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Real Food Adventure - India Itinerary
Days 1-2 Delhi
Celebrate the beginning of a wonderful culinary tour through India with dinner at the Moti Mahal. Its décor may not wow you but the food surely will. It is impossible to go wrong ordering here but the butter chicken and tandoori dishes are considered by many to be the best in the city. Weave through Old Delhi’s morning streets, watching the colours and sounds of India come alive. First stop is at a chaiwala (tea maker) for a theatrical morning brew, then munch on a spicy egg omelette sandwiched between bread – delicious! Puri bhaji is up next, the breakfast of most locals. Heavenly fried chapatis are used to mop up this delectable spiced potato dish – these are very moreish so they may just become your breakfast of choice! With stomachs satisfied, head to the Jama Masjid, Delhi’s oldest mosque and its most impressive building, as well as the stately Red Fort, which was built in the 17th century. Then, learn about the Sikh religion at a local Sikh temple and be honoured with a vegetarian meal that's served to all visitors. Jump aboard a cycle rickshaw to explore the old city walls before navigating the hustle and bustle of the Chandi Chowk market district. Visit an enormous spice warehouse, where the fascinating process of the unpacking and selling unfolds in front of us. Continue on through gali paranthe wali – the lane of parathas, where these delectable stuffed flatbreads may be too tempting to resist. Swap the cyclo for a train and take Delhi’s outstanding metro to Haus Khaz Village to see a ritzier side of the city. Cafes, artist studios and designer shops show a very different side to Indian life, which has expanded during the country’s economic boom. For a dinner with a difference, choose to visit a traditional Indian family home for a hands-on lesson on making alloo paratha (potato-stuffed flatbreads). Then sit down to eat with this lovely local family and enjoy an evening of conversation and tasty treats.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2
Day 3 Agra
Wake early to catch the train to mesmerising Agra and watch as the sky is painted myriad colours as the sun rises. Little can prepare for the physical beauty of the Taj Mahal. Its domed, marble mausoleum, shimmering walls and intricate carvings and calligraphy are truly exquisite. Rest feet after exploring all angles of this ‘monument to love’ over a lunch of chaat, enticing savoury snacks that are India’s answer to fast food and considered a staple of the Uttar Pradesh food culture. For a real sugar hit, taste Agra’s famous pathe (candy made from white pumpkin). Then it’s off to visit Agra Fort, its origins in the 1000s but converted into a palatial prison in the 1600s for the same emperor who made the Taj Mahal. Its grand redstone walls, marble interiors, Diwan-i-am (public hall) and spacious rooms and gardens are breathtaking. This evening, dine like a Mughal emperor after watching the flavours of Mughlai cuisine come alive during a unique cooking demonstration. Chicken tikka (skewers baked in yogurt ad spices), biriyani (spiced rice), palak panner (cheese in spinach sauce) and korma (spicy creamy sauce for meats) are just some of the inspired dishes to try.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1
Days 4-5 Jaipur
Perhaps rise early to see the sun rise over the Taj Mahal before returning to the hotel for a traditional breakfast. It’s then time to head off into the mystical desert state of Rajasthan and the wondrous city of Jaipur. Named the ‘Pink City’ for its host of pink-hued buildings, Jaipur is magnificent in its whirl of colour, hectic streets and timeworn bazaars. Stop for lunch at a dhaba, a roadside restaurant where food is cooked in traditional clay pots for maximum flavour, then enter Jaipur and take a walking tour of the winding streets and chaotic markets. Bollywood now beckons at a local cinema, where singing, riots of colour and implausible plots are the order of the day. The next morning, wander through the astounding Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), with its 953 jharokkhas windows and latticework resembling blushing honeycomb that allowed royal ladies to look out onto the street without being seen. Then, explore the treasures and stately rooms of the Royal City Palace before heading to Amber and wandering through its splendid hilltop fort. Intricate frescoes, ornate courtyards and mirror palace are breathtaking. After all this exploring, a lunch of kachoris, deep fried balls of bread stuffed with lentils and vegetables, is the perfect pick me up – as are Indian mithais (sweets), and the place we are going to has over 50 tooth-aching choices. Traditional Rajasthani cuisine is born of scarcity of water and the sporadic availability of ingredients and the result is delicious. Learn the tricks behind making some of its most signature dishes at a wonderful cooking class run by a local celebrity chef, which, of course, will be feasted on at the end.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2
Day 6 Jodhpur
Exchange pink-hues for blue in the enchanting city of Jodhpur. Reward tastebuds after a morning of travelling with lunch at a popular local hangout, where chawal ka meetha (moong dal soup) and kadhi (vegetable fritters in gravy) are likely to be on the menu. Be blown away by the Mehrangarh Fort, which sits grandly on a hill and still has the impressions of cannonballs that were hurled during attacks long ago. Fascinating museum pieces are displayed in dazzling rooms and the intricate architecture and sheer size of its grandeur is astonishing. Descend into the Sardar Market and tour its ramshackle alleys. Taste the wildly popular makhaniya lassi, a cardamom and butter tinged yogurt drink. When the sun sets the city is transformed. With the Mehrangarh Fort looming like a beacon high in the distance, a magical quality moves through the streets and it is a delightful place to explore at night.
ACCOM: Heritage Property - 1
Day 7 Heritage Stay
Leave the city behind and become immersed in the rural charms and the ancient desert traditions of Rajasthan. Visit a small village and see the craftspeople plying their trade as has been done for centuries and learn the spices and secrets behind local dishes. Tonight’s accommodation is astounding. It was built in the 17th century as a fortress, then turned into a regal hunting lodge. Dinner tonight is cooked in front of us so see how authentic desert dishes, like ker sangri (spicy bean and berries), gatta curry and lal maas (spicy meat), are made.
ACCOM: Heritage Property - 1
Days 8-9 Udaipur
Leave this stunning part of India behind and head to the spellbinding Jain temples of Ranakpur, built in the 1400s. There are 1444 exquisitely carved pillars, each one is unique, and the detail on the walls, ceilings and shrines are confounding. Move through to the temple’s dining hall to enjoy a meal of Jain cuisine, which is strictly vegetarian and extremely delicious. The ‘City of Lakes’ awaits and on arrival, a city walk gives orientation and insight into this beautiful city. Udaipur has numerous rooftop restaurants so climb some stairs, settle in and watch the sun set over a lake while dining on scrumptious local cuisine. Thali is immensely popular throughout India and this morning’s cooking class demonstrates how to cook the numerous dishes that can go into creating it. Dal, curries, vegetables, chutneys, rice, roti and dessert will all be enjoyed in this thali lunch. If the mood is right, set sail on the waters of Lake Pichola this afternoon and float past the beautiful Lake Palace and charming Jag Mandir Island. Spend the evening at leisure, though the pull of a lakeside sunset and dinner may be too hard to resist.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2
Days 10-11 Mumbai
Fly to Mumbai, India’s biggest metropolis. Get acquainted with the city and perhaps start the journey into local Mangalorean cuisine by snacking on vada pav (deep fried spiced potato patties)– Mumbai’s answer to hot chips/french fries. Take a stroll with local families and courting couples along Marine Drive to Chowpatty Beach for sunset. Snack on the area’s famous bhel puri, a delightfully crunchy mix of puffed rice, noodles, potato, onion and tamarind chutney, then go on a street food crawl of some of the most iconic foods in Mumbai – pani puri (fried pockets filled with potatoes, chickpeas and sprouted lentils) and pav bhaji (vegetable masala in a roll) are firm local favourites – before finishing off the night munching on kebabs in an open-air snack shack behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. Enjoy a Parsi-style breakfast of akuri (Indian scrambled eggs) at a renowned café before being blinded by the lights of Bollywood on a studio tour. Lunch on tasty dosa (thin, crispy pancake) or vada (spicy fritter) at the excellent Café Madras then stop by a traditional coffee house for an invigorating cup of local brew. Be shown around the famous Crawford Markets, seeing the huge array of rice varieties and colourful sights from a local point of view. Taste the fragrant teas of India at the Tea Centre before doing some last minute sightseeing and snack buying for tonight's overnight train trip to Goa.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1, Overnight sleeper train - 1
Days 12-14 Goa
Arrive in the sunny climes of Goa, India’s southwest city of the sun. Take a look around the local market, noticing the delightful tropical fruit and freshness of the fish, before buying what is needed for this afternoon’s cooking class. Cook fish Goan-style and see the Portuguese influences in the spices used, especially the impassioned chilli. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on Goa’s lovely beaches and perhaps dine looking out over the rolling sea. Enjoy a heady morning at a spice plantation, seeing how spices are grown, harvested and ground for use, and have lunch surrounded by heavenly scents. The rest of the afternoon is free to soak up the laidback sights of Goa, shop for souvenirs or relax at the beach. Savour a meal of local seafood and spicy coconut curries and farewell this Indian Real Food Adventure with a toast of fresh fruit lassi or a nip of feni.