Travel, culture, arts, architecture, food and human stories are my forte. I am also an avid blogger. When not travelling or writing I am either cooking or reading.
All About Cao Dai Holy See, A Temple In Vietnam
The sweet fragrance of incense has set the scene. The ceremony has started. Pilgrims dressed in long white robes walk along the nave. Some of them have white headgears. They sit cross-legged on the floor, forming neat rows and columns. Near the altar, a few in shiny blue, yellow and red robes form an array. On the altar stands a huge globe. Painted on it is a human eye, complete with a curvy eyebrow—it is the divine eye. This is the Cao Dai Holy See, a temple in the city of Tây Ninh, 83 kilom...
Neil in Nutshell
An article in the December 2022 - January 2023 issue of Traveller's World Magazine. The article is on Neil Island of Andamans.
Man-made reefs help save corals
Vijay Chouhan, 51, ventures into the sea 10 days a month to catch fish. He is a fisherman from Bhimrana, a village in Devbhumi Dwarka district in Gujarat. The coast of the Arabian Sea is a mere 1.5 km from the village. "During my grandfather and father’s time, fish in the ocean was abundant. I’m not so lucky," he rues.
Fringing patchy natural coral reefs run from Okha in the north to Shivrajpur in the south, covering 12 sqkm in discontinuous fragments. Bhimrana lies somewhat in the middle. Th...
All about feni & fun
Was it the sound of water dropping from a drenched branch on a leaf? Or was it the fuzzy noise that soft drinks make when bottles are opened? I had crouched and lowered my torso to place my ears into the opening of an earthen vessel that was planted midway into the ground. To me, the sound felt like that of rainfall. I was at Fazenda Cazulo, a farm and distillery in Goa, trying hard to catch the sound of the live fermentation of cashew juice.
Cashew feni is a strong alcoholic beverage with a ...
This famous Bengali sweet duo is now in Middle-East
A quest for Mihidana and Sitabhog
In the Indian city of Bardhaman in West Bengal, a culinary delight quietly draws a sweet-toothed crowd. They come in search of Bardhaman’s Mihidana and Bardhaman’s Sitabhog — sweets that originated in the region and have received Geographical Indication (G.I.) tag in the year 2017, validating their uniqueness. On September 2021, the sweet duo reached Bahrain and garnered international interest for the first time. The sweets originated during British rule in I...
Bangla is an Indian Liquor with a Complicated Legacy
On a damp winter evening in the Esplanade neighborhood of Kolkata, India, Shibaji Mahato, 55, heads to his local watering hole. He works in construction in a nearby building. Already at the bar is Bhaskar Das, a fruit and vegetable seller. Shibaji, Bhaskar and many others who throng this bar are all drinking Bangla, a colorless, odorless, flavorless and potent alcoholic beverage with a complicated role in Indian history and culture.
The word Bangla has several meanings, only some of which rel...
Kolkata's International, Home-Grown, Sauce
The Chinese-Indian Legacy in Kolkata, Expressed in Sauce
By Tania Banerjee
Growing up in Kolkata, my favorite cuisine was “Chinese,” especially dishes we called chow mein, fried rice, and chili chicken. At 20 years old, I discovered that these don’t qualify as “Chinese cuisine;” they are “Indian-Chinese.”
The origin of the umami flavor that gave Indian-Chinese food its distinct identity lies in Kolkata’s old Chinatown in Terreti Bazaar.
According to historical texts in National Library of Ind...
An Arranged Marriage Made Possible by This Chutney
Sunshine streamed in through the window, warming my blanket. I remained curled up in bed. It was a Sunday morning in Kolkata in December of 2006 and I was 15 years old.
Annoyed with my lolling, my mother sternly told me to get ready. My parents - in fact, much of the neighborhood - had important roles to play today. I had also been assigned a special task. A secret one.
At 10 a.m. we knocked on our neighbor’s door. “Oh, welcome. You are the last to arrive,” said Geeta aunty, our host, already...
In West Bengal, Date Palm Jaggery Is a Winter Delicacy. It’s Also in Danger of Extinction.
It’s 3 a.m. in Nimpith, a tiny town in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. Sixty-one-year-old Chuno Mistry heads towards a row of wild date palm trees. Mistry is a shuli, or date palm tree tapper, and he carries earthen pots slung from a bamboo pole, known as a byank, on his shoulder. It’s about 46 degrees out and his lungi and full-sleeved shirt are hardly enough to keep him warm; goosebumps spring up along his exposed skin.
When he reaches the first tree, Mistry ties a rope around his ...
Adda: The secret to Bengali conviviality
Although "adda" is a beloved pastime throughout Kolkata, the long, cerebral conversations that the city is famous for started to become an issue during Covid-19.
The Elusive Appeal of Bengal’s Gondhoraj Lebu
Few outside Bengal have been able to appreciate the delights of the "king of aroma." But thanks to a new generation of chefs, the citrus is slowly making its way into cuisines across India.
This Green Gravy Is What We Ate in the Himalayas When it Rained Catastrophically for Three Days Straight
“It is very easy to go breathless here, both metaphorically and literally,” my husband muttered.
We were on a mountain top, the Kedarkantha peak, at an altitude of 12,500 feet in the heart of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand state of India. Heavy clouds spiraled up from the western gorge and the wind cut creases on the sheets of snow. The sun shone bright in the eastern sky and I was laden in five layers of winter garments, including a down jacket, but warmth still eluded me. After all, there’s a...
I Beat the Heat With Homemade Sweet Lassis
In Kolkata, my hometown, summer is infamous for its harsh sunshine. In the sweltering heat, my daily trips to the university were always punctuated by a pit stop at a food stall for a sweet lassi.
How a Portuguese Technique Led to a Bengali Sondesh Explosion
Nearly 500 years ago, the Portuguese popularized milk curdling in Bengal. Bengalis would add sweetness and create a rich delicacy.
Although it is the syrupy Banglar rasogolla that has won the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag — a marker that ensures a food product has a specific geographical origin — it is the ubiquitous sondesh whose versatility Bengalis have exploited for the past five centuries. In a typical sweetshop, sondesh occupies more than half the shelf space — though its his...