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FOODIE’S SPECIAL

Dubrovnik

Europe’s new culinary capital Food Walks

&

Where To Find Them

In Delhi, Kolkata & Mumbai

Fantastic Feasts G U JA R AT | D E N M A R K | TA I WA N | A R U N AC H A L P R A D E S H | G R E E C E


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June2018 VOL. 6 ISSUE 12

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THE ITINERARY

25 dreamy destinations for sun worshippers, rum sippers and deep divers

20 WHERE’S MY PASSPORT? Travelling for food? A self-confessed foodie busts some myths

26 BEND IT LIKE WENDY American Indologist Wendy Doniger on peeling off the layers in India

52 THE GRAND BUDAPEST BINGE From neo-baroque baths to hearty local meals, the Hungarian capital pleases all

22 CREW CUT A nihari-lover remembers a Ramzan of simpler tastes in Mumbai

32 COLOUR ME KUTCH Generations-old crafts and art livens the desert of Kutch in Gujarat

58 LOOKING BEYOND THE

24 FREEWHEELING How to see London through a different eye

40 MAD ABOUT MOSAICS IN ITALY Some of the world’s best mosaic art lies in 1,500-year-old churches in Ravenna

SKIPS A BEAT

LITTLE MERMAID

In Copenhagen, an energetic population is upping the cool quotient

TUUL & BRUNO MORANDI/THE IMAGE BANK/GETTY IMAGES

VOICES

46 THE CARIBBEAN NEVER


Regulars 18 Editorial | 136 Travel Quiz

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THE FOCUS 66 UNDER AFRICAN SKIES Wild adventures and a shocking discovery on a walking safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park

ON THE COVER A meal holds so much promise— there are multiple helpings of shared taste, banter and backstories flow freely with Fantastic Feasts glasses of wine; worlds have shrunk and grown over the creamiest of desserts. This photograph captures the potency of great food, whether it is shared or devoured alone, in the shiniest or simplest of places, served with a side of heart. J U N E 2 0 1 8 • ` 1 5 0 • VO L . 6 I S S U E 1 2 • N AT G E O T R AV E L L E R . I N

THE

FOODIE’S SPECIAL

Dubrovnik

Europe’s new culinary capital Food Walks

&

Where To Find Them

In Delhi, Kolkata & Mumbai

G U JA R AT | D E N M A R K | TA I WA N | A R U N AC H A L P R A D E S H | G R E E C E

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THE ADDRESS 80 WHERE TIME FLOWS BACKWARDS

Four Fort Kochi homestays that offer cosy nooks and a strong sense of time travel 84 CALL OF THE KABINI On the trail of the river—and a black panther—near a forest lodge in Karnataka

FRANCESCO RICCARDO IACOMINO/MOMENT/GETTY IMAGES (DESERT) SOLSTOCK/E+/GETTY IMAGES (COVER)

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THE DESTINATION

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Kitchen tales and lessons in traditional Apatani cooking in the Ziro valley 101 MUNCHING THROUGH THE METROS

88 CHAMPIONS OF GOOD TASTE Why food connoisseurs must make the 100-foot journey to dine at the table of these 10 trendsetting chefs across the globe

Breaking bread with the Kabuliwallahs of Delhi; a bite of nostalgia in the cabins of Kolkata; no-frills vegetarian thalis in Mumbai—food walks fit for the soul

94 WRAPPED UP IN DOLMADES A Greek mezze favourite, the classic Mediterranean finger food packs a punch of flavour

110 DUBROVNIK: SUN, SEA, SAVOUR Croatian charisma and a feast of flavours in Europe’s next great dining destination 120 INDIA ON HIS PLATTER 10 dishes that make Chef Thomas Zacharias go weak in the knees

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THE JOURNEY 126 TANTALISINGLY TAIWAN The Hengchun Peninsula is playground for curious creatures, hikers, bikers and birdwatchers 132 VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE WORLD

A trek in Sri Lanka’s Horton Plains National Park reveals one of the world’s rarest ecosystems—the cloud forest—and a dizzying surprise

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Editorial lakshmi sankaran

GETTING SAUCY ABOUT FOOD

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(perhaps, it was the glass of red) and scanned the chalkboard menu for more adventurous fare. “Bring us the steak!” we declared. When our substantial cuts of beef arrived, it was soon revealed that we had held our appetite in unwarranted esteem. At the end of that meal, Goutillon’s server—a stern, nononsense woman—took an eyebrow-cocked look at our barely empty dishes and shook her head in disapproval. A local hotel manager later reminded us of our misplaced bravado. “Oh yeah, I heard about the Indians who didn’t finish their steak!” he giggled. France 2; India 0. In this time’s food special though, India’s showing is strong. Bombay Canteen’s Chef Thomas Zacharias, a flagbearer for all things desi, picks his top 10 must-haves from across the country. A devout traveller, he dishes on where you can seek out the finest haleem and unforgettable curries. We explore subcultures in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai through three different food walks. Writer Reema Islam pens a heartfelt ode to dolmades, the Grecian staple that is intertwined with her own history of growing up in Libya and Bangladesh. Antoine Lewis gathers a list of kitchen maestros, from Alex Atala to a reclusive monk in South Korea, each of whom are worth a pilgrimage. Ardent gourmands might also want to consider Dubrovnik, which in writer David Farley’s words, is Europe’s emerging food capital. As you can tell by the examples above, we were guided by pure gluttony this time.

Tetra Images/getty images

Forget the battles for identity being waged around the world, food drives everyday culture wars

or my money, memorable disagreements often centre on food. A friend who was about to settle abroad was feeling particularly wistful about a storied south Bombay restaurant, the kind of eatery that locals like to call “overrated” and guidebook-toting tourists faithfully make a beeline for. His favourite on the menu? The baklava—a dry fruit-laden traditional sweet that smacked of decadence in every bite. The first time he requested for the dessert at the restaurant, its eccentric owner was not impressed. Sizing up his credentials, he asked, “Have you had baklava before?” “Yes.” “Where?” “In Turkey.” Suspicions confirmed, the gentleman chided him. “Arre baba, that is the Turkish baklava. This is the Iranian one…” What followed was a 10-minute tutorial on the precise ways in which they differed, part-comical and part-endearing. Forget the grand battles for identity being waged around the world, food drives everyday culture wars. They are infinitely more interesting and the only injury caused is to one’s pride—we could all use some schooling on that front. Besides, unlike spikier tiffs, these usually end in smiles and a knowing wink. Last year I was perusing dinner options at Le Goutillon, an unpretentious French bistro in the heart of Chantilly. After four days in the country, most of my companions were satisfied with their fill of meat and wine, and chose conservatively. However, I and another compatriot were feeling emboldened

our mission National Geographic Traveller India is about immersive travel and authentic storytelling, inspiring readers to create their own journeys and return with amazing stories. Our distinctive yellow rectangle is a window into a world of unparalleled discovery.

​Write to me at natgeoeditor@ack-media.com or Editor, National Geographic Traveller India, 7th Floor, AFL House, Lok Bharti Complex, Marol Maroshi Road, Andheri East, Mumbai- 400059. May 2018 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA

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VOICES CREW CUT

THE GRINCH’S GUIDE TO RAMZAN

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ow! You must be bingeing till sunrise, no? Kebabs, keema, chops?” “Oh yes! Totally,” would be my rehearsed response to my curious carnivorous Catholic friends in the college foyer. “You see… come Ramzan and Allah blesses us with three stomachs, two aortas and Padma Lakshmi’s metabolism.” “What ya man, Humaira,” they’d laugh awkwardly and then pop the question—“So when are you taking us to Minara?” For the uninitiated, the eponymous 500-metre stretch leading to the pistachio green-domed Minara Masjid, is where much of Bombay convenes to indulge in an artery-choking food orgy every Ramzan. Expats come to exoticise Mozlim food in a Mozlim ghetto. Nikon-garlanded food bloggers congregate to expand their portfolios and midriffs. Foodie friends and pile-ons drag that one Muslim friend here to devour platefuls of fiery bheja masala, greasy keema baida roti and steaming quail tandoori. The bird is grilled fresh after it is retrieved from cages festooned outside stalls where surma-eyed men compete for your attention and what’s in your wallet. Year-on-year, when elbowing through crowds for Zam Zam’s tawa mutton pulao and Suleman Usman Mithaiwala’s phirni became impossible, I started taking colleagues to the less-hyped Bohri Mohalla. Settled by the food-loving Dawoodi Bohra community, a 20-minute walk from Minara Masjid, gluttony here came minus the grind. Shorter queues, great variety, well-priced menus. In taste, the treats were on par with Minara: Haji Tikka’s heavenly gurdakaleji, Tawakkal’s rabdi-slathered malpua and Taj Ice Cream’s creamy, hand-churned seasonal flavours. Sitaphal in winter. 22

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Mango in May. Sadly, and more recently, Bohri Mohalla, too, has transformed into a mini-Minara, thanks to the astronomical interest in Bohra cuisine fuelled by a slew of well-marketed food start-ups. So much so that it is now an ‘alternative location’ for overprized Ramzan food walks. Sure, during Ramzan, Minara Masjid is to Bombay what Chandni Chowk is to Delhi or Zakaria Street to Calcutta. But Bombay has Bollywood. So when stars such as Katrina Kaif descend, buffed bodyguards in tow, the frenzied WhatsApp updates make you want to reach for popcorn. Growing up in Mohammed Ali Road though, this isn’t how I remember the two neighbourhoods. Much before this brazen commercialisation crept in, the two localities embodied a spirit of Ramzan that was simpler and more soulful. *** It was an unspoken pact between me and my father. As a little girl, I’d wait for him to get back from office, a tad earlier than usual, so we could go iftar shopping to Bohri Mohalla and be back home in time to break bread to the muezzin’s call. To give business to the dozens of skullcapped vendors peddling fruits, we’d buy bulky melons and papayas from one and bananas and translucent green grapes from another. The main street used to be flanked by carts that popped up only during Ramzan. Blissful bowls of dahi vada; pinkand-yellow falooda mix; greenish-black patrelia, a cocoyam leaves-mutton snack— it was a sensory explosion. My favourite was naan sandwich, a mutton-potato mixture stuffed between two palm-sized naans. Intoxicating aromas, medley of sounds and flavours... the bonhomie of Bohri Mohalla is what I now terribly miss.

Minara Masjid, on the other hand, was a diva even then. But back in the day you didn’t feel like a sardine in a pack, navigating in and out of fairy-lit, qawwali-blaring alleyways. Local residents, too, went there to partake in the celebrations, especially on chaand raat, the night when the sighting of the elusive crescent moon heralds Eid. One Ramzan evening my family decided to dine at the newly opened Chinese N Grill, a restaurant that had calculatedly invested in ticker ads on the local cable TV network. Going by the name, sizzlers seemed safe. I still remember how the tripping chicken on the hotplate had set me off on a sneezing spree. It was the next thing we ordered that changed my life. It was that Ramzan evening when, as a 12-year-old, I fell in love with nihari. So much so that I wanted to roll, rise, and roll again in the slow-cooked beef stew (luckily nobody had a beef with beef then). This must be early 2000s. Today, a meal at Chinese N Grill is preceded by a wait time of at least an hour. In Ramzan, catch two. To avoid the circus, I now take friends to inconspicuous haunts where nobody needs to wade through a sea of sweaty diners. Best? I ring up Chinese N Grill, order nihari and call friends over. Between the marrow and meat, I love how every morsel rekindles childhood memories of a Ramzan that was more substance and less pretence.

humaira ansari is Senior Associate Editor at NGTI. She loves nihari, neighbourhood walks and urban nightlife. She travels with an open mind and lots of earbuds.

HINDUSTAN TIMES/CONTRIBUTOR/HINDUSTAN TIMES/GETTY IMAGES

A NIHARI-LOVER’S ODE TO A MONTH THAT ONCE HAD MORE SOUL THAN SENSATION


The itinerary conversation with Wendy Doniger

Bend it Like Wendy in a freewheeling chat, american indologist wendy Doniger talks about travelling third class in india and speaking Sanskrit in Moscow BY Bhavya Dore

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endy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago, first became fascinated by India as a child and went on to study the Hindu scriptures and mythology. Doniger, 77, has written and translated more than 40 books including those on the Kama Sutra, dharma, folklore and other aspects of religion and myth. Her most recent book is The Ring of Truth: And Other Myths of Sex and Jewelry. Her 2009 book, The Hindus: An Alternative History was at the heart of a controversy in India and was taken to court. Edited and condensed excerpts from a phone interview:

What first fascinated you about India as a child? Among the first books I read about India when I was about 12 years old was

E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India. And I was fascinated by the way that Hindus and Muslims seemed to be deeply religious people and the landscape itself was permeated with these religious feelings—the wonderful caves and the

mosques on the banks of the river. After that I became more interested in the stories and images. Eventually I wanted to go to India to see all the places I had been reading about. When I went initially I went to study the scriptures with a pundit. I wanted to work on the Puranas—that was what my dissertation was about—and the great expert was in Calcutta. I had just finished my undergraduate degree and I was beginning my Phd. My professor sent me to India. He felt, as I did, that I shouldn’t go on reading about India any longer without seeing it. So I went to the pundit and he invited me to his house and gave me some tea and then said he couldn’t work with a woman! So there I was in India with a full year of funding and no academic programme. Since I couldn’t study in Calcutta as I had planned to, I used the year to see India. And I went June 2018 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA

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Dinodia Photo/Passage/getty images (Temple), Rick Friedman/Corbis Historical/getty images (author)

The Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in Khajuraho (top) holds architectural wonders that fascinated writer Wendy Doniger (bottom) as a student.


THE ITINERARY GUJARAT

COLOUR ME KUTCH AMID THE MILKY EXPANSE OF THE SALT DESERT IN KUTCH, GENERATIONS OF ARTISTS IN SMALL VILLAGES NURTURE CENTURIES-OLD ART AND CRAFTS BY RUMELA BASU

here. But as you can see, there is definitely colour,” says Achar Maya Marwara. It has been about 250 years since his ancestors migrated from Jodhpur to the Kutchi village of Ludiya, bringing with them the distinctly Rajasthani style of embroidery—vibrant patchwork, golden gotas and mirrorwork done on bright ghagra-cholis, dhotis and short, flared men’s kurtas. A 30-minute drive from Dhordo took us to Ludiya, about 70 kilometres northeast of Bhuj, where the art thrives in the village of about 20 families. Their love for bright colours is vividly reflected in their

LUDIYA “There is not much money to go around

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At Ludiya or Gandhi nu Gam, houses are as bright and colourful as the attire of the people who call the village home.

RUMELA BASU

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his January, the first time I felt the winter chill was during my weeklong trip to Gujarat. A boisterous group of 11 companions and I were living in tents set up at the outskirts of the city of Dhordo in Kutch, about 1.5 hours northwest of Bhuj. Every year, between November and February, a “tented city” comes up in Dhordo for the Rann Utsav, complete with restaurants serving lip-smacking Gujarati food, handicraft stalls and a performance area. I spent some evenings watching Siddhi dance performances and driving across the salt marsh at the Little Rann of Kutch, which lay a 15-minute drive away from the tents. But I reserved two days to explore some of the artisan villages of Kutch, meeting artists who are helping preserve centuries-old art and craft traditions.


The Itinerary gujarat

Nirona

road, carving low stools, tables, and even sofa sets with flowers and jali work. “We sell things out of our home,” said Marwara. The Rann Utsav, which brings many a tourist to Ludiya, is their busiest time. He also gets orders all year round, and his brothers and sons often travel to the cities to deliver products. “We are doing so much better now. The entire village was rebuilt by an NGO after the terrible earthquake in 2001. They gave us the material to build our homes again, and we could keep these family traditions alive,” explained Marwara. “The whole village celebrates this art; this is what our lives revolve around.”

The arts are not only a means of livelihood but a matter of family pride and tradition in villages around Kutch. At Dhamadka, ajrakh block printing (left) takes centre stage while Nirona is know for the craft of making copper bells (middle) and rogan art (right).

About an hour away from Ludiya is Nirona. The village is a mishmash of simple one- or two-storey concrete homes with open terraces. Some have elaborately carved wooden doors, a legacy of their original, grander facades. Tucked in one of Nirona’s dusty uneven roads is the house of Gafoor Bhai Khatri, whose family practises rogan painting, a tradition said to have come to India from medieval Persia. The Khatris are its sole practitioners in Kutch, and have

been committed to it since 300 years. “We are the eighth generation of the family doing this,” Gafoor Bhai’s younger brother Sumar Bhai, told us while demonstrating the technique. “Rogan means oil-based. The colours we use are natural dyes mixed with castor seed oil.” He traced a pattern of flowers in yellow on the plain green cloth in his lap using a tool that resembled a wooden earbud. The viscous paint reminded me

of ink jets from 3D printing pens. I began to understand what Sumar Bhai meant when he said that, at first glance, a rogan painting can look like intricate embroidery. The results are rewarding but process of creating these artworks is tedious. “We work in the heat, without fans, because we can’t have the fabric fluttering and the paint sticking if the cloth folds over,” explained Sumar Bhai. After painting, the fabric is dried in the sun for at least a day. The designs are almost all inspired by nature—the most

common is the tree of life—and have become finer over the years. Samples of older work I saw had simpler, less busy patterns, while the family’s recent work was far more intricate, with greater attention to detail like the textures of leaves, and more complicated motifs. Rogan is drawn freehand, without stencils or tracing. The four Khatri brothers and all their six sons are trained in rogan. Only a small trained team works under their supervision, creating paintings and items of clothing with rogan art from their home workshop. “We still do the bulk of the work and they add finishing touches. Rogan takes a lot of time and that’s why we don’t mass produce,” june 2018 | national Geographic Traveller INDIA

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IP-Black/getty images (block printing), Zamzam Images/Alamy/ indiapicture (man), rumela basu (rogan art)

bhungas—traditional circular Kutchi homes—with sloping thatched roofs, whose walls are painted with peacocks, geometric patterns and flowers. At Marwara’s home, the women do most of the embroidery, making dupattas, bags and clothes. His wife was hard at work, with spools of threads in vibrant pink, yellow, red, blue and green spread around her, unperturbed by the presence of a bunch of us curious visitors. The men, on the other hand, take care of the woodwork workshop across the


THE FOCUS

UNDER AFRI

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AFRICA

RIC AN SKIES A wild adventure, a spectacular sense of place, and a shocking discovery on a walking safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park By George W. Stone Photographs by Ken Geiger

A day on foot in South Luangwa National Park ends with sundowners in the Kapamba River and hippos in the distance. JUNE 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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Z THE FOCUS

THE LUANGWA RIVER loops and meanders for some 800 kilometres in eastern Zambia, forming pools that churn with crocs and oxbow lakes that support wildlife in such abundance that for safari-goers, the nearly 9,050-square-kilometre woodland savanna of South Luangwa National Park is a connoisseur’s secret, an animal lover’s destination. I’m staying at Zungulila, one of six camps near the Luangwa River managed by The Bushcamp Company, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. I have come to walk with the animals, to learn about the wild world from the dirt up, instead of the Land Rover down. Strange though it may seem, the idea of a walking safari was not a natural evolution but an introduced practice, pioneered half a century ago by game rangers and conservationists who sought to inspire a new ethic of engagement with the environment. On a walking safari, a human is briefly compelled to become an animal again, to relinquish dominance and sample vulnerability.

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Though leopards look fearsome, they avoid humans (and can be tricky to spot). But there are three animals you should be careful not to overlook or provoke on a walking safari: elephants, African buffalo, and hippos.

EVERYTHING IS BIGGER when you’re on the ground. I’m at the confluence of the Luangwa and Kapamba Rivers, and grasses that looked like fronds from afar turn out to be shoulder-high thorn walls. I’m following guide Kelvin Zulu on an afternoon walk beside the river. We’re trailed by Zambia Wildlife Authority scout Isiah Mvula. We investigate a towering termite mound and spot a lion’s paw print in the sand the circumference of a cabbage. Kelvin is “reading the dirt” when a scampering waterbuck rustles the bushes. I shiver and get goose bumps. Suddenly I feel naked standing on the soil, exposed in my foolish attempts to achieve invisibility by wearing green clothing. The survival tools I’ve packed—sunblock, hand sanitiser, and a cell phone (there is no reception here)—reveal me to be a creature of the material world, a person whose inclinations are to subdue,

NG MAPS; PARKS DATA FROM THE WORLD DATABASE ON PROTECTED AREAS (WDPA)

AMBIA IS NO COUNTRY for dawdling men, as the aptly named go-away bird—southern Africa’s pompadourcrested alarm clock from hell—is quick to let me know. Qwah … qwah … qwah! it calls, pecking away at my afternoon slumber. Qwah? What kind of simpleton sleeps on safari? Qwah! Wake up! The midday sun scorches in the dry season, but I emerge from my mosquito netting to scowl at the bird perched on a branch above my tent. Across the river I see three elephants foraging near the bank. Following their matriarch, they trundle along in descending order of height, munching on tufts of grass, their backs covered in a protective layer of dirt. Even at a distance, they appear large; even in their lumbering realness, they seem imagined. Being on safari is a dream, I think, and for a few moments, I’m not sure I’m awake.


AFRICA

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THE ADDRESS

WHERE TIME FLOWS

BACKWARDS Fort Kochi’s Dutch, Portuguese, and British heritage lives on in homestays that offer cosy nooks, great food, and a strong sense of time travel By CHANDNI DOULATRAMANI Photographs By ANTONY B.M.

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Delight, possibly Fort Kochi's first homestay, ups the ante with a snow-white facade and a quaint picket fence.

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KERALA

Vasco Homestay has the old-world indulgence of four-poster beds and Portuguese-window balconies.

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tippled with bungalows inside lanes with blooming bougainvillea, Fort Kochi has held on to its watercolour charm for over a few hundred years. In the quainter parts of the port town are more winding lanes with buildings in chrome yellow, cool mint, white, and lavender. Fort Kochi’s history is checkered with long periods of colonisation—by the Portuguese (1503-1683), the Dutch (1683-1795), and the British (1795-1947)—which gives the region its distinct IndoEuropean character. While most of the larger bungalows in the area have been demolished to accommodate a covey of contemporary structures since Independence, a handful still exist in their original glory. These structures, most of them around 300 years old, have been restored and turned into homestays. The concept of homestays took wing in Fort Kochi around 25 years ago to offset the expenses that went into maintaining the properties. In turn, tourists, especially those from outside the country, discovered that homestays offered them an intimate experience of the region’s history and culture; their time with the local property owners and families an interesting alternative to traditional hotel stays. Here are four colonial-era homestays in Fort Kochi, huddled not very far from each other—all at walking distance from the town centre.

THE DUTCH DELIGHT

A perfectly manicured garden, hemmed by a white picket

fence, leads you to the two-century-old Delight Homestay. Possibly Fort Kochi’s first homestay, the red-stone-and lime-structure has been run by locals David Lawrence and wife Flowery David for the last 24 years. Flowery’s ancestors bought the property from a Malayali gentleman from Kottayam in the late 1940s for `4,000. Delight started out as a backpackers’ haven when there weren’t many cheap hotels to choose from, reveals David. Soon the eight-room Dutch bungalow was teeming with backpackers sleeping in every corner of the house— some even camping in tents on the rooftop. This, of course, left the place overcrowded, with no room for the couple’s two kids to run around. David then decided on a smaller setup, with only six rooms open to the guests. Four of these are heritage rooms while two are contemporary. The house has a buttress instead of a boundary, high ceilings, and walls that are two feet thick. The wooden flooring has been restored and the living room displays handmade wooden furniture. The beams of the Keralastyle roof, I learn, are as old as the building. Concrete sitouts accompany large windows that look out at a quiet lane, its characteristic calm laced with the occasional tinkle of bicycle bells. Every year, the facade is painted a pristine white. David tells me that his favourite thing to do is take care of the house. It is not hard to see why. (1/662 Ridsdale Road; 9846121421 doubles from `2,500, including breakfast.) JUNE 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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THE DESTINATION

Champions of Good Taste

BY ANTOINE LEWIS

Cronuts are a trademarked creation of Dominique Ansel, and are sold out instantly at his New York bakery.

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PHOTO COURTESY: THOMAS SCHAUER/DOMINIQUE ANSEL BAKERY (CRONUTS), KILROY79/SHUTTERSTOCK (ICON)

Food connoisseurs, make the 100-foot journey to dine at the table of these 10 trendsetting chefs across the globe


WORLD

they put into every element on the plate, from the colour to the texture, to the smell and the taste. Then there are those chefs who change the very paradigm of cooking and what diners can expect at their restaurants. They are committed to using the best, the freshest local produce, using ingredients that would otherwise be ignored, ensuring that everyone in the food chain is respected and gets a fair deal. And always, always that you leave experiencing something new and exciting. They are trendsetting, inspirational chefs whose restaurants other chefs are dying to eat at.

Jeong Kwan, Seoul, South Korea

Dominique Ansel, New York, U.S.A.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, there’s no way you could have escaped Cronut mania. This devilishly original idea of combining the croissant and the doughnut set off a worldwide craze and a global quest for the next hybrid pastry. The New York-based, French-born pastry chef opened his eponymous bakery in 2011 after working with award-winning restaurants in both France and New York. He is one of the most awarded pastry chefs in America and has also been named the World’s Best Pastry Chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Among his other wellknown creation are Frozen S’mores, the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann: a flaky and tender bread with caramelised layers), the Chocolate Chip Cookie Shot and Blossoming Hot Chocolate.

Jeong Kwan is not a chef, has never written a cookbook, and she doesn’t run a restaurant. She is a Zen Buddhist nun who cooks for her fellow nuns and monks at the Baekyangsa Temple in the Naejangsan National Park in South Korea. And though the temple is a four-hour-drive from Seoul, it has not deterred chefs and food writers from across the world from making the journey for a taste of Jeong Kwan’s magic. The vegan food Kwan makes would put some of the best restaurants in the world to shame. Kwan does not use any meat or dairy, nor does her food contain garlic and onions. Everything is sourced from a garden she carefully cultivates and nurtures. Nicknamed the ‘Philosopher Chef’ by The New York Times, her food philosophy, which is based on the Buddhist principle of non-attachment, is nourishing but does not leave you craving for more. Every meal she serves is different; there are no signature dishes, and no fixed menu. Her preparations could vary from pickled lotus root, sea trumpet and white radish to Korean pear slices with pickled herbs and a citrus sauce glaze.

Pickled vegetables in bamboo shoot, one of Kwan’s specialities

KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT/ GETTY IMAGES (DOMINIQUE ANSEL), PHOTO COURTESY: SE YOUNG OH/NETFLIX (JEONG KWAN & BAMBOO DISH)

The

best chefs don’t merely cook food—they serve memories. Because once your palate has been titillated and your appetite assuaged, what lives on is the memory. You may not remember everything you ate for a specific meal—perhaps only the crispness of a deep-fried basil leaf, the crunch of the batter, the aroma and textures of the meat, or the colours of the sauce will remain—but you will always remember the satisfaction you felt at the end of it. What makes their cooking so special is the care and attention


THE DESTINATION

Delhi

FROM THE KABULIWALLAH’S KITCHEN In the narrow lanes of South Delhi, a generation of Afghan settlers serves up a piece of tradition in a new home

At Bhogal's Kashmiri Lane, home to Delhi's Afghan settlement, the aroma of butter and dough lingers, as naanwais, or traditional bread makers, bake batches of fresh flatbread all day long.

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BY PALLABI MUNSI | PHOTOGRAPHS BY SAMBIT DATTACHAUDHURI


INDIA

Chopaan kebab, succulent mutton kebabs served with a spattering of tangy sumac (top left) at Lajpat Nagar's Chopaan Kebabs is a meat lover's delight; The meat-filled sambosa (top right), which is much like the samosa, has a flaky pastry covering; Like Indian food, most Afghani rice dishes, like the Kabuli pilav (bottom), are served with a side of curries.

Sapra tells us that bread, though a staple in a typical Afghan household, is rarely made at home. It is bought instead from the local naanwais—mostly men—who make them fresh every day. As soon as one batch is baked, the next is ready to be popped into the large clay tandoors. As we stop at all eight naanwai shops—also run by men— that dot the lane, Sapra introduces us to different kinds of Afghan breads. There is sweet, round, sesame-sprinkled roht; diamond-shaped khasa and the very similar gir; the potato-stuffed bolani, which is served with a tomato-chilli chutney; and the rectangular, roti-like lavasa among others. These nigella-, poppy- or sesame-topped, versatile naans are paired with just about anything, from rich lamb curry to a cup of hot tea, and have now become a part of Delhi’s culinary landscape. Next on our list is the Afghan burger, which looks more like a fat shawarma than burger. Layers of shredded cabbage, tomato, cucumber, shredded boiled chicken, and a generous helping of Aghani chips (similar to fries) are rolled in a naan. Finishing our

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I

t’s Monday evening in the capital city; A game of hideand-seek is afoot between the summer sun and stormy clouds. Zooming past Humayun’s Tomb, my auto rickshaw stops inside a narrow lane in Bhogal, in the heart of South Delhi. I am late for my guided food walk but Delhi Food Walks’s owner Anubhav Sapra, who quit his job as an HR professional four years ago to dedicate his life to his first love, food, hardly seems to mind. Bhogal’s narrow Kashmiri Lane is bustling with activity and we are here to trail the Afghan food this area is known for. India’s proximity to Afghanistan and its position as a British colony meant that the country drew many a migrant worker in the 19th century. Afghan businessmen or Kabuliwallahs, who were moneylenders who doubled as dry fruit and asafoetida sellers, found a home in the then colonial capital of Calcutta. However, in this part of the country, an Afghan settlement grew a century later. Refugees migrated to Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar and Bhogal after the Soviet withdrawal and subsequent mujahideen takeover in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While some returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many chose to remain in their new home, leading to a permanent Afghan settlement. My photographer friend, armed with a bag full of lenses, asks where we’ll start off and a grinning Sapra tells us to first just look around. The scent of butter and dough tease the senses as we walk past the shops of the famous naanwais or Afghan bread-makers. Digging into khajuri, sweet, crusty naan shaped like dates or khajur, I remember the reason for being so interested in this Afghan food trail. Of the few memories of growing up in a Bengali household in Calcutta in the early 1990s, the one I hold dear is of the monthly visits of a Kabuliwallah. Every time he would bring me some sheer pira, a type of succulent milk fudge flavoured with rosewater. I have moved to three different cities since then but the taste of sheer pira and the warmth of my “Kabuliwallah uncle” remain buried in my subconscious.


THE DESTINATION

SU N Croatian charisma and a feast of flavours

SEA SAVOU R BY DAVID FARLEY PHOTOGRAPHS BY SARAH COGHILL

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in Europe’s next great dining destination


CROATIA

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In Dubrovnik’s car-free Old Town, the 14th-century Franciscan monastery overlooks main street Stradun (aka Placa), with its shops and sidewalk cafés.

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THE DESTINATION

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INDIA

O N A I H D I S N I

PLATTER

Eat a dish in its hometown, advocates Chef Thomas Zacharias, executive chef-partner at the Bombay Canteen in mumbai. his food is an interpretation of regional delicacies he savoured when travelling around india. Here are 10 dishes that left an indelible impression on his mind and palate As told to Lubna Amir

Bhutte Ka Kees

Illustrations By Sachin Pandit

A friend introduced Thomas to the wonders of bhutte ka kees. A single spoonful of the melt-in-the-mouth corn dish, eaten at his Mumbai restaurant, was enough for him to plan a trip to the street-food haven of Indore. He ended up at Joshi’s Dahi Vada House in Sarafa Bazaar, a local institution, where he finally tried the dish at its source. Grated corn is cooked with milk, hing, salt, green chillies, powdered turmeric and garam masala, until it assumes an oatmeal-like consistency. Served in a paper cup, it’s garnished with desiccated coconut, fresh coriander, jeeravan (a 27-spice mix with an umami flavour) and lime. While you’re there, make sure you catch Joshiji beating the curd for dahi vada—better yet, make a Boomerang. His dramatic technique attracts people from far and wide. Where to eat Joshi Dahi Vada House, Indore

Imarti

People typically come back from Lucknow with tales of tunday kebabs and biryani, but Thomas fell hard for an entirely unassuming dish—the warm and humble imarti. “The imarti is what every jalebi aspires to be when it grows up,” he says, laughing, when talking about the complexity involved in the making of an imarti. The orange sweet, made from urad dal, looks like jalebi but is defined by a ring of more intricate twists and swirls. Crispy on the outside and chewy inside, when eaten with chilled rabdi—the way it is served at Netram, an establishment dating back to the 1850s—it is pure decadence. Also, for vegetarians, this place is gold: the kachori served with galka (raw mango chutney) and simple puri-sabzi thalis here are to die for. Where to eat Netram, Lucknow JUNE 2018 | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA

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THE JOURNEY

VOYAGE

WORLD T O

T H E

E N D

O F

T H E

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n one of the Tom and Jerry cartoons, Jerry convinces Tom that he has high fever, and locks him in a freezer to cool him down. Tom emerges with his teeth chattering, which continues even after Jerry pops him into an oven later. Sitting in a tuktuk trundling up the slope to the Horton Plains National Park at the crack of dawn, with chilly winds seeping into my bones, my teeth chatter much like Tom’s. Far ahead, deeper into the park, lies an escarpment that plunges 2,900 feet and is ominously named World’s End. Dawn is the best time to gaze down its yawning depths, but I wonder if reaching there in a gelid state wouldn’t be the end of my world. Horton Plains National Park is part

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of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka— an area in the south-central part of the country with montane rainforests so lush and biodiverse that they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park lies about 32 km from the famous tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, the hill station with a distinctly colonialera feel. Horton Plains had been on my Sri Lankan wishlist ever since a friend raved about how its landscape changed every half an hour—one moment you are walking through grassy plains, the next you are trekking through the jungle and then climbing up a rocky path to a clifftop. The ‘Plains’ tag however seems to me a misnomer—the park is actually a plateau

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER INDIA | JUNE 2018

A four-hour trek in the montane forests of Horton Plains National Park leads to World’s End, the 2,900-foot precipice that affords splendid views of tea plantations and the Knuckles mountain range.

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A trek in Sri Lanka’s Horton Plains National Park reveals a cloud forest— one of the world’s rarest ecosystems—and a dizzying surprise By Arundhati Hazra


BEW AUTHORS/BE&W/DINODIA PHOTO LIBRARY

SRI LANKA

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National Geographic Traveller India June 2018  

Preview of the June 2018 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

National Geographic Traveller India June 2018  

Preview of the June 2018 issue of the Indian edition of National Geographic Traveller.

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