India

Our Bucket List for Fort Kochi

Kochi is one enchanting city in the God’s Own Country. And Fort Kochi, a region in the city of Kochi, is literally an intriguing potpourri of various cultures which can be seen and felt in it’s every nook and corner. From Pardesi synagogues to the giant Chinese fishing nets to the Dutch cemeteries to the century old hotels & houses and lot more

A bit about Kochi History

Kochi traces its history back many centuries, when it was the center of Indian spice trade for hundreds of years. We had read about it all at the Indo Portugese Museum and took notes. In the 13th century, the floods in the Periyar & Pamba rivers created the backwaters. When the water receded, the city of Kochi (Cochin) was born and soon became a popular harbor. People from different places such as Arabia, Persia, China frequently visited the harbor & established their presence. In the 15th century, the Portuguese arrived & set up the first European settlement in India with its headquarters in Fort Kochi, constructed building and churches and did the trading of spices with the King of Cochin. In 1662-63, the Dutch came and conquered the city of Cochin from the Portuguese but gave away the city to the rising British power in the 18th century.

Getting There

Kochi, a growing metropolis of Kerala, is touted to be one of the most popular tourist destinations to visit when in India by foreigners and Indians alike. We took an early morning flight from Bangalore to Kochi which just took one hour and fit our budget as well. As soon as we landed in Kochi we were awestruck by the beautiful paintings and sophisticated decor at the airport. We were so impressed to know that Kochi Airport is the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy. Quite impressive isn’t it.

Vibrant Mural paintings at the Kochi Airport

By Air: Kochi is easily accessible and almost all the domestic airlines fly in and out of Kochi. The Kochi airport is located a bit far from the city, around 44 km from Fort Kochi. One can easily get prepaid / uber / ola taxis at the airport to reach the city.

By Road: Driving down to Kochi is another fun yet smooth way of reaching there with the added enjoyment of driving through Kerala countryside

By train: Kochi is well connected to almost every part of India through the means of Indian Railways. It has direct trains running to either of the two railway stations in Cochin – Ernakulam Town Station and Ernakulam Junction Station from all major cities in India

By Water:  One can reach Cochin by water from destinations like Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Colombo and Male. There are regular yachts and cruise ship services on these routes and make for a scenic journey

Top things to do in Fort Kochi

When in Fort Kochi don’t go looking for a Fort since there isn’t any. The first part of its name comes from the Fort Emmanuel which was constructed by the Portuguese but was destroyed by the Dutch when they invaded Kochi. Today only the ruins of the Fort remains.

1. Kochi Muziris Biennale

Click here to read our detailed post on the Kochi Muziris Biennale

Kochi Muziris Biennale, an art exhibition and festival, is the largest of its kind in South Asia. The fourth edition of the Biennale will run from 12 December, 2018 until 29 March, 2019. Artists from all over the world exhibit their art work at Biennale, Cochin. The Biennale takes place in a range of venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. All venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays. Click here to see more information.

One of the buildings in the Aspinwall House Compound

We suggest starting the day from the Aspinwall House and spending at least half a day here as it is the primary venue of the Biennale hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces. The tickets for the Biennale are available here for INR 100 or you can buy them online as well.

The entry is free to all venues if you visit on a Monday. Various interesting workshops like clay modelling, wood carving, painting amongst many others are conducted in these venues during the festival.

2. Kathakali performance

Furious Draupadi calling for Lord Krishna after the vastraharan

Kathakali is a story-play genre of art but amazingly distinguished by the colorful make up, costumes and face-masks and not to be missed when in Kochi. We visited the Kerala Kathakali Centre in Fort Kochi & attended the evening show. The group performed draupadi’s vastraharan and bheem avenging her by killing dushashan. and was quite enthralling. We watched the entire performance literally at the edge of the seat, totally thrilled.

Tip: Usually there are two evening shows & mostly go houseful, it is advisable to call & block seats in advance and the tickets can be later picked up from the venue. To make reservations you can call on +919895534939/ +919895860646 or click here to visit their website

Krishna consoling Draupadi after her Vastraharan by Dushashan

3. Chinese Fishing Nets

One of the most iconic landmarks of Cochin are the Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheena vala as called by locals. Catching a sunset is a must near these fishing nets. People do complain about the place being over-crowded & dirty but the sight of catch being brought in, and the nets being lowered back into the sea, is one not to be missed. Quite interesting to see how these nets works on the principle of balance, made of teak wood & bamboo poles

The Beautiful sun setting behind the Chinese Nets

4. Streets of Fort Kochi

You know what is one of the best attractions of Fort Kochi – It’s vibrant streets. These artsy streets have a lovely old world charm and house the European style quarters laden with beautiful bougainvillea and is undoubtedly the most buzzing part of Fort Cochin. Either rent a bicycle or a bike to comfortably explore around and soak in the beauty of these lanes

During our stay in Fort Kochi we aimlessly wandered around the Bastian street, Rose Street, Burgher street, Princess Street and River road to name a few and discovered such gorgeous local cafes, restaurants and shops. All these streets also have lovely graffiti arts painted on its walls and adds to the charm of these streets and not to be missed

5. Churches of Fort Kochi

In a city with so many churches, St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica are our favorites. The St. Francis Church is actually one of the first European churches built in India. Presumably it owes its origin to the Franciscan Friars who accompanied the Portuguese expedition in 1500 AD. Here in this church, Vasco Da Gama was laid to rest in 1524 AD until his remains were removed and taken to Portugal in 1538 AD

St Francis Church
Santa Cruz Basilica

6. Jew Town

A small neighborhood of Mattancherry, the Jew Town got it’s name in 1524 when the Jews migrated from Kodungallore and were given shelter in the city by the King of Cochin. Today, there are only handful of Jews who reside here but the local shops selling souvenirs, antique products and spices thrive in this neighborhood.

The lanes of the Jew Town bustling with local handicraft stores

When in Jew Town, dont miss visiting Sarah Cohen’s Shop. She is the oldest surviving Paradesi Jew of Cochin and perhaps the most photographed and fondly visited member of the community. Amongst hordes of tourist shops in Jew town, her shop is one of the last few authentic Judaica shops. The shop sells products like table cloths, runners, Kippa (cap) etc.

Situated in the middle of the Jew Town, The Pardesi synagogue is a historic Jewish site of culture, religious and artistic significance. It was built in 1568 by descendants of Spanish, Dutch & other European Jews. When visiting this synagogue, do notice the ornate glass chandelier that was bought from Belgium and the stunning hand painted 1100 floor tiles from china, none of them identical (Photography isn’t allowed inside the synagogue). In case you are interested to know more about the history of Jews in Kerala, do buy an information booklet available in the Synagogue for just 100 INR.

250 year old clock tower right outside the Pardeshi Synagogue

Click here for the Google Maps Location of the Synagogue

Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 5 PM on all days except Fridays (afternoons), Saturdays and Jewish holidays

7. Mattancherry Palace Museum (Dutch Palace)

The Mattancherry Palace is a must visit for any history enthusiast. The museum is housed in one of the sections of the Palace which was built in 1555. During 1665, this palace went under major repair under Dutch’s rule & hence came to known as the Dutch Palace. The most stunning part of the palace are the Mural paintings covering nearly 300 sq.m area depicting various scenes from the Ramayana. The palace museum exhibits oil paintings of the Kochi Rajas, their Palanquins, Dress, Weapons & a lot more interesting details.

Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except on fridays (Entry Fee – 5 INR)

Click here for the Google Maps Location

Mural Paintings in the Mattancherry Palace Museum

8. Indo-Portuguese Museum

The Indo – Portuguese Museum displays the eminent influence of Portuguese on the art and architecture of Kochi. Quite a good place to visit to know about Kochi History. Photography is not allowed inside the museum

Click here for Google Maps Location

Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays and Public Holidays.

Our 2 Cents

  • Hire a bike or a cycle to comfortably explore Fort Kochi. We rented a bike from Ocean’s Pride Tour at reasonable charges. Call Biju at 9746492193 / 9846960093 for more information. (Landmark: Alice Delices Restaurant) 
  • You can also choose to cover the major attractions in Fort Kochi via one hour auto ride. The auto drivers usually charge 100 INR for the tour but you may have to bargain with them
  • Stay in Fort Kochi as there are quite a few luxury & budgeted stay options available
  • Do not forget to bargain while shopping
  • Wear comfortable cotton clothes as it gets pretty hot and humid during the day in Kochi
  • Get up early in the morning and you will have the beautiful streets and the graffiti arts of Fort Kochi all for yourself minus the crowd
  • Buy spices from the Gujarati Bazaar near Jew Town as the locals shop from here. At other places you may be overcharged
  • Most sightseeing places in Kochi are closed on Mondays. The usual timing of these places are 9 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM. So plan accordingly
India

Yercaud: Weekend getaway for a quick rejuvenation

Sometimes all you need is a quick quality escape from the daily hustle, a scenic road drive and a decent destination to head to. Yercaud definitely fits the bill for one living in Bangalore. Yercaud is not touted among the popular hill stations in South India especially in the western ghats, but as they say, beautiful places exist all around you, you just need to look for it

Yercaud is Located in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu and nestled in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats. Some 20 km and 22 hairpin bends away from the Salem city, lies this picturesque hill station where you can drive down to rejuvenate.

1. Stay at the Regent Hill Side Villa

For us, a vacation becomes perfect when we get what we wish for. Stay in a vintage cottage constructed during the British era, delectable non vegetarian food, warm hosts who treat you as family members and lots of cute pet dogs and birds who will keep you occupied the whole day, what else we could wish for.

There are quite a few hotels and resorts to stay in Yercaud that suits everyone’s budget. If you wish to have a bit more luxurious stay, the following resorts can also be considered:

  1. Hotel Great Trails Yercaud By GRT
  2. Grand Palace Hotel And Spa
A beautiful English cottage filled with unique vintage collectibles

The entire place has its own amusing character which it displays with so much delight. Multitudes of signboards and frames display all the instructions and information in all it’s best sense of humor.

As this time we wanted a bit of a laid back vacation and as we have been to Yercaud earlier as well, we didn’t go extensive on the sightseeing and instead spent good time at the property playing with pets, taking a walk in the green lawn surrounded with beautiful flowers with birds chirping and flocking around

Being non vegetarians, we were in for a treat during our stay here. The in-house restaurant ‘Sweet Rascal’ serves all the delectable non vegetarian food one can imagine be it Indian, Continental or Italian. And top it with some really amazing milkshakes. But, if you are a vegetarian then you can skip this restaurant for food as you won’t get any choices to order from

To book accommodation at the property, please directly contact the owner, Mr. Vishu Kariappa at +91 94437 00000 (we couldn’t find the property listed with any of the travel websites)

2. Annamalaiyar View Point

The Annamalaiyar View Point is located around 8 km from the Yercaud city and undoubtedly offers the best views of the Shevaroys Hills. The road to the View Point is decent except for the last one kilometer which is a diversion from the main road and a bit steep and dilapidated.

Beautiful sceneries on the way to the Annamalaiyar View Point
Magical view of the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats

3. Montfort School

Only seen in movies, we had never seen a boarding school in real. We always wanted to see one having beautiful campus, manicured gardens, and buildings displaying British era architecture. During one of the many conversations over tea, Mr. Vishu told us that he is an esteemed alumni of the Montfort school in Yercaud. And in an instant he could see the excitement gleaming in our eyes and offered to arrange a tour of the school for us.

The main entrance of the Montfort School
Manicured gardens and flowers everywhere in the Montfort School
Lovely colors and architecture in the Montfort School

Apart from these places, here’s a list of other places to see and do in Yercaud

  1. Yercaud Lake
  2. Pagoda View Point
  3. Killiyur Waterfalls
  4. Lady’s Seat
Yercaud Lake – One of the main attractions of Yercaud

Hope you enjoyed our blog post and found it helpful. Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook

India

Jaipur – The travel guide to the Pink City

Ever thought to visit a place which has the beauty to charm you in every possible way. Jaipur – fondly known as The Pink City of India holds one such reputation that will take you back in an era & then will bring you back to its modern charm. Certainly, the city still maintains the intricate balance of history & modernity. We spent three days in Jaipur and wished if we could plan our trip for more days and with an empty suitcase, if you know what we mean. But that is for later. So lets get started

View from Nahargarh fort overlooking Jaipur city in Rajasthan
View from Nahargarh fort overlooking the City of Jaipur, Rajasthan

Getting There

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is touted to be one of the most popular tourist destinations to visit when in India by foreigners and Indians alike. We took an early morning flight from New Delhi to Jaipur which just took one hour and fit our budget as well.

By Air: Jaipur is easily accessible and almost all the domestic airlines fly in and out of Jaipur. The Jaipur airport is located around 12 km from the city center and one can easily get prepaid taxis at the airport to reach the city. 
By Road: If driving to Jaipur, Courtesy Rajasthan tourism, the highways in Rajasthan are decent and make for a smooth ride. 
By train: Jaipur is well connected to almost every part of India through the means of Indian Railways. It has direct trains running to Jaipur from all major cities in India. A special mention to the ‘Palace on wheels’ which makes a scheduled stop at Jaipur

Where To Stay in Jaipur

Being quite a popular tourist destination for foreigners and Indians alike, one can easily find a lot of options among top hotels, resorts, vintage Havelis, budget hotels, hostels & Airbnbs. We picked Hilton Jaipur for our stay. We did the booking through Make my Trip and got a good deal as they were running some promotions on the Hilton Hotels. The hotel lived up to its standards and the staff was very hospitable and always wore a smile but we particularly loved the hotel for it’s location as it is located in the city center with some of the popular sightseeing spots & markets within 8-10 km of the hotel. It was a very good decision as we could easily come back to the hotel midday to get some rest before resuming back

The King Room in Hilton Jaipur

Enjoy Jaipur with Zoom Car

One decision which really made our trip super comfortable and enjoyable was booking the car with Zoomcar. We booked a Ford Ecosport with Zoomcar, picked the car from the parking site with ease, which was pretty close to our Hotel (currently Zoomcar in Jaipur doesn’t offer airport pick and drop facility) The car was well maintained, clean, comfortable and had all the necessary papers. Having the car at our disposal meant that we could go out for drives at our ease, stop wherever we wanted to, Shivani shopping to her heart’s content without having to worry to carry the stuff around 🙂

A comfortable ride around the city with Zoomcar at our ease

Places to visit in Jaipur

We would suggest taking at least more than 2 days to enjoy and soak in what all the Pink City has to offer. One can easily get distracted, such is Jaipur’s charm. So Let us make it easier for you and share the list of top places that you should definitely make time for 

Amer/Amber Fort: 

Just 11 km drive from the Jaipur city, Amber fort is located on the Aravalli range of hills in Amer and is one the most magnificent forts in the entire state of Rajasthan. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) and the Sukh Niwas

To fully admire the beauty of this fort, one must make a visit in the evening to see the lit up palace. The Light and Sound Show is not to be missed if you are interested in the history of the Amer Fort. The Show is quite fascinating with Amitabh Bachchan narrating the stories (in Hindi) of the valor of the Rajput kings with the exterior of the fort providing a perfect backdrop for the lights.

Show Timings*

  • English Narration: 6:30 PM (Oct-Feb); 7:00 PM (Mar-Apr); 7:30 PM (May-Sept)
  • Hindi Narration: 7:30 PM (Oct-Feb); 8:00 PM (Mar-Apr); 8:30 PM (May-Sept) 

*subject to change -based on general day-light conditions 

The entry fee of the show:  INR 250 per head

Contact: +91 141-2530844, 93516 17799 for any further information

Amer Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan
The Amer Palace gleaming with glory 

Our 2 cents: 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes- as you will have to climb around 450-500 steps to reach the entrance of the fort.
  2. Hire a guide at the fort. We hired Mr. Naresh for the guided tour. He took the time to know us and tailored the fort tour based on our interests. He was very knowledgeable of the Amer Fort History and we thoroughly enjoyed the way he weaved in the anecdotes while giving us the tour. We would definitely recommend him for the guided tour of the Amer Fort. You can reach him at +91-9352396697
  3. There is a 300 meters walk from the parking lot to the light and sound show premises. Park your car at the parking lot and you can get a shared auto easily from there to the point (charge of INR 40- 50 per head) or you can choose to walk as well

City Palace:

Yet another jewel in the crown of Jaipur, where you would want to spend at least 2-3 hours to fully admire it’s beauty. 

The ‘Diwan-I-Khas’ or the ‘Hall of Private Audience’

The most resplendent & gorgeous sections of this palace are the Mubarak Mahal, Chandra Mahal & above all the most enchanting Pritam Chowk which is a courtyard with 4 most stunning and elaborately carved 18th-century gateways each representing a season- Peacock Gate that represents Autumn; Lotus Gate that represents Summer; Rose Gate that represents Winter; Leheriya Gate that represents Spring

A part of the palace is still being used as a residence by the royals. If you see the Sawai flag hoisted, it means that the king is currently in the palace, Isn’t that cool. There is a very interesting anecdote to the title of Sawai used in the honour of the Maharajas here. Impressed by his wit, Jai Singh II of Jaipur was given the title of Sawai (worth one and a quarter person) at the age of eleven by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. 

Nahargarh Fort:

Visit this fort before the dusk & enjoy the beautiful sun setting in the back drop of the Pink City. Moreover, the night views of the “Pink City” Jaipur are spectacular from the fort. Situated around 6 km from the Jaipur City, this fort was used as a defense fort to the city of Amer in its days 

Fort Timings: 10 AM – 5:30 PM

Entry Fee: Overseas Tourists – 300 INR and Indians – 25 INR

sunset at nahargarh fort
Catching yet another mystical sunset at the Nahargarh Fort
The famous stepwell at the Nahargarh Fort
The famous stepwell at the Nahargarh Fort
the stone wings at the Nahargarh Fort
Shivani playing around with the stone wings at the Nahargarh Fort
The spectacular night views of the Jaipur City from the Nahargarh Fort
The spectacular night view of the Jaipur City from the Nahargarh Fort

After touring the Nahargarh Fort , we stopped by at the restaurant ‘Once upon a time’ for some good beer and fascinating night views of the Jaipur City   

Patrika Gate

Patrika gate is yet another example of symmetrical and intricate architecture and not to be missed. Standing tall right in the middle of Jawahar circle, this Pink color gate symbolizes the rich heritage & vibrant culture of Rajasthan. You will find all the famous temples, forts and landmarks of Jaipur hand painted on the walls and ceilings of the gate 

An Early Sunny morning at the Patrika Gate, Jaipur
An Early Sunny morning at the Patrika Gate
The Gorgeous Patrika Gate in the Gorgeous Jaipur
The Gorgeous Patrika Gate in the Gorgeous Jaipur

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal to Jaipur is exactly like Eiffel Tower is to Paris, such is it’s charm. The five story fort was built in 1799 & was designed in the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown. It was built for the Royal Rajput ladies so that they can enjoy every day street scenes to royal processions on the street without being seen by people. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur has 953 honeycomb-shaped windows on the outside walls, which allow the breeze to blow through the palace making it perfect for summers 

The Iconic Hawa Mahal
The Iconic Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Gatore Ki Chhatriyan

Undoubtedly one of the most underrated attractions in Jaipur is the Gatore ki Chhatriyan (Royal Gaitore Tombs). We hardly found any tourists here and thus ended up spending quite a lot of time exploring, photographing and playing with the pigeons in this complex of temples and tombs surrounded by the hills 

Gatore ki Chhatriyan in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Gatore Ki Chhatriyan or Royal Tombs in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Multitude of pigeons in every nook and corner of Jaipur

Albert Hall Museum

As luck would have it, This one place we couldn’t visit from inside as we had we planned to visit the Albert Hall Museum on a Tuesday (which was our last day in Jaipur as well) & once we reached, got to know that from October to March, it remains closed every month’s last Tuesday & April to September Every Monday for maintenance work. But nevertheless we spent quite a good time in front of the museum playing with pigeons, feeding them and framing and capturing the spectacular architecture and design of the building.

Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur
Albert Hall Museum, An Abode to the Pigeons in Jaipur
Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur
One of the rare pictures of us two, together

We were just spell bound by the Spectacular night views of the Albert Hall Museum gleaming and changing colors every minute. We’d suggest to take a stroll around the museum at night to enjoy the outstanding view at leisure.

Jaigarh Fort:

Perched on Cheel ka tilla (hill of eagles) and located on one of the peaks of the Aravalli range of Hills, Jaigarh fort has some stunning views of the Jaipur City & boasts of having the world’s largest cannon on wheels

Anokhi Museum of Hand printing

As the name suggests The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing is a museum dedicated to the art of block printing. The museum also houses a shop that carries a selection of hand-crafted merchandise including clothing, furnishings, jewelry, books and cards. The museum is located in Amer & you can club your visit to this place with the Amber Fort.  

Timings: 

Tuesday – Saturday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM. Closed on Mondays

Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal is located around 4 km from Jaipur and is located on the main Amer-Jaipur road. We made a quick stopover at this place for some photographs while returning from the Amer fort as it lies on the same road.

Jal Mahal, Jaipur
The night view of the Jal Mahal was prettier than what it may seem from the picture

Last but not the least, do make time for driving around the city to enjoy the night views. The charms of Jaipur wrap themselves in different colors be it the Albert Hall Museum, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal or Amer Palace.  

Hope you enjoyed our blog post and found it helpful. Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook

Baking Cakes

Easy Choco Chips Cake

ACCIDENTAL SUCCESS / DISCOVERY😀

Choco chip cake
I get very very excited when I see riped bananas because the next thing I am doing is baking a banana walnut bread using those….Riped bananas give a very good flavour to the cake. Today morning was one of those mornings when my perfectly riped bananas were ready for going into a cake 🤗🤗. So I get up in the morning (6 am), freshen up (6.15 am) and enter my kitchen (6.16 am) like a Ninja to bake my most favourite cake🎂. Everything is going perfectly fine, my batter is ready, my oven is pre-heated and now it’s time to mix the bananas n here comes the moment of truth. Overnight these bananas have ripped way too much and are kind of spoilt now…Hence banana bread will not have its key ingredients 🙄🙄 🙁😢 the next thing I am doing is searching for an alternative…My chocolate chips came to my rescue 😀😀 Dumped half a cup of these in the batter and here comes my choco chips cake 😁😁

INGREDIENTS

  • All-purpose flour – 3/4 cup (65 grams)
  • Whole wheat flour – 3/4 cup (65 grams)
  • Baking powder – 2 teaspoons
  • Baking soda – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – a pinch
  • White or brown sugar – 3/4 cup (take 1 cup sugar if you like your cake to be sweeter)
  • Eggs – 3 (room temperature)
  • Refined oil – 1/2 cup (60 ml)
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tablespoon
  • Choco chips – 1/2 cup

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre heat the oven at 170 degree celsius. Grease a 7-inch round or 9×4-inch baking tray either with butter or oil
  2. In a bowl, sift the dry ingredients – all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder & salt
  3. In another bowl, add oil and sugar & whisk it well. Stir in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla essence & mix
  4. Add the dry ingredients to wet ingredients & mix it gently using a spatula. Fold in choco chips & mix again.
  5. Transfer the batter into the tin. Sprinkle some choco chips on top.
  6. Bake it for 35-40  minutes at 170 degree celsius or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Once baked, allow it to cool before taking it out of the tin
Dairy Free Smoothies Sugar Free Vegan

Detox Green Smoothie (Sugar Free & Dairy Free)

This is one of my favorite smoothies recipe. All you need to do is just throw in everything together & blend.  Easy peasy

Detox_smoothie_1

INGREDIENTS

  • Banana – 1
  • Apple – 1
  • Spinach leaves – 4-5 (or more depending on how green you want your smoothie)
  • Dates – 2-3 ( add only if you want to sweeten your smoothie more)
  • Water – 1/2 cup
  • Ice cubes – 2-3 (optional)
  • Chia seeds – 1 tbsp

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Throw in all ingredients together & blend until smooth.
  2. Serve immediately

Detox_smoothie_2

Breads

Focaccia Bread with Rosemary & Olives

Focaccia Bread

One of my most favorite breads is Focaccia Bread. This flat bread topped with olive oil, spices and other products is an early prototype of a modern pizza. Focaccia, known and loved in Italy and abroad is an easy & simple bread. For this Focaccia bread, I used rosemary & garlic flavoured oil with olives as toppings. This bread can be eaten with any dip or even just as is…The flavoured oil.

Ingredients:

For the bread:

1.  All purpose flour: 2 and ½ cups or 340 grams
2.  Salt:  1 teaspoon
3.  Sugar: 1/2 tablespoon
4.  Olive oil: 1 tablespoon
5.  Yeast: 1 & 1/8 teaspoon
6.  Warm water: 200-210 ml

For the flavored oil: 
1.  Fresh herbs: 2-3 tablespoon (Thyme/ Basil/Rosemary any herb will do)
2.  Garlic: 2-3 cloves chopped
3.  Olive oil: 1/2 cup
4.  Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
5.  Chili flakes: 1 tablespoon

Steps:

1.  Prepare the flavored oil: Add oil in a skillet with chopped garlic, fresh herb(s), salt & chili flakes. Place the pan over low heat & cook for a minute 1 or 2

2.  Prepare the bread: In a large bowl, add the shifted flour, salt, sugar & yeast. Mix it with your hands. Now slowly, start adding water & mixing the flour. Do not add all water in one go as the dough might become too soft

3.  Knead the dough for 4-5 minutes until the dough is soft. Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and let rise for 1 hour. The dough should be double in size

4.  Once the dough is double in size, gently knead the dough for 1-2 minutes

5.  Oil a 9-inch by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet then press it down into the pan. Let the dough rest in the tray for 1 hour again

6.  Once your dough is risen use your fingers to dimple the dough then drizzle the top with the herb-garlic olive oil mixture. You can also add some olives (optional)

7.  Pre-heat the oven for 10 minutes. Now bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool baked focaccia bread on a wire rack

Baking Cakes

Strawberry cake with quinoa and whole wheat

Strawberry Cake

Sounds strange but I find strawberry a very romantic fruit🙈. Maybe because of its beautiful pinkish red colour or maybe because every year I bake a strawberry cake for Valentine’s Day 😁
So for this year, I tried this whole wheat and quinoa flour cake topped with fresh strawberries.

This is a really good cake to bake with fresh strawberries. I always try to use seasonal fruits & veggies in my cooking & always get excited to see try out new recipes with them. This one here is an easy strawberry cake can be the perfect dessert for your party. Just add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream or just have it as is. You & your guests will love it.

Fresh Strawberry cake made with whole wheat flour
Whole wheat & quinoa flour strawberry cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Whole wheat flour – 1/2 cup (75 g)
  • Quinoa  flour – 1/2 cup (75 g)
  • Baking powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Baking soda – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon zest – 1 only zest only (optional)
  • Dark brown sugar – 1/2 cup (100 g)
  • Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup (120 ml)
  • Eggs – 2 (room temperature)
  • Milk
  • Fresh strawberries – sliced
Ready to go in the oven my wholewheat strawberry cake

All set to get baked

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C. Grease the pan and line the parchment paper.
  2. Get your dry ingredients ready:  Shift all dry ingredients- whole wheat & quinoa flour (use whole wheat in case you do not have quinoa flour), baking powder, baking soda & salt. Add lemon zest to the mixture & whisk a little and keep aside.
  3. Get your wet ingredients ready: In a separate bowl, beat the oil and sugar. Whisk to combine. Stir in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla essence.
  4. Adding dry ingredients to wet: Add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) to the wet mixture, mixing until combined. Do not over mix the batter.
  5. Pour the batter in the prepared baking pan. Now, spread the sliced strawberries on the batter over the top. Make sure you cover the top with strawberries, pressing them down very gently into the batter.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until an inserted wooden stick comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10-15 minutes before taking in out of the pan
  7. Enjoy the cake with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream
Fresh fruit strawberry cake

India

Why you must visit the Kochi Muziris Biennale

It is that time of the year again when the streets of Fort Kochi become lively direction sign boards, banners and wall murals. Thanks to the Kochi Muziris Biennale, the fourth edition of the event has got India recognized in the global art forum

Kochi Muziris Biennale, an art exhibition and festival, is the largest of its kind in South Asia. The fourth edition of the Biennale will run from 12 December, 2018 until 29 March, 2019 at ten different venues across Fort Kochi. Artists from all over the world exhibit their art work in the fields of painting, photography, art installation amongst others at the Biennale, Cochin.

Visiting Hours: From 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays

Location map of the different venues of the KMB

The Biennale takes place in a range of venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. All venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays. Click here to access the official website of the KMB and see more information.

One of the buildings in the Aspinwall House Compound

The Biennale takes place in ten venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. We suggest starting the day from the Aspinwall House and spending at least half a day here as it is the primary venue of the Biennale hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces. The tickets for the Biennale are available here for INR 100 or you can buy them online as well.

Such lovely views from the Aspinwall House
Residential Bungalow in the Aspinwall House
The famous Gond Art from our Home State – Madhya Pradesh by Gond artists Durgabai and Subhash Vyam

A huge Tyre weighing 370 tonnes and made by JK Tyres is installed in the middle of the Aspinwall House and is definitely an eye catcher

Where photographs are able to recite a story themselves

Marzia Farhana’s excellent multi-media installation of what got destroyed is a painful reminder of the floods which caused havoc across the state of Kerala earlier in the year

The entry is free to all venues if you visit on a Monday. Various interesting workshops like clay modelling, wood carving, painting amongst many others are conducted in these venues during the festival.

the wood carving workshop in progress
Another intriguing installation at the pepper house, one of the venues of KMB
Metropolis by Lubna Chowdhary at the Pepper House