Weekends in Bharuch! :)

Warning : A post that includes only showing off. Please wear your glares before you read! 😛 :mrgreen:

 

The best part of living in a town where you grew up is that you have so many people who know you are connected living around you, not just that, it also means that all your friends are either put up here or are visiting your town on weekends or festivals even if they are working elsewhere. So in many ways I live in a town that is sort of a head quarter for most of the people in my circle! Hence, weekends are always fun, sometimes almost hectic! Saturday nights are gathered around some wonderful food and spent regaling each other with stories or pulling each others legs, late nights and then early mornings we have to leave for the Narmada Valley to find some or the other waterfall for a bath.

 

Yea that way we are pretty rich, we drive about an hour to find a pristine waterfall for a bath on Sundays! Blessed with wonderful countryside we Bharuchi’s may not be proud of our city and its cleanliness but are certainly snooting about to everyone about the countryside we have! So many mountains, valleys, waterfalls that you can spend the entire months of July to November bathing in a different waterfall every Sunday!!!!! Now doesn’t that sound amazing!??!?!

 

One friend of ours Nitinbhai actually is a treasure trove in that regard, he has explored the surrounding area’s so much that he knows of all such small streams and nooks and corners of our town and we use our connections to the hilt! Always pinging him up on saturday nights about directions to our next bath on a sunday! 😀 😀 😀

 

Pehchaan hai apni Boss!! :mrgreen:

 

Anyways so this weekend was one such hectic and fun affair! Around 12 I decided it was time for me to cook, so I called home and told all the ladies to take it easy and relax, I will cook, I then got all the stuff around 4 pm and got into cooking, some garlic bread, salad, one type of Crostini and a cucumber crush as suggested by my blogger buddies Rakesh and Monika. It all turned out pretty swell!

 

Forgot to take pictures! But thankfully one friend had made a Snap Story of a couple of things and hence I can now show off!

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The Garlic Bread with mayonnaise, corn, capsicum, tomato and chilli flakes! Do take note, this is home made Mayonnaise! 😎

 

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The Crostini before it was sent int he oven to melt! 😉

Unfortunately the drinks and salad were not photographed however the salad was scraped off the huge bowl and the drink was finished too with me getting three glasses of it :mrgreen:

 

Then after having slept at around 12 in the night, some of the earnest few even went to Garba that night, we had to wake up at 5 am and one friend was kind enough or well insane enough to call me and wake me up at 4.30! :-/ at 5 am we were on the road! Half of us did catch up some sleep in the car whilst the rest fought on what music to play! The biggest draw back of technology that ways, everyone is carrying their play list and wants to make others listen to music he loves! 😐

 

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Once you leave the city, Bharuch regales you with greenery and green slopes especially in the monsoon

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Yes… I belong to these parts! 😀 😀 😀 😀

 

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Into the wilderness we go, searching for a waterfall through Jowar Fields!

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Yeh mera gaon …..

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Seems like we are going to have a bumper Ponk harvest this year… thanks to the wonderful monsoon we have had this year! Its October and its still not exhausted! 😀 😀

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Spotted these two who absolutely were loving the weather and the surroundings! 😉

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and then there are angry dad’s at their kids for not running away from bad company, it screamed at the little one for not running far from us and letting us get so close!

 

Now last but certainly not the least, Namaskar from Bharuch! 😀 😀 😀

 

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When in Rishikesh…

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it is inevitable that at some point or the other the spiritual journey will begin, near Laxman Jhula, I came across this painting on the wall, one of the most famous quotes of Mooji with his picture.Makes you think, doesn’t it?! Rishikesh does that to you and more.

 

Rishikesh is a discovery we must go on, I reckon we stop bothering if we are out discovering a city or ourselves. Its narrow lanes, chaotic traffic, noisy tuktuk’s not withstanding, the town has a charm about it. The amazing cafe’s, chaat shops that will wow you, the ashrams to aid you into a journey deep within or simply rafting about the Ganges, Rishikesh has a lot to offer.

 

Walking about near Lakshman Jhula and being coaxed into buying a stone by one of the salesman is an experience, it amazes you how much effort he puts into it, the product not withstanding, that is a lesson on keeping motivation high for all people involved in sales, who says rejections can act as a downer, the energy these guys have is amazing!

 

This was my first, short visit to the town, however, its not my last, I actually can now imagine, why so many foreigners make a beeline for this town. It showcases an India that is different from the one that I have seen. Perhaps next on the list should be making a few visits to the towns on the banks of Ganga. They seem a lot more interesting to me now, earlier I always used to think, its just crowded, dirty, religious cities best to be avoided, however, a brush with Rishikesh and I am compelled to make a journey of these cities! From Rishikesh to Haridwar to Allahabad to Benaras all these places are now on my list!

The trail to Mesar Kund

Yes driving in the hills is fun and something I love but even more appealing is to shun your car and walk up into the woods. That is one even more appealing thing about the Himalaya’s. Unlike walking in a city and bumping into someone here you mostly are alone walking all the way and even if you actually come across someone you don’t ever have to make way plus you always get a smile and a Jai Ramji Ki or Namaskar greeting you.

 

Add to that the fact that you are under the shade of tree’s and the temperature is always brilliant to walk in plus the air is fresh, pollution is miniscule, there are interesting birds hopping by and if you have an aware local with you along than you will get to taste a lot of berries and fruits that you otherwise wouldn’t dare to pick up.

 

So one early morning in Munsiyari we decided to shrug off our laziness and after our morning tea and breakfast we started walking up to the home of the lady who had arranged our stay, Mallika Verdi, she is a retired mountaineer who has settled here since 1992 and has a wonderfully lovely place. Apparently she is the one who has helped all the local ladies to set up a homestay and ensured that this income is paid in the hands of these ladies. We were told that there was a Yoga session at her place which is beside a meadow, incidentally a guy from Bangalore had also come to stay just like us and was a Yoga instructor and so she had arranged a few sessions for all locals to take part and learn yoga.

 

Honestly so far I have always loathed yoga but we thought why not go and see and even maybe click some pictures whilst these people are at it. So we began our stiff climb from our place in Shankhadhura to Mallikaji’s house. Mornings in Munsiyari are ethereal with sunrise in summers happening at almost 5 am from behind the Panchachuli peaks. We soaked in the view and sipped our tea with Parantha’s, about the view, well…

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Actually giving up a position that is comfortable, where you can order food all the time and sit with views like this and walking is a task, but we had decided and off we went.

 

It was a good one hour stiff climb to reach Mallikaji’s place, others might do it in maybe 45 minutes but with us panting and clicking pictures basically to conceal our panting took our sweet time to reach there.

 

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The panting and sighing never stopped on the road too as through the woods from time to time the majestic mountains playing with the clouds would appear and wow us.

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The meadow near Mallikaji’s house

The place that Mallikaji has is beautiful beyond words, woods, a meadow, a pond with loads of fish, ducks, geese, cows, dogs, spectacular views and a lot of love and warmth to boot!

 

We were welcomed with tea and we sat about talking about our trip so far and her place and got to know each other a little bit. She was wonderfully charming, calm and a very likable person as it was evident from our talks with our host and her husband and all the locals that had come there for Yoga. The way they all mingled and joked and laughed with each other was so heartening to see. She was as much a local as any local could be, they all called her Didi out of their affection and respect for her. There was great camaraderie between the people who had all gathered there. Men, women and children all alike joked and pulled each others legs, the environment amongst them was a thing to behold I am not sure I can describe it.

 

Photography didn’t really happen much as we mingled and got busy with Yoga ourselves and actually loved the whole encounter. Everyone helped each other to accomplish the most difficult Asana’s the Bangalore boy taught us.

Men and women had never seemed more equal than I saw them at this place on this day! Honestly this is no exageration.

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During the Yoga session it did drizzle in between, a short shower and we would all carry our mats and rush to shelter and come back to the field again when it stopped. It was fun and we didnt even realise we spent around 3 hours there. Eventually we were told to hang around for lunch. Apparently there was Sambar rice, Lemon Rice and Potato subzi being made by Ram who also belonged to Bangalore and stays here. The invitation was pretty tempting and we were thinking of aborting the trek but then we learnt that it would take another 2 hours for lunch and I thought to myself we could rush up and down in that time and make it by lunch! 😉

 

So off we went to Mesar Kund, which was another stiff climb that took us 1 hour, this time it was just the three of us on the route, no human crossed us or met us on the way, there are no residences here and no one seemed to be coming that way. The three of us had to stop quite a few times to rest and catch up our breath. It was tiring but well worth the effort.

 

Here are a few pics we took :

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Walking through foliage that dense is something I love dearly!

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Encountering flowers on the way!

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Catching up breath was pretty important!

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Finally our destination!

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Mesar Kund!

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The tranquility of the place was something else the peace you could feel here was unbelievable, ideal place to sit and take deep breaths, the place was pristine and fresh and you should take in as much oxygen here as you can!

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Far away from the maddening crowd, beneath the Oak tree, gathering your thoughts! 🙂 Thats the prize you get for climbing and panting your guts out. You own places like this, there was no one but just the three of us here.

 

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From one end the view of the Panchachuli was something like this! 🙂

 

We munched about apples sitting here and watching the place and soaking the tranquility in, we didn’t bother with our packed lunches that our host had packed for us as the Sambhar Rice was playing on our minds. We hung around for around an hour at this place before the clouds threatened. We rushed but not before the rain fell on us and almost drenched us, thankfully enough we reached just in time for the Sambar Rice.

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Not the best picture, taken by mobile, however, make no mistake, this was one of the yummiest meals we had on our 15 day trip to Uttarakhand. The simplicity and yet amazingly wonderful Sambar Rice made by Ram were a highlight of this trip.

 

Amazing aint it to have authentic South Indian food cooked and served up so high North in the country and that too not in a restaurant but cooked in a camp! We emptied plates I tell you the three of us!

 

Its evident na, why I am smitten by the Himalaya’s and the people there and how I have encountered so much goodness so many times there that I just cant stop singing praises and making return trips. Not a believer in God, but if God did exist than I am sure he lived in these parts for there is still so much goodness left here! 🙂

 

Sarafa Bazaar – Indore

Caution : Do not read if on empty stomach. This post contains harmful photo’s and details if you are on a diet!

 

There are markets and malls and then there are Sarafa Bazaar sort of markets, the one in Indore tells me just how much I love window shopping as well, just the right products need to be advertised! Cliche’s all I tell you that say only women love window shopping. There is just so much food available in the Sarafa Bazaar in Indore that you cannot imagine the kind of orgy my mind indulges in each time I visit it. I have to concede I have not seen any Sarafa Bazaar of this scale. My mind is unable to make a decision what to eat and what to leave for next time. There is just such a huge variety of food available that even my epic appetite has to select what desires to satiate.

 

Per se, Sarafa Bazaar, means a Bullion Exchange, however, this bazaar for me has nothing to do with Gold. Indore’s Sarafa Bazaar becomes even more throbbing, happening and crowded ones all the Jewellers close shops. This is when the food stalls make their entry, as all the jewellers go home, their shop verandah’s and the whole street is littered by food stalls. Now, I have seen a lot of street markets, indulged in them, yet, this one stands apart. Two things, for me that separate it are one the fact that they are not selling the overly popular dishes, the major dishes here are not easily available everywhere else, you just have to come to Indore for them, like Bhutte ki Kees, Garadu, Sabudana Khichdi(nowhere else you get it like here), Jalebo(imarti) etc and secondly I have not seen any place where so many sweet stalls are put out on road, temporary ones at that!

 

There are a few popular fixed shops that run day and till late in the night like the Mittal Kachori/Samosa wala, Vijay ki Petis and Joshi ke Dahiwade but them apart a majority of them are temporary stalls that come to existence after the goldsmith’s have gone home after minting money. The stalls come to mint money and people make a beeline not seen during the day by the goldsmith’s.

 

Let me just list a few things you never want to miss out on if you are there :

1.) Bhutte Ki Kees (my personal favourite, I prefer it extra nimbu maarke)

2.) In winters never miss out on Garadu

3.) Joshi Ka Dahiwada – The man is a showman, the way he will feed you is completely unique. He is on youtube too if you want to see him . 

4.) Vijay Chaat ki Petis – This is divinity I tell you! hat

5.) Aloo Tikki Chat

6.) Jalebo – A sort of a jalebi/imarti that is as fat as your thumb! One piece does it for 5 people!

7.) Rabdi with Malpua.

After having eaten all these if there is still space in your belly, there is Sabudana Khichdi, Samosa’s, Kachaudi’s, Kulfi’s, Kala Jamun’s(hot), GulabJambun’s (hot), MoongDaal Halwa(hot), Gajar Ka Halwa(hot & seasonal), Pizza, PavBhaji, Cheese Faafda’s, Dosa’s, Fruit Chat, Chinese, Pani Puri and Chats & Bhel Pakodi’s and what not, the list really is never ending!

 

But yes one thing you will need before you do any of this is drink a Jaljeera first! 😛

 

The sheer scale of food that is available in this small market of that you can walk through in a matter of 3 minutes, that is if you can beat the crowd, is surely going to flood the place with your drool!  This place opens at around 8-9 in the night and goes on well till about 2 am in the night. When you are there you cannot comprehend how many people are eating at this ungodly hour! The market is throbbing and bustling with gluttony in the middle of the night! You just have to go there to see and believe what I am talking about.

 

Indore is called the food capital of Central India, I don’t think anyone can contest that, I mean apart from the Sarafa Bazaar there is another such crazy hangout zone called ‘Chappan Dukaan’ (meaning 56shops) obviously of food all lined up. The highlights are just unending you know, be it Laal Balti ki Kachaudi or Johny ka Hot Dog or Daal Baafle, the Indori’s are one crazy foodie bunch I tell you, from morning Poha Jalebi or Poha Ussal’s to the Malpua’s late in the night! The amount of Namkeen, Sweets, food these people consume is stuff of legends. These folks have my respect I tell you!!

 

If ever you happen to be going to the Hindustan Ka Dil, Heart of Incredible India, as MP tourism dept puts it make sure you are spending atleast 2 days in Indore for just indulging a bit. 🙂 😀

 

Here are a few pics of the foodie heaven of Sarafa Bazaar from a couple of days back when I was passing through and I stopped specially for this.

Perhaps start with a Paani Puri

Perhaps start with a Paani Puri

Thodi Bhutte Ki Kees extra Neembu Maarke ;)

Thodi Bhutte Ki Kees extra Neembu Maarke 😉

Aloo Tikki and Bhutte Ki Kees vendor at work

Aloo Tikki and Bhutte Ki Kees vendor at work

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Aaj Kya loge ji? Kalajamun? Gulab Jamun? Ya Rabdi ke Saath Malpua!? 😛 😛

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Jalebi to gareeb log khaate honge.. Indori’s eat Jalebo! 😛

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The sheer amount of Ghee and Tikki’s that are eaten is awe inspiring!

If you want, we are ready with Gola's! Sirf Flavour bataiye!

If you want, we are ready with Gola’s! Sirf Flavour bataiye!

Winter meals

 

There is something about winter meals here in Gujarat, I dunno about all the other places but there are so many more options of vegetables available in winters unlike other seasons. If you have to ever visit Gujarat you have to visit it in the winters. The food then is like sigh…. droolworthy, lustworthy and what not!

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This was last night’s dinner turned into breakfast today morning, I am born in a family that has ancestors in Kutch and the most common food there is Bajra Ka Rotla (Pearl millet bread) this is made by the hand and no rolling pin is used. My mom makes awesome rotla’s and she is quite generous in applying ghee on it and honestly it is so sweet that it can be eaten plain without anything else. Just the ghee and rotla also tastes wonderful especially when its piping hot and served straight from the pan.

 

But then there was Baigan ka bharta (Brinjal subzi) to go along side with green freshly chopped garlic and coriander along with coriander chutney to spice things up a little more! This was simply divine, satisfying and so delicious I still am drooling typing about this! 😀 😀

 

*The pic was taken by my Redmi Note  and I kinda like how it has come out inspite of not using the SLR.

Agashiye

So I had heard a lot about this place and so I went about to check it out.

 

Agashiye (in gujarati it means on the terrace) the gujarati diner at The House of MG  boasted of being the most talked about food place off late in Ahmedabad. The place is pretty much in the heart of the town, at Laal Darwaja, nicely kept, with a rustic, ancient historical feel to the whole place. I reckon their hotel is also used pretty much as much as their diner and hence the whole place was pretty much kept neat and tidy and readily decorated.

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The lamp at the entrance

 

Pricey is one thing that hits you first, a thali for 850 and a delux thali for 1150 is expensive, no matter what, we have eaten pretty delicious thali’s all around and never have had to shell out more than 300-350 bucks. But then I had to check this place out once.

 

They have a pretty systematic way of taking you to the restaurant, a tad odd thing is that you have to pay before you enter the restaurant, but well thats how things are here, so whilst you are paying, they convey a message to the restaurant about your arrival and when you reach the restaurant by elevator your table is ready and someone will escort and seat you on your table.

 

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The thali as it was ready and waiting for us

 

They had our table for three ready and they have this unique way of making you wash your hand on the table, where a guy comes with utensils and makes sure you wash your hands clean before you indulge in.

 

Their menu’s for each day are pretty much well defined and updated on their website, they serve quite earnestly and the one thing most thali joints falter at is over serving, almost to the end of constantly asking you if you want something and never letting you have a conversation whilst you are eating and almost pushing you out of their restaurant so that their table is empty to serve another round. Thankfully, none of that, whilst they were always a glance away, they never bothered unnecessarily unlike most thali joints.

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The thali once fully served.

 

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The papaya salad that was brilliant!

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Golden fried samosa’s, looked delicious and tasted even better

 

The food is absolutely sumptuous, although I was disappointed with their Sukhi Aloo Subzi, the rest everything was pretty much delicious, their Papdi muthiya nu shaak was the best I have ever had in my life. There were three desserts, Gajar ka Halwa, Rabdi and Ice cream to perk up the mood. The main course had 4 subzi’s and daal and kadhi, the farsaan was samosa and they had 3 types of bread (roti) and also served buttermilk (chhas) and a fruit juice Ganga Jamna (sweet lime and orange) alongside.

 

I loved the juice and took a special liking to it. We did indulge and were full to the brim.

 

The food is great, ambience nice and service is wonderful, I must confess though that when we went not all their tables were full. I wonder if they could maintain the same standards of serving when full.

 

I would say its a bit over priced, perhaps they could add a few more options in Farsaan and some more dessert options to choose from, but then apart from the wonderful food you pay for the service and the ambience, plus their reputation, I wouldn’t mind going there again and shelling out that money as we pretty much enjoyed the meal and the setting.

 

Go there when you want to splurge and also stuff yourself, weight gain after a visit here is a given.

 

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Full to the brim after the lunch

 

जेवण on the Highway

Kaanda Pithla, Bharla Vange, Shengdana Lassun Chatni, Lassun Mirchi Thecha

Kaanda Pithla, Bharla Vange, Shengdana Lassun Chatni, Lassun Mirchi Thecha

Whats a road trip good for if it doesn’t include some lip smacking food on the highway??

I am a total sucker for road trips, stopping where ever I want to, starting at any insanely hour (like 2.30am) not bother how many stops I am making to take a picture and above all the surprises that await on the highway in terms of food, many times you don’t know what and where to eat and yet from time to time you surprise yourself so very pleasantly.

One such occasion, we were passing through Pune and skipping the city, we have heard of the famous Vaishali restaurant in Pune but have not been able to check it out yet, and so about 45kms before Pune we start seeing boards of Vaishali on the highway. Immediately the stomach has made space for some food, I tell my partner in crime we must stop here.

As we ride into the hotel and park we do realise this doesn’t seem like the original, we enter anyway, ask the guy serving if it is the same Vaishali and he smiles and tell us no, this is different and that is different, yet, tempted by the fact that it offered Maharshtrian Food and not the steady South Indian or Punjabi, we decided to check it out.

The one drawback of being just two travellers is that we can order only so much, but, then my appetite helps anyways. So we ordered Kaanda Pithla, Bharla Vange, Shengdana Lassun Chatni, Lassun Mirchi Thecha, Jowar Roti and Chappati and boy was it delicious!!!

In any case I love spicy food and although the food was not as spicy the Thecha pretty much made up for it! It was an awesomely lip smacking and fulfilling lunch! I recommend anyone passing Vaishali to give this local fare a try.

Like the saying was, when in Maharashtra eat like the Maharashtrians 😉

The penchant to try something new

Food Discoveries! 🙂

The penchant to try something new has always lured me, its been like so attractive that I always pick up the bait and sometimes it leads to being caught up on the hook and wriggling like a fish for dear life. Well almost I mean, so one evening when we were strolling in a food republic in a mall checking out various counters for various things that they had to offer. One thing we were sure going to try out was the famous Chicken Rice of Singapore. It came highly recommended from a lot of people I knew who had been to Singapore and also had come across whilst researching before going to Singapore.

So whilst we ordered that which was served with a fiery red chutney (read sauce) which I tried a spoonful as they did not warn how hot it could be. The snooty Indian in me decided to go ahead and take a spoonful, thinking these foreigners can’t eat anything near to how spicy a Sev Ussal I eat normally, well how wrong I was, I was breathing fire in an instant and actually coughed my way to the Coke counter and till I finished drinking the whole bottle I was on fire, perspiring in the air conditioned hall. Eventually after I came back to my senses, we delved in the soup that they served along and carefully mixed the sauce in the Chicken rice which actually spiced it up and made it feel absolutely delicious. This is one dish you must have whenever you travel to Singapore! 🙂

Chicken Rice :
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Having tried this dish which was new for me I had to go and try the Prawn Laksa, however I couldn’t find it in the vicinity and whilst I was browsing for it I saw the word Octopus and Chilli together and I said to myself I just have to try for the heck of it. The word actually read, Hitchy come and consume me!!!! So I ordered, this Korean dish is traditionally called Nakji Bokkeum.

I waited with baited breath as the chef went inside the kitchen to come up with my sizzling plate, he came out and the smell was absolutely fascinating, I thought to myself hell you are gonna love this dish, it smells divine and masaledar actually for a foreign dish. This joy did not last long though, I mean my limited food taste buds could not quite fathom the taste of the Octopus, I took the first bite and it seemed weird for my taste buds but then I thought to myself you have to evolve and develop some taste’s as they are so foreign to us we might not be able to like them right away. I gave it another try, I always thought the octopus might be soft and slushy and kinda juicy, apparently this small octopus was nothing like that and very chewy, by the third bite I was ready to throw up. I said I cannot like this dish, no matter how nice prepared and no matter how many people consume it, I was not meant to eat this dish!!!!

Eventually an ice cream helped me return all sanity to my gut!

But I can atleast produce a photo of the Nakji Bokkeum 😀

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