The Joy of Bengali Home cooked food in Chennai!

The sunday Bengali lunch

The big bong lunch ❤️
Sundays are special but this one was super special.
It was my birthday weekend and we were invited to dine with  Joy and family.

Joyadrita (Joy) is a home chef who cooks up authentic Bengali food with recipes from her mom and grandma. Chennai is indeed lucky to have someone like her in the city. Joy has done couple of pop ups and food festivals in Chennai as well as mumbai.

Joy and me

How can we start a Lunch without the spirit? Joy’s husband Ragav makes excellent mojito I was told and mojito it was, must say the best that I have had so far!

Mojito by Ragav

The lunch was an elaborate affair. Started with the Bengali chicken cutlet, my eyes opened wider as I saw the cutlet puff up like a Puri when fried.

Bhetki Jhaal diye/Sea bass in mustard gravy, being a fish lover was my favourite. The fish was super fresh and the preparation was subtle yet so yummy!

Bhetki Jhaal diye/Sea bass in mustard gravy

Chingri Bati Chorchori/Freshwater shrimps in a spicy mishmash. The prawns were soft and sweet and the masala was perfect!

Chingri Bati Chorchori/Freshwater shrimps in a spicy mishmash

Robibarer Laal Manghsher Jhol/Sunday Mutton Curry. With my boys who love mutton this sure was a perfect sunday treat. Bongs make the best mutton I say, the flavour of the musturd oil compliments the flavour of the meat.

Off course we had to have some vegetables too. Phoolkopir Rosha/Cauliflower florets in a silken, flavorful gravy.

Phoolkopir Rosha/Cauliflower florets in a silken, flavorful gravy

Sobji diye ghee bhaat/Bengali Style ghee rice with seasonal vegetables. The flavour of the ghee was intense and perfect combo for the mutton curry!

Sobji diye ghee bhaat/Bengali Style ghee rice

The sweet chutney was more like a dessert, seasoned with the onion seeds the flavour was tangy yet sweet. Traditional this chutney is relished with papad and we had it the traditional way. This reminded me of how few people in the south have a combo of payasam and papadam. After all we Indians have so much similarity in our food habits irrespective of which part of India we belong too!

Sweet Tomato chutney

Lucky to have had this meal during the season of nolen Gur. Nolen Gur is date jaggery that is available in Bengal only during winter and is the best jaggery with loads of health benefits. We got to gorge on the nolen Gur rosgulla!

Nolen Gur rosgulla

And the story does not end there, we Love people who love our food and we want to give them more food. That’s exactly what happened to us. We had some take aways too. Must confess the most environment friendly packing, every small detail was taken into consideration when Joy thought of starting her home cooked food service. Her husband has been a pillar of support with fabulous packaging ideas.

Food packed in earthenware coverd with banana leaf!

I really think that we are so blessed to have home chefs like Joy who spread happiness and joy through food!

The families

A point to note, most of the Home chef’s are passionate about what they do, they don’t do it only for the monetary benefits. The ingredients that most of them use are from their home kitchen and are always hand picked with care and yes hence they do work a bit expensive. But the Joy that you get from the food that comes out of their kitchen is soul satisfying. Show them love and affection ❤️

The meal on our platter!

For authentic Bengali Home cooked food in Chennai reach out to Joy on +91 84520 98701 Instagram handle https://instagram.com/foodofjoyflavoursofbengal?igshid=16z0nkx5yj5xx

Traditional South Indian non vegetarian food in Coimbatore at Hotel Kannappa.

Hotel kannappa is a one of those restaurants that believes in traditional style of cooking that is very rarely found in today’s fast food world. Their spices and masala’s are all made inhouse in Trichy where the brand was born.
The recipes are brought down from the grand mother’s and mothers and most of the dishes are slow cooked on woodfire. There is definitely no short cuts to a good meal.
This fish, chicken and Mutton are sourced fresh everyday. The highlight of the meal is the finale the elaneer/ tender coconut payasam.
Coimbatore has two outlets ( mind you all their outlets are owner run) one near the airport and another at ganapathy.

We started our lunch with the traditional soup Chettinadu Nattukoli Rasam
Chettinadu Aatu Eraichi Saru.

Chettinadu Nattukoli Rasam
Chettinadu Aatu Eraichi Saru

Spl Kannappa chicken
Chettinadu Pepper Chicken
Mutton Sukka
Mutton Nalli Sukka
Mutton Kola urundai
Yeral Milagu piratal
Vanjaram Tawa Fish
Butterfly prawns
South Indian Fish Fingers
The starters were a riot of flavours with everything fresh from the mutton to thr chicken to the fish and prawn. Each dish had unique flavours and spices.

Starters spread on a banana leaf
Fish fry and kola urandai
Fish fingers and Mutton nalli sukka
The starters platter

The best main course and the most favourite dish in South India. Mutton biriyani!

Mutton biryani ❤️

The finale was ultimate with the elaneer payasam!

Elaneer payasam!

Hotel kannappa is based at ganapathy in Coimbatore. All their hotels are owner run. They are a 20 years old brand that started in Trichy in the year 2000. With 5 restaurants in Trichy one in tanjavur and 2 in Coimbatore they are bringing back traditional food to people in South India.

The girl gang with the kannappa team

Every life has a story. This is ours at The story, Yercaud!

On a beautiful Friday afternoon we entered the story to write our story for the next two days!

View watching

Our story started from Chennai on a early Friday morning with a bunch of like minded fun people. We did a quick pit Stop at murugan idly. A little about murugan idly, the food was good, rest rooms are worse. A humble suggestion for murugan idly, many of them stop for your food more to use the wash room, hence please keep it clean. After that stop we straight headed to Yercaud. The weather was stunning, the drive was a breeze.

The story in front of our eyes had a mesmerizing effect on us, the vibes and aura were inviting. This resort is relatively new in Yercaud. Must say it was love at first sight for us, the view from the resort is stunning too!

The reception
The room

A little about Yercaud, Yercaud is a hill station town in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It lies in the Shevaroy Hills, known for their orange groves, and coffee, fruit and spice plantations. Yercaud Lake has a boathouse, and is surrounded by gardens and woods. On the lake’s eastern shore, Anna Park has local plants and a Japanese garden with bonsai. It is a 365 kms from Chennai 195kms from Coimbatore 205 kms from Bangalore and 30kms from salem.

Misty morning
Yercaud hills
Servarayan temple

We did visit a few places in and around Yercaud, but tried to spend as much time as possible at The story. They have a bonfire at night with music, the food is very good and made fresh to order, they do inform you to order food in advance. The complimentary breakfast is quite a big spread with south Indian breakfast delicacies. The staff are extremely polite and are ay your service all time with a smile in their face. Special thanks to Ravi, Saravana, John, Bobby and Namita for the excellent hospitality.

Breakfast
Filter coffee

To know more about The story https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/s/H9mDZ address is Berry Garden Phase – III, Pagoda Point Road, Yercaud Hills, Salem, Yercaud, Tamil Nadu 636601

The Story

Traditional Central Tamilnadu food cooked on firewood at Manjal, Chennai.

Manjal ( turmeric) is such an important part of an indian meal and so is this restaurant that serves the best of traditional food cooked on firewood. The food here is from Central Tamil Nadu.

Manjal

We all know that food cooked on firewood has a flavour and taste that cannot be matched by conventional cooking. The theme of this place is to serve traditional food the traditional way. The meal comes in plates laced by Banana leaf.

Firewood cooking

The vegeterian meal is as interesting as the non vegetarian meal keeping tastes and flavours intact. Both meals are unlimited Manjal has a whole variety of side dishes like the crab curry, brain fry, mutton chops, chicken fry, fish fry, prawn fry vanjaram fry that is served along with the meals. The biryani both mutton and chicken are available on the menu too. The vegeterian meal is priced at 450 plus tax and non vegetarian meal at 575 Plus tax. Remember it’s unlimited.

Vegeterian and non Vegetarian meal
Crab curry
Country chicken shredded ( nattu kozhi) in traditional Tamil Nadu masala
Prawn tokku
Liver masala
Vegetable meals
Mutton biryani

What makes this place special is traditional food cooked on firewood with nostalgic feeling of eating at some small town, fresh ingredients, no fuss food, eat to your hearts content.

Rustic interiors
Breakfast menu
Lunch menu

Manjal opens their door for guests on Christmas with a hearty breakfast and lunch.

Manjal is located at
Old no 17, ,New no 4, kasturi estate, 1st street Poes garden, Chennai-18

Quaint place in Chennai to spend time with family and friends❤️


The most amazing evening  at a beautiful location, outdoor seating, chic interiors and awesome food. You can find it all at “Meraki”  at Neelangarai.

We started our early dinner with two unique soups. The Cream of chicken was bursting with flavour when the carrot and cumin was subtle and yet touched our soul.

Appetizers were a fusion of South, north and continental.
Munthiri Parappu  / dal Vada with cashew nuts did take the Vada to a different level all together, the salsa that went along was a total treat.

The vegeterian Platter was a mix of beetroot kebab, this sure was my favourite, it just melted in my mouth, the brocolli was yummy and the truffle mushroom bharwan was excellent.

The non vegetarian Platter was a combination of fresh fish in green masala, prawn with coconut was my favourite flavour since I personally love coconut and the chicken kebab was moist and subtle on flavour.

Gongura with black and white paratha was a treat to our eyes and palate

Grilled fish chimichuri was served on a bed of fresh vegetable salad. Huge chunks of mahi mahi was fresh and loaded with flavour.

By now we were full and made a little place for some rice and mutton gravy. The ghee jeera rice bursted with the ghee flavour and the tender mutton gravy complemented it very well.

Things to know – like every other industry they too are slowly crawling back to the new normal, the desserts menu is not totally available. Parking here is on the streets, though it is not a busy road, hence not very difficult. Good news they have open dining space on the ground floor as well on the terrace. One reason we opted to try this place.

Covid safety and precautions- please wear your mask all the time except when you are eating or taking pictures. Wash/ sanitise your hands well. Social distancing has to be maintained. If you find it difficult to follow the safety measures, you could order food from them or do a take away.

Here is how you reach there https://g.co/kgs/Zr6swW

Eco-Tourism in kotagiri by Prakritilaya Nature Homes

According to The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism can be defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserve the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”.

And that is exactly what Arun does at his 4 room homestay at kotagiri. A dream that he started dreaming when he was 10yrs old and made it a reality soon after. Arun did his BTech in horticulture and then went on to do his postgrad in eco-tourism in Scotland.

With Arun the dreamer of Prakritilaya

‘Prakritilaya Nature Homes’ is an Eco/spiritual nature home, nested amidst the verdant tea gardens of kotagiri in the blue mountains of Nilgiris. Growing their owing own food, separate wastes, conserving water and nature. It is not about tourism always during off season Arun is planning to teach the school kids around Kotagiri about conservation of the environment, waste management, and recycling — which he thinks is the most effective way to protect our future generations.

With nature

Our experience of the staycation at Prakritilaya was nothing less than divine, a perfect getaway in these disturbed times. When we first met Arun at Coimbatore and heard in brief about the place, we already had decided we will never miss an opportunity to visit him and his dream project. My personal favourite at the Nilgiris mountain is kotagiri for one major reason less tourist traffic. The place is serene and offers more peace and tranquility. We were definitely not looking at partying since that is something we can always do in a city. We were looking at finding inner peace and rediscover ourselves and that’s exactly what we did at Prakritilaya.

Amidst beauty ❤️

We reached by lunch time and Arun had already taken our lunch order. Point to note nothing is pre cooked everything is prepared fresh, so we placed our lunch order at 11am and we had fresh hot food ready at our arrival. Few of the herbs are grown in their own garden and other vegetables and fruits are sourced from local farmers, till such time that their vegetable garden is ready for harvesting. Hot Tomato soup was a perfect start to our lunch since the weather was cold, the crispy Gobi chilli complemented the soup. The main course was farm fresh vegetable fried rice, herbed noodles and vegetable manchurian gravy. I fell in love with the herbed noodles that was loaded with locally sourced herbs.

Pipping hot Tomato soup and Gobi chilli
Herbed noodles, veg fried rice and veg manchurian

After lunch we strolled around the beautiful property and spotted a bison too. As the mist started settling in we decided to sip the hot aromatic tea from Arun’s uncles estate, these are premium tea leaves that are used only for export, we were previledged to have tasted it. The beetroot and mint paniyaram ( rice dumplings) was nothing that I have ever tasted, it was full of beet and mint flavour. The spring roll had south indian spiced filling.

We spotted a bison ( gaur/ indian bison)
Hot mint and beet paniyaram and south indian spring rolls

The night view of Prakritilaya is something one must not miss specially the sounds of insects are music to ears. Nights can be very cold and warm clothes are a must.

Night view of Prakritilaya

In the morning we woke up to total mist and light drizzle. It was a site to cherish. Our breakfast was yummy homemade jam by Arun’s mom ( you might find it on the shelf soon, do grab it when you visit) the poori, dosa and vegetable idlies were pipping hot. Special mention to the orange juice that was made using fresh orange from their own garden.

Morning view
Breakfast with a view
Vegetable idly

I was super excited about the lunch because I was curious to taste the mock chettinad fish curry and I must say it did not disappoint me. The fish was made of ground bean and the gravy was spot on. The paneer butter masala and jeera rice definitely kept my teenager happy.

Points to note- first don’t miss this place for anything! This homestay has only 4rooms so book in advance, they go full most of the time. The concept of Prakritilaya is spiritual and eco-tourism they live up to it, let’s respect it and hence no booze and no nonveg food ( believe me being there you will not miss it). The bath rooms have hand-made soaps. Tea infusors are used instead of tea bags, did you know tea bags are lined with thin sheets of plastic? Please note only vodaphone, jio and bsnl network is available there, but the place has excellent wifi and the easiest way to reach Arun is whatsapp, email or Instagram. A very good place for remote working so don’t wait for the weekend to head there, weekdays are good to head there. Definitely a stress buster that can calm your mind body and soul. The road to kotagiri is much more easy unlike the Ooty roads. The rules are a little relaxed and you just need to register your entry and it will be approved, epass as such is not required. Prakritilaya organises a day tour to visit the tribal people of Nilgiris the toda’s. You are allowed to see their place of worship learn cooking and craft work from them and also dine with them ( this is an experience we missed, but definitely doing it the next time) Arun also is a certified trekker and arranges for a trek if you would be interested.

Nature at its best
Tea infusors, copper jugs and glasses
With Arun wishing him loads of luck

Arun is a young and dynamic environment conservationist, his parents being his biggest inspiration for his success and also his brother Gokhul Ram who has a big part to play in helping him set up this Prakritilaya. To know more about Arun check his Instagram handle: arun_respects_nature, where he give various tips about zero waste journey, Minimalist lifestyle, and Recycling. One step closer to protect our mother earth. To find Prakritilaya on instagram check this handle https://instagram.com/prakritilayanaturehomes?igshid=qaej1epst50h You can find them on Google https://g.page/prakritilaya-nature-homes?share

Prakritilaya family

Vegan kebab using raw jackfruit!

How I used raw jackfruit as vegan meat to make #kebabs💚

Another food that I grew up eating was jackfruit both raw and ripe. Mom used to make raw jackfruit Sukka, jackfruit curry with dry fish/ shrimp and jackfruit fry.
The ripe jackfruit was had as it is or jackfruit appam’s were another favourite at our home.

Since I have been doing a lot of South Indian traditional cooking off late, I wanted to try my hands on a north indian dish using this tender baby jackfruit!

Raw jackfruit kebab it was. I cannot tell you how simple this recipe was to make and yet the most yummiest. The best part is the texture and flavour was so freaking similar to meat.

Recipe for making Vegan Raw Jackfruit kebab.

1 small tender jackfruit under 500gms cut into small pieces and pressure cook for 2 whistles. Drain moisture completely, mash and keep aside.

In a pan take 1tbsp oil and roast 1/4 cup besan / gramflour, 1tsp jeera, 2tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder, 2tsp corriander powder, 1tsp jeera powder, pinch of hing, 1/2 tsp kasturi methi, 1tsp Ginger paste and 2 green chillies chopped. When all the above Masala’s are roasted well on low flame (Take care not to brown it) switch off the fire. Add the mashed jackfruit, salt and amchur powder/ dry mango powder. Mix well and shape them to kebabs. Shallow fry the kebabs in oil, butter or ghee. If you are going vegan use coconut oil.

Infusions cafe in Coimbatore. Why is the quantity of chocolate important in any desserts!

#coimbatoreseries! Like I always say this city amazes me! Infusions cafe is one place I always visit when in Coimbatore. What I like about this place? The genuine ingredients that makes the deserts, pastries and beverages a class apart.

This time was not different, since we went as a family we could order more desserts and that meant I could taste a little of a few more desserts.

Their signature dessert sinful indulgence is served in a copper mug. The mug of blissful sin is layered with brownies, hot chocolate and icecream. The difference offcourse is the quality of chocolate used, made a whole load of difference.

We have had brownies all over the world, this one was sure out of the World. The texture of the brownie with a chocolate class apart is always superlicious.

Coming to the exciting part of the menu was the 16 layer eggless chocolate truffle cake. The layers were distinct yet blended so well in my mouth.

What we tasted as tiny sample and I really loved that small bit of tasting was cacao dalliance it is like a toffee but taken to a totally different level. The flourless fantasy definitely was a show stopper.

We are people who cannot stop with what we eat and we had to pack something home, specially when it comes to chocolates. Hot chocolate cubes it was to make easy hot chocolate at home. It is a Chitra’m brand segment and made with 51% bean to bar chocolate. Did you know Chitra’m and infusions belong to the same person? Arun Viswanathan is a Food technologist, Cornell alumni and Chocolate maker by profession. He run a cafe called Infusions and a bean to bar chocolate brand called Chitra’m. Arun has been winning international chocolate awards since 2018.

All the desserts, pastries and beverages made and sold at Infusions cafe are made using a blend of bean to bar and couverture. A little about couverture. Couverture chocolate is a very high-quality chocolate that contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter (32– 39%) than baking or eating chocolate ( courtesy wiki)

Infusions cafe is at No.7, Sathyamurthy Rd, Opp. Esjay Hospital, Ram Nagar, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641009

Story of grit and determination during lockdown! Never give up!!!

I am a big seafoodie. I find it very difficult to be away from seafood. I prefer fresh seafood, well that’s how I am wired. Lock down has played havoc with my seafood shopping, usually I like to go to the beach and get my quota of fresh catch from the boat.

At times I buy fish from a govt run fish stall based on the fresh fish availability and during lock down there is not much choice. Remember Chennai has an extended lockdown. Three days ago I discovered a govt run fish stall that was selling Fresh fish. I was so excited, but that did not last long, because that stall is 5 kms away from my house. Our lockdown rule, permits us to go and buy food or grocery within 2 kms radius of our residence. They sell fish only through their app and my location is not their service area.. Also they had a technical glitch! Second day, I called him again to check if there is any way he can help me out and deliver. I heard only NO. Third day, I called him again but the NO was in the same tone. My fighter instinct, especially when it comes for sea food, kicked in on that day. I located a friend of mine living closer to the stall and told her to buy the fish and keep it with her. Later I can Dunzo it. But, the app never worked for her so my shopping ended up in disappointment. You know I never give up for food. I called the person in charge, narrated my 3 day ordeal, convinced him that he has no choice but to help me buy fish. After some persuasion, he agreed to take the order over phone and accepted for GooglePay.
There comes my stock of fresh sear fish, crabs and more. My happiness knew no boundries when I saw the shining, fresh, blue sea crabs and the fresh sear fish. Believe me, it was worth all the trouble, when I saw them being cooked in my earthenware.

Are you a fighter or a loser? You don’t have to be aggressive but can be assertive! Find out various solutions to one goal. Few might work few might not, but never give up! We might lose few battles in life, but can win many more.

Life is all about not getting things easy, struggles are common, look at challenges as opportunity. Make your goals and determinations the focal point, chase them. Many of you see me post my food pictures, I don’t do it to show off. I love creating food, it’s my Passion, I want to encourage and motivate people who see my post to do something similar if they want to. I freely share recipes, I do not have secret ingredients or masalas. I believe that recipes are all over the internet, your hand and heart is special nobody can make a recipe like you can because your recipe comes from your hand and your heart. There can never be a comparison or competition for that.

My mom always use to say what is yours will always remain yours nobody can snatch it from you.💙

Bad relationships can be mended with love! How I worked on my relationship!

So here goes my story about bad relationship and how I mended it today with love and patience!

I got this beautiful used iron dosa pan from my husband’s cousin a few years back (8yrs if I am not wrong) from Calicut.  I loved the taste and the texture of the dosa I made using this pan. It would give me trouble in between but I use to use all the techniques I knew and I borrowed from veterans and my dosa’s would come out well again!

More than a year ago, it gave me a similar problem. I did not have much time in hand during morning breakfast since I had to finish morning chores and rush to office. I replaced it with a non-stick and went on with life. It remained there untouched for more than a year.

Yesterday I felt like eating the restaurant type dosa and my mouth watered when I thought about hot crisp dosa. I immediately soaked udad dal and rice ( I have not been using rice all this while, since I use Millets) but lockdown made me go back to something I love. When I woke up in the morning I knew that only my iron dosa pan could give me that crisp texture that I was yearning for. It was time to pull it out and shower all the love and attention that I had not given it for a while now. Would it work? but i really wanted it to work!

I washed the pan, looked at it with love, placed it on the gas stove and spoke to it for a while. I said sorry, with all the hustle and bustle in my life I forgot to appreciate you, when you seeked attention by not giving me the dosa the way I wanted it, I just discarded you for something fancy, easy and not that great for me. But I really love you and you know that very well. I am definitely going to love you unconditionally now on, I am going to say I love you even before I use you, I will wash and handle you with Love and above all I am going to be patient with you and not discard you! Saying this loudly as I rolled the dosa on my favourite pan. Also sent a few positive prayers, drizzled some home made desi ghee and kept looking at it with love to rise and not stick.

And vola, my pan responded back with all and more love that I could expect. It just gave me those lovely crispy dosa with the most amazing flavour that I have been craving and dreaming about since yesterday! All the love and prayers I showered came right back to me in the form of this dosa!

Moral of the story in any relationship you have to give love, attention, patience, prayers, understanding and lot of time to each other, without which nothing works. Thanks to the lockdown, mended my relationship with my favourite Pan!