja from Putiram (College Street)
  • Daab Chigri from Kewpies (Elgin Lane)
  • Chicken Cutlet from Baked & Fried (Ballygunge Place)
  • Bijoli Grill's Fish Roll
  • Mochar Chop Dhoka from Apanjan (Sadananda Road)
  • Boudir's Lebu Cha (Deshapriya Park)
  • Kochuri & Tarkari from Tasty Corner (Mandeville Gardens)
  • Phuchka/Churmur/ Dahi Phuchka from Bilas or Boudi (Southern Avenue)
  • Chicken Cutlet near Samur (Bhowanipur)
  • Mishti Doi & Rosogolla from Mithai (Beckbagan)
  • Sandesh (all types) from Balaram (Bhowanipur)
  • Pantua from Bancharam
  • Indrani from Ganguram
  • Rabri from Chittaranhan
  • Darbesh from Sen Mahasay
  • Amritti from Bhim Nag/Ganguram (Jalebis are no match)

I wish I could add - Skyroom's Prawn Cocktail & Mixed Grill & BakedAlaska or Blue Fox's Lobster Thermidor - NOT anymore.... even theMandarin Fish from Waldorf is no more available!!

These are unmatched:

  • Chelo Kabab from Peter Cat
  • Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don't stand a chance against these.
  • Phuchka: gol-gappas aren't a match on phuchkas.
  • Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with alur dam.
  • Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
  • Alurdom: the world's best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
  • Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it.
  • Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like 'made for each other'.
  • Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
  • Alukabli: where will you get something like this?Ghugni: again, chana is not the same at all. (And mangshe'r ghugni is even better)
  • Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
  • Chaanp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur.
  • Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
  • Paradiser Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the University has failed to sample these!
  • Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet. (Also phata-phati with butter and/or cheese spread)
  • Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet.
  • Mutton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet. (Coffee House)
  • Dimer Kalia: again, where do you get something like this?
  • Kasha mangsho: it's become an institution now.
  • Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants in any other city of the world.
  • Coffee houser coffee: try the float with ice cream.
  • Bharer chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.

The sweeter side...

  • Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
  • Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different.
  • Lal(Misti) doi: is an experience by itself!
  • Kamala bhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
  • Notun gurer sondesh: a winter speciality available in no other city.
  • Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction.
  • Natun gurer Rosogolla: the latest innovation.
  • Shitabhog: pure white, sweetened to just the right extent.
  • Mihi Dana: golden yellow, saffron scented.
  • Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup.
  • Ranga alur pithey: another traditional favourite in winter

Some off beat specialities..

  • Aamer morobba - the best outside Gariahat market
  • Kuler achar - the best outside Gariahat market
  • Shukno mashla makha tetul - Available with the churanwalas outside all schools, much to the delight of the students and dismay of theparents !!
  • Dulaler tal mishri
  • Dulaler hojmi - mind boggling and healthy too
  • Bikrampurer kashundi - Mustard just pales next to this
  • Machher kochuri - Where else can you have fish in such an innovative form ????
  • Churmur - In my opinion this is slightly better than jhalmuri and phuchka. The sad thing of course is that it is unheard of in the restof the country.
  • Alukabli - Another must at Vivekananda Park or opposite Menoka Cinema
  • Muri ghonto - Defies description
  • Mochar chop - A delight even for the staunchest non vegetarians
  • Kumro phul bhaja - In tiny little food joints around Chittaranjan Avenue
  • Kada paker sandesh - A sure winner, especially the jalbhara talshansh with the liquid gur filling, which is sublime
  • Darbesh - Our own version of the laddoo
  • Bondey - How does one describe this sticky sweet delicacy
  • Patishapta - A delicate crepe with a filling of coconut and gur
  • Chhanar payesh - Better than rabdi anyday and does not weigh your stomach down..."
Try these out and enjoy!!