Footsteps4Good is a charity walkathon / fun run in it’s 5th year, where each participants Rs2000 registration fee goes directly to a charity of their choice. There are a number of affiliated NGOs but anyone can participate for any NGO.
If you think WINE and INDIA, you must also think NIKHIL AGARWAL. The passionate sommelier and CEO of All Things Nice promotes the local wine culture by creating beautiful wine events that are equally popular with the local and expat crowd.
In 2012, he launched the first ever INDIAN WINES CONSUMER CHOICE AWARDS and I was invited as a judge to the fourth edition which took place earlier this month at the Jyran Restaurant at Sofitel in BKC.
The event introduced consumers to the entire spectrum of Indian wines available. As the Indian wine culture is still young, many new wine connoisseurs are seduced by big names or active marketing of the few known Indian wineries. I myself was surprised to learn that there are more than 50 wineries in India. (To be honest: I could have named only Sula, York and Grover Zampa.)
It was so much fun to taste and judge the wines. We started with sparkling and white wines, continued with the red ones, and completed the experience with dessert wines.
I usually like sassy dry white wines –the type you enjoy with friends on the terrace or during a lunch by the seaside and I found a few Indian wines during the tasting event that I really enjoyed (but as it was a wine judging I have no idea which ones to buy now…).
But surprisingly, I gave my best rating to a super sweet dessert wine that was served ice cold. Though the wine was extreme sweet, I really enjoyed it and can imagine pairing it with a dry cinnamon pastry after a Christmas lunch.
I am super excited to see who the winners of the Indian Wines Consumer Choice Awards 2016 will be. You can check out previous winner here.
Welcome to my world: I love food and I love healthy choices. I love salads more than chocolate –and I may have cravings for both sometimes. But that’s okay –everything in moderation.
I believe that #HealthyIsDelicious and that we don’t have to choose between comfort food and healthy meals if we develop some realistic habits that allow us to enjoy our favorite food and help our bodies to stay strong and fit.
Everybody is different and every body, too.
I am not a nutritionist nor do I know the requirements of your body, mind and soul. I am sharing my habits to eat clean and healthy to inspire you to discover your own healthy eating habits and to make 2016 your best year ever.
1. Eat at home
Yes, it’s fun to explore new restaurants and bars (and they pop up like mushrooms in Mumbai) or to meet friends over a late night dinner buffet. I do that, too. But not every day. In fact, I limited it to 2-3 outside meals per week. Whether you cook yourself or you have a cook: eat at home! You can monitor the amount of oil used and you know the exact ingredients of your meal.
2. Meal Planning
It seems that meal planning is the #1 sport of housewives in the US (sorry, don’t take it personal!). You don’t have to go all fancy and glittery but make sure you plan your meals for the week ahead. When you know what you will eat, you have fewer cravings for the non-scheduled food. When you are hungry, you know what you will eat and you won’t reach out to unhealthy snacks or order deep-fried stuff from nearby.
3. Buy/Order groceries once a week (but never when you are hungry)
This one goes hand-in-hand with meal planning. Buy or order your groceries once a week to ensure you have all ingredients for your meals at home. It also helps you not to buy random food that you don’t need (a.k.a. all the unhealthy and deep-fried stuff).
Bonus Tip: Never buy or order groceries when you are hungry.
4. Start the day with your favorite food and put a picture of it on Instagram
Sounds funny but it definitely helps. Starting your day with your favorite food (remember #HealthyIsDelicious –so you must choose a healthy favorite food) makes you feel happy about eating and encourages you to stick to healthy eating habits throughout the day.
Also make sure you present your omelette, fruit salad or muesli in a beautiful way (restaurant style!) and click a pic. Post that photo on Instagram or any other social media –that will hold you accountable as your friends, family and followers will comment about your delicious (and healthy 🙂 ) meal and will expect more such pictures in the future.
Check out my Instagram account to see my #HealthyIsDelicious meals.
5. Snacking on real food
And if you have a craving or feel hungry in between meals, make sure you snack real food. Cut some carrots, mix a quick dip (curd, salt, pepper, chili powder) and enjoy your snack. Or make a quick fruit salad with an apple, banana or any other fruits you have at home. If you need a snack during office hours, make sure you prepare your snacks and carry them to office just like your lunch box.
6. Eating out (the right way)
I said it earlier –I love exploring new eateries in Mumbai or to meet my friends over brunch or dinner at restaurants. And that’s okay as long as you don’t eat out all day every day. When at a restaurant, I suggest you go for the healthier options like grilled, steamed and baked instead of the deep-fried chicken wings. Soups and salads are great options as well.
I personally love South-East-Asian cuisine and steamed dumplings or sushi are great ways to skip the cheesy pizza or creamy pasta. Also, I enjoy fruits as dessert (Call out to all restaurants: Add more healthy desserts to your menu. Baked bananas, chocolate-dipped strawberries, mango yogurt parfait, fruit salads… There are so many options.)
7. Resign the alcohol (at least for some time)
I don’t want to be a party pooper but skip the alcohol. You probably knew that your liver handles your alcohol intake. Think Detoxing. Well, think again. What do you think your liver will do with all the alcohol you consume and it is cleaning out of your system? Well, it converts the alcohol into an energy source and properly stores it away for future use. Means: Your alcohol is stored away as fat.
So try to resist the next shot or cocktail. And if you really want to drink, try going for some healthier options such as ONE glass of red wine (Organic red wine has beneficial antioxidants if consumed in moderation) or ONE bottle of beer (Organic low-alcoholic beers have great anti-cancer properties).
8. Don’t drink your calories.
You may think, if I can’t drink alcohol, I’ll go for a coke. Please don’t! Skip all kind of soft drinks as they can trigger many weight-related diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors, and elevated blood pressure. Instead: Drink water. I know it sounds old-school but it is so good. There are hundreds of ways to jazz up your water and make it taste even more exciting than a cocktail: Add fresh mint, ginger, orange or lemon slices, even basil and cucumber.
Days like these make me #ProudToBeHuman -My hometown Verden, celebrated the German National Day 2015 (03 October) with a Welcome Party for Refugees at the town house square.
This blog post will have few words but many pictures because A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. And these pictures will describe #Willkommenskultur that Germany stands for.
If you wonder what Willkommenskultur is, check out this description by the Guardian: “Willkommenskultur means ‘welcome culture’ and is a word not born of custom but created to establish one.”)
And if after all these beautiful pictures, you wish to see even more from the Herzlich Welcome event in Verden, check out this video:
P.S. I am especially proud that my school junior Catherine Lohmann came up with this amazing idea! I really wish I could have been there…
Photo Credits: Arne von Brill, Elona Beqiraj.
Before I can tell you anything about the food at the newly opened Desi Deli in Bandra, I have to admire the PRETTIEST design and décor ever. Seriously! Forget Pinterest and Instagram and head directly to Desi Deli if you need inspiration.
I love the lively colored tables and chairs, the fresh flowers and the black & white herringbone design. It’s a small eatery –like most of the upcoming restaurants of home chefs turned entrepreneurs in Mumbai –and like a true Mumbaikar, Lolita Sarkar and her team made excellent use of each square feet and every corner. The heart of Desi Deli is the outdoor seating from which you can watch people and street scenes and breathe in the typical Bandra life.
I could even live with average food at this beautiful place which I will surely visit many more times, but I don’t have to. The food is pure DELICIOUSNESS.
What started off with Amar (veg hot dog), Akbar (chicken sausage hot dog) and Anthony (pork sausage hot dog) at Mumbai’s flea markets turned into a new food heaven for Bandra: Desi Deli is the expression of Lolita’s passion for food and travel.
She connects the #desi taste with the world and creates amazing bilateral combinations of hot dogs, burger and main dishes. Of course, Gwenda Glocalista loves it.
On a weekday dinner date at Desi Deli, my husband and I tried a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian #DesiDogs
The Classic Desi Anthony -A pork sausage served with a dhuandaar red sauce, peppers, onions and mint.
The Puerto Rican Desi (veg) -Grilled pineapples, lemony garlic sauce, peppers and Killer Red take you to the edge of tropical Caribbean.
The Goan Desi -Teekha Portuguese chorizo (made in Goa, of course!) with applesauce, onions and peppers.
The statement “I won’t be impressed with technology until I can download food.” holds so true right now. If only I could share the taste with you guys: so many flavors and still the traditional fast food feeling.
I don’t know about you but my hot dog experience so far was the typical IKEA hot dog after endless furniture shopping on a Saturday morning (the worst time to go to IKEA but we always do the same mistake…). But then, I ate my first #DesiDog last month and life changed.
I can proudly say that the Goan #DesiDog was the best hotdog I have ever eaten in my life and around the whole world. Saying this as a German (you know, we eat sausages and sauerkraut the whole day), it means really THE BEST hotdog e-v-e-r.
But there is still more to this new Bandra restaurant: Yes, they’ve got Pinterest chic décor and scrumptious flavourful food but the icing on the cake is the passion and warmth with which owner Lolita Sarkar welcomes her guests. With curly hair and her warm-hearted smile, the owner guides you through the menu and ensures you choose what your personal taste-buds will enjoy most. (I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture with her.)
I have only one wish left for this amazing new Deli in Bandra: Offer hot dog tasting events 🙂
A couple of weeks back, I visited the Moti Mahal Restaurant in the Phoenix Marketcity Mall in Kurla. My husband and I went together with the father of my sister-in-law.
It was the first time we met after a long time and it was a last minute dinner plan. We were in BKC and thought heading to this mall might be faster than going to Bandra… And we would find a couple of restaurant option under one roof.
Though Moti Mahal was completely empty we gave it a shot (after checking if they were open as they didn’t even bother to open the door for us). We ordered simple dishes (some tandoori chicken tikka as starters and thick gravy chicken with rotis as main course). Taste is average. If the atmosphere would be amazing you might even call the food tasty. But atmosphere too is just average. So what is left to make for a great experience? Outstanding service -but unfortunately that one was completely absent!!!
While we were ordering, the staff did not bother to guide us much when asked for specialties or whether a dish was dry or with gravy. But the worst was when I finished eating and the other two were still enjoying their meal, the waiter cleared my plate and asked us if we want the bill. Already annoyed with the fade service before, I pointed out that we are still eating the main course and that it is not an appropriate time to ask your guests to pay. Not bothering much about what a woman says my husband had to repeat the exact same thing for the stupid guy to listen.
But as we were out with a relative to enjoy time together we tried to just ignore the horrible service. When leaving the restaurant I walked up to the manager of the place and asked him whether he was aware of what just happened.
Instead of apologizing (remember guests are always right) he tells me that he “will check” with his employees.
I am taking the extra step and give you valuable customer feedback and instead of using this to improve your service you make your customer feel that you don’t trust their word??? Seriously, that’s a no go!
P.S. No picture to be shared as I was too unhappy with the service. And I usually take only photos of beautiful things or memorable moments… 😉
Finding a home is not easy –nowhere. You want to come to a cozy home after a long day at work; you want to have enough space for children playing and parties with your friends; you want a convenient location, maybe a bit of greenery around and some amenities you can’t live without. For expats, moving to Mumbai is a big decision. Likewise, moving into the right home is a big step. With the difference and new experience somebody from abroad experiences in the first few of months of moving here, their home may be the only oasis with the known comfort.
I spent my first couple of years in India without house hunting as I moved into my husband existing apartments. But since then, we have been moving houses twice. The first move was unspectacular as we were shifting apartments within the same building in Andheri. But a couple of weeks back, we moved to Kurla which is closer to our work places (probably the most important reason to choose a location in Mumbai!!!).
Websites like housing.com have made it so much easier to find the right apartment –but it doesn’t stop there. Once you found your dream home on the picture, you have to get it. And that can be a very frustrating long process (especially when you are a foreigner)! As most people, we used a broker to find our new home and we were very lucky because they did not show us extremely overpriced expat apartments. Instead, they listened to what we were looking for and helped us find it.
Or maybe we played it right: My husband checked out a couple of places without me and took videos of the apartments to show me later. As he is Indian, people don’t show him the pricey “foreigner” places when he goes alone. And once they anchored the price, I come into picture 🙂
This may sound like a good solution but the reality is this takes much more energy and time. And even when we revisited the potential apartments together, brokers and landlords came up with all different excuses why now the prize has increased or that suddenly another couple were interested in the place and offered more money.
But to bring this story to a happy end: Even without accepting foreigner prices, a bit of Hindi and a lot of negotiation skills, we made it and are now living in our dream home 🙂
As mentioned earlier, distance to your work place, kids’ school, etc. is probably the #1 reason to choose where in Mumbai you want to live. For me and my husband that was a difficult one as I work in town and his office is all the way in the north of the suburbs. So we were looking for a place halfway which allowed both of us to travel by road and had enough options around to socialize, relax and forget the craziness of this city. In a mega city like Aamchi Mumbai, it is important to have a home with all the comfort that you need (no matter whether you are an expat or a local).
To the surprise of all our friends (local as well as expat), we found our dream home in Kurla: Walking distance to the church, big trees in front of the window, big living room to entertain and with a club house that allows us to exercise and unwind. Besides –it takes us less than 30 minutes to Bandra, Powai or even Lower Parel (well again, if the traffic permits!).
Did that ever happen to you: On your way home from office the taxi driver praises you for knowing the way?
Of course not. That’s the most normal thing in the world. You take that route twice daily. Ten times a week. Fourty times a month. Four hundred eighty times a year. Well, minus a couple of days of holidays but you get my point, don’t you?
It would be the most normal thing in the world that you know your way home if…
If only you weren’t a foreigner.
As a foreigner you are expected to tell the taxi driver to take you to the Gateway of India, the famous Taj Hotel in Colaba or to the Prince of Wales Museum. But not to a residential area in the suburbs of Mumbai.
Well, I did ask him to go to the suburbs and showed him some of the roads that would prevent us to get stuck in traffic.
Upon arriving my apartment complex, I had to listen to praises for my great Hindi and for knowing all those tiny roads that lead us here. (‘Had to’ because it would be so much better to just be recognized as one of them instead of a foreigner who knows the language).
So far, so good.
A couple of days later, I am booking my taxi and recognize the name of the driver. Of course, he, too, remembers me and proudly tells me that he was talking about me the other day. Huh? Really? Not sure whether I want to know about it, I ask him.
He had another customer who wanted to go to the same residential complex and when he took all the short cuts to reach fast and without traffic, the customer was very impressed and asked him how he knew all these short cuts.
He proudly said: ‘I myself didn’t know about it. I learnt it from another customer. And can you believe it… She is not even a local. She is a foreigner!’
Argh. There it was again. The dirty F word. Foreigner.
P.S. I must admit… I still feel a bit proud that I could impress a taxi driver with the short cuts I know. 🙂 And that’s because I am not any random foreigner. I am a local foreigner.
We had just moved into our new apartment when I had to go on a business trip. I probably would have pushed one of my colleagues to go if it wasn’t a trip to Germany (my passport was about to expire 4 weeks later and I kind of kept it on hold to renew it for way too long). So I decided to pack my suitcase literally two days after moving into our new place keeping in mind that I could do the express passport renewal much faster in Germany than in India.
I will post about our move separately but you can imagine how it looked like when I was opening all boxes searching for my formal (and warm!!) clothes for the biz trip. (Side note: If you are moving houses and need to go for a trip just about the same time, please do listen to all the people who advise you to pack your suitcase for the trip before packing boxes!)
Anyways… I managed to pack my little purple suitcase and was surprised to fly off with not more than 17 kg (check-in and hand luggage) out of which around 5 kg were office material for my meetings in Germany.
Still I had to decide carefully what to take and what to keep when I was about to return home to Mumbai a few days later. Here is what I brought back with me:
Looks yummy, huh?
Most of the chocolates and sweets were meant for friends and colleagues (who enjoyed the Gummibärchen as much as I did when I was a child). Some of the Schwarzbrot (brown bread) and cheese is still left and will be enjoyed at our housewarming brunch soon.
I would love to hear from you which food from your home country you miss most? And have you been able to find it anywhere in India?
Comment below this post or send me a message here.
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