Love Travel Guides – a handy tool for a foodie trip to India

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Love Travel Guides truly are beautiful and it is like being shown around by a good friend who introduces you to all the best spots.

However, while all inclusions are high quality experiences, some can be quite expensive, so it’s good for the travel toolkit, but best used in conjunction with other guides and tips.

Sharrell Cook does a good job of describing and appreciating the Love Travel guides. In fact her GoIndia website is very useful in lots of ways.

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Best of the West – A foodie itinerary to West India

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Best of the West – Highlights of West India Foodie Itinerary Ideas

Mumbai

Why Go?

Workers from across India, seeking to make it ‘big’ in the bright lights, bring authentic regional food  to Mumbai including India’s best range of creative street food (like Vada Pav, Behl Puri and Pao Bhaji).

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Try Parsi cuisine, originally from Persia…most fun at Britannia and Co.

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Don’t miss the dabbawallah unwritten delivery system that takes thousands of home cooked lunches to workers every day.

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Visit local food markets and Sassoon Dock fish market.

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All set against stunning colonial architecture…and surprisingly innovative and creative high density living in Mumbai’s many ‘slums’.

Check out:

Reality Tours and Travel – Excellent, great value tours around Mumbai that include the famous Mumbai street food, the dabbawallah delivery system and a socially responsible, sensitive Dharavi slum tour.

Where to Stay?

Colaba is the best area to stay, and a night in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (while quite expensive) is a once in a life time experience.

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Another good spot in Colaba is the Ascot Hotel  – more budget friendly prices, but still an excellent location.

http://www.ascothotel.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Hotel_Review-g304554-d606365-Reviews-Ascot_Hotel-Mumbai_Bombay_Maharashtra.html

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How to get there?

Mumbai is a major airport in India and good airlines often have specials. Check out Singapore Airlines for regular specials.

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Jodhpur

Why Go?

Dine with fantastic rood top views of the mighty Mehrangarh Fort and beautiful ‘Blue City’.

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Head to the clock tower to try regional snack food favourites including the famous rich lassi, have lunch with a local village family and experience a delicious Rajasthani thali at Gypsy Dining Rooms.

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Where to Stay?

Raas

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But also consider Castle View Home Stay for an amazing view, very thoughtful and kind host and great prices.

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How to get there? 

Mumbai to Jodhpur return $186 Jet Airways (online booking).

Jaisalmer

Why Go?

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Dine roof top on the massive, sandcastle-like fort that rises out of the desert, above this ‘Golden City’ and enjoy regional Rajasthani dishes in between visiting gorgeous havelis and perhaps enjoying a camel safari.

 Where to Stay? 

Garh Jaisal

Gorgeous, well priced rooms with window seats, each a different colour and lovely roof top spot for drinks and breakfast.

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How to get there?

Hire a good sized car (e.g. Toyata Innova) from one of the many car and diver businesses.

(About 4.5 hours from Jodhpur. Stop for a snack or lunch at Manvar Resort and Desert Safari Camp or Samsara Resort long the way).

Goa

Why Go?

A distinct Portuguese influenced cuisine in a setting of post colonial architecture featuring whitewashed churches and colourful villas as well as beautiful beaches.

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Lunch at a spice plantation, visit local Mapusa market on a Friday and marvel at the lush greenery of rice paddies and coconut palms.

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Where to Stay?

Anjuna

(home to the famous Wednesday Flea Market)

Casa Anjuna

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or Marbella Guest House (Candolim)

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How to get there?

Mumbai to Goa return $152 Jet Airways (online booking).

Spices, churches and streets

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A well worn track, but worth a trip, is the tour around Old Goa (the original colony capital), Panaji (the current capital) and one of Goa’s many spice plantations.

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IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_0002 IMG_0005 IMG_0001 Panaji streets, Miramar Beach and Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Easy spots to find for meals that are recommended by many include Mum’s Kitchen (only the way to Miramar Beach), Rio Rico (at The Mandovi Hotel on the road along the river) as well as the George Restauarnt and Bar (in front of the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception) and across from the George is Kamat Hotel.

It’s really worth buying a good street map to find your way around.

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IMG_0006 IMG_0005 IMG_0004 IMG_0003 IMG_0001Spice Tour and lunch at Tropical Spice Plantation

 

Goan Cuisine – unique and interesting

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Dodol, Doce, Bolinhas, Bebinca, cashews                                 Coconut Doce (a bit like Coconut Ice)

The 450 year influence of Portugal, up until only 50 years ago, is everywhere in Goa, but is especially delicious in food.

Portuguese style dishes include the well known vindaloo, pao and pav breads, desserts, biscuits and sweets.

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Pao bread buns and Bebinca ( made from a batter of eggs, coconut, jaggery and ghee poured into a pan in a thin layer, each set over a coal fire before another layer is added).

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Goan sausage is a specialty, eaten with bread or in Sorpotel.

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Sorpotel, is like a rich tasty stew that I have since read is ‘The pig’s blood, liver and heart cooked with plenty of vinegar, chilli and spices and left to ‘ mellow’ for 3-4 days to make the sticky dense stew’ eaten with a sweet steamed rice cake ‘sanna’. (Penguin Food Guide to India p. 247). (This meal also includes rose tea and piña (tasted a bit like rum balls, but is made of rice flour, coconut and jaggery).

 

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Prawn vindaloo                                                  Fish Masala Rava Fry

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Goan Fish Curry, Fish Cafreal     Chicken Xacuti and Kuchumber salad

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Prawn Curry and rice

And then there’s feni, an alcohol made from cashews and creamy addictive cashew kulfi

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Mapusa Local Food market – Goa

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If you are in northern or central Goa on a Friday, the Mapusa municipal market is a real event, worth making the trip for. About 25 mins from Anjuna, Calangute or Candolim by taxi (about $AUS 16 for a round round trip and waiting) it’s an easy day trip, full of local colour and interest. (It’s open other days, but Friday is the big event, from about 10am).

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Check out the fish market, meat market, fruit, veg and spices. (And grab some of those delicious mangoes if you see them.)

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Plenty of opportunities to try Goan specialities along the way like Bebinca, Pina (tasted a bit like rum balls, but is made of rice flour,coconut and jaggery), Sorpotel, which was a rich tasty stew that I have since read is ‘The pig’s blood, liver and heart cooked with plenty of vinegar, chilli and spices and left to ‘ mellow’ for 3-4 days to make the sticky dense stew’ eaten with a sweet steamed rice cake ‘sanna’ , and Doce.

 

 

 

 

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There’s some textiles and jewellery worth checking out too. Just be a bit aware of the tricky marketing strategy that can be difficult to free yourself from, whereby retailers, selling their wares out of a bag rather than a shop, seek customers by being helpful and then obliging you to see their ‘cheap rubbish’, and then their sister’s/friend’s etc. It can wear down even the most hardy market shopper.

 

 

 

Marbella Guest House, a Goan gem in Candolim

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Marbella Guest House, located on a leafy, quiet street, is an ideal, great value spot for a stay in Candolim at the southern end of North Goa, close to the Mandovi River and Fort Aguada. (Candolim is a much nicer area to stay in than Calangute or Baga, greener, quieter, with nicer restaurants and shops). (Don’t miss Newton’s Supermarket for Goan specialities to take home).

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A pleasant restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, is set around a lovely garden and serviced by an impeccably clean and efficient kitchen.

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Guests can watch happy and friendly staff prepare their meals from fresh ingredients.

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Banana lassi                                    The freshest, greenest palak (spinach) paneer (cheese)!

 

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Tastefully decorated rooms are complimented by a comfortable sitting area.

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Rajasthani suite ($AUS46 low season)

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Garden room ($AUS33 low season)

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Bouganvillea room ($AUS31 low season)

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Owned and run by the an ex-Bitish/German couple for 30 years, this charming guesthouse is open all year round and prices start at about $AUS30 in the low season (discounts for four nights or longer.)

Look for the Bus Station and Taj Fort Aguada.

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Candolim, Goa – a good spot to stay

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It can be hard to choose a location in Central Goa to stay.

Panjim is just too much city.

Calangute lacks charm and is busy.

Anjuna is quieter and can be lovely.

But another good spot is Candolim.

Leafier and greener, it is home to Fort Aguada, popular with local tourists and set in a large park area on the Mandovi River.

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Also worth a visit is Newton’s Supermarket, at the junction of Candolim Beach Road and Fort Aguada Road, full of Goan specialities to learn more about ingredients in dishes, catch anything you’ve missed, or to take home in in vacuum sealed packs the ongoing pleasure of  Goan Cuisine for yourself or presents.

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A great spot to stay in Candolim is Marbella Guest House near the Taj Fort Aguada and the bus station corner.