Every Women’s Secret Dream ❤️

Gone are those days when they would say that every women’s Secret Dream was to find the best life partner! I understood this over the years, but sealed it on women’s day this year 2023.

When I started by day at 4am to meet around 60 odd beautiful women at 5am on 8th March 2023 little did I know that I am going to seal my thoughts about a few things that has been running in my mind for so many years now. Like I always realised that everyday is a new day and every day we learn something new, that too from people whom you have least expected to learn.

A slum behind the most prestigious university of Chennai, the Surya nagar slum. I have been associated with them since 2015 in various social activities from cyclone relief to children education thanks to my previous organisation that I got to closely work with them and continued my association even after I quit the organisation 3yrs ago. Our focus when I worked with them was always children and education. This time since I was doing something on my own along with a group of friends I thought of doing something for the women who always put their Children’s need before theirs.

When I started the discussion with them 3 weeks before the event, they all seemed to have time constraints, since most of them work as house helps, the only time they could spare was early morning and so be it, I didn’t blink an eyelid before I said yes to the wee hours. I was as excited as them to do something that could create value in their lives.

Contribution poured in from my lovely community group called ” Eat Pray and Love” as always they are my strength and motivation in whatever I plan to do. Since Surya nagar is located on the banks of the river the place has its own charm, we decided to put up a beautiful tent with flowers to add colour to the location.

The day started with the beautiful view of moon setting and enthusiastic women who were dressed in their best outfits at 5.30am, when I saw this I knew it is going to be a energy filled day.

Over the discussion about what each one of them wanted to be and learn it was an amazing revelation middle age women wanted to learn driving and wanted to work as driver’s, few wanted to learn stitching, baking, beautician course and most of them wanted to learn to speak English, now this I thought was so much of a confidence booster.

Finally it is not about what we told them or what knowledge we imparted to them, for us it was so much that we learnt from them too!

Happiness starts from”YOU” we were able to convey to these women that happiness of their family starts from they being happy and if they pursue what makes them happy they will be able to cascade that happiness to their family and they all agreed. We all spoke about how beautiful life is for everyone and we could live a happy life if we had gratitude in our hearts and pursue our dreams! Saying that we are now on a mission to help them fulfill their dreams! The morning that started at 5.30am concluded at 7.30am with a hearty breakfast, goodie bags, loads of love, happiness and gratitude in each one of our hearts 💖

What did one day at Kozhikode look like!!!

It was a very unplanned trip, we were in Coimbatore thinking if we should or shouldn’t go for the tharavad festival, keeping my mother in law’s health condition in mind. It was the once in a year tharavad ( family temple) Pooja and we are just 3hrs away by train, the night before we decided with loads of prayers in our hearts to make the decision to go.

4.30am out alarm rings and we started getting ready to hop into the cab to take the intercity train at 6am from Coimbatore station. We decided not to carry breakfast with us since we have had breakfast at shoranur station before and it was always so good. 7am and we were at palakkad and we couldn’t resist the call from the station outside ” vada, parapu Vada, pazham pori” our eyes widened and we ran outside to get one pack of it. Disappointed, the parapu vada was rock solid, the pazham pori was full of thick soda mixed batter with a thin slice of nendra pazham ( Banana) that barely had any taste or flavour and the medu vada was just like there! We took some pictures cause well they looked good and it went straight to the bin after one bite. Now we were waiting for Shoranur for the most awaited breakfast that we have always had few years ago. 8am Shoranur and we are ready to get off the train to get a pack of the breakfast with chaya. I excitedly open the pack and see 3 beautiful looking idlys with one vada. Hungry and happy next I open the sambar pack that smelt good, poured it next to the idly, next opened the chutney pack and ohh it was just plain sour green water with some salt and there started our disappointment, the whole packet of 3 idlis, Vada, sambar and chutney after one bite goes to the bin, I really feel bad to waste food, but this tasted off and couldn’t help but trashing it the tea was equally bad. Our memories of Shoranur station breakfast just shattered. Our plan was to get off at Calicut station and try out some nice breakfast near the station, but our cousin had other plans for us, he surprised us at the station and droves us straight to his house for the soulful appam and payar curry, our search for good breakfast ended at 10am at beypore, Calicut.

It was the tharavad festival and we headed to the temple soon after the breakfast. The Pooja had started a day before and it was a typical small town fare that I really love and miss most of the time. I was visiting the temple after a long time, the last time I was here, there was nothing only a few deities and stones. Must say my mother in law and husband have been instrumental in getting the temple into shape by supporting them with whatever they really needed each time, like few years back they wanted a well to be dug and they happily did it and ofcourse monetarily supported every initiative. We were glad we could atleast be there for a day to witness this splendid Pooja, wait as it unfolds.

The afternoon started with women chanting Amma narayana, Lakshmi Narayana and ended with various gods and goddesses showcasing their presence and blessings till wee hours of the morning, 6am to be precise. The community lunch was vegetarian Kerala food made using wood fire need not mention anything further it was divine.

The next morning after few hours of sleep and a sumptuous breakfast at home we decided to visit pappan ( our uncle, father in-laws younger brother) who due to his health couldn’t attend the temple festivities. We stopped buy a local bakery to pick up some goodies for pappan and I really wanted to eat it all, but resisted since I had a Big break of ottappam and chicken stew at home.

On our way back from visiting uncle/ pappan we stopped by a very small place that makes pappadam, this is so different from appalam made in tamilnadu and papad made in rest of India, this one puffs up like poori and is so delicious when fried using coconut oil. Spent sometime with the person making these and to my surprise they don’t individually roll them they take a big pile and pat it till thin like paper, ingredients used urad dal, salt, papad soda also know as papad khar and tapioca flour to pat it. Watching the process of making the papadam and packing it was soul touching. Special mention to the packing part the papadam were put into a plastic cover and sealed using candle flame and packed again in a newspaper. Life is so simple yet we make it complicated.

On our way back we also stopped by to buy some special kaima rice from a store I assume it’s the same as jeera samba but this one I hear is grown in the Malabar region. Hence wanted to try kaima rice from its birth place.

Came home to the flavours of Malabar briyani in the back yard. Our cousins had decided to surprise us with wood fire Malabar biryani. We surely were running out of time and did not know if we had the time to relish this one and hence decided to pack it for our train journey. We felt so bad that they took so much efforts to make the biryani with so much love for us and we were like why all this trouble after a sleepless night, they said “this is our way of showering love to the people we love the most” and that for me was definitely the highlight of this beautiful one day trip to Calicut/ Kozhikode!

Grateful that we could make the best of these 24hrs that was gifted to us! We are thankful to every person we encountered during the best 24hrs is Calicut/ Kozhikode! Looking forward to spend a few more days to really enjoy so much more that “God’s own country” has to offer us!

The New Exotic Food ❤️

Home food is the new exotic food and we all agree with it! Ghar Ka khana was an initiative that was specially curated by “Soul On A Plate” to bring on the table 8 varities of Indian regional food to the guest at Hyatt Regency Chennai.

For the first time 8 homechefs under one roof over a month, quite a task right, but all the ladies were put to ease with the excellent planning and execution by team Hyatt Regency under the able leadership of the GM Ruban Das. And this could happen only and only because he believed that there sure is so much to offer by homechefs who make home style regional food.

The excitement of the event started with menu curation and photo shoots. Our Homechefs were on the roll, each one encouraging, supporting and motivating each other and that I thought was the happiest part of the event personally for me.

From Malabar to palaghat from Coorg to Bengali from Bihari to gujrati from rajastani to marwari it was India in a plate for people of Chennai. #gharkakhana has definitely made history in Chennai!

This was possible because of many people who worked behind the scenes special mentions to the staff of Hyatt regency.

Soul food at The Viridian plate in Chennai ❤️

One of those days when I came back home with my stomach and soul full.

In this world were everything is a compromise very few places believe in serving genuine and concious food to their customers. The Viridian plate is one such place.

The place vibrates postive energy that reflects in the food, this plant based restaurant is not only a boon to a vegetarian, vegan or Jain but to a pure non vegetarian like me, I almost got converted to a vegetarian by eating the food here.

Tucked in a quiet quaint corner of the city at thiruvanmiyur a must visit place for the yummy delicious food. This is what I had today. Triple c soup – carrot, cauliflower, coconut the flavour and texture of the soup was amazing!

Broccoli tater tots were like the taste bhi health bhi dish. You will love it for its taste and health quotient!

Spicy tofu with coffee coulis now this is one dish that blew my mind totally tofu served with coffee, I mean really??? And I can’t just explain how delicious this was, I totally totally enjoyed it!

Stuffed cheese balls not a simple run of the mill but these bombs of happiness were filled with vegan cheese.

Jimami tofu (peanut) burji another dish or rather ingredient I discovered today. So did you know that Japanese make their tofu from peanuts??? No I did not know, sorry! But yes I learnt it today and this most amazing burji that would give a run for the egg burji was made using peanut tofu or Jimami tofu!

Creamy corn and peas pasta it was smooth, subtle and the best!

Jackfruit biryani every vegetarians mock meat jackfruit definitely brings in the right flavour to the biryani.

(Peanut) tofu butter masala, spinach Paratha was like a marriage made in heaven the pairing was the best. The parotta was soft and made to order . The tofu made using peanut was softer than paneer.

Peanut curd rice I think I love this curd rice more than the normal one!

The desserts were the most surprising factor golden kheer made of pumpkin had some amazing Indian flavours. Whereas the chocolate mousse a no cook bomb of flavour!

To sum it up the owners Shankar and Gayathri are fabulous Human beings with an intention to serve the best to their customers. Uma and Jai supply the purest form of ingredients to this The Viridian plate and it was because of them that I got to have a meal at this place in Chennai!

So if you are looking at a plant based diet and wanting to enjoy good vegetarian food I would totally recommend The Viridian plate they also have a store that sells all vegan produce, go check them out! https://g.co/kgs/GJ82G6

Undress before you eat!

How many times have you undressed before you ate, literally!!!

Summer in india is a beautiful month, mother nature serves us the best seasonal fruits in summer.

As children we would get to eat mangoes, cashew fruits, watermelon and Jamun only if we took off our clothes and sat in the balcony or portico! This was only because we do not mess up our clothes and got to enjoy the fruits in the rustic way. Today I see parents peel the skin cut the mango into cubes and give their Children, why, but why? Why don’t we really let them enjoy the fruit the way we did it. Even better take them to the farm and let the understand that mangoes do not come from the shops on online stores they come from the farms. How about a farm trip. Just like we do it in Chennai. The Hanu Reddy mango tourism. I am sure other states and cities have similar farms too. Take our children back to nature and innocent fun.

Remember our future is going to be in our past like my dear friend Gina from Zola India says. Our past habits of eating, yoga and Ayurveda and going to be our future. Let’s introduce our children to this before they grow up only with modern gadgets and unhealthy food.

I am glad to see many of the fine dining restaurants and star hotels including healthy food options in their menu. It is going the #2023yearofmillet way and we are glad that we are part of the change with Eat Pray and Love a food community working towards introducing traditional food using #millets #indigenousrice #traditionalcookingmethods

Let’s undress our minds and adapt ourselves to #mindfuleating #healthybodyandmind!

In memory of the foodie daddy ❤️

My dad was a food connoisseur / gourmand / epicurean for sure!!! I did not know the meaning for all these fancy words 25yrs ago.

Today as we celebrate, yes we celebrate his 25yrs of passing away, here is a very mystical experience I would like to share. My dad loved good food, no second thought about that. If my mom taught me how to cook my dad taught we how to choose the best ingredient to cook and introduced me to good food.

I am not at home on this day and was in Salem with my friend to stand by her when she was talking about an initiative that is very close to our heart. But at the same time this 25th year was as important for me. As you all know Salem does not have a coast and fresh sea fish is a little difficult to source here. My father was a total seafood freak ( well yeah that’s were I have got my love for seafood from) and when it comes to meat he loved mutton and Salem gets some really good mutton. Infact when we were young my mom and we 4 girls has a bias for chicken and dad loved mutton and most of the time it was choice of majority.

A day before his passing away on 30th April 1997 my dad wanted to eat sardines/ mathi but could not do so and on 1st may he was no more. 25 yrs later in a place like Salem I am offered Fresh sardines/ mathi, what do I call this, mystical? I get his most favourite meat mutton, made it his style Mangalore gravy without coconut. Goa, a place that he wanted to retire and settle brews some amazing spirits. I am just back from Goa and so could serve his favourite drink, whisky. Ofcourse his favourite Dessert the mothichur ladoo.

I do believe that when our intentions are clear the path for everything opens up for us. Dear Papa bless our food and bless all of us from wherever you are, you are our guiding star and light!!!

Goan Local food at Cavatina Benaulim,Goa.

Are you one of them who has evolved from fine dining food to experience based local food? If Yes Cavatina is the place you must visit.

Why Cavatina? Well many reasons atleast for me it gave me an experience of my childhood food. Modern yet local and traditional. Every dish is rooted to history and tradition including the local drink urak! The ingredients and produce used to make the dishes are sourced locally from local fishermen and farmers. Every dish has a story.

We wanted to taste as much as we could from the menu and hence settled for chefs tasting menu.

The pav and poder both hold a very important place in the goan food scene. And I am glad I could experience poder poder ponk ponk the dish that serves pav, day before left over curry ( it’s a delicacy) and salsa to add tang to the dish.

The bisque was a delicate crab xec xec with tender crab meet to bite into. The flavour was subtle and delicate.

Local inspired spanakopita was a beautiful mix of thamdi bajji ( red amaranth) cashew butter in delicate phyllo sheet. This beautiful piece of food art was served on a old roof tile.

The rice pancake stiffed with prawn masala was a bite into burst of Goan flavour.

Betul has the best rock crabs that were used to make Kulli ( crab) cutlets with canacona chilli served on a bed of avocado chili mole. The mole has a awesome native pickle flavour.

The chicken cafreal served with quail eggs on a nest of potato crispy is a beautiful tribute to the most famous goan dish cafreal!

Hay smoked mackerel served on toasted bread and topped with salted raw mango took me back to my school days.

Patra de Goa has delicate seabass wrapped with green masala in a banana leaf the in-house mashed pumpkin cashew and red amaranth adds colour and flavour to the dish.

The Red boiled rice with the prawn gravy served with a splash of burnt feni is every goans dream come true!

Everything good has to have a sweet ending and oh my gaud! Literally this cheese cake that is made using gaud ( jaggery) had that amazing smoked flavour of jaggery and every thing nice!

The raw honey flan had the perfect sweetness, flavour and texture!

The in-house made salted caramel icecream was nothing that I have had before!

Visit Cavatina if you want to understand real Goan food and flavours made using only local produce. Dining at Cavatina means getting a true Goan experience with loads of food history and stories! Chef Avinash is holding on to his roots and giving goans and tourist who are visiting Goa a true Goan experience.

Cavatina is at Benaulim Taj Hotel Road, near Joecons Beach Resort, Benaulim, Goa 403712

Unesco heritage of South India, Chola temple in Thanjavur!

We travelled all the way to Cambodia to see the Angkor wat when we had this unesco heritage site just 300 odd kms away from us.

The feeling when you enter the temple is estatic, the energy one can derive from the Periya koil or Brihadeeshwara temple built by the chola dynasty in Thanjavur is immense.

You just need to let yourself float like a free soul in this ocean of 11th century architecture. We decided to visit this place just before sunset so we get a glimpse of day and night. To experience the lights that adorns the temple at night.

The mammoth Nandi and Shiva status grace the place with their presence which most of them come to worship there.

It was Panchami when we visited the place and there were so many people performing a special Pooja through the day with lamps made of coconut.

It was heart warming to see people from all religion pay their respect to this beautiful place that deserves every bit of it!

Definitely recommend this place to friends who are looking to explore India and its hidden treasure.

Where to stay and dine when in Thanjavur? We stayed at hotel sangam and we had a beautiful view of the temple from our room. Hotel sangam has clean rooms and good service.

We had lunch at pattukottai kamatchi mess it was a huge banana leaf meal with everything non vegetarian South Indian food. The food is cooked with home ground spices and served with Love.

Dinner was at nasar idiayypa, idiappam is served on banana leaf with south indian non vegetarian gravy and some side dishes. Tried idiappam kottu for the first time, just like kottu parotha I preferred idiappam kottu for sure, was much more lighter in our tummy.

Fighter cocks make soulful food!

The entire fighter cock meal!

The most happiest soul food that I have had in recent times! Kochai karthi kadai is a place where you can find fighter cocks that are used to make the most amazing meal. On one of our drives from Chennai to Coimbatore a friend suggested us to stop by Chengapalli 60kms before Coimbatore to enjoy this traditional firewood meal and oh my god I cannot thank him enough.

Kochai karthi kadai is run by a family of 3 karthi his wife and son Saran. The firewood cooking is done only by karthi and his every smiling wife.

The concept of this meal is very simple. Firstly you have to book a meal you cannot walk in without reservation simply because the food is cooked on fire wood and is specially cooked in demand only for you, so a 2hr notice is required.

The chicken order is minimum 1kg and costs 1,600 rupees 4 people can easily relish a 1kg for small eaters like us. The chicken is cooked in authentic south indian style we had the pepper chicken, red chilli skin chicken and ginger garlic turmeric chicken these are all dry prepration. They cook the chicken according to your spice handling level starts with 6 chillies ( called as baby level) 9 is called the ladies spice level goes to 12, 15 and 20 too! So remember to mention your threshold, we did the 9 that was hot but manageable. This meal comes with a chicken gravy, chicken soup and two varieties of Rasam, tomato Rasam and raw tamarind rasam. Must also mentioned the quality of rice, it is aged best quality pooni rice. This meal served on a banana leaf is a heart and soul stealer.

The meal

This is a dine in and takeaway place and if you cannot finish your 1kg of chicken you get to takeaway the leftover too.

The 3 varities of dry chicken
Chicken soup

Karthi took us around the place and must say the place is clean hygienic and maintained like a home. Not a fancy place more like a mess.

Vessels neatly sun drying
Dining place
Fire wood cooking

Definitely recommending this place to everyone. If you are my kind of person who believes in happy, traditional and soul food don’t miss this for anything! Call Karthi to book your meal on +91 98426 12721 in advance and remember to mention your spice level.

Bangalore Days at Taj Yeshwantpur!

Calm in Between the Chaos

I would call this stay at Taj Yeshwantpur home away from home!

After 15 days of being away from home we decided to take a short break to visit family in Bangalore.  Since this was an impromptu decision we had to book our stay one hour before we reached Bangalore. The best ever decision we made for a last minute booking at Taj Yeshwantpur!

We cannot stop talking about the impeccable hospitality that we received from each and every person at Taj from Rajeev Khanna to Ajay Sawe to Anshu Ukey, Dinesh Verma to Sundar to chef Jose, Aditya and Amrik. You have created that space in our hearts forever.

Our room was beautiful with the most precious view of Bangalore City! The service was such that even before we think of what we wanted it was at our door. This 327 rooms hotel is definitely a pride to the city and Taj hotels!

Conjee was my favourite
Waffles with Nutella
Wheat poori
The tasting tiffin!

Bangalore if you are thinking of any place to celebrate your New Year just check in here and have the time of your life with friends, family and loved ones!

At the pool side!