Monday, August 15, 2016

Indore Food Trip: When in Indore, eat like an Indori!

Three years ago, I made an announcement on my social media platforms regarding a road trip to North India. An important pit stop was Indore in Madhya Pradesh, the very reason being food offered by the city. I specifically mentioned about ‘Garadu’ (a type of yam relished by Indoris, especially during winters) and invited opinions about it from the people who have tried it. Somehow, that jigsaw of road trip never came together and Indore (very surprisingly) remained a distant dream (though the distance to be covered was not more than 700 km from Mumbai)

As the luck would have it, I got an opportunity to visit Indore over a slightly extended weekend. The agenda was to catch up with the family of a close friend, Dr. Dhingra and the hidden agenda was to raid all possible places which are popular for food. ‘Sarafa Bazaar’ is the place included in my most passionate dreams (pun intended!). Do you know my passion for food? J. However, this time, the research quotient didn’t come to play and I simply remembered the dishes but not the places which served them (except ‘Joshi Dahi Bada House’ in Sarafa Bazaar)

The day I landed in Indore, I got to meet with an outdoor adventures enthusiast and a corporate trainer, Mr. Rakesh Jain who like many other Indoris is a foodie at core. As a typical outsider, I had ticked Sarafa Bazaar and Chappan Dukaan as my preferred destinations. But Mr. Jain had some different ideas. And the list he gave out was exhaustive. The description of the places and dishes was making me feel hungry and salivating but I contained my emotions with utmost gentlemanly manner. After an hour long conversation, it was an earthly need to hear my belly who was cringing even though I had a late afternoon lunch.

Rasagulla House, Near Geeta Bhavan, Manorama Ganj

Specialty – Rasagullas, Gulab Jamuns

Taste – 7/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 9/10 VFM – 8/10
Gulab Jamuns..soft, warm and yummy
I started my Indore Serenade on a sweet note by visiting Rasagulla House in Manorama Ganj. Dr. Dhingra was expecting guests at home in the evening and was summoned to get sweets. Rasagulla House in the nearby area was the best choice. Though the banners explicitly advertise ‘Rasagulla, Rasmalai and Rajbhog’, I fell for the yummy, warm and soft Gulab Jamuns. Three gulab jamuns and two rasagullas was somewhere I decided to stop as I had a plan to visit Sarafa Bazaar same evening.  It’s predominantly a take-away place and hence, there’s no place to sit as such. But if your sweet tooth is really pressing you hard then you can get your plate and stand there and clean those rounds of goodies at a go!

Sarafa Bazar (It is the landmark….)

Specialty – Street Food (Dahi  Badas, Bhutte ki kees, Garadu, Sabudana Khichadi, Jalebas, Malpuas, gulab Jamuns, Kulfi, Shikanji)

Taste – 6/10 Ambiance – 4/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 8/10

‘Sarafa Bazaar’ is a perfect example of a symbiotic system. In the daylight and till the dusk falls, it is a jewellery market and after that, it becomes a foodie’s haven. You can experience a similar transition in Ahmedabad at Manek Chowk. It’s a simple arrangement – the late night dwellings guard the jewellery shops, for the crowd it attracts and in return, get a nice platform to sell their food. We reached the place at around 10.30 p.m. (mind you, the place comes to life only after 10 in the night). It was an eve of Ramzan Eid and there was a sizeable crowd shopping to celebrate eid, on our way to Sarafa Bazar. The brief rains had made the scene little slippery and slushy. Our babies were yawning and lo and behold, there was a huge procession of Lord Balaji making all the way from the main street of Sarafa Bazar. Not the best of the platforms to enjoy your food and for a minute, I honestly thought about making a U turn and try some other place. Patience, my friend, patience! We waited till the procession moved on and we finally entered the Sarafa Bazar.

The samosa shop on the left hand corner gives a little glimpse of what is on the plate (of course, samosas J). The name I remember faintly is ‘Prachin (Old….Prachin is actually older than the old) Samose ki Dukan’ I am always intrigued by the way the food stalls brand themselves, especially in North India. The name could be little confusing as we are not sure if the samosa is PRACHIN, the recipe is prachin or the shop is prachin. Prachin in Sanskrit means Historic. Most of the shops which are located at revered places in India (North?) use this adjective Prachin very frequently to flaunt their authenticity and quality. You would find shops starting with the name ‘Prachin’ at places like Haridwar, Varanasi and Mathura. We have few gems in North India who put an adjective of ‘Asli’ (the original) as plagiarism is rampant across the territory. But we’ll have this discussion in some other post.

Joshi Dahi Bada House, Sarafa Bazar

Specialty – Dahi Badas and Bhutte ki kees

Taste – 8/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 9/10 VFM – 9/10

Dahi Bada
We headed straight towards Joshi Dahi Bada house which is unquestionably can be called as the face of the Sarafa Bazar. The procession of Lord Balaji had robbed us off the opportunity to meet Mr. Joshi who has been covered by many food shows and is famous for his Ghulam-Badshah conversation, ideally ending with Puchiye Kyun? (Ask why?) and his skill to toss the plate in the air and  sprinkle masalas on the dahi bada (I certainly prefer the second skill as the first one is meant for the food shows). I got my first hands on ‘Bhutte ki kees’’instead of Dahi Bada. With my stomach gurgling and asking for some inputs, it was obvious that I fell for it. Made up of finely ground boiled corn, spiced up with lemon and other ingredients, it tastes nice but not an explosion in the oral cavity. It has a subtle taste. Works well with your palate. Dahi Bada ofcourse remains the main attraction. The two water soaked and then squeezed badas with a generous ladle of sweet curd (not yogurt, just to clarify) and sprinkling of the aromatics makes it worth travelling to Sarafa Bazar. You may feel like going for another of dahi badas. You get as much dahi as you want (what generosity..indeed the customer is Badshah!)

Sawaliya Seth Ki Sabudana Khichdi

Specialty – Sabudana Khichdi (Spiced pearl sego)

Taste – 8/10  Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 7/10 VFM – 8/10

Sabudana Khichdi is such a humble snack, comes into highlight especially on the day of religious fasting (I really wonder if it does any good to your guts). But it is a convincingly tasty snack. Being a Maharashtrian, I always fancied about Sabudana Khichdi on so called ‘FASTING’ days and would generally end up overeating. Some people just seem to have nailed the recipe. It’s a tricky preparation and involves lot of hardwork. You have to be patient till the milky white pearl sego starts turning translucent and you can earn well-endowed biceps. So I was pleasantly surprised when I came to know that Indoris also took a great fancy at this humble and yet tasty snack.

Sawaliya Seth’s sabudana khichdi is a typical street food version. A big pot of sabudanan khichdi kept warm in yet another big pot with boiling water. Sabudana tends to get sticky and rubbery as it cools and it is important to maintain the right temperature. As you place an order for a plate, the guy will briskly take out a ladle of sabudana khichdi and sprinkle it with some spice powder and finely chopped coriander. The appearance could be disguising as the dish tastes lot better than it actually looks. We get slightly upmarket version of this snack at a popular eatery in Indore, ‘Apna Sweets’. This is where Rocky went week in his knees even for such a humble vegetarian dish. A must try!


Taste – 5/10 Ambiance – 5/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 8/10

Mighty Jalebas!!!
Indoris probably have all their 32 teeth made up of ‘sugar tooth’. It is evident from the fact that these guys like to enjoy their morning poha with piping hot, crispy jalebis. But ever heard of Jaleba? Sounds like a masculine version of Jalebi (bai???). It is (oh that patriarch society approach…huh?)! Jaleba weighs almost 350-400 g, flaunts its body for all the deep frying, glistens with extraordinary gloss of the sugar syrup, ravishing orange/yellow in colour and is soft at core. It is indeed a treat to take a bite and take a moment to come to reality. But it is a heavyweight stuff and unlikely to be cleaned by a guy/girl with even above normal appetite. I kept on chomping it till I finished almost 70% of it and then gave up. (Remember that I had 2 rosogullas and 3 gulab jamuns the same evening!)

Nema Falooda
Special mention for Shikanji of Indore! This shikanji is unlike you get in North India, which is a thirst quencher but good god, the Indori Shikanji can take care of your calorific requirements for few days. Made up of milk and rabadi with assortment of dry fruits, it can humble any milkshake. I still remorse at the fact that I reached ‘Nagori Shikanji’ when it was closed and had little place left in my stomach when I approached ‘Rabadi Guru’ in Sarafa Bazar. That was a heartbreak!

But somehow, my palate for sweet is not congruent with most of the towns in India. In these Tier II and III cities of India, there’s a lot emphasis on a dish being sweet and syrupy which according to me destabilizes the taste of a dessert. I prefer subtle sweetness in a sweetmeat/dessert and hence, most of the time left unimpressed with the sweet offerings in many towns in India. There was a similar story of ‘Basant Icecream’ in Ludhiana. I found it too sweet to enjoy. I am a fan of Natural Icecreams (like a Mumbaikar) and believe nothing beats the subtle flavours of fruit in it. So when I was trying the ‘Famous’ Nema Kulfi/Falooda at the Sarafa Bazar, one spoon and I was done.

Bablu Sandwich, Manik Bagh Road

Taste – 8/10 Ambiance – 6/10 Service – 8/10 VFM – 6/10

Masala Paneer Sandwich
My food guide for Indore, Mr. Rakesh Jain insisted that I should not leave Indore before tasting sandwiches at Bablu Sandwich. I obliged and have not stopped thanking Mr. Jain for recommending this place. I am not a fan of the sandwiches they make in Mumbai called as ‘Bombay Sandwich’. The product is horrible for me and the chutneys they give along with those sandwiches are worse than the sandwich itself. So honestly, I had my own reservations going to try sandwiches in Indore but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me.

Italian Club Sandwich..Super Loaded!
When I reached the place, we were the only customers and hence, sheepishly confirmed if this is the only ‘Bablu Sandwich’ in Indore. After clarifying, I started conversation with Mr. Bablu Jain who is the owner and introduced myself.

He was excited to meet a ‘food blogger’ who 
came all the way from ‘Mumbai’. He himself offered to choose sandwiches from his menu for us. We tried three different sandwiches from different categories – Italian Pizza Club (Super Loaded), Masala Paneer Sandwich (Semi Loaded) and Biscuito Choclate Crisp Toast (Dessert). I must say that the first two sandwiches were loaded with flavor (with cheese too) and kinda caused an explosion of flavor bomb in my mouth. The breads used are fresh, generous use of toppings and stuffings make it a joyous gastronomic fair.  However, my conflict continued with sweet category as I found the third sandwich too sweet for my palate. The extra hand of condensed milk drizzled with chocolate syrup was something which I struggled at the end to finish.

Some patrons in Indore still swear by the name of Sapna Sandwiches; but I think Bablu Sandwiches is coming up fast and catching the fancy of Indore’s new generation of foodies. It is certainly not cheap though as it would be in Sarafa Bazar or Chappan Dukan. The Italian PIzza Club costs you INR 220 which is at a fair premium to vegetarian range of Subway Sandwiches. But it’s good that I have made friends with Mr. Bablu Jain. He has promised to guide me on my next food trip to Indore. J
Biscuito Chocolate Sandwich

There are few places which I couldn’t visit due to constraint of time and other obligations. I am listing them here. Please feel free to share your experiences if you happen to visit them.
1.       Lal Balti Kachori (Rambara)
2.       Jalebi Poha at Jain Shree
3.       Head Sahab ke Pohe

4.       Ravi’s Aloo ki Kachori (Anand Bazaar Corner) 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Baking and Breaking The World of Kashmiri Breads

Bread is such an important aspect of survival for a human. After water, if anything a human being craves for, is nothing but bread. Over thousand years of evolution of homo sapiens and a subsequent development of new cultures on this planet, the bread has taken various forms. There’s no other region which has a rich history and variety of breads the way Europe has. As I read somewhere that Germany alone boasts 1300 varieties of breads and pastries (I so vividly remember the strudel Christopher Waltz’s character eats in the movie, Inglorious Basterds). So famous is Italy’s Focaccia, France’s Baguette, Danish Rugbroad or German’s Bauernbrot. Middle East too has its own contribution to this ancient recipe. The famous pita, the supremely tasty lavash, sumptuous taftan or our own hearty naan.

Being a human being (not just Being Human J), I too developed craving for the bread from my childhood. Though Indians are not heavy eaters of leavened bread and generally prefer flat unleavened breads, I loved the freshly baked soft white bread or the tasty buns with my evening tea. The love further blossomed with introduction to pizzas and garlic breads. My curiosity for breads is increasing always. And I was in for a surprise when I married my better half who’s a Kashmiri Pandit. Kashmiri Pandits also share my love for breads. So it is easy for me to write about the Kashmiri breads.

A typical dekko of a Kashmiri Bakery, Nagrota, Jammu
A Kashmiri breakfast would never be complete without breads, that too the baker’s breads. Every Kashmir√≠’s home would be situated in the vicinity of a bakery or vice versa makes more sense J. I think both are inseparable entities. The bakery in Kashmir is known as ‘Kandur’ (pronounced as kaan-duur). The owner of a kaandur is considered to be blessed by the Kashmiri saint, Lal Ded who once took shelter in an oven of a kaandur. This is as per a KP legend. I am not too sure about the legend of Lal Ded  but I am sure that the owner of kaandar/kaandur is blessed by thousands of souls including me.

The Baker in The Kaandur (Please check the red hot oven and the divine light from the window in the background !)
A fresh bread with a cup of piping hot tea on a cold winter morning in Kashmir/Jammu is a luxury anyone can afford. That’s where the blessings start to pour in. It’s not an ordinary job to run a kaandur and meet expectations of its various patrons. The oven (that’s tandoor, dude!) is lighted up very early in the morning. The knuckles come hard of leavened or unleavened dough to start the day. Interestingly, the kaandur keeps on changing the breads with almost every passing couple of hours (Please correct me if I am wrong since that’s my experience)

Whenever I am in Jammu, my morning starts with an endearingly refreshing cup of Kahwa. To date, there has been nothing which is able to beat the subtle mixture of various aromas in the simplest forms like the way Kahwa offers. And obviously, it doesn’t need an accompaniment as your all senses are awakened with every sip of this delicately beautiful clear tea (but some people prefer Kulcha, KASHMIRI…SAY…KASHMIRI Kulcha, with it, I think it’s just a function of hunger). Here, kaandur is saved from the early morning raiders as the he silently works his hands on the dough to make the first batch of lavaas and girdas ready.

Kashmiris love their tea the way Punjabis love their whisky. (Ouch, Okay!) Kashmiris love their tea like the way fish loves water (Sounds good…would the first line be chopped?). Tea is an integral part of every Kashmiri household. The day starts with it and most possibly, you may end the day drinking tea if you are willing. I guess half of the cooking fuel consumption should be dedicated to tea in a Kashmiri home (and rest goes for those delicious slow cooked dishes which I relish a lot… I mean gobbling 4-5 dum aloos). Why I am I stressing so much on tea when the write up has to be about bread. Bread is the best accompaniment of tea. J

As I mentioned, the first round of milky tea (mostly the pink nun chai) doesn’t descend through esophagus unless you hold girda or lavasa in other hand. Girda or just czot (pronounced as ‘chot’) is a flatbread similar to the roti we may get in plains in India but is prepared using maida (refined flour). Freshly warm (or warmly fresh) and smeared with table butter, it becomes ‘no one can eat just one’ affair in the morning. My personal capacity can be enhanced to 5-6 girdas on any given morning. Kashmiris generally prefer the nun chai (salty pink tea, ‘nun’ stands for salt in Kashmiri) with girda. Over the time (7 years to be precise), I have developed the taste for ‘nun chai’ but my fundamental structure prefers to enjoy these breads with sweet milky tea (generally labelled as ‘Lipton Chai’, what a brand recall of Hindustan Unilever!) Girdas/czots/rotis, as I call them the first batch of breads are consumed around 9 in the morning.
Girdas... No one can eat just one (Not even two also)

Lavasa is a fairer brother/sister of Girda. Girda is generally baked to golden crispiness while lavasa is kept slightly thin but have numerous blisters on surface. I personally prefer girdas over lavasas as the slightly stretchable texture is not something which I enjoy with my tea. However, I believe (and as I read), lavasas are the perfect breads for kebabs or veg dishes like paneer tikkas and chole. Needless to say, you have to apply butter on the surface of lavasa to enjoy your dishes to impermissible limits J.

Kashmir, as many of you know, is a valley situated between the beautiful Karakoram and Pir Panjaal range of Himalayas making it one of the most beautiful terrains in the world. It is bestowed with a very balmy weather which becomes very cold (Oh..that ‘Chilai Kalan’) in winters. The guts of people here are so suitable to consume butter and refined flour that we poor mortals from plains who complain after eating few pies of a pizza will always be at awe at both, usage and capability of kashmiris to digest these two commodities. The situation is worse especially if you are staying in a city like Mumbai where the weather never helps you build an appetite. It brings me to tears (of course of JOY) to see people enjoying so much of leavened bread and butter in the hills.

As the day starts crawling towards noon (I really mean it, with so much of butter in your belly, the day actually crawls), we are introduced to another set of amazing breads. This is the time for the famous tilwor and that not so famous but equally delectable ‘Katlam’. Tilwor or Chochwor as it is commonly known in the valley is similar to bagel bread. One of the the most attractive in the Kashmiri section of breads. Traditionally, a good friend of nun chai, tilwor when fresh out of kaandur can give a run to the best bagels anywhere on this planet. Highly recommended on a cold afternoon with the very Kashmiri nun chai (Did I forget to mention ‘lot of butter’, eh?).
Freshly baked Tilwors, make way, you Bagel!
Katlam is my all time favorite bread. It is similar to what we call ‘Khari’ biscuits which we get in different bakeries in Mumbai. The ones from Yazdani Bakery in Fort are probably the best I have come across in Mumbai. So Katlam has that multi layered personality and all the layers are crunchy in peking order as your teeth go on biting the layers. Even the relatively soft core is so so delicious that you may want to skip your lunch over multiple cups of nun chai/ lipton chai along with continuous supply of Katlams. However, unlike the khari biscuits, the katlams tend to lose the crunchiness over hours. The khari biscuits can retain crunch over days. Come what may, that’s my personal favorite bread from the kaandur.

Katlams and Tilwors...Awesome twosome combo for your late morning tea!
Bakirkhani is also an everyday bread. We may call it a big bro of Katlam. Slightly puffed, layered, crunchy (I am tired of saying that they go well with any Kashmiri tea and this time please include Kahwa if you wish to… but I prefer Kahwa as a solitary drink). Bakirkhani itself though is not unique for Kashmir. Available from Bangladesh to Uttar Pradesh to Pakistan, the recipe may vary little for every region. A preparation with clarified butter (ghee) will give you an accompaniment for the savory dishes prepared on special occasions.

And how can I forget to write about Kulcha! No, no, not your typical kulcha. This too is a baker’s bread but little firm and you can’t stuff chhole into it. Again exclusively goes with tea (haa, I give up now, exclusively with ‘nun chai’).

Kashmiri Kulchas...for Rs 3 to Rs 5 per piece is an excellent bargain!
The breads I talked about are integral part of daily life of a Kashmiri. It is difficult for a Kashmiri to survive without tea and bread. So girda, lavasa, tilwor, katlam, kulchas and bakarkhani always come to rescue for him/her. However, there are few breads which are prepared for special occasions like weddings, new arrival (not the movie, man!).

Krippe or Krip is dear to me. My first encounter with it took place at my wedding in Jammu. My relatives and friends who accompanied me for the wedding told me that they were enjoying Krip with their tea. All I could do was to react with a smile as I had to observe a ritualistic fast till the wedding was complete (technically late afternoon around 4 p.m.). This tiny round bread wins your heart (and may clog arteries also) with its flaky structure, goes well with….. (Please fill in the blanks now). We carried loads and loads of krip on our way back to Pune from Jammu and how voraciously we finished it before we reached Pune. JJJ. Another strong contender who accompanied us during the trip and no one dared to mess with it was the roth. Roth is a bulky bread laden with dry fruits and coconut with a sweet tinge. It is an exclusive bread for grand occasions like wedding and child births. I loved it dunking it in warm milk and gobbling it up.  

Roth (Yes, the one that looks like Pizza...sweet and mighty!)
Gyevchot which literally translates as the ghee roti is obviously made using ghee (clarified butter). It has a fluffy, soft texture with surface baked to golden hue. I earlier thought it to be an everyday bread but alas, it has become a rarity. I went on inquiring about Gyevchot last time I was in Jammu and the kaandur man told me that it is made on order.

Gyevchot with Kashmiri Nun Chai as well as sweet milky tea!
Sheermal is one bread I really love to dig my teeth into. And surprise, it need not be accompanied with tea. It is a sweet bread prepared using refined flour, milk, saffron and dates and has its own flavor. I am not too sure if sheermal is an exclusively Kashmiri bread because I find numerous mentions about this bread in northern UP. But since the place of origin for this bread is Iran, Kashmir will obviously be connected. Mildly sweet, prepared using date flavoured milk this one is one of my favourite companions on travel. One can eat them without any accompaniment. It’s like a delicious biscuit. Crisp, crumbly and flavorful.

Rate List outside a Kaandur in Nagrota, Jammu.
The distinctive nature of Kashmiri culture also influences its cuisine. Now-a-days, there’s a lot of curiosity over Kashmiri dishes and I could see many restaurants serving exclusively Kashmiri cuisine in the metropolitan area. The tourist flow is increasing to Kashmir and hopefully, it will keep on getting better and better every year. All I wish is that the beauty would always be perpetual with no more scars. So next time you go to Kashmir, definitely visit a kaandur and raise a Bread (not the toast) to the peace, prosperity and longevity of Kashmir. 

NOTE - All the pics in this post are originally clicked by me. I would be happy to share them with anyone who needs it but request to take my permission please!)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cultural Evolution of An Indian Veg Thali

Thali is probably  a quintessential offering of an Indian kitchen to the world though it may not be as famous as butter chicken, daal and naan in the West. (I heard that these have given bad name to India’s mouth watering array of cuisine). Thali represents how an Indian eats her food. Thali essentially means a plate in which all the offerings are served. Interestingly, the contents keep on changing almost every 100 km across the length and breadth of this huge and diverse country. From the slow cooked heady spice mix of Kashmir to simple rassam/sambar rice in Tamil Nadu and from the fantastic all vegetarian extravaganza of Gujarat  to the carnivore’s paradise in the East, one will be zapped by the diversity. So it is difficult to actually put India’s culinary delights in a nutshell called ‘Indian Thali’

Historically and culturally, Indians are fairly conservative about eating out. However, every new generation is now defying that logic with equal force. The elders generally emphasized on eating at home only and not to eat outside as it was a sign of lowliness. The cast system being very strong in India also raised doubt about the origin of the person who cooked the food. Parann (food cooked by somebody else apart from family members) was a forbidden fruit. The only eating out experience for Indian families were grand functions like weddings and the food was served in a thali. The same culture has percolated down the years in a new version called Thali Restaurants across India.

As I mentioned earlier, it is difficult to put the diverse cuisine of India in a single thali. However, the vegetarian quotient is prominent in Indian thali. Eating a sumptuous thali is one of the indications of celebration related to festivals. Since almost all the festivals are associated with some sacred rituals, people avoid eating non-veg food. Therefore, it was imperative that a thali with 100% veg content will emerge as a clear winner and would set the culture. So it was obvious that Gujarati thali was meant to be a clear front runner.

Gordhan Thaal - Ahmedabad
Down the memory lane, I could clearly remember a very basic version of the so called thali – ‘rice plate’. I am born and brought up in Western Maharashtra and could easily link a wholesome eating experience in the childhood via a rice plate. So a rice plate will have 4-5 small bowls containing one or two gravy based preparations, a dry subzi, lentil, curry/kadhi and salad and couple of chapattis (Indian flat bread) and sumptuous amount of rice (obviously, it’s a rice plate!). You could transform that simple thali into ‘’Deluxe Thali” by replacing chapattis with puris (deep fried Indian puffed bread) and a single serving of an Indian dessert (mostly Gulab Jamun). I loved the part sans rice. I was a rice hater in the childhood and developed nausea to the extent that I used to puke at the site of cooked rice. (This extreme reaction was actually on account of horrible food served in coastal region of Maharashtra/Goa those days – 17-18 yrs ago).

This was the time when the Indian was experiencing the winds of globalization. The new grads (especially engineers with specialization in electronics) were being picked by software companies. People started experiencing the phenomenon of disposable income even after doing savings. Rice plate was meant to take a back seat. Quick Service Restaurants  (QSR) were mushrooming and fast food caught the fancy of Gen X very quickly. Rice plate has been reduced to a meal of labourer these days. But rice plate was never meant to evolve as a choice for thali.

With people finding themselves in a position to spend extra money over food and the inherent Indian culture of eating in thali gave rise to the culture of premium thalis.  In the initial phase, there were many standalone restaurants serving Gujarati/Rajasthani thali (some are doing great even today). As mentioned earlier, the high veg quotient of Gujarati food makes it an indomitable choice for thali anyday. There is 90% chance that you would enter a thali restaurant and you would be served with Gujarati cuisine in your thali. Gujarat and Maharashtra throw abundant choices of veg food to a connoisseur that provides a complete spread from starters to desserts. I don’t think that any other state provides such a wide array of vegetarian cuisine.

Gujarat’s offerings are richer than Maharashtra. Maharashtra’s cuisine is rustic and simple. There are few items in Maharashtra’s offering which can certainly compete with Gujarat (Shrikhand is something which both Maharashrians and Gujaratis claims to be their own dessert, I certainly feel it’s Maharashtrian), but Gujarat’s cuisine scores well in overall index. Although snubbed by fellow North Indians for being too sweet for their palette, I don’t see a strong contender to Gujarat’s veg spread and hence captivating the culinary fancies of foodies across the country. Besides this, Gujaratis being predominantly business oriented community have travelled across length and breadth of the country and have carried the legacy almost everywhere. And there is no doubt that Gujaratis are born foodies.

Let’s get down to main business. Gujarati thali’s main ingredients are farsan (the starters – fried/steamed). Dhokla is generally the preferred steamed version while dal wada is the essential Gujarati snack. The combination of mint-coriander chutney and tamarind-jaggery  chutney along with these snacks makes up for a perfect start. Since the hunger is at peak at the start, most people tend to go overboard gorging on the ‘farsaan’.  This follows by different vegetables, sweet and spicy dal as well as curry and most probably three types breads – phulka with ghee, thepla and rotla. Personally, I am fan of thepla and generally ignore other breads since thepla is rich in taste and contents. Rotla goes good with white butter and jiggery. You actually don’t need anything else if you’ve rotla, white butter and jaggery. In the later course, one may probably have a choice of steamed white rice and aromatic khichdi. Go for khichdi with sweet Gujarati kadhi and you’ll stop hating the sweet quotient of food in Gujarat. Desserts are inseparable- and I love the restaurants who serve unlimited desserts.

Sasuji Thali - Vadodara

Being in Mumbai, I had been to several thalis restaurants in the city and haven’t come across the legend like ‘Agashiye’ of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. In Mumbai, I frequent to Chetana, Status, Samrat, Revival, Thakker’s, Golden Star. Personally, I like ‘Rajdhani Rasovara’ for the sheer size and contents of the thaali. It is not for the faint hearted as it serves  3-4 types of desserts at the start only. I like Chetna for its simplicity, Thakker’s for its rich taste.  In August 2013, I had been to a trip to Ahmedabad with a very close friend, Ashish Sharma only to explore food of Gujarat. The high point, as I mentioned was ‘Agashiye’ though we also tried ‘Gordhan Thaal’ at Satelite Cross Road. Though the starters and desserts were winners (I scooped 7 bowls of Apple Basundi there J), main course was little disappointing. Following is the account of our food trip to Ahmedabad.

To put in a nutshell, Indian thali restaurants do give an essential experience of an Indian cuisine and has evolved into a strong culture in India. I am happy o be the part of this culture and is always a delight to find a thali restaurant in an unknown place (though now-a-days I do a lot of research before heading for an unknown, especially on restaurants and food). I trust that culture will keep on becoming stronger with every bite. J

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Food Culture of Jammu : Introspection of My experience

Often, Jammu is discussed in context with pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi or a gateway to Kashmir. People don’t ‘travel’ to Jammu but it is like a pit stop. Thus, little is known about the main attractions of this city, forget about the food. Since I have the privilege of staying in Jammu for longer periods as it is my in law’s place, I can vouch for the extra-ordinary street food this Dogra stronghold has to offer.

Jammu is generally famous for its Rajma Chawal (Kidney beans curry with piping hot steamed rice). The kidney beans cultivated in the Bhaderwah region of Kashmir are supposed to be the best quality in the world. It is a no brainer that Rajma is an integral part of both Dogra and Kashmiri cuisine. There are various places across Jammu serving Rajma Chawal, but in my view, it is best served at home.

The original Dogra cuisine is actually very simple and is normally constituted of wheat, maize, pearl millet, rice and cereals and bears striking similarity with the Himachali cuisine (owing to sizeable Dogra population in HP). However, I could see a transformation in Jammu where the neighbouring Punjab has a lot of say, especially in the breakfast spread. The deep fried aloo tikkis, chole bhature are the preferred dishes now-a-days. Chowmein as the Chinese noodles are generally referred across North India is very much in vogue. Mahajan Namkeen and Sweets on Canal Road appears the first choice for people of Jammu

The street food of Jammu is probably the tastiest offering by this city for the gastronomical devouts. There is a sizeable spread to taste and should not cause any disappointment to the rookies also. ‘Kulcha’ is a very famous snack in Jammu which comes in various forms depending on the stuffing. So it could be aloo kulcha (potato), chole kulcha (chickpea), nutri kulcha (Soya Chunks). Kulcha (as in Jammu and other parts except Amritsar) is a round baker’s spread split open and warmed on flat pan, stuffed with chopped onions, tomatoes, green chutney (coriander and mint) along with the specific stuffing.
Kalari Kulcha in Making

The ‘King of The Jammu Street Food’ is the famous ‘Kalari Kulcha’. The stuffing is made from the awesome Kalari Cheese (known as Maish Krej in Kashmir) is an exclusive cheese available only in J&K and to quote once again ‘it beats mozzarella by miles’ and is a ‘die if you miss’ kind of dish. My favourite place is the guy who dishes out these Kulchas in Ladies Market in front of Taj Boutique in Kacchi Chavani area. There is another advantage to eat kulcha here that you get to see so many pretty faces. J

Kacchi Chavani area of Jammu is the den of street food. You get to taste everything from kulchas to tikkis to bhaturas to golgappas. You may also come across a unique item known as ‘Lachcha Kulfi’ here. The famous Malai Kulfi is served with noodles laced in rose syrup. It is a unique stuff but not out of the world, in my view. You can always resort to the safest option of lassi if you are not in a mood to experiment too much with your food.

Lachcha Kulfi

Along with the generic spread of snacks, Jammu offers something very unique. One of them is ‘Kachalu’. Kachalu are colocacia (arbi,arvi) corms sliced and diced and marinated with tangy spices. The texture of the bite is not smooth but slightly grainy and is probably similar to the ‘Garadu’ which is available in Indore at Sarafa Bazaar during winters.  Girdhari Kachaluwala in Kachchi Chaavani is supposed to dish wonderful kachalus and fruit chaats. ‘Masala Mooli’ is a delectable dish made of baby white radishes sprinkled with right amount of spices. Wonderful example of zingy and tangy combination!  

Arrival of Kashmiri Pandits in early 90’s have also added another dimension to Jammu’s food culture. Though generally restricted to Kashmiri people, the cuisine can be easily accessed by being guest in a kashmiri home or attending kashmiri wedding. Dum aloo, red and yellow paneer, tangy brinjals (chyok wangun), haakh (collard greens) and monje haakh (kohl rabi) are the recipes one must try. Kashmiris love to have baker’s bread for their breakfast and hence, every Kashmiri colony has one traditional bakery known as ‘Kaandar’. The traditional breads like gyevchot, katlam, tyel woru, kulcha (this is different) go wonderfully well with the sweet milky tea or the salty pink tea. And since I have mentioned about tea, the discussion would never be complete without mentioning my most favourite tea, Kahwa, the wonderfully aromatic clear green tea with bits of dry fruits.
Gyevchot Bread with Sweet Tea

As with most of the hilly areas in North India, momo is a very popular snack item here. Steamed momos are the packets of fine flour filled with grated vegetables (or chicken) and served with pungent chutney and steaming soup. It is a must experience on cold windy evening in Jammu, especially in the outskirts.

Jammu has few swanky restaurants like Falak in Raghunath Bazar area. But they actually don’t represent the food culture of Jammu. Jammu is rather epitomized by the bustling streets and the food available on these streets and in the homes on people in Jammu.  Jammu is also known as the City of Temples and hence, the religious factor has somehow augured well with the vegetarian quotient here. There are pockets in Jammu for non-veg  delicacies but I am not an authority on it. But the veg spread is droolicious. Bon app√©tit!

Jammu is well connected by road, railways and airways. Personal suggestion is to go by road or train, especially the long journeys.  Best time is to visit during winters i.e. November to February where the food can be enjoyed to fullest terms. Jammu has an array of hotels and lodging arrangement due to its importance as pilgrimage point as well as pit stop for Kashmir. Area around Raghunath Bazaar offers good accommodation at reasonable prices. 

This blog was published as a featured story on the website of The Alternative. Following is the link to the URL :

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Spiritual Aspect of Gastronomy!

By the time you are finished with reading this blog, you may have started enjoying food in a different manner. I can assure that this blog will lead to ‘Salivation’ than ‘Salvation’. I have a different take on the overall aspect of ‘enjoying food and but also come out with a guilty frame of mind, most of the people face after eating their heart out’. The friction starts there and believe it or not, it starts to get accumulated in the form of fat/calories. The more the friction the higher the calories are!

I had been reading a lot in the newspapers (or read ‘tabloids’) regarding the ill effect of certain food e.g. Cheese.  Cheese is sometimes referred as deadly as an assassin and next day, the same tabloid publishes a note on why one should eat cheese regularly to stay healthy. So you don’t know whether to blame yourself or the cheese or that sucker tabloid. Most of the time, you end up blaming yourself or the cheese or mostly..CHEESE!

And there are some research fellows who are writing a thesis on how fast food craving is almost similar to drug addiction. They have come to a conclusion that thinking about fast food activates the similar centres in brain which are generally associated with triggering the addiction of drugs. I insist that addiction for food is not caused by food but by the person consuming it. And FYI, there is an addiction of God also. They keep on chanting 24X7 and expect miracles to happen. I have also come across many people who insist that they eat to live and not live to eat.

First things first. What my experience says – Never blame your food for your ill health. You are consciously accepting what to eat. And even after this if you have nothing but to blame food, you are doing an injustice to it. From here only the unfair treatment of the food starts. Your body decides to not digest it properly. It blames it. It says the food is heavy and is hindering the digestion. This slows the metabolism. And slower metabolism rate means deposition of fat at various organs in your body. Then how food is culprit here?

In general, we see many a people seeking spirituality, trying to be as close as possible to God, seeking inner peace. Most of them attend spiritual camps to cut themselves from the mundane (and essentially ruthless) chores. That particular retreat refreshes them, charges them up so that they can survive the battle for a typical time cycle. Some go a step ahead. They accept a typical order to attain higher spiritual level, dedicate a lot of time for meditation and yet, are part of the family. Some (and almost all sages) leave everything what they have and embark a journey to find themselves which ultimately culminates into finding GOD sometimes.

In a nutshell, you have to work hard to be closer to God. I mean that is the impression we get from the so called ‘learned ’ people. However, I have never heard of God quoting “You will have to go through tough situations to see me. I will test you. I will take you to the cliff. I will torture you and if you pass the ‘examination’ then only I will appear” Is God that tough to people who wish to experience him? Will he purposely make them go through penance? I have my doubts. Perhaps, a simple and honest act can get you far closer to God than the unruly penance can take and that too in less time.

So why am I talking about being closer to God? May be, the following case makes sense for the topic. Consider any moment from the past when you were hungry. Seriously hungry! You wanted something to eat. It didn’t matter what. You were not in a position to define if you needed Italian, Chinese, French, Mediterranean, Punjabi etc . And all you got was simple bread (Roti in Indian context) and vegetable (Sabzi) and it must have tested far better than the ‘most awesome cuisine’ you had till date. Eureka! My dear friend, you had experienced God. Experience of God is the experience of fulfillment, experience of joy and experience of gratitude. It comes in many forms. And food is one of them.

Food is a basic need of any living being. It thrives on it. And it is probably the simplest way of being in touch with God everyday (if you wish to)! There could be nothing as joyful as you enjoying a morsel of food when you are hungry. The sense of fulfillment and joy certainly takes you near to God. Hunger is the penance. I am not trying to write ‘A Lazy Man’s Guide To Seek God’ but what is the problem if there are simpler ways to be happy and grateful. You don’t have to go all the way to Himalaya for that!!

Few of you may argue that many communities across the globe have the practice of saying prayer before starting lunch/dinner. Saying prayer and experiencing fulfillment are different things. Further, saying prayer has become a mechanical ritual. In my school days, I used to be so eager to finish the prayer so that I can open my tiffin and start eating the food. More or less the same case across the globe.  Few must be doing this very dedicatedly but is all right if you do that after finishing your food. It will have more element.

And finally small note on a tribe of people who call food ‘s**t’ when they don’t like it. Okay, I understand your outrage but referring food in that manner is complete disrespect and not acceptable in any terms. There are millions on this planet who don’t get to anything to eat for days and they are ready to eat anything. Think for a moment about them before you disrespect food. And yes, please finish the portions in your plate. If you can’t finish then please don’t serve yourself with that much quantity. You will be doing a lot of favour to the whole mankind!

So, in a nutshell…it’s easy!!! Love your food, love the person who cooks food for you, appreciate, say thanks and just enjoy it!!! J     

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Two and Half Hours in Mussoorie

Statutory Warning – This is a blog regarding my experiences for the time I was there in Mussoorie and mostly contains the review of food served at a famous oriental eatery called ‘Kalsang’. This blog is not about the tips about what to do, where to eat, what to see in 2.5 hours in Mussoorie. Oh yes, this is the right time…turn back…and read some useful stuff. What follows is a story of how a dream to spend a whole day (yes that’s when the daylight is prominent) went awry and was shrunk to 2.5 hrs (thankfully, in the daylight!)

So the Google Maps say that the distance from Haridwar to Mussoorie is merely 80.7 km and can be covered comfortably in 1 hour 49 minutes. For me, what matters is the distance, you can’t calculate time (on the contrary time calculates you!) Did somebody say….. time= distance/average speed? So stationed at Haridwar in the second week of April of 2012, I was contemplating about doing a day trip to Mussoorie. Since there are regular bus services from Haridwar to Deharadun and from Dehardun to Mussoorie, I was expecting myself to reach Mussoorie in 3 hours (base case scenario).

I don’t remember what went wrong…but I started late. I was waiting outside Shanti Kunj in the outskirts of Haridwar towards Rajaji National Park. So things start turning hostile when you mess up with them. I started late and now, I was waiting for the bus to arrive for more than half an hour. Finally, I got the bus at around 11.15 am and reached ISBT Deharadun at 12.45 am. There I was enlightened about the buses for Mussoorie departing from the bus stand at Railway Station, hain? So I hurriedly caught a 6 seater auto to reach the Deharadun Railway station (It was already 1.15 pm! L)

Thankfully, as I reached the bus stand, a bus to Mussoorie was ready (read as it was standing there with the signboard ‘Deharadun to Mussoorie’). I got the tickets and took my seat. I didn’t see a kitty crossing my road but still there was more than a half an hour delay (or right time?) to start the bus. But the only thing which was comforting me was the distance- mere 30 km. It was about 2 pm and somebody sitting behind my seat roared while having conversation with a fellow passenger “No doubt! We will not reach Mussoorie before 3.30 pm!” What??? 1.5 hrs to cover 30 km distance? I was almost in tears. I was hungry!

Finally, the driver of the bus arrived. I don’t remember how he looked but he was almost an angel who had transformed from a Satan I was cursing few minutes ago. After covering few kilometers briskly on the plain and well maintained roads of Deharadun, I had started doubting the ‘backseater’s’ claim.  But as our bus started ascending on the hilly road, I knew that the claim was right. However, the air turned cooler and as we kept on elevating the vistas were turning more beautiful. (Na na…not breathtaking..for that you have to be face to face with The Himalayas and that I experienced next day itself at Deoria Taal near Ukhimath!) So our bus came to halt at Mussoorie bus stand at 3.30 pm. My base case scenario had gone for a complete toss.

Look at the number of cars (visitors) even on a weekday  in Mussoorie and also, the Anand Bhojanalay near Bus Stand

Relieved, I finally CLIMBED to the Mall Road. Every other hill station in North India has a Mall Road, the busiest street and probably, the most avoidable during peak seasons (Actually I give you a good advice – AVOID POPULAR HILL STATONS DURING PEAK SEASONS!!!) Mussoorie though is referred as the queen of the hill stations. Thankfully, it was not a peak season and very few rumblings were happening on the mall road. A wedding celebration was going on in a nearby cultural hall. I couldn’t make it which wedding it was! It sounded like Nepali wedding with the song being sung there. It was about 4 PM and I had nothing since morning. L I earlier thought of visiting Chic Chocolates on Mall Road but skipped it and proceeded for Kalsang at the far end of the Mall Road (I had to hire a rickshaw puller as I was too tired to walk all the way!)

Kalsang is a very famous oriental (read Tibetan) eatery in Mussoorie and has got a tremendous patronage. The dekko oozes all oriental stuff. The red lanterns, crimson interiors as well as exteriors and the staff dressed in red mandarin suits assure that you are entering a genuine oriental eatery. As soon as I settled on the table, I was presented with a menu card with quite an elaborate menu. I actually had not thought about ordering specific stuff but was intrigued by my earlier day’s visit to Clement Town in Deharadun where most of the Tibetan restaurants serving Thukpa and Momos.

After flipping through the Chinese menu, I came across Tibetan menu. Well, for me, any day Tibet wins over China in any aspect. I had been to Namgyal Monastery in McLeodganj (HP) and have watched ‘Seven Years In Tibet’.  A wide smile on my face as both thukpa and momos were available. I ordered (as usual) veg versions of both these dishes and told the waiter that I would order main course after a while. He gave me a smile and told me that my order would be sufficient to fill the guts. Trust me, I am a foodie with serious appetite but this bowled me over. But I didn’t stop there. Let me elaborate!

Thukpa is a thick noddle soup along with lot of veggies (and yes meat too in the original format..happy?) If you ask me to nominate the soup I would like to have any day, there is no competition to Thukpa. Amazingly delicious, kindles almost all your taste buds on the tongue, the aromatic waft makes all the gastric juices ooze at the same time, the portion is very filling and a person with average appetite may even struggle to finish the bowl. Thukpa took my breathe (and my hunger) away!
God Bless You, Tibet! What an awesome Thukpa is this!

However, I couldn’t do any injustice to the momos which were served while I was enjoying Thukpa. Momos are the packets made of fine flour enclosing finely chopped veggies (for me) and meat (again in the original format!) and are steamed to perfection. Served with a tantalizingly pungent red dip/chutney, it tastes like jackpot. I mean your eyes roll to appreciate the taste. Nine momos served with finely chopped cabbage disappeared one by one from my plate. The waiter might have started regretting about suggesting to limit my order. He He! J

Veg Momos with delicious dip!

How a lunch could be complete without a dessert? Honestly, I don’t remember the name but I certainly remember the taste! J A huge block of vanilla ice cream supported at four corners by four extremely delectable banana fritters (banana pakoras) with white sesame on the outer layer of the fritters. Enough it was! I took out my pen and wrote a wonderful thanking note on it! Hopefully you’ll find it on the table just near the kitchen!  

The unusual dessert made of vanilla ice cream, bananas and white sesame! Yummilicious!

Now, it was 4.45 pm. I decided to walk the entire stretch of Mall Road to digest the heavy stuff. The air was crisp and cool. The Mall Road literally looked deserted. I sat on one of the bench alongside the road inhaling the beauty of the valley and the distant hills. It was time. I had to catch the bus to Deharadun at 6 pm. Luckily this bus left on time. J

Though the start of the day had been messy and almost squeezed my patience out of me, I was happy that I got to spend at least 2.5 hours in Mussoorie (and I got to eat the best Tibetan dishes I had till date J). Life loves you. Don’t worry! Even if the start is frustrating, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest things you couldn’t have imagined. My belief in this became stronger after spending 2.5 hours in Mussoorie! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Revisiting The Images of Krishna

“Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya Glanirbhavatibharata Abhyuthhanam Adharmasya Tadatmanam Srijamyaham Paritranay Sadhunam Vinashay Cha Dushkritam Dharm Sansthapanarthaay Sambhavami Yuge Yuge!”
"Whenever there is decay of righteousness O, Bharat! And a rise of unrighteousness then I manifest myself. For the protection of the good, for the destruc­tion of the evil and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age”

If I have come across any popular verse from the Hindu scriptures since my childhood, it has to be this from the famous ‘Bhagvad Geeta’. It is believed that Lord Krishna himself narrated all the verses to Arjuna during the epic war of Mahabharata. I had seen the posters depicting these verses in Devnagari script with the background of Krishna in his Vishwaroop (The Universal Form) in the very battleground of Kurukshetra and Arjuna bowing to him. The posters came in all shapes and sizes, a fit for almost every household. I am although talking about the late 80’s and early 90’s

I am just trying to rekindle those memories and pondering if it influenced any of my actions and what I am today. The television was introduced to India in early 80’s. To own a television (though monochrome) was a matter of prestige. There was only one channel being aired i.e. Doordarshan (or DD in short), the Indian public service broadcaster which started its service in 1982. In the late 80’s the whole population of India was smitten by Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan (the television adoption of the epic, Ramayan). People were dazed by this series and almost went into depression when it was concluded in July 1988. The extravagant ‘Mahabharata’ series came to the rescue of public in October 1988. And guess who the show stealer – Nitish Bharadwaj as Krishna!

Krishna remains the most glamorous incarnation of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindu mythology. None of his incarnations are as detailed as Krishna. Almost every detail is noted from his birth, the toddler stage, adolescent stage, the youth and becoming the King of Dwaraka. In India, almost every child is related to Krishna. At least when I was kid, I used to see many parents loving to get their kids clicked as Krishna in any nearby local photo studio.

I was also impressed equally by Krishna. I found it difficult to imitate Rama as I thought that he always carried his bow and arrows wherever he went. Krishna was easy to imitate. Just take a handkerchief, tie it around your skull and adjust the peacock feather in the hanky. You are Krishna. Uhh…don’t bother about your wardrobe.. wearing a t-shirt with “SPORTS” printed on it and an elastic short is perfectly alright. It is the peacock feather which adds glamour! I used to flaunt it almost for the whole day wandering in my locality. This gave me momentary popularity to be forgotten next moment.

Krishna though was quite a contrast to his predecessor incarnation Rama.  Rama was considered to be a perfect gentleman (Maryada Purushottam). He grew up as an obedient child, went to gurukul for acquiring knowledge, married to Seeta,respected his step mother’s wish and gave up the kingdom of Ayodhya and went into exile in forest, went in search for miles for his kidnapped wife, waged a war on the mighty kingdom of Lanka and the king Ravan and after returning to Ayodhya,finally gave up his wife since the people questioned her fidelity. In a nutshell, it is difficult to relate any of us to Rama and hence, personally, I don’t find him worth following.

Krishna is altogether a different character. Krishna was a naughty kid. He used to steal milk products (say curd, milk, butter…no cheese) from the households in Vrindavan along with his friends. . He was KNOWING everything. He used to pass time with the herd in the meadows on the banks of Yamuna river and is considered to be a master of playing flute. And everybody just loved listening to him…including many girls in the locality! There is also a reference of Krishna stealing clothes of the women who were bathing in the Yamuna river.

Suddenly every youth relates himself to Krishna. Some go to the extent that if Krishna could do that why can’t we? Remember the rhyme? – “Raas Leela” and “Character Dheela”! Further, visibility of Krishna is much higher than any other God. (Of course, nobody can beat the God of the Gods, Shiva in the visibility and follower context in India) The organizations like ISKCON had taken the visibility of Krishna to another level and hence, Krishna has a huge following even in the foreign countries.

Generally, Lord Vishnu’s two incarnations, Ram and Krishna are very popular compared to others. Ram was a very straightforward person and was stuck to his principles. On the other hand, Krishna was extremely strategic in thinking. Hence, it is generally believed that Ramayana is a good read but is the ‘Bhagvad Geeta’ which is applicable to day to day life, even to the corporate world. While Ram was a one woman man, Krishna had 16,108 wives. A common man may experience perpetual vertigo if he’s informed that he has 16,108 wives. Although 16,108 technically, Krishna actually had 8 princely wives (“Even this is a daunting number” – Common Man) and this reincarnation of Vishnu is believed to be present with all his princely wives at any given time. This is Godly!

I think we can find multiple references of Krishna and the discussion will go on. I particularly used the word ‘Images’ of Krishna instead of Krishna. Because whatever I have learnt, heard, understood thought is about the image of this God. I don’t know if he existed in Vrindavan, Gokul, Mathura. I don’t know if he was on Pandava’s side during Mahabharat and charioted Arjuna during the epic war. I don’t know if he married 16,108 girls and never sure that this epic incarnation ended with a tragedy. But yes, the images are fascinating, awe-inspiring, thought provoking….and hence this write up. J

Disclaimer - Trust nobody’s sentiments are hurt as everything written here is unintentional and a result of Brownian motion of my mind.