Category: Food

Jammu

Jammu: Beyond Temples

Posted By : Sumit Singh/ 609 0

The quintessential winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir, from the eyes of a native…

The city of temples, no not Benaras, not Rishikesh, not even Bhubaneshwar or Madurai… but Jammu. I grew up watching hoardings in the city that portrayed Jammu as the ‘City of Temples’, but with time I realized there are many contenders for the title.

J&K is a state with Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh being the three important pillars. Jammu and Kashmir both serve as the administrative capitals of the state for 6 months each. Jammu, other than being the gateway to heaven on earth – Kashmir, is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains. While the winters here are freezing cold, it gets really hot in the summer. The official language of this state that is home to people from different ethnicities is Dogri. It would be interesting to note that the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar sang many a Dogri song, one of which equates the language and the people of Jammu as sweet and kind.

Until 1947, the state was under the rule of the Rajputs of the Dogra dynasty that left behind an air of royalty in the region; they were known for their élan. Many also relate the city to the revered Vaishno Devi shrine and the age-old Bagh-e-Bahu fort. But there is more to the city than one would find on Google.

The charm of this city dwells with its residents, like it is in most cases. If one does manage to escape the touts selling first copies of kashmiri pashminas and grade-two dry fruits at Raghunath bazaar, you would find the genuine shop keepers very helpful and honest. The narrow by-lanes of the old Jammu city are full of surprises. Most of the hole-in-the-wall eateries may leave you with an unmatched taste that the outer world is oblivious to. Sardarji’s kulcha shop in the third lane next to Raghunath Mandir will serve you an incredible fill of any type of a kulcha one can imagine, soya kulcha being the top favorite.

A revolving restaurant called Falak at the top floor of KC Plaza next to the famous Raghunath Bazar is a must go-to. By the time you are served with the main course you would be satiated with the breath taking views of the entire city and the Tawi River flowing below. The KC plaza lane is house to sumptuous eateries serving Punjabi, Jammu as well as Kashmiri delicacies and the bars such as Baron at KC plaza would leave you searching for a comparable hospitality anywhere else in the world.

Bollywood has had a huge impact on the life of an average Jammu teenager. Since the kids are blessed with good looks and talent comes in handy, you would come across many success stories in Bollywood as well as the booming saas-bahu series during prime time. I recently came across and inquisitive airport security officer, who was curious to know if actor Vidyut Jamwal is my cousin, blame it on the identical surname.

Maharaja Hari Singh – the last ruler of Jammu was a man of great taste. His gift to the society could not have been better than the Maharaja Hari Singh Niwas Palace which is now a heritage luxury resort in the city. The open air restaurant overlooking the Tawi River lets you gaze at the scenic hill range while you wine and dine. Luxury cannot be more reasonable at Jammu when you can own a part of this historical palace for a couple of nights without a dent on your pocket. Any trip to Jammu for me is incomplete without an evening spent at the museum palace with my college buddies.

For all the countryside fans, Jammu’s rustic charm shows up as soon as you move out of the by lanes of the old Jammu city and cross the bungalows at Gandhi Nagar, Trikuta Nagar, Chhanni Himmat, Sainik Colony and Greater Kailash.

Since Jammu also borders Pakistan at one side, our border villages house daredevil families who mostly appear on news channels as soon as there is an infiltration or shelling from across the border. Having grown up listening to the army shooting exercises as a routine affair, the noise does not intimidate the residents anymore. Jammu has diverse demographics yet there has never been a single religious mishap in the history of the city. In fact, everyone comes together and supports any cause of national importance.

Next time you are in Jammu, befriend a local and it is in our blood to be courteous and hospitable.

What to eat on a road trip

What to eat on a road trip?

Posted By : Escape Route/ 560 0

An endless open road, clear or in some preferences cloudy sky and no particular destination in mind; is an idea of freedom epitomised by the happy movie endings and we all wonder what fun it must have been. Nobody follows the car post the happy ending to see if the driver got a stomach upset in the coming days because he did not pack the right food for the road-trip. It gets even trickier if you are in a country like India; all thanks to the scorching heat, dust, unbearable cold, fog etc. alongside many roadside eateries who have sworn on not giving you fresh food ever.

What to eat on a road trip is an integral part of the overall experience. Make a mistake and you will be searching for the next relieving facility throughout the journey or would be cranky for reasons unknown to others. There can be other disturbances too, better left to the imagination of our discerning readers.

How light is light enough and is fried really bad? Is Mac’n’Cheese with iced tea a good idea and how can the Dhaba food be bad at all? You will never know unless it happens to you. Keep these following recommendations about what to eat on a road trip in mind to be rather safe than sorry:

  • There is no substitute to water – you can add lemon to it, but no masala and no soda please. Fresh Juices are excellent fluids and great companions for road trips. Green teas keep it all clear and happy.
  • If you have difficulty finding fresh fruit juice, opt for fresh fruits. Tip – try and find new fruits other than apples and bananas.
  • So you cannot do without snacks and salt – here are some healthier options: baked banana chips, whole wheat pretzels, dry museli or with curd, fresh cut veggies and dips
  • Some of us just cannot do without breads when thinking of what to eat on a road trip and hence, a peanut butter sandwich, jelly sandwich and/or cheese sandwich with sliced cucumber and tomatoes does the trick.
  • The only problem with boiled eggs packed in a container is the stench it leaves. So keep the shell on till you are ready to eat. You need your protein.
  • Granola/Protein bars are not for everyone. But if you dip your granola bar in yoghurt, it might be an all new experience for your taste buds to relish.
  • Home-cooked Indian breads aren’t a complete no; baked and not deep-fried fenugreek parathas will help you every time you crave for salt. Curd, again pitches in for the rescue.
  • A lot of us are lactose intolerant and it is bothersome, at least in the head. So avoid milk and try soy milk or curd instead. Have black coffee wherever necessary.
  • Nuts aren’t really that boring; Mix almonds, cashews, figs, dried apple, walnuts, drip apricots, pistachios etc and it tastes great.
  • If motion sickness bothers you, try mint/ginger/cinnamon tea (you could also chew on mint leaves). Mix pepper and lemon juice in a bit of warm water to get rid of headache and dizziness. Cloves are tried and tested too.

Quick-tip: Please carry reusable water bottles and do not have tap water if you are not sure. Always keep a multi-purpose knife handy for fruits and other brief preparations. Bread and your favorite seasoning always come in handy. Rather than eating too much in one go, eat little many times.

Cheat-tip: If nothing of the above really works for you. Pull over to the next road-side dhaba and ask the guy to make fresh baked breads (rotis) alongside dal tadka. Add green salads and curd to the same and you will be good to go for another few hundred kilometers. Just don’t overeat.

When it gets unbearable, I make samosa sandwiches, by pressing a samosa between two bread slices and a slice of cheese and it gets me going till the next salt craving.