My friend’s and my spontaneous decision to spend a vacation together in India was one of the best decisions we ever made for ourselves. If you haven’t tried vacationing with one of your girlfriends, you must. It’s therapeutic, fun, and relaxing.
From the start Sherwine and I convinced ourselves that we were deserving of this time together, and we were going to “live it up”. Living it up, for you, might conjure up visions of exotic destinations, luxury hotels, chauffeur driven BMW’s, spas, shopping sprees, and food ventures – I must admit you are right! It was all that and more.
We started our trip in Mumbai, India, at The Leela Hotel. It soon became our home away from home. Our room was luxurious, beautifully designed in earth tones with Indian inspired art on the walls. At the end of our stay the hotel surprised us with two chauffer driven BMW’s to take us to the airport.
The hotel was surrounded by 11 acres of luscious tall trees, fountains, ornate gardens, winding paths, cascading waterfalls, and an outdoor pool. The hotel lobby had spectacular fresh flower arrangements that welcomed us each morning.
But, the best part, I must confess, were the staff at The Leela. They made our stay enjoyable and comfortable. They were top notch and catered to our needs beyond our expectations. Thank you staff at The Leela for the wonderful time we had in Mumbai.
Vacationing with a friend, that had the same food interests and tastes as I did, was an added plus. At breakfast, we often sat near a window that overlooked the beautiful gardens.
We had ours breakfasts at Citrus every morning from around 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. It took us that long to taste all the different offerings at the buffet. We often started with fresh-cut fruits – papaya, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple. This was a strategy I learned from my dear friend.
We then moved on to the more serious of our cravings, Indian food, of course! The buffet had idlis, dosas, vadas, bondas, parathas, pav bhaji, poori-bhaji, upma (with all the accompaniments), and a host of other items like eggs, pancakes, waffles, brioche, doughnuts, pastries etc.
Chef Narendran Nambiar was a master at making perfect dosas. They were a real treat! Masala chai or decaf Nescafe was how I ended breakfast.
On some evenings, we had dinner at the restaurants at The Leela. We enjoyed the food at The Great Wall, the Chinese restaurant, Jamavar, the Indian restaurant, and Citrus which offered an international cuisine. Jamavar was our favorite Indian specialty restaurant and we will definitely dine there again. The Malabar parotas and malai koftas were the best we’ve ever tasted.
We tried several other restaurants in Mumbai like Flag’s, Status, and Summer Harvest restaurant. They told me that the samosa-chat at Status is famous and I agree. We voted Summer Harvest as one of our favorites. The price was right, the ambiance cozy and the food was unforgettable.
Sherwine and I then visited family in Hosur, a town close to Bangalore. Our good friends Selwyn and Usha suggested that we should try the Indo-Chinese lunch buffet at Chutney Chang, and so we did. The restaurant serves 64 dishes from starters to desserts. When you are seated, you cannot help but notice the nine tempting chutneys that are on the table. The Indian desserts were excellent and we liked the Horlicks halwa which was rich, dripping with ghee and finger-licking good! The chef was generous to share the recipe with us.
The authentic, frontier cuisine of Samarkand, brings me back to this restaurant each time I visit Bangalore. I love watching the chefs through the see-through glass tandoor where they make a range of rotis and kababs.
This time, for lunch, we had sabuta chooza, paneer makhani, mirch baigan ka salan, desi dum ka murgh with roomali rotis, naans, kulcas, and all the usual accompaniments. The desi dum ka murgh, a Nizami speciality, was flavorful.
Our sweet ending was malai kulfi, the master chef’s specialty. It was creamy, rich, and with just a hint of rose essence. Chef Sujit Kumar Dey and Manager, Akilan, went out of their way to please. Thank you for a great meal.
Then, an unexpected turn of events took me to Chikmagalur. As part of the Women’s Day celebrations in Bangalore,The Serai Resorts and Cafe Coffee Day invited a handful of bloggers from Bangalore to a weekend retreat. Tanisha Christo, who was invited, asked the organizers if I could attend, and they readily agreed. My experience at this breathtaking, posh, sanctuary is noteworthy! Read all about it in my next blog.