Eat & Drink the World Lonely Planet e-edition May 2020

Excerpt with Interview with LMPI (Goa’s Food Finds)

How did you come to be a Food Influencer?

Growing up in a family related to hospitality, deterred me from the food industry earlier. It was during my stint at Corporate where I started entertaining clients and prospects ever so often and the allure of a well plated dish captivated my senses. With my love for photography intact, I started documenting a few along the way and a decade later, I find myself placed here photographing my life and palate one destination and plate at a time.

What makes Goa so great for Food finds?
Goa has an innate charm of attracting people from all over the world. Some come here and never leave. With a heady mix of a multitude or cultural diversity food plays an important role in many expats and Indians spreading their roots across the Culinary canvas of the state. Influences are predominately intact with many Goan long lost traditions being revived and making their way into the culinary field by stalwarts who have been here since time immemorial. Being a tourist destination one has a myriad of cultural flavour that can be sampled here on holiday.

For the intrepid traveler- they can get a taste of everything global with a local influence. From the vibrant street food , read as ‘comfort food’ for the locals with their Ros Omelet and Cutlet Pao to Italian, Thai and Continental- Goa over the years has adapted to cater to world class cuisine being dished out on the fly.

This melange has a perfect symbiotic balance and this makes Goa unique in its catering to one and all, thus touting it as a Foodies paradise with sun, sand and the sea for company.

Could you recommend a few food finds from your Instagram (@nolansatwit) feed for us to sample next in Goa?

Neuri with dark chocolate gianduja
https://www.instagram.com/p/ByR18CSBkDA/?igshid=1bil14lq2ffa0

The Choo Chee Goong Laiseua
https://www.instagram.com/p/BqoaMQghiCM/?igshid=9cb5aaddgxjg

Shaptra
https://www.instagram.com/p/BU_nfP5AP6S/?igshid=wrusty3armui

Ros Omelet
https://www.instagram.com/p/BxWy37YBsON/?igshid=pluhf4chh9vm

Cheering to a Hurricane

Drinking wine 🍷….enjoying Goa in the monsoon 🏖…. chasing cyclones 🌊.The first part of our fun series with Nolan Mascarenhas has us talking about how to make the most of Goa Monsoons with his top food recommendation for vegetarians & some fabulous wine and a view to die for only at Antares!Also if you’re in Goa, you MUST pay a visit to Antares! 🙂 YouTube.https://youtu.be/OGdBKXAj5ds

The Calorie Night’s Watch


A double onslaught fast approaches- One of the most anticipated series Games of Thrones makes way as well as the pile on of calories. My arch nemesis for the longest time, the best description of these suckers is something I read; tiny creatures that live in ones closet and sew clothes a little bit tighter every night, drawing an analogous quest and claim for ‘Waist-eros’. Hopefully this season will be kind and not indulge me in binge eating over marathon sessions. Now while I sit back awaiting a challenge laid down by the lovely folk at PEMA a wellness resort in Vishakhapatnam, where I’m enticed to a multi-coursed 500 gram gourmet meal, the intrigue and surprise on my face runs comparable to the time the Mother of Dragons sat down to Khal Drogo’s breakfast specialty- a horses heart. Luckily, this all-vegetarian led holistic healing centers atop a hill with the picturesque coastline ahead has thrown down the gauntlet. Challenge accepted.

With grams weighed and a calorie intake monitor in place under the strict eyes of dieticians and master chef’s creating wonders, this is one of my meals. Starting off with a Curried Cauliflower soup (200 grams at 59 calories) followed by Herbed Mushroom Caviar (120 at 97) and a Soufflé de legume (200 at 186) and Honey glazed apple sandwich (100 at 70) totaling to an astonishing 412 calories over this four-course meal! Speechless. With the right exercise, water intake and calorie count with expert supervision for a variety of body cleanses, I drop an astonishing 3.5 kilos in 5 days. But it did get me thinking- the calorie wars can be won if we condition ourselves to avoid ‘binge eating and drinking’ over our favorite prime time shows. But if the need does arise, there’s hope in these substitutes that could combat one’s meteoric calorie rise.

Moong dal- Every Indian’s favorite, this dal is full of Vitamin A, B, C and E and many minerals, such as calcium, iron and potassium. It is often advised by dieticians to replace fatty foods with Moon dal as it is a weight loss food that is rich in proteins and fiber, so one feels fuller after having a bowl of dal for a long time and curbs your cravings. My recommendation would be adding finely chopped onions, tomatoes, boiled potatoes, sprinkle of rock salt, pepper, a dash of lemon and top it with coriander and bhel- “Voila! Chaat a la Moong”. Try substituting this for the buttered popcorn. Don’t hate me just yet.

Dhokla- This humble dish from Gujarat is famous all over. This light and fluffy delicacy is seasoned with coriander leaves, mustard seeds, green chutney and fried green chilies. Made from fermented flour it is rich in nutritive values. Being steamed and not fried, dhokla has less oil content, makes them low on calories. 100 gms of dhokla contains only 160 calories! Need I say more?

Cinnamon- Everything is nice about this weight loss food. This nutty flavor spice is also known for its diabetes fighting properties. Add ground cinnamon as a replacement for sugar in cake dough or in your tea and coffee to get the most out of this wonderful spice every day. If it’s too much of a hassle indulge in dark chocolate, the darker the better and stick to a few pieces, please.

Beetroot juice- Yes this is the odd one out, but trust me beet juice gives your body a stamina boost allowing you to exercise longer and burn more calories post the show. Beets are a blood-building herb that detoxifies blood and renews it with minerals and natural sugars. This weight loss food also aids in eliminating toxins from your body. Try my favorite concoction- 2 medium sized beetroots, 2 oranges, 5 slice of fresh pineapple, 2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice and a sprig of Mint. Voila- should keep your cravings to the least minimum. Blend and savor. 

Valar Dohaeris Caloris Non! (Loose translation; All Men must NOT serve calories!) Shoot me already. 

Enjoy the show.
 

The Stuffed Moppet 

Namaskaaram! A warm and sticky welcome from God’s own country-Kerela. An encounter with a doctor at a recent check up had me take notice of what exactly I was fuelling my system with. A whole representation of eating habits, which I’ve mustered along the way, my drastic weight loss due to troubles plaguing the mind and soul initially, a culmination of all of these had me realize over a period of a decade the amount of misguided abuse, I had let my body suffer at my own hands. We all look out for that twelfth hour of immortality when pitted against a wall. Not at the risk of sounding like the harbinger of doom and despair, but its always great to have a reality check every once in a while.

 We really are what we eat. Travel took me far down south; it’s always a pleasure walking into the kitchens of Maggie Q, a Brit living here since 1994 can aptly be described as ‘spontaneous combustion’. Warm, caring, razor sharp wit, unapologetic and carefree would be the best way to describe her. A practitioner of Ayurveda mastering the ancient scrolls in existence since 900 B.C, she is happy to share. Slightly perturbed about my said given condition, I’ve been codenamed ‘Moppet’, a small endearingly sweet child. She aptly describes my current condition as somewhere in between a lopsided Dwarf and a Tooth Fairy. A detox and body prolife was in order not to mention a jolly good ol’ stuffing. Now I know what is running through that mind of yours, however focusing on power health foods ‘stuffed’ with the right healing herbs and spices is what was what the doctor prescribed.

 Stuffed Yellow Chillies- 350 grams of yellow chillies approx. 2 inches, ½ up roasted and grounded peanuts, ½ cup roasted and ground sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, ¼ cup water, 3 tablespoons sunflower oil, ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ turmeric. Wash and dry the chillies, cut one side of each length wise making a pocket. Scrape out the seeds for a milder dish. Blend the ground peanuts and sesame seeds with the coconut, cilantro and water into a low thick paste. Stuff the chillies with said paste. On a heated pan add oil followed by mustard seeds, cumin seeds, salt and turmeric. Sautee on a medium flame till the seeds pop. Add the stuffed chillies to the pan on medium heat. Gently and frequently turn the chillies on all sides until the skin is evenly brown and chillies are tender. Served hot! Keep in mind, this is a hot and pungent dish, sharp, penetrating and a stimulant. This forms a great digestive apart from being a very scrumptious dish.

While the first dish invigorates and targets certain organs closer to the digestive system the second is the counter balancing effect to a stuffed meal. Light, scrumptious, highly fibrous and a great balancer to the fiery chillies is the ladyfinger.

Stuffed Okra (Ladyfinger) – 350 grams of fresh okra, ½ cup ground roasted sesame seeds, ½ cup ground roasted peanuts, 2 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon masala powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro leaves, 1 tablespoon chickpea flour, ¼ cup water, 3 tablespoons sunflower oil, ½ cumin seeds, ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

Wash, dry and cut of the ends of the Okra. Pocket the same as done with the yellow chillies earlier, Make a mixture of the sesame seeds, peanuts, coconut, turmeric, masala powder, cilantro, salt, chickpea flour, and water into a paste for the filling. Heat the frying pan to medium and add oil, cumin and mustard seeds. Cook till the seeds pop and add the okra and turn for 10-15 minutes till brown and crispy. This forms a great laxative apart from other beneficial healing properties to ones digestive system. Serve with chapati’s (Indian bread)

Stuffed out, the rejuvenation process has begun. 

The Summer Dip 

The Heat is on”,- lyrics apt for the current weather situation. Glenn Frey definitely knew what he was talking about, however profoundly missed the gravity of the situation here, in scorching Goa. Normally, I would be on meticulously planned travel to a pleasant destination, the mountains up north perhaps- however this was the first for me back home due to a multitude of commitments in and around. With temperatures soaring enough to just ‘dip’ into my well, this is literal and -yes I have one of those in my yard at home. Futile and cumbersome, though exhilarating from a daredevil perspective if I may say so, it wasn’t merely enough to combat the double whammy of humidity and heat.

 I read an article somewhere, about research in relation to how hydration affects our mind, our mood, memory and learning, thinking and reaction time. What we are unaware of is the drastic impact; the external temperatures are having on us internally. Call it more of a ‘mute syndrome’ if not looked into carefully. It’s played havoc and had some rather adverse reactions to my metabolism from rashes to heat boils physically to mood swings and mild cases of depressive surges mentally- all warning signs for a rapid change in diet and water consumption. A human being on average consumes 3-4 liters of water a day. While that is great, the weather around is not really conducive for an appetite and eating is becoming rather cumbersome, more of a force-fed chore.

 At the local grocer store, I decided to list down a few home made dips that have been added to my diet to combat the ‘water shortage’ within with outstanding immediate results. It is great for the in-between meal cravings. Here’s a list of 3 food dips to make your summer a breeze, no pun intended.

 Mango Salsa Dip– Yes, I can see a smile on your face. While this is a sweet caveat in the making and should be had in moderation, given how heat retentive the king of fruits is, a cup of mango slices will rehydrate ones body with half a cup of water!! Do try and consume it moderately. Also the Salsa dip made with Yellow and Red Bell Peppers is an added bonus with more vitamin C than oranges as well as retention of also 92 percent water- a delicious hydrating addition to your summer diet. 

Tzatziki Sauce (Yogurt and Cucumber Dip)- The good old fashioned cucumber and yogurt; commonly known as ‘raita’ to many households. This is spin on the Greek version of the same- for that extra zing. Very easy to make and goes famously well with pita breads, chips and toppings. While the cucumber does its part with 96 percent of water to ones body, the yogurt has multiple benefits ranging from cooling the body to good bacteria for the gut. The process is simple; Line a colander with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a medium bowl. Place the yogurt on the cheesecloth and cover the colander with plastic wrap. Allow the yogurt to drain overnight. Lay grated cucumber on a plate lined with paper towel; and drain it for 1 to 2 hours. Combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, parsley, mint, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

 The Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip- With a name as sultry as Ananans, this dip is sure to make your taste buds tingle. All you need is 100gms of softened cream cheese and 200gms of crushed pineapple drained with juice reserve with 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed. A ten-minute preparation will have the entire family licking their chops and asking for seconds instantly. Mix the cream cheese and crushed pineapple first and allow it to breathe for a few. Mix the reserve juice from the pineapple to open the consistency and get the desired texture needed. Add the garlic and chill in the refrigerator until serving. Not only will you have friends and family asking for more, the pineapple delivers the compound bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and this tropical plant packs in 87 percent water. Best served with a hot toasted baguette.

 So the next time someone asks you to take a Dip, make sure you have more than your swimming costume on. As for me, I’m heading back to the well.

 

 

A ‘Whirlwind’ Experience at Sea

Statutory Warning! The next 1282 words, describe a ‘Whirlwind experience‘ aboard a floating world in the middle of the ocean. Granted its not an apt choice of words and I got home all accounted for, it did feel like just that- the minute I boarded the Mariner of the Seas by Royal Caribbean – a colossal 138,000 tons cruise ship, with 15 decks of activity poised in serenity at the Singapore Harbor.

From afar, one would be misguided to underestimate the ‘fun’ hidden within. After all, it does look like any other cruise ship meant for the honeymooners of mush. Looks can be deceiving, and I happened to witness it first hand the minute I boarded. “There is something for everyone”- a line that has been used beyond reckoning and is rather staid these days, not to mention over promised, would be the apt title for this ‘cruise’ and it sure lives up to its name. Let me give you a few activities that left me spell bound and thoroughly engrossed enough to realize that 96 hours passed me by. Did someone mention the relativity of time in a Interstellar manner of speaking?

THE Dreamworks Parade

Its an all star round up when life size characters of King Julian and Princess Fiona and Kung Fu Panda parade up and down the gangway to welcome one and all aboard this journey of Fun and Frolic. They even are amazing enough to click photographs with. Check out Gloria from Madagascar, she is a whole lot of hug and is quite supportive for ones weight ego issues, in a diminutive matter of speaking.

For the DareDevil in you

One realizes that moment of self proclaimed fallacies in regards to ‘physical fitness’ when the sign up for the adventure zone. You have a Rock climbing wall for the enthusiast such as ‘moi’ to climb atop and suspend oneself 25 feet above deck with unparalleled horizons of the deep blue sea and all that lurks within and shout out with arms wide stretched ‘I am the king of the world’ and play spectacle to all below who guffaw at your idiosyncrasies.

Or if that doesn’t cut it for you, try colour-coordinating footwear to match golf balls on the mini golf course during putting practice. Mind the wind and draft, it plays havoc on ones putting stance, or maybe it was the alcohol talking from one of the many bars around. For all the ‘insomniac hoopsters’ in the house, there is nothing like a great game of Basketball at 2am in the morning.

A Jacuzzi and Movie

Not all Fun and Games require physical exercise. After the bitter sweet realization sets in and parts of ones body, unheard of before- scream for attentive rejuvenation the best way to swallow ones bruised pride, no pun intended, is to catch a movie on a larger than life screen close to 70mm theatre sized format, in the middle of a bubbly Jacuzzi at 9 pm till midnight. I had a wonderful time watching a country western- The Magnificent Seven, with a beer in one hand and a shower of rain from above during the movie. A surreal experience indeed. Do remember to keep the towel handy, as the wind gets rather gusty in the wee hours of the morning. A definitive experience- with like-minded company, to redefine the term ‘Netflix and chill’. Goes without saying I wasn’t so lucky given three hairy men sharing my tub. Three more and I would be living my country western flick in real bubbly life, as a matter of speaking.

John Travolta meets Evgeni Plushenko

Contrary to popular belief, the ship while cruising is as stable as a Professor delivering a lecture on quantum astro physics on a cold winters day in Harvard. However, if some wish to get ‘Jiggy’ with it, allow me to suggest two multiple varieties on two different surfaces. For starters you could head to the neon lit discotheque at the far end of the ship, and boogie away to Saturday night fever Travolta style, and bust a move while you at it or be a vision on ice like the 4 time Olympian Evgeni Plushenko. Yes don’t look so baffled, I assure you I am not doing a Hemingway through this article and this piece is written and edited sober. There is an ice skating rink in the middle of the ship!!!! And you can learn the art of making a complete fool of yourself and redefining the term ‘Bottoms Up’ every few feet on twin blades. Whats more allow for the show to begin post ‘your’ practice rounds and see these graceful figurines make you feel inadequate and left footed every step of the way. Please wear full pants, I speak from experience having to break away follicles of hair like icicles due to the severity of the cold.

A Yankee and a show

Given all the vigorous and not so vigorous activity leaves one famished. What better experience than to dine at Johnny Rockets, one of the specialty restaurants transporting you back to the days of jukeboxes, hamburgers, hotdogs, sundaes and corn chilly fries. The Strawberry milkshake is best left to be sampled as words currently transport me to the chunky bits of fresh strawberry amidst goodness of brain freeze slush. Set in a 60’s setting of the American diner this is a fun filled experience for adults and kids alike with a set menu that includes some scrumptious mouthwatering fare that would appease the palates of adults and kids alike.

Consume the meal with gusto and don’t miss to catch the Musical at the indoor theatre Gallery of Dreams.

Its a world class production and keeps ones feet stomping through the spectacle.
Jackpot ‘Kaching!!!’

Right about now, the only infamous words coming to my mind is the sputtering of Clint Eastwood to the tune of ‘Feeling lucky punk’. No, I am not held at gunpoint nor am I in a Mexican standoff at the Roulette tables in the casino below deck. A full-fledged casino to satiate the appetite and wallet of the gambler in you, this gambler paradise has something for everyone. From slot machines to Blackjack to 21 one never gets bored. I even managed to win a little as a first time gambler. What can i say, beginners luck perhaps? After all, the house always wins right? Maybe not applicable in this case given it’s technically not a house? One would never know!! To question or not to question, that is the answer. Strictly for adults only.

As I sign off, I would like to harp upon the activities NOT covered in the gambit of Fun and Frolic aboard. Time did not permit me in a 19 hour day of whirlwind madness to indulge myself in the VitalitySM Spa with 100+ treatments with medi-spa treatments and acupuncture or the 4 pools including the Solarium that is an adults only retreat.

Nor was I privy to the state-of-the-art Fitness center with classes that included Tai chi and yoga or indulge my shopping delights in the duty-free shopping on the Royal Promenade including a Coach¯ store, jewelry, perfumes, apparel and shopping etc. Time also did not permit me to enjoy my stateroom with ocean facing balcony that had a flat-screen television with touchscreen way finders and digital signage to get the digital geek in me fed and be happily content. However having witnessed it all, I am eager and ready to get on my next cruise for a longer duration of time to plan my schedule more meticulously to experience all that it has to offer.

Boredom is never an option aboard the vastness of the ocean thanks to Royal Caribbean and Tirun Marketing.

Picture courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Images shot on IPhone6