Wednesday, 28 May 2014

"- What I will miss from Mumbai?"

Ok. Let me just immediately assure you: No. I. Am. Not. Leaving. Mumbai.

Well, I will go away for holiday in some weeks - home to Norway and home to Greece, and then I will be back home in India again. But the thing is: when I get back, many of my friends will not be here. Because they will leave Mumbai for good. And the goodbyes can be hard. That pain of hugging a friend for the last time, and not really knowing if or when or where we will meet again.

I know. I know. Expat or not, it can be tough to say goodbye, but for me it seems extra tough here, because the friends I have made, have become really close friends - (maybe a substitute for the friends and family from back home who are not here?). And in between farewell brunches and lunches and gatherings and parties, in between tears and tight hugs, we do manage to celebrate too. Celebrate the funny moments, the laughs and crazy things we have done together. Celebrate good friends and good times. Celebrate friendship. And as we hang out: the good stories are brought back to live, and then the discussions often turn in to Oh, I am gonna miss this and that and Oh, I am so not gonna miss this and that.

Some are happy to leave, some are sad and some are both. Some will miss the food (and that list of dishes is a long one, I tell you), and some will miss the Cash-on-delivery services. Some will miss their stake out cafe, the driver, the festivals and the shopping fabrics and clothes. Some will miss traveling in India, the warm climate, the lady tailor and the guy at the vegetable stall. Many will miss their friends - who either are leaving as well or who will stay behind. Most mention that they will miss people. People they have met through their time in Mumbai.

One afternoon I am in a coffee shop with my friend who is also getting ready to pack up and leave with her family. She is originally from New Delhi, and now after 4 years in Mumbai, they are being relocated to Singapore - Hm, What I will miss from Mumbai? She is thinking, looking out of the window, has another sip of her tea, and looks back at me:
- You know. I always thought I would jump of joy the day I would leave Mumbai, Eli. Dirty, dusty, polluted, with garbage slum and poverty. What was this? Awful. I thought I hated it. And yet. She is mine, this city. She is a part of me, and I can't really say why.   
And as we walk out in the hot hot humid Mumbai evening, she smiles, but still looks a bit sad as she hugs me: - What I'll miss from Mumbai? I'll miss you, my friend. And that is what it's about isn't it? The people. The friends. The good moments. That's what we should celebrate, every single step of the way. So, here's to my dear friends who are leaving and to those who are not..

A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand but touches your heart...  

Happy travels friends - and until we meet again:-)

Traveling is not just seeing the new, it is also leaving behind. Not just opening doors, also closing them behind you, never to return. But the place you have left forever is always there for you to see whenever you shut your eyes. 
Jan Myrdal

Sunset at Chowpatty - pic by my daughter:-) 

Friday, 16 May 2014

A thing for tea

Yes, I am a tea person. Te, tea, thé, té, τσάι, tsai, चहा, चाय, chai, herbata, çay - call it what you like, but it has always been my drink - whether it is that big steaming hot cup I can curl up in the sofa with, on a cold winter night, ready to chat with that good friend, while seeing the snowy wind outside the window. Or how about that feeling: coming home from the beach in the summer and head straight for the fridge to pour a big glass of that cooling iced tea just waiting to be consumed. Or that lovely moment after strolling at the market and sweaty stumbling in to this small cute shop and being welcomed with a big smile and the question: chai?

And lucky me for being in a country where tea is passion and science. Where the varieties are endless, and the spices and aromas divine. India has taken my love for tea - and my knowledge - to another level. For not did I know that the brewing times differ or that the recommended water temperatures varies. Just to make that perfect cup of tea. The one you sense the aroma of  - long before the first taste reach your lips.

Now, let me assure you: I have (had) a firm stand against having commercials or sponsored products on my blog. I have had some - let us call it pretty interesting and tempting offers, but ... nah... I kind of like the free feeling I get by writing only about what I like, and not what I feel I have to...

But then one day, I had an offer which I could simply not refuse (like the Godfather). This small tea company called the Tea Trunk invited me to test their teas.. Oh, The tea lover in me jumped excitedly. That I could do. That I wanted to do.

Go to

The Tea Trunk is a Goan based company, and they offer Gourmet Tea. I think their products are beautifully presented with their cute little blue elephant symbol that appears on their gift boxes in tin, and on the tea bags. Each tea bag also gives you a small advice on how to prepare that special tea: recommended brewing time, water temperature and whether this tea goes with milk or not.

The tea trunk sells only tea that are blended with natural ingredients: Our teas are blended with only 100% natural, fresh-from-the-earth ingredients like rose petals, ginger root, and lemon peels. No artificial fragrance. No added color. No nonsense. (from The tea trunk also claims that by buying their tea, we get the very best from India’s tea gardens, since they use only the finest quality teas - and delivered directly from tea estates.

So, dear reader, the presentation is great, and according to information on the site: this is quality, but is it enough to satisfy my tea lover? How is the - after all - most important thing - The Taste?

Well, I tasted White tea, Black tea, Green tea with lemon, Oolong tea, Chilli Chai, Saffron Kahwa and Berry Blush. Two other tea lovers in my domestic surroundings: my daughter and a friend was also involved in the tasting process, and some took it more serious than others. We all agreed that the White tea was a bit too light and flowery for our taste, and that the Saffron Kahwa both smelled and tasted d.i.v.i.n.e. But that was all we could agree on. My friend's favorite was the Black tea (which reminded her of masala tea), because that is in general her favorite. My daughter loved the Chilli Chai, but also enjoyed the Green tea. I loved the Green tea and Oolong tea, but I couldn't really say there was any that I did not like. Maybe the Berry Blush, because in general I am not too fond of teas from fruit and berries. Oh, wait, we also agreed that each tea could be perfect for its purpose, right? That Green fresh tea in the morning, and the more spicy ones in the evening? Or the other way around? It comes down to taste, really.

In general, all the teas were very aromatic, and I loved the feeling of opening the box, and just smell the scent of the teas coming out. And great ideas for gifts for people back home, I think. A taste of India - in a cup. 

This was lovely, tea trunk! Thanks for letting me taste, and I'll see you again for sure - my little blue elephant:-)   

More info:

I wish you a wonderful weekend ahead - with a teacup or two:-)
Ta ta!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Food walking in Dadar

2 days later, and I still feel stuffed: panna, thali peeth, amba daal, bharli wangi, chawli bhaji, matki usal... Need I say more? You get the picture? Saturday I went to explore Maharastrian food, in Dadar.

You know, India is making a huge impact on our kitchen, and I am learning - day by day. I enjoy finding out about the origin of the dishes, be amazed by the variety of flavors and blown away by the use of spices. And let me tell you: Indian food is simply not just Indian food. All over the country there are different ways of cooking, and a bouquet of variations and recipes, from south to north. Lucky me who get to dive in and explore that ocean of culinary threats. And what could be more natural than increasing my knowledge on our local cuisine: Mumbai or Maharashtra. So, off I went on a food walk to find out.

The walk was advertised " for you if you thought that Maharashtrian food starts and ends with the iconic vada pao" Hm. Well, we started off at the popular Aaswad, and get ready to drool, people, because this was yummy:
Batata vada with chutney 
And to go with the food: panna, a drink made by raw mango

After countless dishes at Aaswad, I think people were already started to feel a bit full, but at least we managed to get up, and walk out, and after a short walk we came to our next stop: Gypsy Corner, another place known for serving local food. I noticed chairs were put on the side walk, so people could sit and wait for an available table - another popular place (a good sign). And what do you know? - we did had room for more food after all!! Delicious missal pao, bhareli bhindi, bharli vangi, pitla and aamras:
Divine puris' with the most delicious mango dip ... Ohhhhhhh heaven

Oh, now we are talking filled up: we more stumbled than walked out to the busy streets and headed for some air, exercise and shopping - a chance to buy pickles, masalas and snacks. Pretty impressive that some of my fellow walkers (hello sweetie) managed to buy snacks and start to eat them then and there (and that most of us attempted to try).  
We ended our walk at a Malvani restaurant: Sindhudurg, to get a taste of the food from the coastal region of Maharashtra. So, Surmai thali and prawn fry was waiting for us, and a new miracle happened: we still had some room for those delicious bites..: 

Thali with fried shrimps and kingfish
So, no wonder, dear reader, that I still feel full, right? Delicious food and new knowledge. Our tour was all organised by Finely ChoppedTo me the walk was more about food and less about walking, and I was thinking it might benefit with a bit more walking, but on the other hand:  if I then would have to choose less food in return, I am not sure what to give up. For sure, that would not be those puris with mango - they are mine:-) All mine:-)

PS: this tour was not sponsored. And as always: my opinion is mine and mine alone:-) Like those puris:-)

Ta ta:-)

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A to Z challenge 2014 - my reflections

So, I did it. I jumped on that Atozchallenge express train, just as it was leaving the station. I had not really planned to take part, but I did. And now, I feel so happy. My first big blog challenge, and I did it.

Since I decided almost the last minute to take part, I did not have much time to grasp or prepare for what I was up to. Still, I had some ideas on the first letters - and a few more letters had already popped in to my head. I found the first week easiest, but from week two: DID I feel the heat? - Oh YES, safe to say that I did! Just to manage to get my own posts published was the first challenge, and then to visit the other blogs, commenting, sharing... At some point I did wish the day had more than 24 hours.

Fortunately I have some amazing friends who were willing to write a guest-post. I enjoyed having other voices on my blog, and tagging along to my friends' dream destination was just awesome! A big thanks to my friends who took us along to their special places. If you haven't read them: please have a look:

Back home we have a saying: "Ingen nevnt. Ingen glemt" meaning: "Do not mention anyone, because then you will forget someone." Kind of a one-for-all-all-for-one - philosophy. So, that is why I will not mention single names, but simply scream out a BIG, WARM and heartfelt THANK YOU to every single one who visited my blog during the challenge, left the sweetest and most encouraging words and just kept that travel-sparkle in me alive and kicking!  

Through the challenge I discovered some new blogs, and they gave me that a little bit extra - feeling every day with their themes, way of writing and interacting. You are great:  
  • Aditi - for giving me that daily emotional short story
  • Jayanta - for giving me wisdom on my adopted country India - and especially during election time. 
  • Sunila - for giving me more knowledge on yoga - food for body and soul! 
  • Beloo - for giving me deep insight in education in India - a theme close to my hearth
  • Meena - for making me want to travel even more
  • Vishal - for that amusing trip down memory lane 
And, there you go - I have fallen in to my own trap: I was not going to mention anyone, and when I do, I feel I just want to go on and on, because there were so many talented writers and bloggers who gave me so much - throughout this challenge. I discovered fellow soul mates, I raged, I cried, I giggled, I laughed, I was moved, thrilled, blown away, surprised, happy...You are awesome! So, friends- be proud! We completed the task - the challenge! Here's to us, and atoz2015: bring it on!

Did you have any favorites among my dream destinations? Did you enjoy the ride? Here they are:  

Monday, 5 May 2014

Dosa with veg and chutney - Recipe

After almost 2 years in India, our homely (so called) global kitchen has been pretty colored by Indian flavors, and so has our tasting buds. We have our chapatis, rotis and idlis - with vegetables and chutneys, in endless variations. Dal is a frequent guest, but right now I am deep down in a dosa - phase - both from street-stalls and from our own kitchen. And uncontrollably addicted to chutney... You will find many variations of these dishes. This are versions I enjoy - so I hope you will too. Here we go:

1. DOSA:
You need: 
2 cups rice
1 cup white dal  - (lenthils) ( In India: Urad dall)

You do: 
Soak them in water over night. The next day you crush them in a mixer (to be flour-like). Add a little salt and water (we used 1/2 cup) and mix it well. The consistency shall be like thin pancake-dough. Put the mix in the fridge and proceed to make the other two dishes.

You need: 
1/2 fresh coconut
4 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
1 green chili
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp curry leaves
1/4 tsp hing (some kind of magic spice - good for digestion, I was told..) 
2 ss yogurt
lemon sauce (we used apr 3 ss)

You do: 
Add coconut, garlic, ginger and chili in a mixer and blend well. In an oiled pan fry the mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing for a few minutes, and set aside. Mix together the coconut mix with the spice-mix, and then add yogurt and lemon sauce. Place in the fridge. Proceed to:

You need: 
6 boiled potatoes (you can use vegetables instead: capsicum, beans, onion, broccoli, cauliflower etc)
1 green chili
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tomato

You do: 
Cut the potatoes in small squares. Chop the rest of the ingredients separately (finely). In an oiled pan fry mustard seeds, garlic and ginger. After 2 minutes add the onions (be careful it doesn't get brown), the tomato, turmeric and garam masala. In the end, add the potatoes, and let it cook for 5 minutes. Set aside.  

4. The Grande Finale
The last thing you do is to fry the dosas! If you want to really impress - try to copy the professionals from the stalls in Mumbai: Put out the filling and chutney, gather your family, friends, neighbors (and whoever) around. Then heat up the pan, put some oil in and fry those dosas. They shall be like very very very thin pancakes. (Tip: make some fry-test-rounds before you call everyone to watch your dosa-master-skills)

The beauty of this dish is getting that piping hot crispy dosa on your plate, fill it, splash on some chutney - and dig in! OH YUUUUUM!
Nah...... not sure I'm coming out of that dosa-phase for a while...

Except for digging in my dosas, I am back on track in Mumbai after an intense April blogging month. Around the world in 26 days..What a month! But what fun it was:-)

Happy to see you here, dear reader, and thanks for following. Good evening from Mumbai!