Array (  => stdClass Object ( [id] => 69057 [title] => Head to The HolyBelly for the Most Unique Dining Experience in Delhi [description] =>
I was told the space was for four and was asked if I had any food allergies. Outside of this, I didn’t know what to expect out of The HolyBelly. Nestled snug in the heart of Shahpur Jat, finding the place can be a challenge but one can always call them ahead and ask for direction. If you know Shahpur Jat, you also know about how cramped the locality is. It took me what seemed like forever to reach the doorstep. I was quite unsure whether I had reached the right location or I had just committed a breaking and entering for I pushed open the door to a tiny but oh-so-adorable space that was a far cry from any restaurant setting. I had entered somebody’s hallway for all I know! Clearly confused I looked around and saw a sign that said ‘Kiss the Chef’—okay, so I had finally made it to The HolyBelly.
Chef Aman emerged from a busy kitchen and showed me and my friend to a corner table with four chairs placed opposite each other. It took us few minutes to register the fact that what we had in front of us was it. This was not something one usually experiences when they eat out. The room—my eyes traced the walls, bookshelf that hung overhead, souvenirs from around the world, smart and cheeky signs in praise of the chef—everything in that tiny space was adorable. Chef Aman came back with water for us and introduced himself as our server for the evening. It was a Chef’s Table alright (and the right way to do it). “So you were serious when you said Table for Four” escaped me. Clearly sensing my disbelief, Chef cleared some things for me like how the space functions as their office during the day and an intimate table-for-two/four by evening, depending on requests for a Chef’s Table. Further explanation taught me how The HolyBelly is a unique food boutique that brings you a menu that’s customised as per your choice and occasion. Whether you want them taking care of food on your wedding, birthdays, private parties or just an intimate dinner for two, The HolyBelly offers a great culinary experience. Everything is so personal, from your mood to your choice of cuisine, you share them all with the team when you make the reservation. And the team takes care of the rest. The team—Chef Rishi, Chef Janeya and Chef Aman—are experts at putting happiness on your plate.
I prepared myself for an evening with French and modern European cuisine, Chef Aman’s speciality.
I guess it goes without saying that I haven’t had a dining experience quite like this. The first course for the evening, a succession of appetisers—first came a mille-feuille of goat’s cheese, apple jelly and roasted beetroot—just so you know, the combination set off a tasty firework in my mouth. Was it tangy or sweet or savoury? I had three of those and still waited for my brain to tell my mouth what it was. The next one—aged lamb balls with brioche, mango and habanero sauce came and vanished in a matter of few minutes. Then came tiny bite-size preparation of charred vegetables, burnt grapes and red pepper aioli crostini—it came, saw and conquered. Hands down, the best appetiser I have had so far. It was my first brush with burnt grapes and I quite liked it. The combination was perfect, the natural flavours of fruit and veggies with red pepper aioli was addictive. Chicken liver parfait with onion jam came next and was the last appetiser for the evening. If you don’t mind eating chicken liver and are guilty of wanting to try the fancy foie gras someday, this appetiser might interest you. The burnt grapes experience remained in our minds for the remainder of the evening and just then it clicked in my head—The HolyBelly or pet puja! It didn’t amuse Chef Aman though.
The next course was a salad of mix lettuce, roasted red and yellow pepper, quinoa, broccoli, snow peas with a drizzle of red wine and cumin dressing. If only food could transfer us to places exotic, the salad sure would take anyone to a lovely French countryside. Till this point everything I had put in my mouth tasted fresh, nothing in the menu till now had anything to do with oil, overpowering presence of cheese, froth (like that’s even something that should be on a plate); the real sweetness of fresh fruits and vegetables with a drizzle of wine here and a sprinkle of sea salt there made the items interesting. Risotto of cauliflower florets, corn puree with truffle oil and pistachio dust was an impressive vegetarian item that surely gave a stiff competition to its non-vegetarian rival chicken leg confit with vegetable ragout. Hunger had left us way back when we were busy swallowing the appetisers whole, but Chef Aman decided we needed to be fed more. And thus came, HolyBelly Earth bowl—coconut and galangal curry with steamed rice and sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. The sharp citrusy flavour of galangal and coconut was a perfect match and the dish came in an earthen bowl which, later Chef Aman explained, also was where these items were cooked. That explained the wonderful earthy flavour. My unique experience with food at The HolyBelly came to an end with the gorgeous and silky Valrhona chocolate ganache with sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and poached cherries. I never fancied dark chocolates; imagine my surprise when it came with olive oil and sea salt. The sea salt acted as a balancing agent between the bitter chocolate and the oil. Needless to say, we wiped the plate clean.
Haven’t tried The HolyBelly yet? You are missing out on a lot of good food.
Location: 139, Ground Floor, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi
Contact: For reservation-+919811088127; check here for more
Cost for two: From @INR1,800
[article_slug] => the-holybelly-is-the-answer-if-youre-looking-for-a-gourmet-food-catering-service-in-delhi
[sub_category] => 2
[none] => none
[featured_image] => HolyBelly-Delhi-India.jpg
[excerpt] => The HolyBelly is a unique food boutique that brings you a menu that’s customised as per your choice and occasion
[category] => explore
 => stdClass Object
[id] => 69056
[title] => From JK Rowling To Jane Austen: A Literary Guide To England
Struggling to pen down your magnum opus? Read this list of places where a few great English novelists lived, breathed and wrote their manuscripts. Who knows—it might give you some ink-spiration.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a novel by Jane Austen must be in want of more. Even 200 years after her death, the English novelist is not only widely read till date, but also re-read frequently. Her most known work, Pride and Prejudice has been adapted time and again to film and TV. Readers can not only visit but step inside Austen’s country home in Chawton, where she wrote her classics, Pride and Prejudice, Emma , Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey, among others. The home museum now houses first editions of Jane Austen’s books, letters written by her, her personal jewellery collection, bookcases, and gasp, her great writing table. You can also visit her grave in Winchester Cathedral, and later visit the British Library in London to see parts of original manuscripts.
There are only a few places in the world where words like whizzpoppers, scrumplicious and everlasting gobstoppers are not considered gibberish. These include libraries, bookstores and most prominently, Roald Dahl’s home in Great Missenden, a small but wonderful English village. Step inside The Roald Dahl Museum, which celebrates the renowned children’s author’s made-up world. Three interactive galleries take you through his life, giving access to a recreation to his famous Writing Hut, a replica of his cushy writing chair, archives of his works, and workshops. You can smell giant chocolate doors, go through Dahl’s family photos, and create your own stories at workshops here. If you had a faint suspicion that this museum might be for children, you’re right. Although the museum claims to be aimed at 6-12 year olds, we know where we are going when we visit England.
You can also go on a countryside walk around Great Missenden and spot inspirations for many of his characters, including the library that set off Matilda’s love of reading.
In Agatha Christie’s well-plotted books, murders that take place in cold blood in sleepy old English towns, red herrings throw the reader off and nearly always, there is an elaborate reveal of the murderer. You can almost predict the feeling you’ll get by tucking into each of her novels: anticipation, slow thrill and despite the morbid theme, a sense of comfort and familiarity. It is, therefore, no surprise that best known crime writer’s place of birth is of interest and mystery to people around the world. Christie grew up and lived in the town of Torquay for most of her life, where she lived, married, wrote, socialised and spent much of her time. A guided walk takes you through the various spots formed a part of Christie’s private life in this part of the English Riviera. She even based several of her books such as Five Little Pigs in Torquay.
To take a break from her life in Torquay, Christie she often made was to her magnificent summer home in Greenway, which is now open for visitors.
Even through the fictional wizarding world of Harry Potter, JK Rowling has sprinkled England’s countryside with a bit of magic, and we are all the better for it. While there are plenty of places through the country for Potterheads to relive their fandom, one of the most loved spots is The Elephant House, a sprightly coloured cafe in Edinburgh. Rowling is said to have written down the first few manuscripts of Harry Potter here, and today it is decorated with quotes, memorabilia and more Harry Potter love. Rowling also finished the last of her series, The Death Hallows in a room inside Balmoral Hotel, now officially called the JK Rowling suite. Inside the suite is the writing desk upon which she wrote, a cover of the original book and a bust with her signature on it, which she signed in elation of finishing the project; a feeling we can only imagine!
Read more about Harry Potter-spots around the world here.
Most of us have grown up on the fictional feasts of jam and bread, lemonade and midnight picnics by the moonlight, thanks to Enid Blyton. One of the bestselling children’s writers in the world, Blyton has given us books such as The Magic Faraway Tree, Noddy, The Secret Seven and The Famous Five series as well. Despite the popularity (and controversies) that surround her, there is little fuss about Blyton’s hometown. She lived in a small town called Beaconsfield in her home, Green Hedges. It is here that she wrote the Secret Seven and Famous Five series, and if you take a walk around the village, you’ll find a commemorative plaque that was installed in Enid Blyton’s honour in 2014.
You can also visit the beautiful town of Dorset, where Blyton was reportedly inspired to write The Famous Five on a Treasure Island.
A few more:
All of England's a stage for Shakespeare, but you can begin with his birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. You can also explore Charles Dicken's life at the museum at his London home, where he wrote The Pickwick Paper, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.
[article_slug] => from-jk-rowling-to-jane-austen-a-literary-guide-to-england [sub_category] => 6 [none] => none [featured_image] => Elephant-House-Flicr-Kyle-T.jpg [excerpt] => A reader's guide to exploring England's sleepy towns, cobbled village and nooks, the way their favourite authors saw them. Bookmark your favourites! [category] => explore )  => stdClass Object ( [id] => 69055 [title] => A Tryst With The Wild: Into Gujarat’s Wilderness [description] =>
Ibn Battuta once quoted, “Travelling - it leaves you speechless and turns you into a storyteller,” and no better sentiment can encapsulate the feeling of visiting one of the most colourful states in India, Gujarat. Reeling from transcendental chaos, the state has superseded to becoming a much-loved holiday spot because of its architectural delights, ethnic cities, endearing vibe and its food- truly a gastronomical rollercoaster.
And, Gujarat during the Navratri! Well, what a time! Grand events dot the entire state where you see people dressed their best- so charming and colourful. Popular singers croon to songs- old and new and everyone comes together to celebrate the divine power of ‘Shakti’ for nine nights- one for each of Her avatars. Visiting Gujarat during this time truly fills one's heart with joy and is possibly the most popular time of visiting this state.
Amidst these exciting avenues of the state, especially for a visitor, an often brushed aside aspect is Gujarat’s wildlife. Once you delve deeper into its rich flora and fauna, you unfold the multi-layered wilderness of this state that ranges from the lazy sloth bears to the overbearing Asiatic Lion in their natural habit.
Gujarat’s Wildlife - Decoded
So come aboard and take a plunge into this exciting wild world full of blooming flora and majestic fauna. These wildlife gems in Gujarat are worth your while in every way.
Gir Forest National Park: Established in 1965, the dry, deciduous forests of Gir, commonly known as Sasan Gir hide the most splendid wild creatures in the deep. On a safari in this jungle, more often than not, you come face-to-face with the beautiful Asiatic lion, probably the only place in India where you can still find them. To keep you going, there are about 38 species of mammals, over 37 species of reptiles and around 300 species of avifauna that you can find here. Another amazing sight here is the four-horned antelope, a herbivore species of Gir. Among other commonly spotted animals, you will find the Nilgai, Indian leopard, porcupines, and the monitor lizard. Bird species include the endangered Bonelli’s eagle, black-headed oriole and the Indian Pitta, among others. Nearest City: Somnath
Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary: In the little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, sits a wildlife sanctuary in India, the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary. It came under the Wildlife Protection Act in 1972 for being one of the last places on Earth to have the Indian Wild Ass- a sub-species of the endangered wild ass. Among other species, you may spot lizards, turtles, crocodiles, spiders etc. A sea line desert, visiting this sanctuary is a one-of-its-kind experience for anyone who gets saa chance to see around 32 species of animals here. Nearest City: Ahmedabad
Kutch Bustard Sanctuary: Known as the Lal-Parjan Sanctuary, Kutch Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary is one of two sanctuaries in Gujarat protecting the great bustard. The other one is in Jamnagar and has taken it upon itself, along with Kutch Bustard Sanctuary to preserve the heaviest flying bird belonging to the family of Otididae. Locally known as ‘Ghorad,’ the bird is found in three species here - the Lesser Floricans, the Houbara Bustards and the Great Indian Bustard (recorded endangered by the 2009 IUCN Red List Category). While traversing through the natural trails here, you may even spot the wolf, desert cat, caracal, striped hyenas, etc. Nearest City: Bhuj
Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary: A photographer’s paradise, the Blackbuck National Park in Velavadar was established in 1976 and was a famous hunting ground for blackbucks and cheetahs, back in the day, for the Maharajas of Bhavnagar. The grasslands, saline plains and muddy lands of the park is the perfect habitat for the Nilgai, the Indian Grey Wolf, Indian fox, Golden Jackal and the nocturnal striped hyena. A golden canvas with animals playing peek-a-boo, capturing natural beauty on your camera here is an interesting and a rather different experience. Also, an ideal spot for marine flora and fauna, the wildlife sanctuary has three artificial ponds, coastal marshes and two check dams. Birdwatchers especially enjoy a visit to this place with the Painted Francolin, Common Teal, Dalmatian Pelican, Cattle Egret, White Eyed Buzzard that can be easily spotted here. Nearest City: Ahmedabad
Marine National Park, Gulf of Kutch: Within the Marine National Parks lie the 42 islands on the Jamnagar coast. All of them surrounded by reef offer a surreal ambience to this national park where you will find ample marine life. Flora, ranging from sponges to corals and fauna, including seahorses, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, stingrays, bottlenose dolphins, Humpback whales, finless porpoises and sea snakes are all a part of its topography. The best-known island here is Pirotan. Nearest City: Jamnagar
Don’t worry if you just found out about Gujarat’s rich wildlife. Simply get packing and experience the wild side of this state- first hand!
Book your Lion Safari here
For more information on Navratri in Gujarat visit Gujarat Tourism.
For more information on Navratri packages visit Yatra.com[article_slug] => national-parks-and-wildlife-sanctuaries-in-gujarat [sub_category] => 1 [none] => none [featured_image] => Asiatic-lion-Gir-forest-Gujarat_India.gif [excerpt] => Among many Gujarat gems, its rich flora and fauna hold a special place in India’s heart. Gujarat and its wildlife is definitely a match made in heaven. Another version of #RangGujaratKe [category] => explore )  => stdClass Object ( [id] => 69054 [title] => A Day With The Scroll Painters Of Naya [description] =>
A little over 100km from Kolkata, from the highway, Naya looks like any other village of southern West Bengal. Surrounded by agricultural land, the village lies half-hidden among banana and other trees, the homesteads sharing space with ponds and wells. But that is where the similarity ends you realise as you enter the village.
Colourful paintings adorn the walls of the thatched cottages. The courtyards are strewn with artistic stuff, such as pots of colour, paint brushes, and unfinished scrolls. Do not be surprised if you find a woman wielding the paint brush to complete a square frame while the rice boils on a clay oven in an open kitchen. A stop in front of a house may find you being invited inside and as you enter, your host quickly tries to unclutter an old wooden chair or the corner of a bed by shoving away piles of painted scrolls to offer you a seat. A wall on the far side has painted scrolls hanging from wires. As you look around the village, you realise you have reached a place where nearly every household boasts of several artists in the family.
The Patua or Chitrakar are a clan by themselves once found across the districts of Midnapur (now split into two), Birbhum, Bankura and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. Essentially artists, they prepared the painted ‘pata’ (pronounced as ‘pot’) or square-shaped paintings. Although little is known about the origin of the ‘pata’, it is believed that the word originated from the Sanskrit word ‘patta’ meaning cloth. The pata would be made of specially treated stiffened pieces of cloth and painted with natural dyes. One section of these artists, who doubled up story tellers, would make a long scroll divided into many frames depicting scenes from the narrative. These scrolls could be folded up and thus called ‘jorano pata’. In fair weather, especially during festive season, they would travel from village to village, with their portable scrolls. In front of a suitable gathering, they would unfold the long scrolls, frame by frame, and narrate the stories painted on them. In ancient times, tales from religious texts, epic poems and mythologies, formed the bulk of the narratives. Later, they would draw upon contemporary events too to spice up their repertoire.
Not only as traditional painters or narrators of tales, these patua or chitrakar have a unique identity too that speak volumes about India’s religious tolerance. Although the patua or chitrakara paints and narrates stories about Hindu gods and goddesses, they are Muslim by religion. But neither the patua nor their audience have had any problem with that. In fact, during Hindu religious or social functions, they would be invited to perform.
However, incursions by modern forms of entertainment gradually began to take their toll on this traditional practice. Rising costs also forced the artists to abandon their use of the traditional dyes in favour of synthetic colours. Many, especially from the younger generation, began to migrate to more paying professions. Those who continued in the family profession began selling the pata as a decorative item. There were sporadic attempts by welfare organisations to employ these people during campaigns involving nature conservation, health and hygiene, anti-superstition, etc. But there was not enough work to go around.
The art got a fresh lease of life when the Government of West Bengal's Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises & Textiles, in association with UNESCO, decided to develop a Rural Craft Hub in Pingla in Midnapur. Spearheaded by a social enterprise called banglanatak dot com, the artists of Pingla not only began to use traditional dyes but also learned how to market their products as well as use their traditional art in other mediums.
Naya village of Pingla developed into an artists’ village where banglanatak dot com held its first annual craft fair called Pot Maya in 2010. Usually held in winter, the three-day fair is one of the best times to visit the village. Artists turn their courtyards and verandas into sales counters. The itinerant artists give impromptu performances with their jorano pata. Apart from traditional square patas or jorano pata, you will find the art form being used to decorate tee-shirts, caps, umbrellas, bags, lampshades, saris and shawls, book covers, kettles and tea pots, etc. You may also attend workshops to learn how to prepare natural dyes and the traditional style or technique of painting.
Getting there: Naya is 130 km from Kolkata by road. Nearest railway station is Balichak from where you have to travel onwards by road. The best time to visit is winter and during the annual Pot Maya festival (in 2018, the festival will be held from November 16 to 18). Limited accommodation. Tour East (http://toureast.in), an arm of banglanatak dot com conducts package tours during the festival. Carry drinking water and mosquito repellent cream. During th festival, you can have meals at the community kitchen for a fee.[article_slug] => scroll-paintings-by-the-patua-clan-of-west-bengal [sub_category] => 6 [none] => none [featured_image] => 3_-Homes-double-up-as-sales-centers-at-Naya--Pic-Sanjoy-Ganguly.jpg [excerpt] => The traditional ‘jorano pata’ narrative of Bengal go much beyond art, it is a lesson in religious tolerance too. [category] => explore )  => stdClass Object ( [id] => 69053 [title] => Best Places to Visit in Meghalaya When You are There for Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2018 [description] =>
Fiction gets larger than life as Crazy Rich Asians, the book-turned-movie, finally hits the screens in India. The plot follows two Asians settled in America, Nick (Henry Golding) and Rachel (Constance Wu) as they visit Nick’s family in Singapore, who, no spoiler, are crazy rich. While we wait for the film with popcorn-clenched hands, we draw up a few experiences for you in Singapore that let you live like royalty, while the bank balance lasts anyway.
A 24-hour personal butler service, four bathrooms with a Jacuzzi each, a private gym and spa along with a panoramic view of Singapore’s skyline: these are only a few of the luxuries that a night at the Chairman Suite inside Marina Bay Sands grants you. The good life comes at a high price, however, at close to S$ 15,000 a night.
As evening sets and Singapore glitters as it does, you can step into CÉ LA VI, the bar by the popular infinity pool and take a swim while sipping on some bubbly. After all, the rich and the glamorous do.
...on a boat. When you've got nothing holding you back, why limit yourself to land? Throw a blowout party on a rented yacht while you cruise along the water. You can pick a more private 4-seater yacht or one as big as this one that accommodates 40 guests. Food, champagne and the likes will all be taken care of. After you're on board, you can decide to go jetskiing, have a BBQ or simply lay back and look at the view--the world is your oyster.
These cruises start at S$400 an hour, and a five-day cruise would begin at S $ 18,000. Take a look at ONE 15 Luxury Yachting, Yachtly or Blue Star Yachting to make your plans.
Where better to splurge than at Orchard Street, Singapore’s answer to New York’s Saks Avenue? It is the mecca of luxury shopping in Singapore, with more than 30 malls lining the streets and over 200 retail stores. The Ngee Ann City hosts Takashimaya, a mall that has brands such as Burberry, Hermés, to Cartier and Christian Louboutin. ION Orchard has brands like Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Prada, and Miu Miu, among others. There are other malls such as Paragon and Palais Renaiisance. And then there are the individual designer stores that line the road on both sides.
What have you done if not explored the food scene of Singapore yet? From the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world (which is part of a Hawker’s street) to some of the best fine dining restaurants, there’s a lot you can spend your money on. One such Michelin Star restaurant is CUT by Wolfgang Puck, regularly deemed one of the best steakhouses in Singapore. A meal here can easily set you back by 300 dollars per person, and if you choose to go for the rare Hokkaido snow beef to your meal, you can expect that price to go up much higher. Other expensive meals include Waku Ghin, Shinji, Iggy’s where meals can run up to more than $S400 dollars per person.
After all those heavy meals you've eaten, parties you've thrown and shopping bags you've carried back from Orchard Street, you need a little more pampering. Throw yourself in the literal lap of luxury as you visit the best spas of Singapore. You can have a mini-concert during your massage session with a spa with a private cellist at the Ritz Carlton Spa. Or perhaps, visit Turkey in the middle of Singapore at ESPA where Turkish Hammam baths, Japanese-style Onsen baths and rock saunas await you.[article_slug] => 5-things-to-do-in-singapore-like-the-crazy-rich-asians [sub_category] => 3 [none] => none [featured_image] => Screen-Shot-2018-09-19-at-1_23_20-PM-ConvertImage1.jpg [excerpt] => Inspired by the upcoming film, Crazy Rich Asians, we take you through the richest, most luxurious experiences in Singapore [category] => explore ) ) 1