What made everything even better for me was the food curated by Executive chef Raj Singh. For every meal, there was a different set up in a different area.The first meal we had was in the outdoors candle lit area overlooking the rest of Kukas. This was during the wedding season so we saw firecrackers light up the sky. It was a beautiful ambience for dinner. The next day, we had breakfast by the pool where a specially curated breakfast menu was presented to us. Their pool side has many peacocks and I could spot them from my breakfast table. It was an Instagram worthy spot for food. Next up, I also had lunch on the balcony of my tented room. It was a great experience in itself.
Being a Rajasthani myself, I have often found myself wondering where I can try the best Marwari food. And not surprisingly, I have always found it in Rajasthan. The aloo dum, paneer masala, dal, batti, churma has unnervingly been the best in Rajasthan. By far, I can also vouch for having tried the best pastas, pizzas and desserts in Rajasthan considering it is now the hub of destination weddings in India. My stay at Rajasthali Resort and Spa was no less and the food was culturally representative of the heritage that I also carry within myself. Speaking of the Marwari community, I am working on a book titled, “The Culture Trap” focusing on Rajasthani culture and the Marwari community. The book should be out later in 2022. It is a great read for everyone planning to visit Rajasthan, especially those who want to know more about local culture and folklore.
Another thing I loved about Rajasthali Resort and Spa is their grand entrance gate. As soon as I reached the palace, I felt like I was entering like Rajasthani royalty itself. The grand gates and small sculptures on the way to the gate were mesmerizing. I felt teleported to another century and time. Most people don’t know this but Rajasthan has had many wars in the past, hence it has numerous forts like Nahargarh in the city. During wars, most Kings would live in tents with the best facilities, special chefs, great food, leopard skins, grand mirrors, chandeliers and everything their palace would have. Even now, the tent theme is popular at some hotels in Rajasthan and provides an exotic getaway escapade. Rajasthali Resort and Spa also has tent shaped rooms where people can stay among other properties in the region.
I also experienced some traditional architecture at City Palace and Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, perhaps the two most common spots for travelers in the region. One really needs to keep their stuff safe while on a visit. Pickpockets are common and even more common are overcharging shops selling local handicrafts. Rajasthani hospitality is otherwise one of the best things anyone could ever experience.
Things to do in Jaipur
A famous activity in Rajasthan is leopard sighting. This is increasingly famous in the JAWAI regions of Jaipur. To my dismay, the safari was fully booked when I was there. I would definitely recommend you to book it in advance to avoid missing out on the experience. If you are up for visiting a monkey temple, you can even explore Galtaji Temple on the outskirts of Jaipur. It is a unique experience to be climbing on steps to get a view of a holy lake with monkeys following you around. Just don’t make eye contact. They might steal your phone or sunglasses, anything on the loose. I once lost my milk bottle as a baby and the monkeys never gave it back. Holidays indeed make up for stories of a lifetime. Rajasthali Resort and Spa, where I stayed, had some beautiful cycling tracks around. I cycled amidst nature and viewed peacocks at sunset. It was one of the most mesmerizing and detoxing experiences of my life. For all those who care, peacocks are my favorite birds. They’re magnificent, colorful and beautiful. You might even choose to venture out for a swim and trust me, it will be worth it. Swimming in the pink city with the sun soaking on your body can be more relaxing than even the best spa in the city. Being a Mumbai girl, I need some peace and quiet and gladly I found my spot in Jaipur.
What holidays are about most of all is finding ourselves. I was glad to get a moment of peace from my fast paced life in Mumbai. All I needed was a break and I finally got it close to my native town. Rajasthan is my home. It runs through my veins. “Padharo Mhare Des.” If you know, you know.
Exploring Italy by train
Even if the 2023 summer tourist season has been somehow penalised by high prices, Italy nonetheless remains an extremely popular destination with international visitors, with a growing number of tourists travelling by train.
Italy is the most beautiful country in the world, and this is certified by the number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, which has no equal. Our beautiful landscapes, history, culture, and food and wine make Italy a favourite destination with tourists from all over the world, and this summer 2023 was forecast to be a record season for Italian tourism. The definitive figures are not in yet, but those expectations have been at least partially downsized by spiralling prices, as a result of which many Italians were unable to take a summer holiday, or chose less expensive destinations.
Record-breaking season or not, however, Italy certainly remains a popular destination, as demonstrated by the data of the Italian Observatory on Domestic and International Tourism Flows, presented in Venice on September 1st. These data show that Italy is the fourth most popular destination for European tourists, who invested 12% of total tourism-related spending in our Country. July saw the highest growth in spending on hotels in Italy, exceeding even the totals for Spain and the UK. The largest numbers of foreign visitors to Italy come from Germany, Switzerland, USA, UK and the Netherlands, and travellers are increasingly choosing to travel around by train.
The train is one of the most popular means of transport in Italy
Trains are an increasingly popular choice for travelling across Italy, because of the fast, convenient, widespread rail network that combines efficiency and sustainability, and is often a more affordable option than others.
In the first five months of 2023 alone, Trenitalia transported 24% more passengers than in 2022.
Summer brought an impressive 75 million tourists onto the trains of the Italian state rail network. More than half of this figure was recorded in August, with a rise of 15% compared to August 2022. This result is a reward for the efforts made by Trenitalia to guarantee fast, convenient rail links to reach holiday destinations.
This return to rail travel also regards younger travellers, with 3.5 million under-15s travelling on Frecciarossa, Intercity and Regional trains, also thanks to the promotional offers aimed at families. One of the services that has proved most popular is the Family Area, which can be found on Intercity trains: a carriage for the whole family, where kids can enjoy dedicated entertainment during the journey, making it part of the holiday experience, rather than just a means of transport to their destination.
This philosophy is shared by True Italian Experience, the digital tourism hub of which Trenitalia is the main partner, and which promotes gentle, sustainable experiential tourism.
The summer’s most popular Italian destinations
For trips lasting more than five days, Italian seaside and mountain locations proved most popular in 2023, with Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Liguria the Italian regions that registered the most significant increases in visitors, compared to 2022.
A positive trend compared to 2022 was also recorded in Campania, Puglia and Emilia-Romagna, with Rimini topping the list of seaside destinations, especially for family holidays.
Major tourist flows were also registered in areas renowned for their natural beauty, such as the Dolomites, Lake Garda and the Langhe wine region, while the top three destinations Italian for city holidays remain Rome, Naples and Florence.
The main Italian cities reached by train by the highest number of travellers were Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin and Bologna, with the Apulian cities of Bari and Lecce among the most popular in Southern Italy.
A Gastronomic Odyssey at Yauatcha Mumbai: Where Tradition Meets Innovation
When it comes to dim sum, Yauatcha Mumbai is undoubtedly a name that stands out in the vibrant culinary landscape of the city. Nestled in the heart of Bandra Kurla Complex, this upscale restaurant has consistently garnered praise for its exquisite blend of traditional and innovative Cantonese cuisine. During my recent visit to Yauatcha, I was not only treated to an array of delectable dishes but also had the pleasure of experiencing impeccable service from an exceptional team led by Akshay Sasane, the shift manager.
Service Excellence – Akshay Sasane
As I entered Yauatcha Mumbai, it was clear that the staff here were committed to making every guest’s experience memorable. Akshay Sasane, the shift manager, was the embodiment of professionalism and warmth. His welcoming smile and attentive nature set the tone for a memorable dining experience. Throughout the evening, Akshay made sure that every aspect of our dining experience was flawless, from seating us at a comfortable table to ensuring prompt service.
Culinary Mastery – Chef Gopi and Sous Chef Laxman Gaire
A restaurant’s success is often a reflection of its culinary team, and Yauatcha Mumbai is no exception. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Gopi and Sous Chef Laxman Gaire, both of whom have honed their skills in the art of Cantonese cuisine. Their dedication to maintaining authenticity while incorporating modern twists was evident in every dish we tasted.
Our culinary journey began with the Umeshu, a delightful Japanese plum wine that set the tone for the evening. It was a sweet and aromatic start to our meal, perfectly balancing the flavors that awaited us.
Yauatcha’s tea menu is extensive and impressive. The variety of teas available caters to tea connoisseurs and novices alike. Our server, Mithila Kulkarni, provided expert guidance on selecting the ideal tea to complement our dim sum choices. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for tea were truly commendable.
Now, let’s delve into the star of the show – the dim sum. Yauatcha’s dim sum menu is a culinary adventure in itself, offering a wide range of choices that showcase the chefs’ mastery over this traditional Cantonese specialty.
Dim Sum Delights
- Har Gow: The Har Gow at Yauatcha is a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to perfection. These delicate shrimp dumplings were a revelation, with thin, translucent wrappers that encased succulent, juicy prawns. The Har Gow practically melted in my mouth, leaving a symphony of flavors dancing on my palate.
- XO Scallop Dumpling: For seafood lovers, the XO Scallop Dumpling is a must-try. Plump and perfectly cooked scallops were wrapped in a translucent skin, which was artfully pleated. The XO sauce added a spicy kick that complemented the sweetness of the scallops beautifully.
- Wild Mushroom Dumpling: Yauatcha excels not only in seafood but also in vegetarian offerings. The Wild Mushroom Dumpling was a delightful medley of earthy flavors. The mushrooms were sautéed to perfection and encased in a delicate wrapper that allowed the umami-rich filling to shine.
- Truffle Edamame Dumpling: Innovation meets tradition with the Truffle Edamame Dumpling. The infusion of truffle oil and the smooth edamame filling created a harmonious flavor profile that elevated this dish to a level of indulgence.
- Prawn and Chive Dumpling: This dish was a marriage of contrasting textures and flavors. The crunchy chives provided a satisfying crunch, while the prawns remained tender and succulent. The subtle seasoning allowed the freshness of the ingredients to shine through.
- Steamed Char Siu Bun: These fluffy, steamed buns were filled with succulent char siu pork that had been slow-cooked to perfection. The slightly sweet and savory filling was a true delight.
- Spinach and Water Chestnut Dumpling: A vegetarian dim sum that stood out for its refreshing taste. The combination of spinach and water chestnut provided a unique textural experience, and the light soy-based sauce tied the flavors together beautifully.
- Crispy Aromatic Duck Roll: This dish was a fusion of Chinese and Indian flavors, with tender duck rolled in a crisp wrapper and served with hoisin sauce. The contrasting textures and rich flavors made it a memorable choice.
No visit to Yauatcha is complete without indulging in their dessert offerings. We sampled the Raspberry Delice, a heavenly dessert that balanced sweetness, tartness, and creaminess with finesse. The chocolate soil and raspberry sorbet provided delightful contrasts in texture and temperature.
As our dining experience came to an end, it was evident that the dedication of the entire Yauatcha Mumbai team, from Akshay Sasane’s warm welcome to the culinary expertise of Chef Gopi and Sous Chef Laxman Gaire, had made our visit truly exceptional. Tabassum, the Retail Shift Manager, ensured that we left with a smile, and Mithila Kulkarni, the Retail Assistant, guided us through the extensive tea selection with grace and knowledge.
Yauatcha Mumbai is more than just a restaurant; it’s a culinary journey that explores the rich traditions of Cantonese cuisine while embracing innovation and modernity. The impeccable service provided by the team, led by Akshay Sasane, elevates the dining experience to a level of excellence that is truly unparalleled. From the Umeshu to the wide variety of teas and the exquisite dim sum, Yauatcha Mumbai is a culinary destination that promises unforgettable flavors and unforgettable memories. It’s a place where tradition meets innovation, and where every guest is treated like royalty.
A Culinary and Artistic Journey at Indian Accent, Mumbai
Nestled within the enchanting Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai, Indian Accent is a culinary gem that seamlessly marries the rich tapestry of India’s diverse flavors with the artistic heritage of the nation. From its resplendent art deco interiors to its thoughtfully curated menu, every aspect of the restaurant weaves a captivating narrative that tantalizes both the palate and the senses.
Art Deco Elegance: A Tribute to Mumbai’s Heritage
Art Deco, a movement that thrived in Europe and the US during the 1930s, found a unique home in Bombay, where over 200 art deco structures still stand, rivaled only by Miami. This era, known as ‘the jazz age,’ marked a time of innovation and spirited rhythms.
Drawing from Bombay’s art deco legacy, Indian Accent pays homage to the era’s style, music, and cocktails. Renowned photographer Rohit Chawla captures India’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, infusing them with art deco’s allure. These images, along with curated Mumbai art deco pieces, adorn the restaurant, creating a visual journey into an opulent past.
Indian Accent’s interiors echo art deco’s symmetrical lines, geometric patterns, and opulent materials. The chandeliers cast a gentle glow reminiscent of the era’s glamour, while the upholstery exudes sophistication. It’s a fusion of Mumbai’s unique architectural heritage and the vibrant spirit of ‘the jazz age,’ creating a dining space that bridges time, design, and culture. This melding of aesthetics and flavors transforms Indian Accent into a living testament to a bygone era, inviting guests to indulge in both history and modernity.
A Symphony of Flavors: A Culinary Overture
The tasting menu at Indian Accent is nothing short of a meticulously composed symphony of flavors, where every dish is a note carefully orchestrated to create a harmonious and unforgettable experience. As guests embark on this gastronomic journey, they are immersed in a world where tradition and innovation dance in perfect harmony, guided by the culinary virtuosity of Chef Rijul Gulati and the visionary direction of Chef Manish Mehrotra.
The symphony begins with the “Indian Accent Shorba,” a delicate overture that warms the palate and sets the stage for the culinary spectacle that follows. This traditional Indian soup, presented with an artistic touch, encapsulates the essence of comfort and familiarity, while signaling the start of the culinary adventure.
Moving through the menu, the crescendo builds with the introduction of the “Blue Cheese Naan.” This dish is a striking example of Indian Accent’s unique ability to blend contrasting elements into a harmonious whole. The naan, a quintessential Indian bread, is elevated to new heights with the infusion of pungent blue cheese. The juxtaposition of textures and flavors in this dish creates a symphonic balance that awakens the senses.
The “Smoked Eggplant, Maple Plantain” is a movement that takes diners on a journey of contrast. The smokiness of the eggplant meets the sweetness of maple-glazed plantain, resulting in a culinary melody that dances between savory and sweet. This dish exemplifies Indian Accent’s skillful mastery of flavors, creating a dish that’s both familiar and excitingly novel.
The symphony takes a playful turn with the “Dilli Papdi Chaat” and “Chhole Bhature.” These dishes are a tribute to India’s vibrant street food culture, transformed into elegant compositions that evoke nostalgia. The chaat bursts with tangy, spicy, and crunchy notes, while the chhole bhature presents an artful balance of rich flavors and textures. These dishes encapsulate the spirit of India’s culinary heritage, where boldness and creativity harmonize seamlessly.
As the symphony reaches its crescendo, the “Stuffed Morel, Gobindobhog & Mushroom Payesh” takes center stage. This dish is a grand symphony of flavors, where each ingredient plays its part in an intricate ensemble. The indulgent earthiness of morels, the nutty notes of Gobindobhog rice, and the rich sweetness of mushroom payesh are accompanied by the delicate truffle nuances, creating a masterpiece that transcends boundaries.
In each dish, Indian Accent presents a new movement, a new exploration of taste and texture. The symphony concludes with dessert, a sweet denouement that leaves a lasting impression. The “Mishti Doi Cannoli” and “Pista ki Lauj” are dessert symphonies in themselves, a fusion of tradition and innovation that harmonizes familiar Indian sweets with contemporary flair.
The tasting menu at Indian Accent is more than just a collection of dishes; it’s a meticulously composed symphony that takes diners on an unforgettable journey through India’s culinary landscape. With each plate, a new movement unfolds, showcasing the culinary expertise, innovation, and artistic spirit that define Indian Accent’s identity.
Chef Rijul Gulati’s culinary prowess and Chef Manish Mehrotra’s visionary guidance shine through in every note of this gastronomic symphony. Just as a symphony evokes emotions and tells a story, Indian Accent’s tasting menu transcends flavors, inviting diners to experience the rich tapestry of India’s culinary heritage through a beautifully orchestrated performance of taste, texture, and artistry. This is a symphony that leaves a lasting impression, resonating long after the last bite is savored.
Culinary Leadership and Artistry:
Behind every successful culinary masterpiece is a visionary leader, and Indian Accent boasts not just one, but two culinary maestros. Chef Rijul Gulati, the head chef, infuses his passion for gastronomy and creativity into every dish. Guiding the culinary direction is the acclaimed Chef Manish Mehrotra, whose innovative approach to Indian cuisine has earned him a place of reverence in the culinary world.
The culinary brilliance extends beyond the menu; it’s a philosophy that permeates every aspect of the dining experience.
A Grand Culinary and Artistic Affair:
Indian Accent at the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre is not just a restaurant; it’s an experience that transcends mere dining. It’s a celebration of India’s diverse flavors and artistic heritage, meticulously curated by Chef Rijul Gulati under the guidance of Chef Manish Mehrotra. From the captivating art deco interiors that pay homage to Mumbai’s architectural legacy to the thoughtfully crafted tasting menu that showcases the best of Indian cuisine, Indian Accent leaves an indelible mark on all who enter its doors.
It’s a testament to the fact that dining is not just about sustenance; it’s about storytelling, artistry, and creating memories. Indian Accent has mastered this intricate dance, and with each visit, guests are treated to a symphony of flavors, a visual feast, and an unforgettable experience that lingers long after the meal is over.
Indian Accent stands as a testament to the power of culinary artistry and cultural celebration. It encapsulates the essence of India’s past, present, and future, all within the confines of an exquisite dining experience. As the art deco interiors embrace Mumbai’s history and the tasting menu showcases the nation’s culinary soul, Indian Accent is poised to continue its legacy as a culinary masterpiece and a cultural beacon in the heart of Mumbai’s vibrant landscape.
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