April Favorites

Starting a new series on the blog: My monthly favorites. These are things, places, etc. that I have enjoyed this past month and would like to share with you. Here are my April Favorites:

  1. The Green Detox Smoothie at Birdsong Café

One of my favorite spots to be in the morning is the Organic Birdsong Café in Bandra. Tucked away in a small lane between Reclamation and Hill Road, this is the perfect spot to wonder and dream. I often come here early in the morning (and I mean early: they regularly have to remind me that they don’t open before 9am). Carrying my laptop to get lots of work done in the AM, I usually get carried away with watching people and by now, I think most people who regularly walk by this cute café know me.

Green Detox Smoothie at Organic Birdsong Cafe in Bandra, Mumbai, India

The Green Detox Smoothie at the Birdsong Café is the best thing ever. With lots of healthy greens inside, it is still sweet (thanks to the banana) and ultra delicious. I love the thick yet liquid consistency. The perfect drink cum breakfast treat.

  1. Necklace from Colaba Causeway

The second favorite of the month is my latest addition to my jewelry collection. I found this amazing old coin necklace at Colaba Causeway. After the recent art walk with DAG Modern at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, I convinced my husband to take a stroll through the always crowded (and overpriced) street market that is popular with tourists and locals alike. I love street shopping and I love bargaining. And though I really like this necklace, it was more of a “random purchase”. I was just testing out my bargaining skills… but when the vendor offered me this beauty for just 200 Rupees (I got him down from his initial 650 Rupees), I couldn’t resist. And now she is my new favorite. And in the mornings, I choose my clothes according to what matches my new old coin necklace!

Colaba Causeway Find: My old coin necklace

  1. Hipster Salad at Bombay Salad Co

Out of 263 times that I have been to Bombay Salad Co in the past few years, I probably ordered the Hipster Salad 259 times. Seriously!!! This is my absolute favourite salad at this Bandra eatery, in Mumbai and maybe even in the whole world! Kale, quinoa, cranberries, carrot, pomegranate, mix seeds, ricotta, orange carrot vinaigrette. Yum! It’s the perfect combination of crunchiness, fruity flavours and creamy cheese. I love it. I even considered moving closer to the restaurant so that I can order home delivery.

  1. Run The World (Girls)

Favorite song of the month is Run The World by Beyonce. Always pumps me up. For getting business work done, while exercising or when stuck in traffic: Love it and listen to it all the time. (And when I am alone and I dance around my house listening to this song.) You can listen to it here.

  1. Using my Gwenda Glocalista Card

And last but not least: One of my favorite things to do this April is to use my Gwenda Glocalista Card. Being a foodie and loving to explore this city, I partnered up with my favorite restaurants, cafes and hotels to create a special discount card for expats in Mumbai that helps newcomers to explore the city and offers great discounts. I love to travel around the city and use my own Gwenda Glocalista Card.

Gwenda Glocalista Card

Art Walk with DAG Modern

 

Yesterday, I took part in a beautiful curated Art Walk at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel as part of the preview for today’s auction by DAG Modern.

Art Walk at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Mumbai with DAG Modern

The theme of the auction preview: 20th century Indian Art.

I wouldn’t call myself an art connoisseur but I definitely enjoy experiencing and interpreting art, hearing the stories behind the art and learning about the artist’s life.

Here are some impressions from the art walk and the fascinating Indian art. My two favorite pieces are this dark one and this colourful one.

20th century Indian Art Auction Preview by DAG Modern at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai

20th century Indian Art at the Auction Preview by DAG Modern at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai

Check out the DAG Modern website you are interested in today’s auction and want to browse the catalog.

P.S. Am I the only one who finds people watching as interesting as looking at the actual art?

I love watching people watching art

Three Mumbai Street Foods (plus two street drinks)

One of the reasons, I love Mumbai so much is because of its culinary diversity. Today, I am sharing my absolute favorite street food with you.

Vada Pav

My absolute favourite, Vada Pav is the perfect grab-and-go snack. It’s basically a deep fried patty of spiced mashed potatoes in a bun.

You will see college kids, businessmen, tourists and taxi drivers all enjoy this Mumbai street food that may not be healthy but absolutely delicious and filling when you are looking for a quick bite on the go.

Mumbai Street Food: Vada Pav
Mumbai Street Food: Vada Pav

Pani Puri

Pani Puri is one the most fun street foods in Mumbai. The round hollow puri is fried crisp and filled with a mix of potato, chickpeas, onion, tamarind chutney, chaat masala and then dipped into flavoured water (ibli pani). Now the fun part: stuff the dripping pani puri into your mouth and enjoy!

If you are not sure about hygiene of the street side Pani Puri, I suggest you visit Elco Pani Puri Centre in Bandra. They make their pani puri with bottled water. You can either have it upstairs in the non AC restaurant or at their street side Pani Puri stand.

Mumbai Street Food: Pani Puri
Mumbai Street Food: Pani Puri

Bombay Sandwich

Bombay Sandwich is not just any sandwich. This famous sandwich includes beetroot, potato, onion, cucumber, green chutney and a lot of butter. The secret however is the chaat masala. You probably find a sandwich wala at every corner of the city –but definitely opposite of every college.

Coconut Water

Technically fresh coconut water is a street drink but how can I not mention it?! Coconut water has many health benefits and is the perfect drink when you are out and about to explore Mumbai. You can choose between Malaiwala (less coconut water, but you can ask the coconut guy to open it up after you drank it and then you can eat the coconut flesh) or Paniwala (more coconut water, no coconut flesh).

Cutting Chai

Another popular street side drink is the famous Indian chai. Served in typical small tea glasses (be careful: they get really hot), you find chaiwalas around all office areas, tourist attractions and pretty much anywhere else around the city. The name cutting chai is specific to Mumbai street tea which can be ordered as “half glass”. I am sure you have figured by now that most people in Mumbai are always in a rush. And because chai on the streets in served piping hot and people don’t have time to let it cool down, they started ordering “cutting chai”.

Mumbai Street Food: Cutting Chai
Mumbai Street Food: Cutting Chai

Let me know your favorite Mumbai street food in the comments below.

Shizusan – Mumbai’s authentic Asian shop house restaurant in Lower Parel

Shizusan – Mumbai’s authentic Asian shop house serves delicious dimsums, sushis and all things delicious from South East Asia.

shizusan-shophouse-and-bar
Shizusan Shophouse and Bar in Lower Parel

Since its opening two month ago, I visited this new restaurant in Lower Parel 5 times. Yes, I am obsessed with its delicious, fresh and authentic food! My favourites (so far) are: Lobster Moneybags, Quinoa Sushi and Miso Aubergine.

Dim Sum at Shizusan Lower Parel
Delicious Dim Sum at Shizusan

Deepti Dadlani, Marketing Head of Bellona Hospitality (the company that owns Shizusan) suggested the Miso Aubergine to a vegan friend from New York when I first visited the restaurant. Though I generally like Aubergine, it did not sound exciting enough (just Aubergine) to try when you can enjoy a variety of fancy sushi, sashimi and dimsums. But wow! Thank God we listened to Deepti and tried the Miso Aubergine which is probably my absolute favourite dish on the menu.

shizusan-miso-aubergine
My absolute favorite dish at Shizusan: Miso Aubergine

Though Shizusan is part of Bellona Hospitality, the F&B arm of Phoenix Mills, it’s not at all a mall restaurant. The ground floor houses a long sushi bar at which hungry business people grab a quick lunch, while friends catch up over flavourful dimsums at small tables. The top floor hosts the bar and you hear big groups of people laugh and enjoy their dinner.

Expat Friends Dinner
We enjoyed an evening filled with delicious food and great conversations

Deepti Dadlani and Romil Ratra (CEO, Bellona Hospitality) are not just the brain behind Shizusan. They put all their heart into this new Asian eatery in Lower Parel and their souls speak to you as soon as you enter this beautiful restaurant and bar. If you are anything like me and you enjoy authentic South East Asian food, you must absolutely try Shizusan!

Shizusan Shophouse & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Birthday Gift Ideas for Friends and Family at Home

Last week, my mother celebrated her 58th birthday. Since many years, we live in different countries and though her birthday sometimes falls into Easter vacation time, I don’t get a chance to spend time with my mother on her birthday most years. So over the years, I came up with some gift ideas to make her day special even when I am far away. (These tips are great for any family member or friend back home!)

 

A culinary experience:

This is something my parents actually started. Since my husband and I live in Mumbai, they gift us a culinary (or sometimes cultural) experience. My dad loves to search online for new restaurant openings across Mumbai and they send us a mail with details of the menu and the address of the restaurant and transfer us an amount into our bank account that we should use to enjoy a meal and a drink (or two) at the restaurant they chose for us. This is such a sweet idea because though we are not together, they feel part of our birthday celebration and we send them pictures of what we ate on Whatsapp.

 

A good read:

My mother loves to read. And with Amazon around the world, it has never been easier to gift a book to someone living far away from you. I usually ask my Dad about which book she is planning to read next and then, before she buys it, I order it online and get it directly delivered to her.

 

Plants instead of flowers:

If I want to send someone birthday flowers, I usually choose a blooming plant. That way my birthday wishes are long lasting and can continue to grow on a balcony or in the garden. Isn’t beautiful if every morning your parents look out of the kitchen window into their garden and see the beautiful plant you sent them years ago?

 

A handwritten letter:

Something so simple, yet so special. In the age of email, skype and whatsapp, people feel very happy (and surprised) when they receive a proper letter in the mail box. A simple happy birthday card, a few printed pictures from your life abroad, maybe a small gift from the new country you are living in and that’s it: the perfect birthday gift (especially when the letter reaches on the exact birthday day).

 

A membership/subscription:

Since a few years, my husband and I gift his mother a subscription to a small monthly inspirational magazine that she loves to read. She was anyways subscribed to it but now that the yearly subscription is a gift from us, she thinks of us every time she reads the magazine.

Similarly, there are so many different types of memberships and subscriptions that you can gift to your parents, siblings or friends at home. Monthly healthy snacks delivered to the doorstep, yearly membership in the local swimming pool, a wine subscription, and so much more.


Let me know in the comments below if you have more tips what to gift our loved one in our home countries.