INDIAN SPICES, KEBABS & THE CURRIES
Curry and The Kebabs
Introduction: India, the land of foodies!! People in India like to indulge in food right from basic home made to Rich Mughalai food. On this tour, you will have the oppurtunity to experience local home hosted meal to some famous Kebabs and curries of Northern India to coconut oil rich food of Southern India. Come and experience some mind blowing cusinie of India.
Day 01: Arrive Delhi
- Welcome to India!
- Our representative will meet you in the arrival area of the airport after you clear all immigration and custom formalities. Depart for your hotel where you will check in for your stay.
- Delhi stands as the capital of modern India. Here you can see the mingling of the old and new India, the ancient and the modern. Delhi is made up of seven ancient cities, spanning the period from the 11th to 20th centuries. Delhi has seen the rise and fall of many emperors who have left behind a plethora of monuments that commemorate the grandeur and glory of bygone ages. Very few cities in the world can express such a profusion of architectural styles.
Day 02: Delhi
- Master Ji Ki Haveli experience is one of the best ways to discover Old Delhi and ending in having a veg meal with the host is a treat in itself. It’s a half day experience and combines walking + taking cycle Riskshaw ride + interact with locals + tasting local snacks + visiting a local temple + spice and vegetable markets and much more. Its again a sort of group activity, where you meet different people from different countries with one expert leading the tour. (Maximum 08 – 10 people only in one group). This walking tour is an absolute must for every visitor to Delhi, because this not only shows you the hidden secrets of Old Delhi, but will strike deep in your heart about true generosity and passion for life. India is not a place for everyone, but if you dare to take the leap with these amazing people, we guarantee you will never see India the same way again.
- In the afternoon, drive through the city viewing the Diplomatic Enclave, government buildings, Central Secretariat, President’s House and Parliament. We continue to a prominent and magnificent “Gurudwara” the Sikh Temple. Every sikh temple across the world has ‘langar’ (free kitchen). Every day they serve chapati (bread) and lentil (dal), supplemented with vegetables to the devotees/ community.
- While at the Sikh temple, we will visit the Community Kitchen where food is prepared and served free of cost all day and night to thousands of people!! We will get an opportunity to volunteer in the community kitchen.
- Prepare and serve a meal for people from all walks. Volunteering in the cooking, serving and cleaning process is a form of an active spiritual practice for devotees, but the service provided asks no religious affiliation of its recipients. This spirit of inclusion and equality is reinforced by the kitchen’s adherence to vegetarianism, not because Sikhs are vegetarian, but because others who visit may be, and by serving no meat, they exclude nobody.
- Later visit Humayun’s tomb built by the widow of the second Mughal Emperor, Humayun. It is an outstanding monument in the Indo-Persian style, a precursor of the Taj Mahal.
Day 03: Delhi
- First visit Crafts museum which is divided into various galleries. The main galleries are Courtly Crafts, Tribal and Rural Craft Gallery, Textile Gallery, Gallery of Popular Culture, etc. Some of the rare articles are more than 300 years old. Several craftsmen can be seen in the village area of the crafts museum making crafts. Also, museum houses some rare arts, paintings and vintage crafts.
- Later walk through Nizzamuddin Basti (colony), a medieval settlement where the tomb of the famous 13th century Muslim Sufi Saint Nizzamuddin Auliya is located. An underprivileged young adult from this neighborhood and trained by a local NGO will conduct this tour.
- Afternoon visit the Qutab Minar – the five-storied tower with a 14.4 metre base that tapers up to two and a half metres at the top is visible for a long distance around. Pulling down 27 Hindu and Jain temples and using their columns erected the attached Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque also built by him.
- Return to hotel for a quick shower, get dressed for tonight’s dinner and cooking demo at The Tasting home. A perfect blend of soul and sensibility join hands to conjure a tale of tastes and textures.
Day 04: Delhi – Jaipur
- Post breakfast you will depart by surface for Jaipur (approx. 5-6 hours). Enroute visit Samode Palace for lunch. Before lunch you will visit Samode village. Samode is nestled in the foothills of the Aravallis range. This small village offers a relaxed atmosphere away from the polluted, traffic and bustle of city life.
- The village is also famous for the artistic works and the prominent one being the wonderful miniature paintings on old paper. Besides, the rich culture and heritage of this town is equally impressive and the people are warm and friendly thus reflecting their old traditions of holding the guests in high esteem. You will also visit the old bawaries (water well), chhatries, 400 year old gates, forts, temples, gardens and a palace. Besides this, in Samode you will be able to discover a great diversity of local arts and crafts like miniature paintings, lac, iron work, jewellery, leather, carpet weaving, stone cutting etc.
- The lunch will be traditional Rajasthani cuisine. Post lunch continue drive to Jaipur.
- Jaipur is popularly known as the Pink City, thanks to the color of the buildings in the city. The city built in 1727 A.D by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II followed a grid system, which made it the only planned city of its time. A young Bengali architect Vidhyadhar Bhattacharya designed the city in accordance with Shilp Shastra, an ancient Hindu treatise on architecture.
- On arrival at Jaipur, check into the hotel.
Day 05: Jaipur
- In the morning start your tour by visiting the magnificent Amber Fort. It was once the ancient capital of the Rajput Empire. From the road you can climb up to the fort in approximately 10 minutes but a jeep or elephant ride will spare you the trouble of walking up to the fortress. Once on the top, you will stroll with your guide through the sprawling complex of courtyards and halls. Many of the rooms have delightful wall paintings with precious stones and mirrors inlaid in the walls.
- Post lunch we’ll head to Anokhi Museum of Hand Printingand see their comprehensive history of the art of block printing as well as beautiful and historical fabric samples and articles of clothing.
- Evening is reserved for special cooking lesson/dinner with – Thakur Durga Singh, the current custodian of Dera Mandawa who is a keen observer of history, culture, religion, current affairs, and is a bank of knowledge so vast that he has a point of view on anything under the sun.
- He is what one could call a modern traditionalist, actively seeking the use of modern technology and methods to support the principles of traditional living. The inquisitive can have endless conversations with him on a number of his projects like rain –water harvesting, biogas plant, solar heating and, even, healthy cooking. He would be more than delighted to share his experiences with you.
Day 06: Jaipur
- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Later visit the City Palace and Royal Observatory. First visit the City Palace which houses a museum containing rare manuscripts, paintings and an armory. Then, continue on to the Royal Observatory (Jantar Mantar) built in the 17th century by Jai Singh, a famous astronomer. The observatory has a 900-foot-high sundial. The Central museum founded in 1876 has a large collection of antiques. Later drive past the Hawa Mahal also known as the “Palace of Winds”.
- Hawa Mahal built in a unique design is the landmark of Jaipur and was used by the ladies of the court to watch the daily goings on in the street below. The pink sandstone carvings are extremely intricate and it is a great place to take pictures.
- From its creation in 1727, the royal families and nobles of Jaipur patronized the craftsmen and artisans of the city. These traditions continue to this day and as a result many people consider modern day Jaipur as the craft capital of India. Traditional methods are still used to produce many valuable and highly prized items. Using skills passed down through generations, artisans and master craftsmen can be seen in the areas of Ghat Darwaza and Vishveshwar ji.
- On this afternoon walk mingle and talk with the locals while learning about some of the regions culinary delights: pakoras, aloo tiki, samosa and sweets from some of the city’s most popular street food vendors. Observe local artisans in their workshops; jewelers and silversmiths, gold and silver foil makers. You also have the option of seeing and trying the art of Henna painting.
Day 07: Jaipur – Lucknow
- Morning will be free to shop.
- Afternoon assisted departure transfer to the airport in time to board flight for Lucknow. (9W 2830 – 1550/1720 hours)
- Upon arrival in Lucknow, met and transfer to the hotel.
- Lucknow ‘The City of Nawabs’ is an intriguing blend of old world charm, warm hospitality, courteous people, beautiful architecture and rich heritage. The city also is the centre for Chikan embroidery, renowned for its timeless grace and gossamer delicacy; it is a skill more than 2000 years old.
Day 08: Lucknow
- Morning, we embark upon a city tour of Lucknow. Visit Lucknow Residency, a place where speechless walls are known to speak the tale of the 1857 mutiny. The sprawling British campus witnessed nothing less than 3000 deaths to keep the Union Jack flying. In the compound, we will see the trees, bullet sprinkled walls, unusable canons, worn out firearms that were witness to the mutiny. We also visit the graveyard of the named and unnamed soldiers who gave up their lives in the defense of The Residency.
- Drive past Sadat Ali Tomb and the ‘Chatar Manzil’ – a part of this palace was built by a French architect, Claude Martin and visit ‘Asifi Imambara, the gateway of world’s most unique architecture. Built by Nawab Asif-ud-Daula’, this monument has the world’s biggest pillarless hall. Also see the ‘Rumi Darwaza’ or the Turkish Gate and the Asfi Mosque.
- Later we will visit the Husainabad Complex – the Clock Tower is the highest Clock Tower in Asia and in some ways superior to its counterpart, ‘Big Ben’. Today the clock stands motionless. We further enter the ‘Babylon of East’, the Husainabad Imambara – known for its beauty and pieces of décor. This was built in 1840 by Mohammad Ali Shah and is still considered to be a sacred address by the natives. See the beautiful chandeliers, silver seat, sandalwood décor and calligraphy on the walls.
- Stop for lunch at a local restaurant, The Royal Café and try out the fusion cuisine at this eatery that once served the American and the British soldiers during the world war times. Today this restaurant is extremely popular with the locals and tourists alike.
- Post lunch, we have scheduled an exclusive session with the Nawab over an afternoon tea. Here you will get a chance to interact with the Nawab Sahib and know about some secret and extinct recipes from the Avadhi kitchen.
- Evening, you will walk to the Akbari Gate for a Culinary Walk. During the walk, we will get the opportunity to sample the best dishes from the Awadhi menu from the places, where they actually originated. We will sample the original Tundey Kebabs, Raheem’s Nihari and Mobeen’s Pasanda Observe the chef’s at work in these small and dingy shops that serve mouth watering delicacies. Our culinary curator will explain the history and the recipe of each of these dishes.
- End this meal with local “Paan” Betel leaf with areca nut. Paan is chewed as a palate cleanser and a breath freshener. It is offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality and at the beginning of social events. It has a symbolic value at ceremonies and cultural events in India.
Day 09: Lucknow
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Morning, start on a guided visit to the architectural marvel of age, La Martiniere College which was designed by the Frenchman Major-General Claude Martin as a palatial home. The Boys College is the only school in the world to have been awarded “Royal battle of honors” for its role in defense of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.
- Later drive to ‘Chowk‘ the oldest market place of Lucknow to shop for the unique crafts of this Nawabi City. Walk in the by-lane of Chowk called ‘Gol Darwaza’ –the market place that is known to house the best of handicrafts and Chikan Chiken is a unique craft where the craftsman work delicately on unique styles and stitches on very light cotton fabric. Then, on to Dhobi Ghat to see the freshly laundered chikan embroidered clothes and Kotwara House to see the collections of Muzaffar & Meera Ali.
- This evening visit Coquina – an experiential dinning place. This is a kitchen where you will learn to cook yourselves under expert supervision and dine here as well. Post dinner return to your hotel.
Day 10: Lucknow – Kolkata
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Later assisted departure transfer to the airport in time to board flight for Kolkata. (6E 875 – 1150/1315 hours)
- Arrive Kolkata and transfer to the hotel your stay.
- Later proceed for walking tour of KNOWLEDGE STREET. Walk past the university and the educational institute dating back to 1817 we will stop by a local sweet and snacks place, to have the first taste of a simple bengali snack item with a story behind the recipe. Also have a cup of INFUSION (infused coffee, loved by the students and writers, frequenting the place.
Day 11: Kolkata
- After breakfast visit Flower Market experience the hustle and bustle amidst the colorful displays and sensory delights and truly feel the essence of the City of Joy. The Mullick Ghat Flower Market is a must see especially for first time visitors of Kolkata. From here you will get perfect picture of the famous Howrah Bridge.Head towards the market for the shopping expedition and the first stop will be the Spice/Masala market where you will indulge in finding the secret to the mouth-watering Indian cuisines.
- Proceed further to the wholesale fruit market at Machua, filled with fresh fruits as well as local vendors and shoppers. Later on you will visit Burra Bazaar, meaning “big market” in English. As most of the eastern India feeds on this market, it is always busy and full of activities. Proceed to the College Street of Kolkata, famed for its books and believed to be Asia’s largest book market. The market is also known as Boi Para (Book Market) in the local language and is a testament to the widespread reading culture of the people in Kolkata. Find your favorite books along with leather items, footwear, musical instruments and many more locally made products. As the heat starts to rise, let’s take a break and get a cup of coffee at a beautiful coffee house built during the British Raj. As your guide takes you through the history of this magnificent city, proceed to Kumortuli , the potter’s colony of Kolkata.
- You will witness craftsman making hundreds of clay idols without using any modern day machinery. These idols are moulded into Gods and Goddesses and used in the temples for ceremonial rituals. Learn from your guide the traditional significance of these clay items. Then lastly visit Pareshnath Jain temple. Jain temples are known for being some of the most highly decorated of any in India, and the Pareshnath Jain Temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) is one of the most resplendent.
- Built by art enthusiast Ray Badridas Bahadur in 1867, the temple interior is filled with intricately patterned marble, mirrors, stained glass, European chandeliers and gilded surfaces.
- The pastel candy-colored buildings are subdivided into four smaller temples, set within a garden dotted with silvered statuary, fountains and mosaics. The main temple is dedicated to Sitalnathji, one of the 24 sages believed to have achieved Nirvana (tirthankaras) in the Jain religion, and houses an eternal flame in his honor.
- Evening, cocktail with Painter SUDHANGSHU BANERJEE or, poet SHARMILA RAY (writes in English. She is also Head of the Department Historian City College, Kolkata).
Day 12: Kolkata
- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Later proceed for walking tour of Hungry Road
- This walk introduces you to the Bengal/Kolkata culture through its street foods and heritage eateries. Accompanied by our master storyteller you would walk and ride a tram to the specialized eating joints famous for certain recipes. Along with this gastronomical adventure, we will fill you up with interesting facts from history, stories and anecdotes about the food culture of the city which will give you a completely different perspective of this multi-layered, multi-ethnic and multi-racial entity which we call Kolkata.
- Afternoon visit The Missionaries of Charity’s Mother House that is a holy place of pilgrimage and reverence for those who are searching for a more meaningful existence. It was established by the Blessed Mother Teresa in 1950 with the purpose of selfless service to mankind and to uplift the plagued humanity towards the path of salvation. After Mother Teresa left her mortal body in 1997, she was laid to rest in a tomb inside the house where she lived and served. The site of the tomb is very simple yet it exudes enormous amount of benign and pure vibration that fills the heart with gratitude and peace.
- Attached to the building, a small museum named ‘Mother Teresa’s Life, Spirit and Message’ displays Mother Teresa’s worn sandals, battered enamel dinner-bowl, sari, crucifix, rosary, a few handwritten letters and spiritual exhortations. The ‘Mother’s room’ is preserved in all its simplicity with a crown-of-thorns above her modest campbed.
Day 13: Kolkata – Mumbai – Cochin
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Later assisted departure transfer to the airport in time to board flight for Cochin via Mumbai. (9W 472 – 0915/1210 hours & 9W 403 – 1320/1530 hours)
- Known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, Cochin is a cluster of islands on the vast expanse of the Vembanad Lake. The Lake opens out into the Arabian Sea to form one of the finest natural harbors in the world. It is this natural advantage that has made Cochin a fascinating blend of the cultures and influences of explorers and traders. The Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British have all left their mark here. The Jewish synagogue, the Dutch palace, the Chinese fishing nets, and other remnants of European and Asian architecture merge smoothly into the traditional fabric of the seaport city.
- Upon arrival at Cochin, you will be met and transferred to the homestay located at outskirts of Cochin City.
Day 14: Cochin
- Morning is reserved for a walking tour of the Fort Cochin area.
- This walking tour is an eye opener to the minute details of the old town. It definitely pulls you back to 14th century. Fort Cochin is said to have formed in the 1340’s due to cataclysmic floods.
- Fort Cochin being the natural gateway to the Kochi harbor grew in importance as travelers from far and wide came to Kochi: the Arabs, the Chinese, the Dutch and the Portuguese. The large rain trees, beautiful colonial buildings, streets lined with many shops, dining options, the Chinese fishing nets, the Parade Ground, the Jain temple, the beach area, St. Francis Church, the Vasco house, the narrow lanes of Mattanchery and the fruit and vegetable markets all make this an interesting area.
- Meeting Balamani from a Brahmin Family
- You will walk with your guide to meet Balamani at her house. She will make a kolom in front of her house. This is a daily ritual for them and is considered to bring goodness to the house.
- Early afternoon proceed for cooking demonstration followed by lunch with local family.
Day 15: Cochin – Alleppey
- Today post breakfast you will be transferred to Alleppey, (approx. 02 hours) where you will board the houseboat for overnight stay while exploring the backwaters.
- A visit to Kerala is incomplete without a visit to the backwaters. A series of canals, which thread their way through the state to the sea, it allows you a glimpse of life in Kerala impossible to get from road transport. Along the way you will pass rice fields, tiny villages, boats transporting children to school and farmers transporting their produce to the market, and women completing household tasks such as laundry and washing utensils.
- You will disembark from the boat to wander in the villages and talk to the people. At night the boat will anchor mid-stream, and your meals will be specially prepared by the crew from freshly bought produce.
- Kettuvalloms were the original transportation of Kerala, boats used to transport produce. With the advent of vehicular traffic, these slowly became redundant. Eventually the craft was revived and today these boats are used to tour the backwaters. They are made completely of natural material (wood and thatch) and have a bedroom and a sit out. The room is decorated using local material and artifacts. Each room has an attached shower and bathroom.
Day 16: Alleppey – Cochin – Mumbai
- Breakfast on board the houseboat.
- Later assisted departure transfer to the Cochin airport to board flight for Mumbai. (6E 215 – 1350/1555 hours)
- Mumbai is a city of dreams, the glamor of the movie world, and the razors edge of the skyscrapers to the mainland of the harbor. People here come from diverse ethnic backgrounds yet nurture the dream of success. Their undying spirit adds color and flavor to this multicultural city. A throbbing, cosmopolitan metropolis, it still retains the glory of the past, the colonial legacy that coexists with the Maratha influence. Still considered as the heart of business India, Mumbai houses the country’s vibrant Stock Exchange. The Gateway of India is almost literally a symbol of entry into the country by sea or air.
- Arrive and transfer to your hotel
Day 17: Mumbai
- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Later proceed for orientation tour of the city where you will drive past Marine Drive, Mumbai’s most popular seaside promenade, and see the Kamla Nehru Park and Hanging Gardens on the slopes of the Malabar hills, offering a nice view of the marine lines and the Chowpatty beach. Visit the Jain temple & drive past the Flora Fountain, the colorful Crawford Market and Victoria Terminus train station.
- Later proceed to experience the street food of India. Mumbai and its street food share a rather delicious history. Over the years, immigrants from all over the country have come into the city of dreams and left a lasting impression on its culture. More importantly though, on its food. Not only has Mumbai taken to its bosom recipes from other states, but also invented dishes of its own. The Pav Bhaji is one such example.
- The leftovers vegetables from the previous night were used by enterprising restaurateurs, to create a vegetable mash or Bhaji. These were sold on the streets to hungry mill workers, whose odd working hours prompted a street food revolution in the city. This particular dish was accompanied with the Portuguese bread called Pav.
- This dish with humble origins, has crossed state borders over the years, and has become the most beloved street food of the nation. The Tour titled ‘Khau Gully’ literally translated as the food lane, is an ode to the street food in Mumbai.
- Starting with the spice market (closed on Monday), this tour takes you into the heartland of Mumbai’s street food and gives you cultural insights into the city. Sample some delicious treats amidst colourful street street stalls at Girgaon Chowpatty, take a sip of tea in an hundred year old Irani Cafe and take a bite of colourful snow cones among other street knick knacks.
Day 18: Depart Mumbai
- Breakfast at the hotel
- Later assisted departure transfer to the airport to board flight for onward destination.
Note : The sightseeing/Food tours, Schedules and routing might get altered/changed at the last minute due to unforseen circumstances or travel logistics. If any changes is to be made, will be informed and updated to guests in advance.