Saturday, March 21, 2020

Kari Kambing Malaysia (Malaysian Mutton Curry)

In an Indian household, a meal without a mutton dish feels incomplete. Let's avoid the health debate; it tends to spark lengthy discussions or heated arguments. Mutton is a must for us at least twice a month, especially for my Indian husband, who avoids chicken and pork. So, I've cooked various mutton dishes, mostly in spicy gravy or masala. That's what Indian taste buds crave. And during social gatherings, spicy mutton is a hit across all races.


There are various ways to prepare spicy or masala mutton, from making the spice paste from scratch. But for this Malaysian version, Kari Kambing Malaysia (Malaysian Mutton Curry), we'll use store-bought spice powders, embracing the convenience of ready-made options in our fast-paced lives, where cooking time is limited. I usually stock up on spice powders, storing them in the fridge to prevent molding and mustiness.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Cape Town: The Magical Moments

Our journey from the hotel to Nederburg Wines was quite a trek (CAPE TOWN THE NATURE STUNNER). As one of Stellenbosch's oldest vineyards, we received a warm welcome from the staff and were guided through the grape processing and wine conversion process. Honestly, I wasn't the most attentive listener - more interested in sampling the wines! I took cautious sips, avoiding a rush to my head. Truth be told, I couldn't distinguish between the different wine flavors and varieties. Some guests seemed like experts, while others, like me, quietly enjoyed the experience.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cape Town: The Nature Stunner

Honestly, I had no clue whatsoever what to expect in Cape Town (CAPE TOWN: THE TRAVEL STEALER). Aside from glancing at the itinerary before I left home, I didn’t read up on the city. As always, I preferred to discover places organically (COLOMBO DISCOVERY & KANDY MOMENTS). In Cape Town, I was swept away by the wonders of this part of South Africa, starting with a morning drive from the hotel to the high slopes of the mountains. The adventure had me standing rather than seated, gripping the bars of the coach as it maneuvered through the mountains. Swinging left and right with each turn, I was captivated by the jaw-dropping views of Cape Town's waters and the stunning scenery that unfolded before me (AGRA: TAJ MAHAL & VARANASI SACRED GANGES).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Cape Town: The Travel Stealer

When my travel buddies asked, "Hey Nava, want to join us for a trip to South Africa? It's 10 days, 7 nights. Are you in?" I didn't hesitate (SEOUL: JOURNEY THROUGH MY EYES & JEJU THROUGH MY LENS). After checking my bank balance, which thankfully cooperated, I eagerly accepted the invitation. Our journey took us from KLIA, with a layover at Singapore Changi Airport, before finally landing at Cape Town International Airport in the morning. The long flight, coupled with the transit in Singapore, made for quite a journey (OSAKA SUNSETS & KYOTO ONSEN BARENESS).

Our first order of business was lunch at Ocean Basket in Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a renowned seafood spot introduced to us by our knowledgeable guide, who has been based in South Africa for over a decade. The restaurant's chic blue-themed decor set a perfect ambiance. We tucked in a satisfying set lunch featuring soup, salad, a seafood platter, dessert, and drinks. The portions were so generous that even sharing was a challenge, leaving us regretting any waste.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Seoul, Korea: A Journey Through My Eyes

On the second last day in Korea, which was spent in Seoul (GANDWON-DO & JEJU THROUGH MY LENS) e skipped the usual hotel buffet breakfast and were taken to an eatery instead. Remember, I told you how it's difficult to figure out the names of eateries in Korea, as the signboards are all in Korean? By the time we walked in, it seemed it was almost the end of breakfast. The tables were a mess, created by previous tour groups who had already eaten and left. It felt like we were helping ourselves to the remnants of the dishes, and the staff seemed uninterested in serving us. Nevertheless, we helped ourselves to pumpkin porridge and spinach porridge, along with Kimchi soup and side dishes. Despite the initial chaos, it was a pleasant meal.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Gangwon-do, South Korea: From Mount Sorak to Pyeongchang

Mount Sorak, or Seoraksan, located in the northeastern part of South Korea, marked the start of our adventure-filled day (NAMI ISLAND & JEJU THROUGH MY LENS). This majestic mountain, part of the Taebaek range within Seoraksan National Park, spans the provinces of Gangwon-do, including Sokcho, Inje, and Yangyang. Renowned for its rugged peaks, dense forests, and stunning waterfalls, the park offered us a serene and picturesque setting.

Our group, moving like one happy family, enjoyed fun moments as we walked through the park, passing by towering red pine trees. Our first stop was the Bronze Jwabul Statue, also known as the Tongil Daebul, erected in 1997. Standing 14.6 meters tall, this statue symbolizes the hope for the reunification of North and South Korea and represents the moment of the Buddha's enlightenment. Nearby, we visited Sinheungsa Temple, one of Korea's oldest Zen Buddhist temples, dating back to the 7th century. Joining in the prayers for a few minutes, I felt a profound sense of calm and zen spirituality (KYOTO ZENFUL SIGHTS & VARANASI SACRED GANGES).

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Nami Island & Petite France: A Korean-French Experience

Leaving Jeju Island behind (JEJU THROUGH MY LENS), we were off to Nami Island, located 63km northeast of Seoul. After breakfast and packing our bags, we headed to the airport and arrived in Seoul just in time for lunch. Seeing Korean steamboat yet again almost did me in - was it always steamboat or hotplate on these tours? I wondered. Fortunately, Korean side dishes and rice saved the day with their flavors.

Within the hour, we journeyed to Nami Island. This scenic oasis in the heart of South Korea's Bukhan River is celebrated for its natural beauty and cultural charm. Shaped like a half-moon after the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam, Nami Island captivates visitors with its tree-lined pathways, lush landscapes, and serene lakeside views.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Jeju Island Through My Lens

Our day began with a different kind of start, skipping the usual hotel buffet breakfast for a meal across the harbor in a small restaurant. Ah! The challenge of figuring out the names of eateries in South Korea when everything is in Korean (SEOUL TO JEJU), including this one. Breakfast commenced with toast, butter, jam, and a soft-boiled egg, with the highlight being the abalone porridge. Or at least, it was supposed to be. Noticing the absence of abalone in the porridge and informing the guide, he got worked up as if I was pulling his leg, until the rest echoed. Soon enough, we were served additional bowls of porridge, this time with discernible pieces of abalone. The porridge paired with the soft-boiled egg was an appreciated start to the rainy day.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

From Seoul to Jeju: A Solo Traveler's Korean Venture

A complete package tour to South Korea, yet another solo adventure for me, this time with 14 strangers. Without a local Malaysian guide, the tour company representative met me at the airport for a quick check-in and briefing before we took to the skies (OSAKA SUNSETS & KYOTO ONSEN BARENESS) , arriving at Incheon International Airport by 9:00am. Our Korean guide was already there, and I was the first to greet him. Mysteriously, the remaining 13 took an additional 45 minutes.

Our journey commenced at Gyeongbokgung Palace, a magnificent symbol of Korean history and culture located in northern Seoul. Built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty, this grand palace, whose name translates to "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," showcases Korea's rich architectural heritage and royal lifestyle. The sprawling grounds are adorned with meticulously restored halls, pavilions, and gardens. Highlights include the imposing Geunjeongjeon Hall, used for royal ceremonies, and the National Palace Museum of Korea, displaying artifacts that narrate the country's royal history (NEW DELHI REVELATION & RAJASTHAN MAGIC).

Friday, January 31, 2020

Osaka, Japan - From Sacred Deer to Sky-High Sunsets

Feeling rather sentimental (OSAKA TRAVEL WINS) as always, the bittersweet realization that it's time to head back home tomorrow hits hard (KOBE EXPERIENCES UNFOLD & ARASHIYAMA ZEN). Ah, the classic case of Ms. Nava! The end of a journey always stirs up mixed emotions. Returning home means diving back into reality. But then again, who can travel 365 days a year? Unless money starts falling from the sky- oh, wouldn't that be lovely! Ahahahah!

My second last day began on a delightful note with the love of my life: a Japanese buffet breakfast. Aren't they just the prettiest? Just look at the spread I had!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Osaka, Japan - Unexpected Travel Wins

Waking up to the delightful hotel buffet breakfast in Japan never failed to tantalize my taste buds in the most sensational and smooth way (KYOTO ONSEN BARENESS & KOBE EXPERIENCES UNFOLD). Each morning brought a new culinary adventure, where I eagerly explored the array of dishes on offer. Crispy fried bacon, Japanese steamed cakes, and half-boiled eggs drizzled with Japanese soy sauce were just a few of the pleasures that started my day on a high note. One intriguing discovery was the small bottle of oil nestled among the hot beverages.

Curiosity piqued, I learned from the attentive staff that it was coconut oil meant to enhance the flavor of coffee - an unexpected delight that I couldn't resist trying. The blend of Coffee Coconut Oil added a layer of richness to my breakfast experience, a perfect complement to the flavors of Japan.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Kobe, Japan - Where Experiences Unfold

From Osaka (KYOTO: ONSEN BARENESS), it took us around 50 minutes to reach Kobe. Kobe, a port city in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture, has a rich history dating back to the 8th century when it served as an important hub for maritime trade (SAPPORO AWAITS & HOKKAIDO WANDERLUST). The city was one of the first to open to foreign trade in the 19th century, playing a significant role during the Meiji Restoration and transforming into a modern industrial center.

Upon arrival, we headed to the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Museum. Visiting the museum was a profoundly moving experience. As I explored the exhibits and learned about the events that unfolded during the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 17, 1995, I felt a deep emotional impact. The displays vividly portrayed how this unexpected natural disaster devastated lives, leaving profound mental and physical scars. I felt a sharp pain in my soul, and there were moments when I was left speechless and frozen.

Kyoto, Japan: Kyoto: Zenful Sights and Cuisine

One of the most delightful experiences in Japan is the hotel buffet breakfast. Unlike the pre-arranged tour lunches and dinners, the morning buffet offers (ONSEN BARENESS & ARASHIYAMA ZEN) an array of choices that feel like a feast from the heavens. There's a special pleasure in settling for light porridge, accompanied by an assortment of flavorful condiments, Japanese-style eggs, crisp salads, delicate tofu dishes, and the smooth, exquisite hotel desserts. This spread is a testament to the subtle and refined Japanese culinary delights, and it’s precisely what I indulged in this morning.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kyoto, Japan: Gion District to Onsen Bareness

In the afternoon (ARASHIYAMA ZEN TRANQUIL), it was Gion District's time to shine! This iconic slice of Kyoto is steeped in history as the city's beloved geisha hub. Dating back to the Middle Ages, Gion boasts traditional machiya houses, lantern-lit alleys, and teahouses where geiko and maiko dazzle with dance, music, and games. Visitors flock here for a peek into Japan's rich cultural heritage, hoping to glimpse elegantly adorned geiko and maiko as they gracefully glide between engagements. Gion is also a culinary delight, offering Kyoto's refined cuisine in nostalgic settings that transport you back in time.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kyoto, Arashiyama: Discovering Zen in Tranquil Moments

Though I had quite an experience in Hokkaido during winter (HOKKAIDO WANDERLUST & HOKKAIDO WINTER TALES), I couldn’t resist when the same tour group invited me to join them for a trip to Kyoto and Osaka. Missing out on this adventure with my fun and soulful tour buddies felt like it would be a regret. Eager to reunite with them and explore another part of Japan, I said, “Let’s go!” Six days and five nights, with all arrangements (NEW DELHI SOULFUL WINTER) and expenses covered (except for shopping, of course).

Our night flight landed at Kansai International Airport, and we kicked off our tour in the Arashiyama District. Stepping off the coach, I immediately felt the chill of winter. After a briefing from our local guide, we had two hours to explore Arashiyama. I headed straight for the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge (literally Moon Crossing Bridge, aka Sagano Bridge). Amidst the bustling crowd, notably filled with many Chinese tourists, I realized I was the only Indian there. Yippiee!

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Delhi - North India: A Soulful Revelation

On the last two days in New Delhi (TAJ MAHAL & VARANASI) before returning home, I enjoyed a relaxed morning on the second-to-last day. After breakfast, I stayed in my room, sipping coffee and having a light meal from the buffet. While the rest of the group went shopping, I took advantage of the hotel's fast Wi-Fi to catch up on social media (COLOMBO DISCOVERY & HOKKAIDO WANDERLUST).

For lunch, we headed to "Flavour Of Southvala" in Karol Bagh. Despite the cramped seating, the food was exceptional. We shared a Paper Tosai, a Non-Vegetarian Thali Set, and India's beloved Bru Coffee. The curries were rich and flavorful, thanks to the spices used, and the presentation was appetizing - unlike some eateries that overlook the importance of plating. This meal was a clear winner, making up for the less enjoyable dining experiences elsewhere (CHENNAI & KODAIKANAL).

A Taste of Burma: Masoor Dal and More Lentil Delights

Lentils and dal are essential staples in my kitchen, celebrated globally ( PERTH CULINARY EXPERIENCES ) for their versatility and nutritiona...