23
Jul 14

Feasting on Ramadan food treats at Mosque Road, Bangalore

Every year, during the holy month of Ramadan, Mosque Road in Frazer Town converts into a major hub for food lovers. Several stalls are set up selling a variety of Iftar treats by the road side, and every year, the number of stalls just keep getting bigger and bigger.

Now, you don’t have to go to Frazer Town for Iftar treats as stalls are set up outside every major mosque in Bangalore during the holy month of Ramadan. But Mosque Road being what it is attracts are a larger number of people. I have been Mosque Road with friends in previous years, but this year I wanted to capture some photos for my blog.

After meeting up with a friend, we rode down to Frazer Town, parked my bike near Savoury Restaurant and walked up to Mosque Road.

Ramzan food stall Frazer Town Bangalore

Stalls were set up away from Mosque Road too

Heritage hotel Ramadhan stall Bangalore

Heads up: a lot of meat in this blog post

Mutton kheema egg fry Ramadan food India

Mutton kheema and stir fried egg next to it

Free Quran distribution Bangalore India

This was an organization handing out free copies of the Quran (in English). I asked for a copy as I have always wanted to read for myself what was myth and what is actually quoted in the Holy Book.

Sheek kebabs Ramadan Frazer town

I moved to Mosque Road where sheek kebabs were being cooked over charcoal. Beef, chicken, and of course mutton were on offer.

Brazil beef kebabs Bangalore India

This stall was selling Brazilian beef. When I asked the guy why he wasn’t selling Indian beef, the owner just shrugged and said this “tastes better”. Oh well, I know why. None the less, I packed some.

Fried beef chicken kebabs Bangalore

Beef and colourful chicken kebabs beside it. Really put off by the use of food colour in meat.

Idiyappam Mosque Road Iftar Bangalore

Idiyappams and chicken kebabs?

Beef sukka Frazer town Banglaore

Beef sukka. Sampled some and it tasted okay.

Biriyani Palace Eid stall Bangalore

We then crossed over to the other side where much of the big stalls on Mosque Road were

Pathar gosht stone mutton Bangalore

That’s mutton being cooked on a huge slab or stone over a charcoal fire :-) They call it pathar gosht (pathar = stone; gosht = mutton)

Ramazan tent Iftar Mosque Road Bangalore

There were many of these food tents set up beside Mosque Road

Ramadan food tent Bangalore India

It was crowded!

Mutton haleem Bangalore India

Mutton haleem. Haleem, for the uninitiated, is a thick gravy like dish made using wheat, barley, lentils and meat (plus spices).

Ramazan food tent Mosque road Bangalore

I don’t think I could have even stood here and ate something. Too stuffy and way too many people passing through.

Iftar sweets Bangalore India

Lots of sweets on offer!

Fish chicken kadi Eid food

There wasn’t a whole lot of sea food available and given the ‘Bangalore premium’ for seafood, whatever that was on offer was kinda expensive.

Mosque road Ramadan stalls Bangalore

There were many more stalls alongside Mosque Road

Ramzan tent Frazer town Bangalore

We went in here next

Chicken samosas Eid food Bangalore

Chicken samosas, chicken fry, chicken kebabs, chicken this, chicken that…

Pathar gosht beef Frazer town

More beef and mutton grilled on stone

Dry fruit firny Shahi tukda dessert

Packed up some firny (sweet)

Chocolate cupcakes Karachi haleem

And picked up some chocolate cupcakes

Pudding gulab jamun sweets Iftar

I had some pudding next, which was yum!

Mosque road Ramadan night Bangalore

Even though much of the activity was on the right side, I crossed the road to check out what was on offer on the other lane on Mosque Road

Muslims sheek kebabs Bangalore India

Much of the same, albeit far less glamourous that’s all

Iftar sweets Frazer town Bangalore

There weren’t too many different varieties of food on offer this side

After packing up some more food, I left Mosque Road. It’s obvious the annual Ramadan treats have grown into a big business opportunity for vendors over these past few years. It wasn’t this crowded when I visited 2 years ago. People of all faiths turn up to try out the food. Of course there were a few ignorant people. One guy was silly enough to ask if pork was available! :P

Also, the prices this year weren’t low by any street food means. A plate of pathar gosht was sold for Rs. 200, and the quantity was only good enough for just one person. A stick of just three chicken-cheese balls cost Rs. 50. Don’t even ask about the sea food prices.

Still, if you have an opportunity to check out the fare on Mosque Road, do so if you have never visited the stretch during Ramzan before. And do it before Eid. Happy feasting!


18
Jul 14

Philippines 2014: Leaving Cebu for Davao; Davao City sights

Date: May 1st, 2014

Yesterday was an eventful day of sightseeing. I began early morning swimming with Oslob’s famed whale sharks and later enjoyed the beauty of Tumalog Falls. I was tired by the time I got back to Cebu from Oslob yesterday, so when I woke up in the morning, I decided to take it easy today.

Tr3ats guesthouse rooftop cafe Cebu

I had breakfast from the hostel’s roof top ‘cafe’

Roof view Cebu hills morning

The hills weren’t too far away from here

I worked for much of the day (ironic, considering it was May Day), only stepping out at 2pm to go to Ayala Center.

Ayala Center mall Cebu garden

A very nice mall not too far from the hostel. (Had to take two short jeepney rides to get here)

Felafel roll Cebu Philippines

I sat down at Persian Palate and had a spinach felalfel sandwich, a chicken shawarma rice meal and coconut water. Bill came to ₱242.

Since it was May Day, many shops were closed and the streets were far from buzzing.

The next day (May 2), I stepped out to do some shopping. I took a jeepney and went all the way down to the end of Osmeña Blvd. No fancy malls out here. Just a lot of street markets, shops and some much older shopping centres and department stores. I stepped into one and ended up buying some sandals for really cheap.

Cebu city alley street Philippines

Much of down town Cebu looks like this

Anti-America poster Cebu Philippines

Saw a bit of ‘anti-America’… for a change

I then took a jeepney to SM City, where I decided to have lunch.

Bacon hot dog onion rings Cebu

I had an bacon-wrapped hot dog from Monster Franks. And yes, that’s all the onion rings you get (plus a drink) for ₱130

After some window shopping and purchasing some souvenirs, I headed back to the hostel.

Pasta garlic bread Cebu

For dinner I ate at a small Italian eatery near Tr3ats Guesthouse. That’s fettucine pasta with meat sauce (₱140). This would be my final dinner in Cebu.

Date: May 3rd, 2014

I took a taxi to the airport as today I was leaving Cebu for Davao.

Cebu bridge road Philippines

It was bright and sunny today, so I hoped the flight would leave on time

After checking in, we got word that the flight was slightly delayed. *Shocker* -_-

Zubuchon lechon Cebu airport

In the departures lounge, the famed Zubuchon had an outlet

Zubuchon menu Cebu airport

Zubichon got really famous after Antony Bourdain called their lechon “the best he’s ever eaten”. So I too packed a lechon and rice meal (₱190) to have on the plane as my in-flight meal.

Cebu island from airplane Philippines

Goodbye Cebu!

Zubuchon lechon pork takeaway Cebu

The lechon was really well done and the meat was obviously good quality pork. I guess Zubuchon really is worth trying when in Cebu.

Davao from sky

The flight from Cebu to Davao takes just over an hour

Landing at Davao international airport

Landed in Davao — for the first time

Davao big sign airport

I hired a taxi to take me to the hostel I was going to be staying at for the next few days

Building Green Windows Dormitel Davao

This building with green tinted windows is the FTC Tower. It houses Green Windows Dormitel on the 4th, 5th and 6th floors (Oh, the taxi fare came to ₱166)

Reception Green Windows Dormitel davao

I chose Green Windows Dormitel because they have dorm beds for ₱188 all inclusive, and the rooms looked very nice and clean in the photos

Rooms Green Windows Dormitel Davao

Green Windows Dormitel has everything from dorm rooms to full service suites

Dorm room Green Windows Dormitel Davao

This was the ₱188 dorm room, and I chose bed E, by the window. I was quite impressed! Wooden floors, functioning air conditioner, and comfy beds. The wi-fi was spotty inside the room, but whenever it worked, it was good.

Lobby Green Windows Dormitel Davao

I would sometimes have to sit out on the couch to get a better connection

TV room Green Windows Dormitel Davao

This is the TV room, attached to the cafeteria

Cafeteria Green Windows Dormitel Davao

The cafeteria has a (pay) buffet serving breakfast, lunch and dinner (mostly Filipino cuisine) and the prices for coffee/tea and other items seem fairly reasonable

Store Green Windows Dormitel Davao

There’s even a store selling more groceries in the reception area

Mt. Apo street Davao city

The street Green Windows Dormitel is situated at is called Mt. Apo street. With a name like that, you would assume Mt. Apo is close by. Nope, Mt. Apo is no where near it!

Davao city traffic Philippines

Green Windows Dormitel wasn’t too far away from the main city center

I walked about to scan the area and was happy to find enough eateries (KFC, McDonalds, Jollibee, etc.), pizzerias and bakeries galore all within walking distance from the dormitel.

Daylight Inn Davao city Philippines

To the left is Daylight Inn, a place I was initially going to stay at because it was the only listing available for Davao City on Hostels.com

Time Square mall panorama Davao

Times Square Mall to the left and more shopping centers all around

Davao city center panorama

I just roamed around town to see what else Davao City had to offer

City Hall of Davao Philippines

City Hall of Davao

Durian statue city hall park Davao

Durian is abundant in Davao and there they honour the fruit

Rizal statue Davao City Philippines

A statue honouring Philippine hero Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal bronze statue Davao Philippines

Philippines eagle shed Davao park

Davao is home to the country’s national bird — the Philippines Eagle. I would be visiting the Philippines Eagle Center the day after.

San Pedro Cathedral Davao city

I walked towards the San Pedro Cathedral, a Davao landmark

San Pedro Cathedral people monument-davao

This statue is the Commemorative Monument of Peace and Unity

San Pedro Cathedral Davao Philippines

San Pedro Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Davao and renowned for its odd boat-like design

San Pedro Cathedral Davao interiors

I checked out the interiors

Inside San Pedro Cathedral Davao panorama

Took a panorama

San Pedro Church boat shape Davao city

And then I left

Osmena park Davao city Philippines

Near by was Osmena Park

Massages at Osmena Park  Davao

And inside were scores of masseurs offering foot and shoulder massages :-)

Royale House hotel Davao

I walked around a bit more before heading back

Billiards Davao City Philippines

Billiards seemed to be a popular pass time

Bakery fresh pastry Davao city

A lot of nice bakeries in Davao City, and it was cheap!

I’ll be honest. When I read Davao City was the biggest city in the world (in terms of area), I still assumed Davao City would have its areas of world-class skylines. Far from it. It feels more like a very big town. It’s big in size, sure, but far from fancy. I saw so many pawn shops — a sign that the populace are looking to sell their wares (hopefully not stolen) in exchange for cash. Electronics stores hardly stocked the latest models and even the malls lacked any of the usual fancy brands. Definitely far more low key compared to Manila and Cebu.

Anyway, I wasn’t in Davao to hang out at malls. Tomorrow I would visit Eden Nature Park and attempt to visit Mt. Apo (which I realized only after landing here that the mountain is no where near the city)

FTC Tower Green Windows Dormitel Davao city

FTC Tower, at night

 

(All the above photos were taken using my phone camera, Sony Xperia Z1)

Previous posts in this series:

Philippines 2014: Tumalog Falls; Oslob church, Cuartel

Philippines 2014: Oslob – Swimming with whale sharks

Philippines 2014: Trek to Mount Pinatubo crater lake

Philippines 2014: The itinerary this time around; UP Diliman and Maginhawa


17
Jul 14

How a fragrance can help re-live your journeys

Our memories go beyond what we see. They include the senses we have encountered in the past too. The sounds, the smells, the feel of a hotel bed fabric, or even touching an animal you encountered at a zoo… they all remain a part of our travel memories. But in this post, let’s focus on the smells, shall we?

Fish sauceFrom my own travels, I have some good fragrances I wouldn’t mind capturing in a bottle and a few bad fragrances I want banished! Funnily, I’d like to start with a bad! :-) The smell of fish sauce. Eugh! Bangkok reeks of it. Fish sauce is a condiment used quite a bit in Thai & far-eastern cuisine and given the number of street side eateries in Thailand’s capital, the smell was everywhere. So much so that I now associate fish sauce with Bangkok more than any other place in the Far East. I hated the smell so much that whenever I order a Thai dish I ask them not to put in fish sauce.

It wasn’t all foul smell in Thailand though. There are innumerous stalls and street vendors selling crepes and what they refer to as roti. Essentially pancake batter used to make a variety of sweet savouries.

Chiang Mai Thai cream pancake street vendor

Crepes filled with cream, fruits, coconut… all yum

These crepes, rotis and pancakes gave a whiff off sweetness you could smell a mile away (figuratively speaking), which just drew you closer to the vendor.

As someone who grew up in the Middle East, if there is one distinct aroma that sums up the ‘Arabian atmosphere,’ it’s the warm fragrance of oud. It’s a strong scent and ubiquitous in Arabian perfume stores, and it’s not uncommon to get a whiff of it from a well-dressed Arab walking past you. Sure, agarwood, the main ingredient is quite expensive… but an oud-inspired fragrance would make for one heck of room freshener and instantly take you on a magic carpet to the Arab world!

Being a foodie, some of my fondest childhood memories were best remembered for the smells associated with them (and still do today).

Veg Thali

All the ingredients that make up a veg thali also make up the smell — the “pure veg smell” :-)

It was in Mangalore, that I first sat down at a darshini. I remember having a simple thali, but given that we as a family, rarely ate out in Bahrain, even this simple thali with its assortment of dishes and puris/rice was just fascinating to me the first time I saw it. But what I take away the most from the darshini was — you guessed it — the smell. It’s a mix of sweetness and vegetable masalas (I presume). The smell may also be a mix of fragrances coming off freshly made rasam, sambhar, fresh coffee/tea and straight-out-of-oil vadas! It’s hard to pin point the exact source, but anyone who eats at a busy darshini knows what that distinct smell is. I don’t know if that that smell could be captured in a bottle, but I sure wouldn’t mind waking up to it in the mornings at home!

KFC bucket

You gotta love the smell of KFC! (unless you are vegetarian)

When it comes to ‘non-veg’ smells that I still haven’t gotten tired of, it’s KFC. Fourteen secret herbs and spices or not, I remember walking past the KFC outlet in Bab Al Bahrain, in Manama (the capital is where we stayed) and wow… the smell that came out of that kitchen exhaust! It was soooo enticing!

Back to my foreign travels now. I remember the first time I stumbled upon a Chinese temple in Kuala Lumpur. What really drew me inside wasn’t really the temple itself. It was the aroma coming out of it.

It was the incense…
Sin Sze Si Sze Ya temple incense Kuala Lumpur

To be honest, I don’t know what exactly the fragrance or type of incense they were using was — but it surely didn’t smell ‘Indian’… and yet, somehow it still felt ‘Asian’. Funny how you associate smells with geographies.

Mithun Divakaran feet Baga beach Goa

(Those feet belong to me)

We all love the sea side. When I was in Goa in 2008 with my friends, I remember relaxing on a beach bench with a bottle of beer in my hand. Somehow, the blend of the ocean waves mixed with the beer… smelled quite nice. You could call it a true ‘holiday smell,’ as back home the only sensation you normally get from beer is the notion one has had too much to drink!

That said, if anyone can capture this final essence in a bottle, you can take all my money. Whether it is from India or abroad, it smells the same. You know the smell in the air after the first rains showers have fallen? The soil getting wet and the sudden freshness you feel in the air? I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like it, and the one thing it reminds me of no matter where I am in the world… is back home, in my village in Kerala, during monsoon season. Now that’s a fragrance I’ll never get tired of.

This entry was for an IndiBlogger contest sponsored by Godrej Aer. Visit: http://www.godrejaer.com/

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