Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts



Bengalis are considered as food-lovers (khadya-rashik).For them any sumptuous bengali meal is always incomplete without a sweet dish. Just like any french meal which would remain incomplete without a bottle of exquisite french wine.

I was not a big fan of sweet earlier but when you live with someone for a long period of time, you quickly start to adapt some of your partner’s habits be it deliberately or inadvertently. Maybe sometimes for the good or worst - so is my case. My sweet S unlike me, does love his sweets quite ardently. With us, desserts do not necessarily need to be complicated or fancy; they simply have to be labeled dessert. Sometimes, only a piece of quality bittersweet chocolate will do especially after main meal be it lunch or dinner.
Well known Bengali sweets are generally made of milk products and sugar be it sweetened cottage cheese (chhena), khoa (reduced solidified milk). Sometimes even flours of different cereals and pulses are used to prepare and embellished with nuts, raisins or grated coconut.
From quite a long, I was craving for Narkal sondesh (grated coconut sweet). But somehow things were not in my favour and it didn’t get prepared. Much like other aspects of life, it takes a bit of perspiration and lots of inspiration. At last, I had to ask hesitatingly to my Sondesh guru and my inspirer (mil) to prepare for me which she accepted it considering my situation…peut-etre!
I learnt preparing this from her but today I will recite my joy of eating for the one she prepared on my request to tantalize my tongue.

Simple to prepare
  • Mix sugar powder and grated coconut paste.
  • Place the mixture over the heat and stir constantly to avoid lumps.
  • When the sugar melts, add milk powder and remove the pan from the heat. Stir few more times.
  • Add the cardamom powder and mix again.
  • Now cool it a little and then smear the stone mold with oil; Press sugary-coconut on the mold to decorate their upper surface occasionally with help of water.

These sweets are commonly prepared for religious festival or marriage or offering to household deity. But as I said, today it was prepared for me.


Fresh Tomato Soup


Till far only soup ever tried to make was carrot soup in Paris that too in bleak winter. Big thanks to my French Teacher for sharing the recipe en Français. Recently, went to local vegetable market; seeing tomato got so tempted that without thinking bought two kilos. Then I brainstormed a bit to think and idea of soup came as an escape. Here is my 2 cents recipe. If craving for something sweet and sour at the same time just have a bowl of creamy tomato soup to satisfy your desire as an appetizer.

  • One kilo Tomato – boiled, peeled and deseeded.
  • Two/three carrots – chopped to tiny pieces.
  • One big Onion finely chopped
  • Few cloves of garlic
  • One red chili
  • One Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • Black pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil / ½ tbsp butter
  • Juice from one fresh Orange
  • Low fat cream or thick yoghurt
  • Dried Basil / Parsley leaves - optional
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil/ butter and fry cumin seeds, bay leaf, garlic and onion with pinch of salt. When onion turns golden, add carrots and continue frying at low flame. Once carrot is tender add tomato and fry for few minutes

Make puree in a grinder (remove bay leaf before). Add water according to thickness required. Put the blended soup back in the pan. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Now add freshly squeezed orange juice and cream after removing from heat. Season it with nutmeg and fresh black pepper. Garnish with a couple of parsley or basil sprigs if any and serve hot with either croutons or bread slice.


Best news is “Bread-Talk” boutique has recently opened at Vashi. It is a famous bakery chain from Singapore and they do cater good quality of various breads as well as desserts. But sadly, the dessert I got from there was too creamy, spongy and sugary. I will say tasteless to my taste buds as these kinds of pastries are very popular throughout India. After tasting European pastries, I find these one as - concept of western baked goods mixed with Asian ingenuity makes cool looking pastries that are hit-and-miss at certain point. While multi-cereal bread which I got was awesome.


Sweet potato dessert

Sweet potato dessert (Ranga Alur Puli) is an age old Bengali dessert - a sweet lover's delight for sure. Its crispy outer layer mesmerizes gastronomic senses. As for its availability, it is more of a traditional sweet, prepared in households. These days some sweet shops are starting to include this in their repertoire to cater to the time-constrained generation.

Sweet Potato

My hubby being born with a sweet tooth, do enjoy sweet of any kind. So, this recipe is actually initiated and arranged by my mom-in-law for him while I prepared it under her guidance on our short stay at Siliguri this year.


    For Puli Dough:
  • Sweet potatoes: 500 gms
  • Flour: 1 ½ tablespoons if preparing stuffed one (otherwise 100gm for plain one)
    For Stuffing: (optional)
  • Milk: ½ litre
  • Sugar: 1 tablespoon
  • Coconut: ½ (grated)
  • Cardamom (green): 2-3
  • Raisins
    For Syrup:
  • Sugar: 1 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Oil for frying
Method:The Puli Dough:

Wash and boil the s.potatoes until soft. Peel and mash. Add the flour and knead into dough. Keep aside.

The Stuffing: (optional)

Bring the milk to a boil by adding a tablespoon of sugar in it. When the milk starts to thicken, add the coconut and the raisins and condense it to a thick, sticky consistency. Remove from heat and add crushed cardamoms. Let it cool.

The Syrup:

Add a cup of sugar to a cup of water and bring this to a boil. The syrup should be of medium consistency. Let it cool.

pulis are ready
Making the pulis:

Take a small portion of the dough in your hands and shape them accordingly unless it is stuffed. If preparing stuffed pulis then flatten the dough and make a cavity in the centre and fill it with a little of the above stuffing. Seal the edges of the dough and give it the shape of a puli. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the pulis in batches. Remove from oil as pulis start browning or golden. And dip the pulis into the syrup carefully, one by one. Serve hot or cold.

Frying the pulis

Frying Pullis: We prepared plain puli without stuffing but stuffed one are really mouth-watering and delicious….no doubt! Actually, Ranga alur puli (fried sweet potato dessert) along with other pulis like Muger puli (made of moong dal or yellow moong lentil), Chirer Puli (made of poha -beaten rice), chana dal puli, Chaler puli (made of rice) use the harvest produce—rice, coconut, date palm juice and jaggery etc speciality items of Shankranti.

Finally all ready


Exploring…bits n bites II

Sea-food Starter

Continuing from my last post I like to share a great experience I had. It was a sudden plan and I was tagged along with my instructor who in-turn was invited by a local Singaporean colleague after work for dinner. It was buffet for a fixed price at Marina Bay Shopping Mall. The crowd was very young far-eastern or North-Asians. Sorry guys, I could not figure out who is Chinese, Japanese, Koreans or just Singaporeans…as they all looked alike and age-wise they looked like high school or college students to me. Thankfully, our local guy made a reservation otherwise we might had to wait in long queue.

I started with some sea foods; I tried Oysterr for the first time. It was OK but did not found the delicacy as it is said in France - a key component of fruit-de-la-mer (fruits of the sea or sea food - in this except shrimps and prawns rest all like oysters, clams, mussels, whelks, and periwinkles come raw). If I am not wrong the concept is same in Kerala (south-most state in India) where any fish is treated almost the same. Being a Bong- I am a lover offresh river fish.

Sushi and Sashimi

In the second round, I opted for Japanese sushi and sashimi which I love and can have a lot. For many, it is raw fish (actually firm but melt-in-your-mouth when you bite it). To me it tastes delicious when dipped in Shoyu (Soya sauce), speck of Wasabi (very strong, hot flavoured green mustard) and with gari (thin-sliced sweet pickeled ginger). Ocassionally at end it is accompanied by sake-japanese liquor.

While I was enjoying the same my colleague’s girlfriend had turtle skin soup. It seems that it is very good for female skin according to Chinese belief. Well well… all big cats of Asia are almost extinct due to high demand from such Chinese myth. But I kept my WWF conservation “fundas” with me while my colleague enjoyed fish-head which has same realm of myth.


To conclude, I think I beat every one when it comes to desserts which were really yum. Unfortunately, I did not had enough room left for ice-creams which they had so many varieties to choose from. But, indeed it was a great dinner.


Sweet teeth

From this Monday I moved to a corner desk as I put a new pair of shoes at work. The desk is nice but I lost my view from the window. Well, this post is not about my office and work.

Glasses - all set for party

Our boss is sailing Far-East and we had a dinner at Marine Plaza Hotel honoring him. The location of the hotel is great and as we were a big group we got a hall to ourself facing Black Bay and Marine-Drive of Mumbai. This windswept promenade is the crown of Mumai’s attraction. If you are in Mumbai try this location for an evening dinner - lots of high end hotel to choose from.

The food was good but not an excellent one; it was a buffet - with many verities of salads, soups and Indian snacks. I hardly had any place for main course after all those but I saved enough for dessert. There were around 10 types of them; and you can see I have taken almost all of them in my plate. I do not recollect any of those fancy names. Chef’s delight was the ultimate one. I was bit skeptical when taking the big white dessert, it had a layer of chocolate in the middle to make it yummier.


Keeping my palm starched and flat on the key-board I confess I have sweet teeth. No big secret, I love [desire will be a better one to express my feeling for them] desserts particularly chocolates. I love dark chocolate but I just can not have enough of them at one go. Unfortunately, I am not getting my daily dose of chocolate as I used to have after dinner in Paris. In Paris, you even get 100% chocolate which comes with warning on the wrapper that you might find taste too strong. Chocolates of main-land Europe particularly from France, Switzerland, and Belgium are the best. Only chocolate I know and like from Italy is Ferro Rocher – well enough of chocolates for this post …but never enough for my tongue.


Hearty Healthy

It’s too hot and humid with power failure I was sweating like a hell. Though just few minutes before I took my shower. Having my last portion of lunch I was searching desperately for something in my fridge but actually I forgot to buy one. My all time favourite item which I can even take truckload if needed in any form. It is generally considered to cool the body in tropical climates.

I don’t know how and when exactly I developed taste for it. One of my favourite childhood food item was a heaping spoonful of it. I’d lick it like a lollipop until all traces of thick delectable were gone. As I got older, I use to mix it with portion of vegetable curry(s) as well lentils given to me beside the last course. Now also I regularly indulge and make sure to have it at last after two main meals. Without that it’s something incomplete for me. I hope you guessed it by now… yes, I am talking about yogurt known for its characteristic taste and consistency.


Being born and brought up in cosmopolitan town had known taste of India from my childhood. Due to the employment opportunities created by the Bhilai Steel Plant, people from all over the country flock here and the culture here provides a scintillating example of "Unity in Diversity".


We had a south Indian neighbour when I was a child. I used to love auntie’s food over my mom despite she tried her best to make best food which I never appreciated. Like the proverb says “ghar ki murgi daal barabar” (Self possessions are always undermined and other's possessions seem better). The memory still brings forth strong emotions when I think of it. I have one memory of eating this dish called Curd-rice as a small kid which Auntie used to prepare by mixing curd and rice with pinch of salt to taste if yogurt is bit tangy. For them it is common practice to finish any meal with curd rice. While our other neighbour was from North, so often used to have Raita - a special preparation with yogurt; normally served chilled. Though there are lot of variation in raita of which boondi is most common. Vegetable Raita involves adding grated cucumber and mint paste or using tomato, cucumber and onion raitas or diced carrots. Sometimes tempering it with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, channa & urad daal with pinch of asafoetida. Actually, Raita is good foil for spicy North Indian dishes like parathas, tandoori chicken, etc.


Now being born in bongo family we have Misti doi a thick sweetened yogurt which taste as sweet as pudding which is served and sold in earthern pot. Presently staying in western part, Shrikhand is taken in form of dessert made from strained curd. A soft muslin cloth is tied up and hung to drain all the water for a few hours from the curd. Sugar, salt, saffron, cardamom, diced fruit, raisins, and nuts are then added for its taste.


Apart from all these, curd is widely prepared at home where it has an important place in traditional cuisine. It can be made from a small amount of store-bought, plain, freshly cultured yogurt by adding lukewarm milk thoroughly. The quality of curd depends on the starter used. The time taken to curdle varies with the seasons taking less than 3 hours in hot weather and up to 10 hours in cold weather.


During our stay at Europe I use to wonder seeing one complete row on umpteen varieties of yogurt from fat-free to bio-organic in super-store. Not only natural and unflavoured yogurt but also yogurt with fruit, vanilla, chocolate and various other flavours are common. To offset its natural sourness, yogurt is often sold sweetened, flavoured, or in containers with fruit or fruit jam on the bottom. And when ever we travelled different parts of Europe we found different texture and taste for the same. It tastes completely different just across the border; in 2003 European Union debated to give a standardized name to yoghurt, but later abandoned that project.

Well well, wherever you go you will find curd; may be of different version in terms of taste and characteristics. So, while I have my daily dose of friendly bacteria you can certainly think on whether its worth to have or not.


Viva Goa - Day 4


As we couldn’t enjoy much earlier day we decided to opt for rented bike and move around in our own pace. Rented a bike for 2 days for 400 Rupees. One thing which is very interesting about Goa’s motorcycle taxi locally known as pilots ideal for nipping between beaches or for short distances. Bonafide operators ride black bikes with yellow mudguards and white number plate. These vehicles transport a single pillion rider. (Photo credit: from

As usual after breakfast we headed towards Anjuna beach. Anjuna is gorgeous with its rocky shore and mighty cliffs where you can hear of techno-thumping sounds and see hippies around. With morning sun and plenty of time at hand we made this special sign to remember Goa. Vagator, however, is the perfect hideaway spot with its few beach shacks and fishing boats off in the distance. Black lava rocks, the coconut palms, the lush green landscape, nature playing its own music, and the sea turning from aquamarine to emerald green with Chapora Fort at its background. The reminiscence of the old Portuguese times giving a splendid view of the sea and hills covered with coconut trees and rice fields. To reach middle and little Vagator one needs to walk but the calmness worth the effort as big Vagator gets bus loads of Indian whiskey drinking male tourist.

At noon, sun is really hard to tolerate but for lunch, we made sure to have exotic flavour of the Goan dishes at whatever cost. So, we searched hard to find one place called “Gabriel” recommended by our guidebook as an authentic goan cooking. It was really worth searching.

For most Goans three basic necessities – fish, curry and rice. Goan values their food as much as they do their daily siesta. In their daily meal, seafood always has a pride of place in some or other form. From fried fish to exotic concoctions; sea food is usually a must on the menu, except for the occasional break for some religious observance. Besides fresh seafood, dried and salted fish dishes are also highly prized by Goans.

Green Chicken Curry

We ordered Galinha com Coentro (chicken with fresh coriander leaves and vinegar) and prawn curry with rice. It was really fresh, home –made and scrumptious. Owner was friendly; had chit-chat with him. We figured out it was guest-house cum restaurant with lots of shady trees around and not far from sea. Sitting arrangement is in the garden under trees with fan. Since it was shady we spent 2 hours there and at last we were offered yummy chocolate (European one after a long time).

In the evening we prepared ourselves for soaking at Baga beach; smeared well with body-oil. As on day two we found that sand was very fine and it gets stick to the body like glue even after proper shower. So, smearing oneself helps as sand can’t stick to the body and washes off with each roaring waves.


At evening we went to Tibetian market right across our resort where Santanu bought one finger-ring for himself and then headed for dinner at Baga-Calangute road to one nice restaurant. Wanted to taste one goan dessert for last 3 days; since we were not left with an inch place in stomach we could not but today made sure to eat less so that we can taste it. For dessert best is Infantaria Pastelaria recommended again by our guidebook which was again right across our resort where we bought Bebinca – a layered pudding.


Wednesday- Best of all weekdays

From Sunday evening I keep waiting for middle of week i.e., Wednesday as next weekend looks too far to me. If there is any special occasion planned for Wednesday evening it really cheers me up. On last Wednesday it just happened that Pamela called me at work saying that she is going to come to VT (CST) all by herself boarding a local train (…..for first time).Thanks to Meher for encouraging Pamela to come over in the first place.

Well, Pamela did panic at last part of her journey as she was all alone in the wagon with two transsexuals sitting beside her. Moreover, on not seeing me at VT she vented her anger on me over phone as I was to meet her there. Its true, that I somehow always get entangled in work or some urgent phone call when ever I need to be on time to meet her. On top of it her phone battery was also running low. Somehow we did meet up without much problem and I am not that good writer to juice up that meeting. Anywayz, as per plan we met Meher in front of GPO and headed to Kala- Ghoda via Cab.


Kala-Ghoda is crescent shaped plaza nestled around an array of heritage buildings such as Elephantine College, the David Sassoon Library and the Watson Hotel. It is named after a statue which is long gone now of King Edward VII astride a black horse. This plaza is around South Mumbai which is fast emerging as the arts hub of downtown Bombay. Meher being born and brought up in south Mumbai she knows streets like back side of her palm. After walking across all those gorgeous office buildings from bygone years we reached Horniman Circle Park where French rock band “Merzhin” was to perform for the Kala-Ghoda festival organized by Alliance Française, Mumbai.. This festival actually takes place inorder to improve the existing infrastructure of the area and giving it a distinct identity as Mumbai's art district. And this festival basically brings together work from various fields like arts, theater, film, music, literature, dance, heritage walks, exhibitions, children's events offering an interactive cultural mélange for Mumbaites.

Anyway, the introduction from the Director was very "French" as he mentioned if you want a good life learn French. What a snobbish French way of welcoming audience. Point to be shared is - a very different experience as we enjoyed the concert sitting on chairs ;) ...hmm a rock concert and sitting!!! The band was good and they tried their best to get people rocking but it did not work after all Indians..... that too on Wednesday evening.

Spanish lamb

From there after an hour we left for dinner walking two blocks we found ourself in front of Café Mocambo. It has two levels of seating.; the interior is decent but not stunning. The menu is mostly continental and parsi with lots of Pasta dishes to choose from. Other then that lamb, steak and lasagna are also available. They have standard fridge displaying yummy desserts - really yummy! Many phirangis also hang out here.


Lunch Time

I am finding it tricky as I try to compare my experiences and life styles that I encountered from two different continents. I do not know if my readers will be able to understand me. Moreover, my recent journey is an unusual one as most Indian travels east to west while I moved from west to east.

During my stay at Paris for last 3 and half years, most of my lunch at work was at shared corporate cafeteria between three companies. I appreciated the price, quality of that food always particularly the desserts and varieties of yogurts available there. May be I understand, why French cuisine is considered to be world’s most refined cuisine. Unfortunately, I am not a food critic that I can pen down those exotic tastes to get water in your mouth. But as I think about them I roll my tongue ;)

In general, breakfast in France is a small affair consisting of croissants & bread rolls with some butter and jam to spread which is usually accompanied by milky coffee or hot chocolate or café noir. Since there is no set time for breakfast in France it makes them bit hungry by noon :) . Le déjeuner (lunch) was once a two hour mid-day meal but has recently seen a trend toward the one hour lunch break.

It is common at corporate world to be given lunch vouchers as part of their employee benefits. These can be used in most restaurants, supermarkets and traiteurs; however people having lunch in this way typically do not eat all three dishes of a traditional lunch due to price and time considerations. A sandwich followed by a dessert is quite commonly seen and can be found ready-made at bakeries and supermarkets, cafes, bistros or restaurants. Even many restaurants, offer a lower priced prix fixe menu at lunch which is not available in the evening.

It is common in France for someone wishing you “Bon Appetite” if he/she realizes that you are going to have food as you take the exit from office door or lift at noon while in India we hardly say anything before starting our meal. Rather I believe there is no exact translation even in Anglo-Saxon culture for “Bon Appetite” but it does exist in Latin culture in some form or other like in Spanish or Italian lingo.

I have been a silent participator for most of the times as I use to feel shy to communicate with my linguistic skill of French. These three pictures are the only I have from all those lunch time I had with my colleagues. These were taken at very end of our stay with Pamela’s new phone camera. I always felt that I was going to miss those lunch hours if I move out of Paris; now I write about them before they become distant memory.

At my current location in Bombay we do not have any in-house cafeteria at our office (a small office compared to Paris). There are plenty of restaurants around to choose from or I can order for lunch at my desk. With the last one you can work as you take a bite. I am sure any health freak will tell that it is not good for soul and body. Food is supposed to be taken properly so that you chew and eat in peace while a meal in France is not simply a moment dedicated to the nourishment of the body; it is indeed a time for social and even spiritual replenishment.

In Modern India, where average work hours are getting longer and people are slogging more at work. This may be very disturbing social and physiological changes and might have adverse effect as the dynamic working population grow older.


Making of Chocolate Charlotte

Today we have a dinner invitation; spent whole yesterday morning in thinking what would be good to prepare as I did not want to buy anything from supermarket. Since we are moving, wanted to clean the fridge without overstuffing it. So after lot of thought came to conclusion that charlotte might be best. Learnt this recipe from a friend.

A charlotte is any dessert that's moulded into a container lined with sponge fingers or boudoir biscuits (purchased at a bakery or supermarket). It’s normally easy to prepare; hardly takes 15 min.

Make the syrup by mixing equal amount of sugar and water flavour it with adding same amount of rum or brandy to taste.

First line the bottom as well as sides of a container with clean wrap & then with sponge fingers soaked in sugary alcoholic syrup. Now layer it alternatively with chocolate mousse and sponge fingers in a way that top layer should be covered with sponge fingers. Then cover with clean wrap tightly and lid. Leave it to chill for more then 12 hours.

To serve, invert dish onto serving plate and unmold charlotte. Carefully remove plastic wrap. (Variation can be done using vanilla mousse & chocolate mousse alternatively). While serving dust with icing sugar and decorate with fruits or with cold custard or whipped cream.

Well, had our dinner in one Thai restaurant where we had duck in red curry coconut sauce and red curry chicken along with shrimps in green curry basil sauce. What gives Thai food its distinctive character is a harmony in its tastes - sour, salty, hot and aromatic. Mmmm....delicious!



Normally Santanu has a tendency of encroaching cuisine area particularly on weekend or on his official holidays depending on his mood. In a way, it’s good as I get 2 days off.

We were just back from Switzerland and went for picnic at St.-Germain-en-Laye with few colleagues of Santanu. And Santanu promised he is going to prepare all by himself -simple vegetable-rice and Date walnut brownies.

Lately I borrowed one book on vegetarian by Nicolas Graimes from one friend which includes light meals, main courses, tarts, salads, desserts etc. The best part of this book is initial descriptions on each ingredients starting from seeds, vegetables, different types of cooking oil and what not with colourful pictures. We see certain things in the local market but do not how to prepare them. Neither we know the corresponding English names nor are they commonly available in India. So, its an excellent book for reference.

Last year he got ‘Pates de Dates’ from an Algerian store and it was sitting like a brick in our kitchen. Ever since, I got this book finding a recipe with ‘dates’ he had an eye on it.
Yum…………it came out good unexpectedly.The results are rewarding, here is a picture of fudgy moist and candy like brownies.

Best part is although I didn’t do anything except being a helping hand to Santanu but everyone complimented me for the same.

Even his friends from RFS wanted to have the recipe. These rich brownies are great for afternoon tea and even they do make a fantastic dessert when served with crème fraiche (whipped crème) or vanilla ice-cream. I will be infringing copyright if I copy those here but still couldn’t refrain myself.


  • 350 gm plain dark chocolate
  • 225gm or 1 cup butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 115gm or ½ cup castor sugar
  • 5ml vanilla essence
  • 75gm sifted plain flour
  • 225gm or ½ cup dates-peeled stoned and chopped
  • 200gm or 1 ¾ cup walnut pieces
  • Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Procedure

  • Melt chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of hot not boiling water until they have melted and smooth
  • In a separate bowl beat eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  • Add this into chocolate mixture and fold in flour, dates & nuts
  • Bake for 30-40 min in preheated oven at 190 C
  • Lastly, dust it with icing sugar.

  • Since they had to be chilled prior to cutting, I ate my brownie cold. Normally, I can’t resist myself from testing because of strong baking aroma. I think the fudginess was probably accentuated by chilling, so my sample was especially moist and chewy with a crumbly, crunchy top innards tempered by the occasional chunk of walnut.


    Seville - Spain

     Cathedral Seville I should have started jotting down all my memories from this beautiful city immediately after my return to Paris. But back to work and daily routine.... lots of finer moments are fading off.

    We took a morning bus from Granada to Seville; we reached Seville around 11AM. The bus ride was around 2 hours and 45 minutes. From that IntercityBus stop to our hotel (again Novotel) we took again local public bus. But we got down 2 stops before the actual stop which ended up with a walk along the nice boulevard of Seville.

    As we reached before afternoon there was no non-smoking room available to us. So left our luggage & went to a Mall next to our hotel.We had our lunch that day at McDonald which is really a restaurant where you don't feel like you are eating 99 cent burgers. well spent for the interior decoration of this McDo, may be one of those new one where McDo is fighting back to win its market share.

    We started our sightseeing around 5PM after fresh up with the Cathedral of Seville which has its entry in ‘Guinesses book of world Records'. Its really BIG we had been to Vatican (Rome) and St. Paul in London but this one is really special. All the money, gold, silver and what not poured from New-World shows its mark. May be like those of Birla Temples of India - more the money bigger and whiter it is with marble . But any way I am not going to question human’s faith and its relation with God like poet Shri. Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The treasury collection is awesome. The craftsmanship of wood, marble, glass and others are really superb. There are so many things inside to pay attention to. The Bell tower is the only remain from the old mosque on which this cathedral was built after the moors were defaulted.

    Getting out of Cathedral, we walked on Santa Cruz district. It is the old part of the city. The lanes are really narrow; some of them reminded me of Vanaras and Calcutta. It has special purpose: as the houses are so close they do not get sunlight that much which makes them cooler than the new city. There are lots of nice little parks and patios with orange trees one of the speciality of Andalusia. These trees serves the purpose of shade as it has got very dense leaves. But we were told these oranges are very bitter .

    The evenings are really special in Seville when every body is out to take a stroll. It is really nice to enjoy watching people while sipping something cooler and biting tapas.This city is very lively & warm too.Here, temperature is very high in afternoon around 40C & it cools down by evening 7-8PM with a cool breeze.

    In the evening we ended up walking on the Bridge of Triana after passing the bull fight Arena. We had Paella for dinner. Paella is a rice-based speciality which is laced with saffron, paprika and can contain intriguing morsels of seafood, meat and vegetable.It was almost midnight but there were lots of people even toddlers along with their parents on the side walk.

    While walking back toward the bus stop for hotel we came across a resturant with lots of tempting , mouth watering desserts kept near the window on the road side. As this place was too crowded with locals & tourists we didnot found any place to sit & have dessert.But, we were also no less... we managed to get two chairs to sit & ordered for the same(just imagine how tempting it could be that without table & proper arrangment we had our dessert).Anyway, we enjoyed it very much.....something we can never forget.



    After a long time I changed the theme of my web site; hope the color combination looks good. The two templates are 'new' and 'zen'.
    There are now more than 1300 pictures to checkout in the Photo Album section. Most of them come from last 3 years as that is how old my digital camera is. And a big section comes from Europe. After moving to Paris, we used this opportunity to visit maximum countries possible which are part of Schengen visa.
    This year we went to Germany, Austria, Spain and Portugal till far.
    Though, each countries and places have own attractions. But now, it looks all alike .. Chateau, Bateau, Gateau (Castle, Boat Ride, Dessert) along with Museums and Cathedrals. May be this is due to too many places we have visited in last 2 years.
    I recently played with Ming a cool system to play with PHP for creating Flash movies. Here is sample Ming, PHP slideshow . Also created a simple banner with typewriter (ticker) effect


    Provence - South of France

    We have been thinking to visit South of France for a long time. Writing the dairy for this trip is very unique as it had so many vivid events one after another. We took a packaged deal with one of the travel agency (Hotel and Bus with Sleeping-Berth)

    After the event-full after-noon at Cite Perfecture we started at 9 P.M from Paris. It was not a bad start till the first stop. Then, the inside of the bus got converted to allow people to sleep; this is quite unique unless you have traveled once in any of those I am not sure how to explain. We did not know what it is either and tried to be polite when people pushed us to go first. But when we got in we found almost all the spaces were taken and there was no place left for us together.
    There was one typical old French lady who occupied the place for two & did not wanted to adjust as there was one more place where another lady also occupied for two and who called themselves sick and lucky (as they came first). Few co-passengers did not like this and were vocal about the same. Some suggested me to get down from the bus to show my protest. Any way after the afternoon episode I was not much left to fight with. So, we slept separately somehow and the night ended after all.


    We reached Marseille on time; after keeping our bags in hotel we left for exploring the second largest city of France. Marseille is a very big ugly city; it does not care for your visit. We went to near by island on a boat and a very great view of Marseille and Mediterranean Sea, we visited Notre-Dam and Cathedral followed by a lunch.

    We were told to meet at hotel at 4:30 for our next destination. But when we reached hotel there was no one and hotel guy gave a key for our room. After freshen up I asked them where are the rest of the passengers from our group. He said coolly  -- Oh! They left. What!!!!!

    So I rushed back to room - told Pamela about the same. So, now after several questions of her we realized that we were supposed to stay in this Hotel for next 2 nights and the bus will come back. This was highlight of Day two when after having a good time in Marseille we missed the trip to "Aix en Provence"


    After a good sleep we did make sure we do not miss any thing today. The day was great, we saw "Gorges du Verdon" which cannot be compared to Grand Canyon but it is great in its own. The bus ride to the same was really great. On the way back we stopped at the lake and a small tourist village.

    Dinner on Easter Sunday: most of the restaurants were closed and the open ones were very crowded. We got in to one place to try the Fish Soup (Bouillabaisee) speciality of Marseille. So, after waiting a long time waiter took the order and then after a big pause we got the starter; and then again started the eternal wait for main course. There was another couple right to us, who were also waiting for their turn just like us. On left another couple was also bored to wait after drinking their water and eating the bread pieces, as there was no one to take their order. It almost took us an hour to get the main course. The scenario was even much worst in the right table; the husband finished his meal with out any bread and there was no food for the wife L till then. As French menu consists of 4 courses so after main course it was to be followed by salad ? but seeing their delay I decided to skip that & thought dessert would be better to opt for ? but no luck; it was just the same. Lastly, I decided to leave without taking my dessert. And, they were very prompt while presenting the bill ? charged for the complete menu no concession on their poor service and incomplete meal.


    We visited Arles, a place famous for its Roman Arena. There was bullfight in the arena that we did not watched but there was Bull race on the road before that which was quite memorable.

    Then we moved to Baux-de-Provene a ruin castle visited by too many tourists each year. But it was really worth going to the top. The panoramic view of Provence rolling hills is great!
    From there we went to Avignon where Pope was moved for few centuries before going back to Vatican. It has the big church an old bridge that is broken in the middle.

    Rest of the trip to Paris after dinner was event-less this time as we were given the Premier Entry to the bus and was made sure by well wishers that we sleep together that night.Well, Tuesday morning at 5:30 AM the journey ended which just reminded us to go back to Cite for our long term visa.



    The first trip to France countryside was to Cantal -central region for 3 days with Murali & Joydeep on July 14th. Cantal, in France's Massif Central, is the largest volcanic edifice in Europe. We went by car, Murali did a wonderful job by seating at the back of steering wheel & Joydeep at navigator’s seat while we two were enjoying sleeping (from time to time) at back seat. We enjoyed a natural landscape which was really worth seeing through own eyes- rolling hills, lush green farmlands, small mountains, forests & valleys.

    We went to this trip for hiking but unfortunately we couldn’t as it was extreme sultry weather to do so. We tried to do in one of the mountain but after halfway we gave up because of strong sun overhead made it unbearable.The night stay at hotel (run by family) was excellent as they speak quite good English, there hospitality were excellent & food too was home made so of course delicious (5 course French dinner).

    We went to Grandval Lake over which is constructed Bridge by Gustave Eiffel 584M in length. This metal bridge with only one parabolic arc was able to support the weight of the trains, resist hard and powerful transverse winds for years although now train doesn’t run over this bridge. Near to this bridge was one restaurant where we had our dinner. Here, for first time we had Confit de canard (duck) which was delicious and had mouth watering dessert at the end.

    Day after we reached Paris at afternoon as we changed our plan because of strong heat wave. On reaching Paris we had Japanese lunch near to Luxembourg gardens.

    Day 3 - Rishikesh

    The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...