Trolling for the Crystal Skull 

I am trolling for a legend. The legend of the 13 Crystal heads- a controversial archaeological mystery, 13 crystal heads have been found in regions around the world, from the American southwest to Tibet. They’re dated between 5,000 and 35,000 years old, and were supposedly polished into shape from solid quartz chunks over a period of several hundred years. Although according to engineers, they bear no tool marks to tell us exactly how they were made. The heads are thought to offer spiritual power and enlightenment to those who possess them, and as such stand not as symbols of death, but of life.The basic elements of the 13 crystal skulls legend is that at a pivotal time in humanity’s history, the 13 crystal skulls will be reunited to awaken a new era – transforming from an old paradigm into a new world. (Pretty intense stuff huh?)  However every quest leaves one thirsty and sapped especially for something such as Crystal Vodka which is a resounding-Pure Spirit. Im not going all mystical on you and no- I am NOT a soothsayer or ancient shaman (though its my most wildest fantasy to possess such powers) 

I must confess I am NOT a Vodka drinker. I’m a whiskey man from the go-go bar (sigh Jim Morrison…how i wish you were around) and with friends such as Basu Shatbhi ( Maestro Mixologist) and Karina Aggarwal (Alcobev Blogger) i’m in good company never stray from the dark side (in a liquor of speaking of course!!) However I love art- I mean look at this bottle, its mesmerized me enough to purchase one for my bar (and mind you its not cheap!!) I love purity & simplicity in this complex world. I love all things.. au naturel and this is the first thing that strikes me about this vodka.

Conceptualized by Dan Aykroyd a well-known actor (remember Ghost busters..Who you gonna call?); a spiritual believer in what he calls the “invisible world” where otherworldly presences are a “form of reality as valid as our normal reality.” and the one ad only veteran fine artist John Alexander who lent his art to the construct of this masterpiece. A couple of years of research and the bottle was ready heavily inspired by the legend and vodka was the natural drink of choice, however,with it, a commitment to do something enlightened and different.

The result was perfect vodka, with absolutely no additives. No glycol (an ingredient for engine anti-freeze); no citrus oil (used in its raw form as an insect exterminant); and no raw sugar. Nothing was needed, because it was abundantly clear that finely produced vodka came by its smoothness and flavor naturally. So in the end, only the highest quality peaches and cream corn was distilled four times into a neutral grain gluten-free spirit and blended with pristine water from Newfoundland,Canada. And that was not all- the liquid is post filtered seven times, of which three are through layers of semi precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds (Ladies go wha…?eyes sparkling yet..?) which are double terminated quartz crystals (a crystal with two naturally faceted ends. It is a rarer form of crystal.) also known as Middleville diamond or a Little Falls diamond. These raw stones are quartz crystals, which have been ascribed healing properties by some new age belief systems.

So the next time you wish to imbibe in this long lost mystery and unearth stories untold head on over to The Capiz Bar @ The Grand Hyatt Goa. With a wide array of spirit to keep you company ,try not to look too deep into its eyes, it might arrest you and unveil its true undeciphered meaning to life’s mysteries.

May the force of the 13 guide you well…

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

A Grand way to start your ‘Day’ 

I warn you, the next 600 odd words you are about to feast your eyes on are pure sin. No, this is NOT an adult rated post nor 51 shades darker.However it could well easily be.

Something about the monsoons here that get people in the mood for good food and drink. I guess its got to do with the melodious waves thrashing against the shores with only you and a pink fat lady for company, amidst a clear sky for company at The Park-Goa.

A resort known to take the unconventional route on multiple occasion the team is always on the look out to introduce some cracker fusion concepts with a steadfast eye of keeping traditional flavors intact. All this and more thanks to their maestro team & Chef Sharad Dewan who made his way from Kolkata for this particular showcase event.

This delightful preparation being – Nihari in succulent Australian lamb chop with noisette potatoes.

First and foremost – I would like to deconstruct this for your reading and my comprehension; primarily since I would have never imagined this preparation in my wildest gastronomic dreams. Consider this – The most tender lamb meat in the world (Australian lamb chops are known to be) infused & stewed delicately through the elaborate preparation of Nihari- a dish known for its spiciness and mostly cooked overnight (roughly 6-8 hours of prep time- mind you),sometimes even buried underground while it is gently stewed. What would this process result in? Extremely tender morsels of meat that literally fall off the bone!!

Ever indulged yourself with some traditional Nihari? What is it,you ask? Simply put; it is slow-cooked beef or lamb along with bone marrow which is seldom garnished to taste (most of the taste lies in the meat stewed to perfection over hours) and occasionally served with cooked brain. The Nihari is garnished according to individual tastes which vary from coriander leaves, fried onions, green chillies, strips of ginger, lemons and sliced white radish.

The etymology of the word ‘Nihari’ comes from the Arabic word ‘Nahar‘, meaning day.Traditionally ‘Nihari‘ is eaten just after the morning namaaz (prayer). There are multiple legends to the origin of this fabulous dish. One story pegs its origination in Old Delhi in the late 18th century during the last throes of the Mughal Empire courtesy – the Muslim Nawab who ate it early in the morning after his prayers only to resurrect later in the noon (Yes one must bring an appetite and a pillow, for the aftermath of this preparation as it lulls you into a long slumber). Another story reveals that Nihari was cooked overnight in large volumes to be served to the laborers.During the expansion of the empire, the kings in some instances replaced coin (currency) with Nihari as a free meal and accommodation for their services.Since the work had to start in the morning, it was cooked in an earthen pot, sometimes even buried and served early to ensure the supply of an energetic workforce.

Alongside multiple legends of origin comes various cultural influences that have their signature added to the dish. I have witnessed this delectable dish in Hyderabad which comprises of lamb bones and tongue. The Nihari with multilayered kulcha (indian bread) is a famous cuisine of Old Lucknow. Another version sampled is the Nalli nihari – a variation made with the marrow of bones where one has to slurp and vacuum every scrap left with the help of your lungs and tongue. Whilst backpacking in Kashmir I gorged on Harissa- a very popular meat preparation made for breakfast in the valley,slow cooked for many hours, with spices and was painstakingly hand stirred throughout. Best be noted that Harissa has a different texture from Nihari, and is much milder in taste, however it resembles Nihari in its method of cooking and the ingredients used, much like the distant cousin you always loved more than your younger sibling.

While you demand your Nihari- and demand you must a suggestion of pure indulgence lies in their ‘Act Menu’- a handcrafted multi-course meal which would excite and titillate your senses of world cuisine masterly crafted for your dining pleasure.

Mind you the meal ain’t over till the pink fat lady sings….

Pic courtesy: The Park, Goa. 

Dance with Flames 

Kalaripayattu or kalari is a martial art which has its origins in the early 13th century AD (nearly 3000 years old) in Kerela. 

Crafted in ancient South India it basically draws inspiration from the raw power and sinuous strength of the majestic animal forms from Lion,Tiger,Elephant,Wild Boar,Snake & Crocodile. 

Some say it is considered to be the oldest fighting system in existence. Kung-fu, popularized by the monks of the Shaolin Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma – an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master. 

Incredible India!!! 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography