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).

Breakfast when travelling – a great time to try Indian specialties

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Dal and Pakwan                              Baked yogurt, idli

Breakfast in India, when travelling, is a great opportunity to try a wide range of regional and national specialities. Often a buffet selection of a range of Indian dishes is offered so it’s easy to try a little of lots of things. If breakfast is a la carte, usually there are one of two Indian breakfast options included.  And it’s even worth trying the same dish several times as each cook has their own style.

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Marsala Dosa                                  Baked yogurt and more

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Pao Keema                                                       Dal Makarni and Pakwan

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Dal Chakori                                      Poha

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Poha, Puri and Sambhal, Indian sweets       Marsala Dosa

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Chakori, Mirchi Pakora, Samosa                    Poha

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Goan Pao bread                                    Besan ka cheela

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Medu Wada, Aloo Bonda ,Goan breads Vegetable Xacuti, Butter Pao , Aloo Pakoda, Upma, Poori bhaji, Sambhar and coconut chutney

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Aloo Paratha

 

 

 

A virtual tour of Mumbai with Rick Stein

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Watch Rick Stein's India on ABC TV for great India itinerary ideas

The first half of BBC’s ‘Rick’s Stein’s India’ second episode is all about Mumbai and you can travel there yourself, without leaving home.

Visit Sassoon Dock fish market, eat Berry Pulao at Brittania & Co and meet Mr Kohinoor, go with Krishna from Reality Tours & Travel as he takes Rick to his favourite fish curry restaurant and on a tour of Dharavi slum, and play cricket on Oval Maiden.

Reality Tours & Travel – a great way to taste the best of Mumbai

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Reality Tours & Travel offers really great, good value tours around Mumbai that include the famous Mumbai street food, the dabbawallahs that deliver thousands of home cooked lunches to workers, without ever writing anything down, and a socially responsible, sensitive Dharavi slum tour.

It’s a best way to see and try lots of the best of Mumbai, in a short time. It’s hard to pick a favourite tour, but it might have been the Public Transport Tour – the dabbawallahs and Dadar flower market were hard to top.

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Reality Tours and Travel has the most amazing local guides to show you around and uses 80% of its profits to fund community development projects in Mumbai’s slums.

And Evelyn at the end of the phone and email, is lovely, endlessly patient, always available, and genuinely trying to organise you the best experience.

Mumbai’s Dharavi ‘slum’ – not what you expect!

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Dharavi Slum Mumbai is surprising!

Its easy to see the things that aren’t so great about Mumbai’s 2,000 slums. And there’s definitely plenty of opportunities to improve workplace safety, sanitation and water supplies. However, these isssues are not unique to slums, they are shared by communities and countries throughout the world.

But if instead you go looking for all the good things in Dharavi, you might well be very surprised. The community shows great creativity and innovation, collaboration and co-operation, to make the most of a small space and enable many people to migrate to Mumbai from villages for work and opportunities, and to live together on land they don’t own.

And once you understand a bit more about Mumbai’s ‘slums’, it can look very different from first impressions.

Mumbai is the worlds most densely populated city. Dharavi has 1.5 million people per square kilometre. In Mumbai, the government owns more than half the land. Dwellings built on government land are legally owned, and have some services like electricity and some water, but are technically called ‘slums’ . In Mumbai, you are more likely than not be living on government land, and as such, living in a ‘slum’. That’s why people working in a wide range of jobs, including  professional people, often live in slums in Mumbai and why Mumbai has so many slums.

But houses are very small, really just one tiny room, with maybe just washing facilities for women. 1,500 people share each toilet, that is only cleaned about four times a month.

However, in Dharavi there are schools, hospitals, markets, banks , a cinema ( of sorts) and plenty of creative industry. And no begging or signs of poverty.

Clearly there are many challenges, but also many things to admire.

It reminded me of a mixture of an Australian beach camping ground with minimal shared facilities, crowded with families in January, with tents packed tightly together and everyone working in with each other to make a small space and basic facilities work for everyone. But it also reminded me of the retirement communities that are popular, where people buy a house, but don’t own the land, live in community and start up all sorts of clubs and co-operative groups in their ‘closed’ community to make life better for everyone.

The best way to see Dharavi for yourself is with Reality Tours & Travel. Not only is this their signature tour that started them off, but 80% of their profits support a Dharavi based NGO ‘Reality Gives‘.

(Photos provided by Reality Tours & Travel, as photography is not permitted on tours, for community privacy).

 

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Dabba-wallahs – Mumbai’s famous lunch delivery system in action

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20140817-155443-57283937.jpgIf you loved the movie ‘The Lunchbox’ (and even if you missed it) it’s a real treat to see Mumbai’s dabba-wallah’s in action. Every work day, around 5,000 Dabba-wallahs, collect 150,000-200,000 lunch boxes (‘tiffins’ or ‘dabbas’) from homes and deliver them to offices and schools so that thousands of workers and students can eat home cooked meals. Each layer of the dabba tin contains a different part of the meal, rice, breads, vegetable curry, dahl etc.

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Its fascinating to stand outside Churchgate or CST Station in Mumbai at lunchtime and watch the lunches arrive on bikes, handcarts and wooden trays carried on the head and then to be re-sorted according to a coding system that requires no literacy. The collaboration between dabba-wallahs, who not only collect and return dabbas from and  to homes across Mumbai, but (at no extra cost) also take any food labelled with a ‘share’ sticker to a food distribution centre for needy people ‘on the way’ is very impressive. Especially when you think that less than one in a thousand lunch boxes ever goes astray.

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