Staycation at Sheraton Grand, Mahabalipuram, Chennai.

Staycation at Sheraton Grand resorts and spa, Mahabalipuram, Chennai.

When my son and me decided we have to do something special to the most special person in our life. We started looking up places to a short getaway. Though we had some options we decided to go with Sheraton, as we had stayed in one of the Sheraton property at Batumi, Georgia and we liked the hospitality.

As I was working late on Saturday and requested them for a late check out since we were checking in late night. They gracefully obliged. I also requested them to do some decoration in the room to celebrate father’s day.

We reached the resort around 9pm. The check in was smooth and quick. The room was decorated with simple but cute “love U dad”.

Soon after checking in we decided to dine at Pelican, this is an open air restaurant that has some mind blowing food from around the world with live music, good spirits and excellent food and service the evening was absolutely memorable.

The brioche with white bean dip was mild sweet and set our mood for the rest of the evening.

Chefs tea ( Tomato consomme) blew us away with subtle flavour and mild warm temperature.

Brioche chicken coin’s is an inspiration from galouti kebab! The chicken is cooked with brandy and cognac on slow heat and got a mouth melting consistency.

The piadina al forna was so close in flavour to a pizza but pinned and cooked on a gridle the flavour was mild and nice.

The double lamb chops made using New Zealand was tender and succulent.

Baked rawas/ Indian salmon was a total delight for seafood lover like me. The fish was fresh and cooked with very mild herbs.

Fesenjan chicken is a Iranian dish made with walnut base it had a very subtle flavour and complimented the rice very well.

The finale was a amazing cocoa 64 made using the best Ghana chocolate.

The way to the deck in the mid night was even more exciting. We had a long night and enjoyed the sea view!

Offcourse after a long night it has to be a late morning. We literally had to pull ourselves off the bed.

The morning view from our sea facing room was absolutely stunning. After spending some time in the balcony we headed for the sunday breakfast. The Reef, the place were the breakfast was served was jam packed to happy people who were all taken care off by the efficient staff.

What I got to taste different there and I was looking for something healthy. I had the millet porridge with some ragi and curd was soothing for the hot summer.

The pancake made of millet and raw fig was a stunner.

We did not indulge too much at breakfast, since we knew we had the big father’s day brunch coming up.

In between our breakfast and brunch we decided to do a little tour around the place. Surabhi was more than happy to take us around the place.

We visited the recreation area where the boys played billiards, while I wondered around to see the children playing in a cute play area. It was well equipped with a staff to take care of the children.

Sheraton has a fully equipped gym and a serene spa.

Sunday brunch is very special at Sheraton, I am not a big fan of brunch personally, but this one was very special since it had many exotic and healthy dishes that are not available otherwise. They bring in something special every week. Chef Jagadeesh gets recipes from his home town and offers it to his guests. This time it was cotton seed milk. This is a old forgotten recipe he is trying to revive.

The desserts and chats are made my chefs who have come all the way from North India. They have a in-house Halwai! The best of mithai and chats can be found here.

A special mention to pintail the place where magic spirits are created. Kishore creates some magical cocktails and presents them in the most beautiful way!

His signature drink fortune of megenta stole my heart.

Pintail 280 is an awesome mix of Whiskey
Cranberry flavour,Peach,Fresh cold press of orange juice.

Chennai has too many options and we adr trying to make the best of it!!!

Georgia, A beautiful country in Eastern Europe!

Georgia, A beautiful country in Eastern Europe!I had many eyebrows raised when I said we are vacationing at Georgia! Many thought we were going to America.
Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, is a former Soviet republic that’s home to Caucasus Mountain villages and Black Sea beaches. It’s famous for Vardzia, a sprawling cave monastery dating to the 12th century, and the ancient wine-growing region Kakheti. The capital, Tbilisi, is known for the diverse architecture and mazelike, cobblestone streets of its old town. Georgia’s neighbouring countries are Russia in north and Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. ( This information is courtesy Wikipedia)

So why Georgia? Well the first reason being it was a less explored place, that meant, new people, new culture and new food!

First thing that I did when we decided to go to Georgia was to check if any of my friends or acquaintances have been there and I realised none of them had yet been there. So that meant I was suppose to do my own homework with out any help.

Air BNB super hosts are the best in such situations. We had a very good experience with our air BNB host last year in Rome, so we decided to follow the same this year in an unknown land of Tbilisi (capital of Georgia).

We looked up a few places and finalised one. Nino our host was extraordinarily warm and helpful.Nino organised a car pick up for us from the airport, the driver was given all instructions, as I had wanted to book my train tickets from the Tbilisi to Batumi ( the land of black sea). After booking the train tickets we reached Nino’s place were she was waiting for us.Nino’s place is a huge 2bedroom apartment with nice running kitchen, washing machine and all amenities. All for 50 USD per day.We stepped out in the evening for a walk and some food. Language might be a challenge, but having travelled 18 odd countries we overcame that challenge very soon. We walked around the place had some mind blowing shaurma and fresh bread and settled for the evening. It started raining and got very cold in the night. The best time to travel to Georgia is between may and October. August to October being peak tourism season.Breakfast was a very interactive session at Samikitno. People working at the restaurant who were more than happy to explain about their traditional food to us. We had chicken kachapuri, pork with potatoes and omlette along with Georgian bread and tea. I was lucky to have allowed to visit their kitchen.We decided to take a hop on hop off to mtsketa the old capital of Georgia. The castle here has a cathedral were it is believed that the cross was installed first in the 4th century, this is when Christianity began in Georgia. It was a beautiful rainy afternoon and the view was breath taking looking down on the two rivers meet Mtkvari and Aragvi, one was blue water and another was brown. We had a authentic lunch after the mtsketa trip khinkali, meat soup, kebabs and chops.Batumi the place of black sea in the Georgian region was our next morning destination. We took a train from Tbilisi to Batumi a 5 hours train was comfortable and smooth and we reached Batumi at 1pm. I had done a small homework on things to do in Batumi. One of the things that excited me was the visit to the fish market. This one is special, since you get to buy fish of your choice and you can get it cooked in the nearby restaurant and that’s what we exactly did! We found a good driver cum guide with a good car who was more than happy to be a part of our exciting stay at Batumi. He accompanied us to the fish market told us about the local fish and helped us by seabass, prawns and a variety of small local black sea fish. We went to the nearby restaurant called black sea hotel grilled the seabass and fried the prawns and small fish.After the sumptuous lunch we were dropped at our hotel, Sheraton Batumi. I must say that this property is excellent with the black sea view and some very good facilities with seaview rooftop restaurant called the Skybar 360, a cool pool, spa and Sauna.

When in Batumi we frequented the Batumi Boulevard everyday. We had dinner at the diaquiri family restaurant, this one had a wonderful sunset view along with some yummy local food.

We hired our driver for one full day for 150 lari and he pretty much showed us everything in and around Batumi. The ajaara falls, vineyards, wine cellar, museum that showcased Batumi history and the border of Turkey, along with the most authentic lunch at an unnamed restaurant.

Batumi is relaxed quaint town and places do not open early. We went in search of breakfast next morning, since most of the places were closed we kept walking till we found coffetopia at Batumi. Kachapuri, sandwich and spaghetti bolognese was the order of the morning with some filter coffee.

We decided to Just laze around the boulevard and spend some more time at the hotel on our day of departure only with the dolphin show at the dolphinarium.

We left Batumi by the same train around 6pm. Reaching us to Tbilisi at 11pm.We were famished when we reached Tbilisi, but not worried. Tbilisi is a city that has an awesome night life and most of the restaurants are open till 2am. There is a food street very close to Nino’s apartment and we walked there at midnight to watch the Barca and Liverpool football and have some mind blowing dinner, well I could call it breakfast too!

Next day in the morning we decided to do the city tour with our trip to one of the biggest church in Georgia and 2nd biggest in eastern Europe holy Trinity Church.We visited the European square that has cable cars, boat rides and sulphur bath along with loads of eateries and history.We had some yummy lunch and enjoyed the place.

The evening was blocked for sulphur bath and night boat ride. I must say the sulphur bath was refreshing and it is advisable to book it in advance.The boat ride was fun with a complimentary wine that adds zing to the whole experience.

After 6 beautiful days in Georgia it was time to say bye bye.

1)Points to note when you plan a trip to Georgia:1) If you have a US visa you do not have to apply for a Georgian visa. (It could be any type of visa. We had a B1/B2 visa)

2) Cab’s are not very expensive in Georgia. A ride from airport to Tbilisi will not cost you more than 25 to 30 lari. Local city commute is around 5 to 7 lari. 1 lari is 25 rupees.

3) Local dishes are khinkali and kachapuri. You can find lot of Turkish food in Georgia too.

4) It is a very safe place. People are kind and willing to help.

5) Good time to travel may to October.

6) Best route to travel via Dubai. We travelled Emirates and fly Dubai.

7) Be good to people and respect law of land it always helps.

8)Make friends wherever you go. I did as usual.

What did traveling do to me!

Blessed to have lived in different cities of India and learnt almost all the languages that are spoken in India. Survival!!!

Travelled 17 countries and looking forward to add a few more soon to the list. Makes me feel so so grateful.

Travel, it is your best teacher. What we cannot learn in school and within our local area, we learn only when we step out of our comfort zone and either travel or move to a new place.

When I had just finished school and we had to move from Goa to Mumbai, I was sad but at the same time excited. Mumbai was a land of opportunities and I knew it was the best move for me for education, career and just being there!

Mumbai was the best teacher for me. I learnt, I made mistakes, I struggled, I fought. some very tough battles/ some easy one’s within and without! I learnt to deal with different people young , old, north indians, south Indians, east indians and west Indians. Understood that if I can think from each person’s perspective it can only help me win! Talk their language, it helps,you win people! By the time I was 15years I spoke 6 languages!

Every battle I fought only made me stronger. At 21 I was a young bold lady entrepreneur. I managed my own finances, look control of my family after my father passed away. Made some very good friends, clients, associates and networks! And can you believe it after 25yrs I am proud to say that I am still in touch with most of them. I believe we must forge friendship. We might have our own perspective and assumptions but never put it first, think from another person’s perspective it helps.

Traveling teaches us how different people think differently, act differently to a given situation, situation are different and perspective of looking at situation are different. What I perceive, assume or think is not how others do and cannot be right always.

Traveling makes you broad minded, it makes you more empathetic, allows you to look at situational perspective, definately makes you a more positive person!

My personal experience with different countries.

When we visited Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, though all are Asian countries, they had very different people, culture and attitude. Vietnamese were more sharp, smart and ready to go, they recovered from the brutal war and we are all set to show the world what they can do, whereas Cambodia has a soul, they are more humble , soft and naive, thai is a totally different story!

Hong Kong is fashionable, Malaysians have rich culture and Singapore is in between!

When in Europe, Germans are technology wise far superior, but very cold in attitude. Prague has a different Outlook, Amsterdam has a cool attitude, french don’t care, Belgians are chilled.

Americans have people from all around the world and so they are a mix!

Dubai glitters. Bhutan is paradise on Earth!

So how to deal with all these differences in culture, perspective and people do we change them or do we need to change???

Travel, change and love unconditionally! You will be the most happiest person in this whole wide world!!!

Absolute Thai at Chennai

We were lucky to have visited absolute thai during their thai street food festival that is on till 30th April. The food sure is authentic.

Every dish was curated keeping in mind the flavours and taste of Thailand. Thai food

We started our Sunday dinner with thai tea and Milo.

The starters were an amazing platter :

Po Pia Phak is a crispy veg roll.

Goong Hom Pha prawn wrapped in mince chicken was soft juicy and yummy!

Krathong larb gai the flavourful chicken mince was served in cute little canape.

We had two main course:

Chu Chee curry had panko fried tofu served with thai curry and jasmine rice.

Hai tod kratiem prik tai had crispy fried chicken served with rice and salad.

The desserts were as exciting as the starters and the main course.

Khao Niew Dham is made with Black sticky rice pudding with coconut ice-cream.

Khao Niew shankayai sticky rice and jaggery wrapped in Banana leaf.

I would like to mention that the food is made using fresh ingredients. They make their own dips and pastes. And I think this reflects in the taste of the food.

Al Souk Moroccan, Syrian, Egyptian, Lebanese and Arabic food in Chennai.

Food scene in Chennai is changing and first time we have some interesting new cuisine.

Al souk is the new place in town that gives us the taste of Morocco, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

We started our evening with the Moroccan chicken soup and Lebanese lamb soup.

The Casablanca prawn salasti was made using fresh vegetables and prawns. It was well balanced with subtle flavour.

The hot Mezze was an instant hit for us. It had small portions of falafel, charmoula calamari, spanakos pita, Egyptian style beef.

The lamb Tagine is a Moroccan dish and had all the right flavours. The meat was tender and almost fell off the bone.

Egg shasouka with fresh baked pita made it a treat. Please note – they have wheat and ragi pita too and they make them fresh to order.

Laban is a very traditional Mediterranean drink and we had the strawberry Laban.

Sweet ending were with mini portion of baklava and kunafa.

Finished off the meal with a refreshing sulaimani tea!

Reasons to visit this place:

It is a quaint place in quite lane, new food flavours in Chennai. They do have grills and kebabs too! Going to try them.

South Indian non vegetarian food at Murukku Messai Mess, Ambattur, Chennai!

So for many who think south indian food consists of Idly, dosa, Sambar and chutney and that all South Indian are madrasis!🙄

Well you are highly mistaken. South India has 4 States and they all have different culture and food habits and in all four states people have non vegetarian food.

In Tamil Nadu predominantly the non veg food is made in the Chettinad style, but not limited to it off course.

So the evening did get exciting as I kept trying new dishes at the newly opened restaurant Murukku Messai Mess at Ambattur, chennai.

The chef is an expert in Chettinad cuisine and the parotta master was excellent in his Rythmic way of making his kothu parrotta.

Started the evening with panakam. This is a drink that is made using jaggery, lime and dry ginger. Basically this helps you build your appetite.

The mutton soup was well balanced and aromatic!

The starters were an array of the best Chettinad food that one can ever think of.

Eral/ mutton liver pepper fry. This was cooked to perfection and the spices were perfectly blended.

The prawn tokku was yummy juicy and the perfect small size. Did you know small prawns are much more tastier than the large one’s?

The Vanjaram meen varuval (sheer/ king/ surmai fish tawa fry) is their speciality and it comes with a secret recipe. The fish was fresh and well-done.

The nethali/ anchovies were crispy fried with a dash of curry leaves that gave a authentic aroma to it. Again the fish was fresh and that did make a big difference.

The kola urandai/ mutton balls were soft and had an excellent meat flavour.

The chicken with podi had the whole chicken breast piece marinated in secret south indian spices and shallow fried.

The break from starters happened with nannri sarbath and Goli soda. They serve 5 flavours of Goli soda. I tried the Kala katta and paneer soda.

The main course was as exciting as the starters.

The Kari / meat dosa had a very nice south Indian flavour.

The bun parotta and egg tokku was yummy. The bun parotta was soft even after it went cold,did not get rubbery.

The kothu parrotta was well balanced in flavour. I loved the way the parotta master made the parrotta. He used glass to chop it and there was a Rythm in it.

Check my YouTube link to watch it

The semiya kothu was as good as the kothu parrotta.

Idly with fish curry sure was my favourite.

The mutton Biryani does need a special mention. One of the few places that had the perfect madurai seeragai Samba rice biryani.

The rose milk gave the dinner a sweet ending!!!

Maestro of Punjabi cuisine at Hyatt Regency, Chennai

Maa ka khana is what you can find at the maestro of Punjabi cuisine at Hyatt Regency Chennai. The festival is on till 31st March for lunch and dinner!

Chef Sweety Singh Baluja has done magic with his hands by giving chennai the most authentic home style food. His food is made with love and fresh ingredients.

We started our evening with Bhangra and chit chat with the chef. He explained in detail to us about asli Punjabi food that is made with fresh ingredients, slow cooking and love!

The Kesar lassi was enticing and I had to start my evening with it. The flavour was subtle unlike the lassi that I have had before that is loaded with sugar. The flavour of Kesar/ saffron is rich and that makes it the best lassi!

Moving on to the starters:

The chicken tikka was extremely mild on flavour with minimal masala and rich with the right spices and not loaded with colour. Totally my type of tikka.

I am a seafood lover and am very particular about the taste and freshness of the fish. And it did not let me down. The fish was fresh and I was happy it was not basa and the flavour was outstanding!

Masala Aloo was cute little baby potatoes with the right masala and tang.

What is Punjabi food without paneer? Chef got it right with flavour and texture.

Moving on to main course.

The chicken kukkad masala was very close to a chicken butter masala. But was far superior in texture and taste.

Amritsari meat/ Tari Ghost was one of my favourite the meat was tender and loaded with fresh spices.

Paneer Makhanwala had all the right original flavour.

The palak (spinach) and corn gravy was a perfect blend of green leaves, green spices and sweetness of the corn. Definately a delight for the vegetarians.

Dal makhani is another favourite dish of mine as far as Punjabi food is concerned. I really love this dish and I think chef sweety actually stole my heart by getting it perfectly on the spot with slow cooking, fresh ingredients and loads of love poured into it!

Pindi Chole is a speciality of the Punjabi cuisine and not everybody gets it right. This is another dish that was cooked with lot of patience, since it needs slow cooking. And had the flavour right.

The kheer was a sweet ending to the soulful dinner !

Good food is always enjoyed with good company!

This food is all about recipes from generations that has been passed on, fresh ingredients, no short cuts, slow cooking, secret spices and loaded with love!