Divine Summoning – Shirdi Visit

‘Bulaawaa aya hai’ – This is often said about visits to holy places in India. What this means is that you never decide to visit spiritual sites, but you are called to it… 

Something like this happened to me too. My sister and her family had come over, or in hindsight, I am quite sure it was the Almighty’s way of preparing us for a visit to seek the blessings of the Divine… Also meeting a dear friend Ratan and his wife Sharvari was long due. 

So, as it happened, it was decided to visit Shirdi. This definitely wasn’t our first trip to Shirdi, but quick getaways like these are always welcome.  

On reaching Nashik, we checked into Courtyard by Marriott Nashik. 

Day 1 

After resting for some time, we set out to visit the first item on our itinerary – Nashik’s pride and India’s famous, Sula Vineyards. 

The vineyard was lush green and the setting sun cast a light pink hue across the sky. Truly, a magnificent sight. 

The majority of the latter half of the day was spent outdoors, extensively touring the vineyard and the property. We returned for dinner that was hosted at my friend’s place. My dear friend, his family and a few local friends had laid out a delicious spread. There was a mutton preparation, a prawn curry and other vegetarian preparations like khandvi, paatra and the dinner staple, rice. 

I must admit, it feels great to be pampered occasionally and when it’s from your dear friend, the event becomes even more special.  

After a hectic day and a fabulous feast, we were back to our hotel and retired to bed. 

Day 2 

Next on our agenda was the visit to Shirdi Sai Baba Devasthan. We started for the temple visit first thing in the morning. The temple authorities gave me and my family a warm welcome. We attended the Madhyan Aarti. The authorities then showed us around the temple premises and also took us to a special room.  

I was also escorted to the Prasadalaya, as the temple authorities wanted me to sample their Prasad and food and were keen to have my feedback on the same. I visited the various sections of the Prasadalaya, such as the storehouse, the main kitchen and the Annadaan Hall. Crates of prasad were lined up in the hall. I interacted with the Head of Kitchen, who gave me a round-up of the operations in the kitchen. I sampled the food and gave them my feedback. 

 I must admit that due hygiene standards were followed by the staff at the premises. 

On our return journey from Shirdi, we stopped at Yeola, a taluka in Nashik famous for its Paithani sarees. Paithanis are a local traditional handloom weave. Alyona and my sister picked up some paithanis. 

Day 3    

Courtyard by Marriott Nashik prepared a special fare for us. Besides their generous hospitality and delectable fare, we also had misal, and Maharashtra’s favorite street food, vada pav

While in Nashik, next on our list was taking darshan at the Trimbakeshwar Jyotirling Mandir. The Shiva temple is among the 12 jyotirlingas in the country. We toured the ancient temple premises built by Peshwa Balaji Bajirao III on the site of an old temple. 

Later, the main priest of the temple hosted us at his residence, where again we were treated to a sumptuous fare.  

On our return from Trimbakeshwar, we stopped at Grape County in Anjaneri for a coffee break. The Grape County is a sprawling eco-resort, with amazing stay options.  

We were now nearing the close of our Nashik trip. Another important item to tick off on our itinerary was paying a surprise visit to my aunt and cousin. On reaching their house, they were overjoyed to have us as it was long since we last met them. Lots of conversations followed and of course, food. 

All in all, we had a wonderful time. 

Save Soil to Save Life!

On my visit to the Isha Foundation, Sadhguruji’s Ashram, I decided to spend some time meditating and reflecting upon myself. Just as I sat down, a gust of air tickled my ears and that made me think, even this playful wind has such a big role to play in our daily life. Generous mother nature bestows us with so much, but do we really do justice to it?

Not enough, it seems. The problems of air pollution, climate change and water scarcity are sky rocketing with each passing day, and so is the concern of soil health!

Soil is “the only magic material that turns death into life,” says Sadhguruji. All humans, animals and plants, require soil to thrive, just like any other element. However, we often take it for granted despite being aware that life wouldn’t be the same without this precious soil!

Especially being a chef, I really cannot imagine how we can ever attain an organically rich diet without the nutrient rich soil. It is because of the soil that the plants attain adequate minerals and nutrients, which then makes its produce full of nourishment. So, it is high time we give soil the attention it deserves. We must look after the soil health now if we wish to have a diet full of nutrient rich food tomorrow, as simple as that.

I am absolutely grateful for the global movement launched by Sadhguruji- Save Soil, to address the soil crisis. Indeed, we need to come together and take steps collectively to ensure soil health. By doing so, I’m sure we can make a difference. I am obliged and absolutely encouraged to take part in promoting this vital cause.

This is not any agitation, but as a Chef and a responsible citizen, I consider it is my topmost responsibility to do so. Hence, I promise to stand by and make enough noise about the soil. On that note, I want to request everyone to join in and take actions to safeguard our future by safeguarding soil health today.

Save Soil. Let us make it happen!

Warm up with these dishes on a cold winter night!

Winter is here and so are a number of vegetables that we wait for all year round. Starting from sarson to red gajar, fresh peas to fresh greens, every single vegetable that comes around during this season creates absolutely delectable dishes that you cannot resist.

The winter season calls for meals that provide comfort and make you feel cosy while also being extremely flavorful. Every cuisine has a certain set of dishes, flavours, and aromas that are incredibly delectable and will surely make your mouth water till you eat a bite.

In order to make your winter season the best so far, I have created a list of recipes that will ensure your stomach is well fed and your palette is the happiest it’s ever been:

Mustard (Sarson) is a winter delicacy that is grown in abundance during the winter season. Hailing from the fields of Punjab, this dish is more than relished across the nation. Sarson da Saag goes hand in hand with makki ki roti that is topped with butter/ghee.

Everyone across the globe is thankful to Gujarat for introducing this exquisite dish, Undhiyo, to the world. This is a wholesome dish that is prepared with a number of vegetables based on choice and is loved, relished, and savoured by people in every corner of the world.

The earthy flavours of Mushrooms and the freshness of matar harvested in winter make for a wholesome and delicious dish. Prepared in an onion tomato gravy, this dish will definitely be the highlight of your dinner spread.

Red carrots when prepared with methi, creates an aromatic dish that one cannot get enough of. The winter season calls for a dish prepared with red carrots that are available in the market only during this season. The sweetness of the carrot mixed with the slightly bitter and tangy taste of methi ensures that this dish will make your winter season a big hit!

Radish or Mooli can be consumed as a salad before lunch or cooked in a recipe for any meal of the day. Imagine- a cup of tea in the morning with a side of mooli paratha for breakfast- seems exciting, doesn’t it? This recipe is very simple to prepare and extremely delicious to consume on a cold winter day.

This winter season brings with it a whole lot of festivals and a lot more fun. This season, treat your palette to aromatic, wholesome, and delectable dishes that will make the end of your year the best.

So, now you know that during these winters, this recipe list will be your go to not just to fill your stomach but to relish every single meal.