AkiMi Gourmet

I love desserts, I like to stock up and have at least two or three things at home to binge on. I found AkiMi on Instagram, their images look appetizing and I had to try some. We are all spending so much time at home and ( I am done experimenting in the kitchen for this year) trying something new is the most exciting thing these days found treats that that are not only good in taste but also healthier; imagine indulging in desserts, guilt free.

Brain child of MidhilaRaavi and Akila Vankalapati, AkiMi Gourmet brings you sinfully satisfying treats that are guilt free, vegan and refined sugar free. All their desserts are made from fresh ingredients, and since they are preservative-free, the shelf-life is limited. All the treats are made to order, so you know something special is whipped for you only after an order is placed.


The desserts are packed in minimalistic cardboard boxes, that can be reused. My top favourites are ‘Almond Flour Cake which is moist and flavorful ‘Pecan Pie Bars’ , ‘Banana Walnut Cake’ and ‘Chocolate Cookies’ arrive like a gift box. I totally forgot about their vegan brownies that are extremely lightweight, healthy and satiate your cravings for chocolate (never thought, I could put these two in same line)


They also offer things like Energy Bites that include flavours like cocoa pistachio, dark chocolate and peanut butter, black sesame bites and even postpartum bites made with nuts and edible gum, range of Tea Cakes. Their ‘cheat eats’ menu offers carrot, pistachio and strawberry cakes, along with brownies.


While you may find the prices on heavier side than the usual desserts, the quality too is better since they use. Gourmet food is a premium, especially because of the quality of ingredients used and the elaborate process that ensures nutrition is intact. This is why we might be a bit expensive compared to the other processed and packed equivalents in the market.”


They are delivering via Swiggy, Dunzo
Find them on Instagram at @akimi_gourmet

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Zuci, Hyderabad

Zuci (SHU-CHI) is the brainchild of Aparna Gorrepati   she is trained from the finest institute s of France and Belgium and has been a chocolatier connoisseur for almost 12 years.  While the place specializes in exquisite handmade chocolates, it is not limited to just those.

This new Chocolaterie and Boulangerie in Hyderabad offers products that are result of a decade of experience.  Zuci offers an exquisite range of artisanal chocolates, cakes, pastries and baked treats.

My visit to Zuci was an extremely special one, it was the first place I had visited post 96 days of lock-down. The safety measures were being followed, the staff was limited and the dine in was controlled making sure the seating is limited, to maintain social distancing

Italian Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows at Zuci, Hyderabad

Hot Chocolate  
If you have been following my page you know how I love my share of Hot chocolates, Hyderabad offers a fair share of incredible Hot Chocolates and I am happy that I can add Zuci’s gooey and sinfully delicious Italian Hot Chocolate to my top 3 favorites, add some marshmallows and it will move over to top two. In this monsoon, I have already had this decadent drink thrice and it’s a must try.  

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Assorted chocolates with Cappuccino at Zuci, Hyderabad

Chocolates  
My first experience of Zuci was biting in 70% Dark chocolate ball and it was so fine that I immediately requested for a box of assorted chocolates packed.  Their range of chocolate include Soft Centered, rich creamy filled ones to cocoa rolled Truffles, cream and nut infused Pralines to hand molded nutty Chocolate Bars hand molded nutty Chocolate Bars.  
My top recommendations: 70% Dark Chocolate, Rose Truffle, Roasted Almond, Milk Chocolate Truffle, Maple Pecan and Mango Chili.  

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Deconstructed Tiramisu with Chocolates and Espresso at Zuci, Hyderabad
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Strawberry Vanilla Cake & Citrus Rind Berry Cheesecake at Zuci, Hyderabad

Desserts 
Luscious (fresh) Chocolate Éclair, Citrus Rind Berry (creamy) Cheesecake, Strawberry Vanilla Cake and Tiramisu. The four desserts we tried came with burst of absolutely different flavors and felt like a well deserved treat of not being able to have desserts for so long, every bite I took, I relished it, letting my taste buds savor the taste and my mind register the experience. I cant pick a favorite because all four them are quite different and absolutely worth digging in (more than once)  

Avocado Toast with Iced Americano at Zuci, Hyderabad
Chicken Steak in Mushroom Sauce, Lasgane, Mushroom Soup (L- R) at Zuci, Hyderabad

Food 

Iced Americano with Avocado Toast was incredible, they source their coffee from Roastery coffee house, which is already a favorite and this healthy option is a burst of flavor and refreshing choice.  I absolutely relished the chicken steak with creamy mushroom sauce, i gorged on to every bite with an absolute delight. I also tried Gnooci (they prepare it house) and Lasagna, it was surprisingly wonderful to know that most of their sauce just like their breads and chocolates are made in house. 

Breads  
My time in Pondicherry has introduced and educated me to some of the finest breads, I may not be an expert yet but I can say I have developed a sense of what I like and have a better understanding of a bread should be, like they say, if you had the best you can never settle for anything less.  
I really liked their cheese and caramelized onion Sourdough bread, crusty on outside and chewy inside; I highly suggest you consume it within a day or two. The other highly recommend bread is their garlic herb Baguette which I tasted fresh out of oven and it blew my mind on how perfect it was.  
Must try:  They highly recommend (and so do I) their in house Babka, the cake whose origins are like Central Europe and is quite popular in Poland. It combines the richness of hazelnut and chocolate, and when warmed slightly melts in your mouth and keeps you coming back for more. 

Where Zuci Chocolates – Cafe, Desserts

Plot no: 1359, Road No:45, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.

*** I do not in any way endorse stepping out until necessary, In case you do step out please wear you mask, sanitize and maintain social distance, if you do plan to dine out, please understand the staff is as concerned for their health as you are, so follow safety measures for yourself and people around you.Love
Satpreet Kaur

Prego, The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace


Prego has been one of my favorite Italian restaurants in Hyderabad since the very beginning, the pool side dining on special occasion or just craving for the cheesy thin crust pizza, it has always satisfied my Italian cravings. Prego at the Westin Hyderabad has always kept things interesting, food festivals, guest chefs who sing as well as they cook, live cooking sessions, hosting events where guests turned to chefs and now with their all new menu, giving yet another reason to dine here.


The basics of pizza, risotto, pasta stay same but it’s the twist in them that makes the new menu at Prego interesting. Over a quite Monday we visited the restaurant to enjoy some of the new dishes.


We started off with choosing some wine to accompany our meal while enjoying the prego garlic bread the signature accompaniment. The first dish presented to us was ‘Ages of Cheese with Parmesan Crackers’, four types of cheese melted together leaving with a captivating taste, I it was blast to show the best of Italian course coming my way.

Next came a miniature of ‘Pizza Ortholana and Pizza Polo Picante’ the thin crust pizza , Fried Ravioli made from pizza dough and filled with Caponata, Sautéed Prawns which was served with thin layers of bouget that complimented the buttery garlic flavor (I love anything that has garlic and this very dish is something I am coming back for very soon) very basic but buttery and perfectly.


In main course we tried the Spinach Ricotta Ravioli which is the twist to the old one, Chicken Parmigiana, Baked and Marinated Sea-bass that was sweet and sour, two types of Gnocchi in a bowl and the best of the lot Black Rise Risotto with Mascarpone, creamy texture that will bind your taste buds for a quick sojourn to food heaven.

There is so much more on the menu, including desserts, while we were stuffed to soul chef got us a not so small portion of Chocolate Stones with Parmesan Ice Cream and I sinfully dug into it without any guilt.

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Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur 

Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

After a good few days in Udaipur I headed to Jodhpur – The sun city of India. My love for Rajasthan only increases with what I see. They told me monsoon is not the season to visit Rajasthan, but I feel every place has a unique experience in each weather (well of course, peak summers don’t count in Rajasthan) I leisurely spent my days in Jodhpur, so I din’t really miss anything despite rain, but loved every bit of monsoon.

corridor and open space outside room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

The city of Jodhpur boasts of heritage hotels that reflect the spectacular royal status that this place once had. I was staying at Devi Bhawan a boutique property that only after, I stepped out of the reception, saw for what it is. a little tropical paradise in the heart of the city. In between its dense green cover were little blips of building spread across the area, which you won’t spot until you are in front of it. There were two little water gardens of which one was full of lotus and had a swing at the end of it, where I spent a lot of time every day of my stay just swinging and breathing  all of it.

Breakfast with a view at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Over breakfast at Devi Bhavan, I had a quick conversation with elegant Rambha Singh, who with her family owns and manages Devi Bhavan and stays in the other end of the property and is a warm host who is available for any queries in case guests need. She indulged me in details of how this property came to what it is today – Interestingly she mentioned Devi Bhavan is an eighty-year-old residence of Thakur Ratan Singh and his family.

My beautiful room at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

colours that spark joy at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Rooms: There are 20 rooms at Devi Bhawan, housed within five, two-storey buildings spread among green lawns with neem trees, flowering plants and fountains. I stayed in a deluxe room that had view of both garden and the pool, the rooms at Devi Bhavan are simply furnished, my room had a four-poster wooden bed, sofa and wardrobes. The bedspread, cushions and sofa cover all matched in colorful prints, that perked up the room. While most rooms have a private sit-out mine was on top floor and had a huge veranda with lounge on daybeds and rattan chairs. I spent most of my time out in the beautiful and spacious verandah, listening to chirping birds, sipping tea while overlooking the lush space and the pool on other side.

Pool at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Well one thing I couldn’t do was get into the pool and swim in crystal clear water. It is located at one end of the property and is great to soak in the sun on the deck chairs the pool a touristy day.

Breakfast at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

Food: They have an in-house restaurant that serves all meals, or you can choose to order in room dining and enjoy your meal leisurely like me. All meals are served in the dining room at the center of the property you can also enjoy your meal outdoors where tables are decorated with vibrant sunny cloths, wrought iron chairs dotted around the garden. I only had breakfast during my stay and tried a thali for dinner. The service was tad bit slow; menu is limited but food was decent.

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Thali for dinner at Devi Bhavan, Jodhpur

When to go: The best time to visit Jodhpur is between October and March when the maximum temperature is around 27C and the minimum around 15C.

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An indulging evening at Hyatt Regency, Amritsar

Being in golden city of Amritsar is always bliss. As a routine i come back here every year and right amidst the pleasant weather when, winters is just calming down leaving behind days that are pleasant and nights more chilly. I can’t even count the times i have been here yet i find something new to do and indulge in every time. This time i was welcomed by the team of Hyatt Regency, Amritsar, who hosted me for a lovely day.

While i waited at their all day cafe ‘Tarteria’ a Patisserie that promotes the notion of tarts to the taste of locals and travellers alike. What i really liked about the place is its soul- Chef Shiv who holds the reigns in kitchen and makes sure everything they offer is homemade, only natural colors are used and dishes that will impress your taste buds as well as your soul, after all you are in land of Amritsar. I tried an array of fresh tarts and sipped some coffee, a relief from the windy afternoon outdoors. He promised me an authentic local meal for lunch, I had no qualms about it and parted ways while I checked out the property and went for a spa session that was preplanned for me.

I then stepped into ‘Shanti Spa’ a spacious space that has an inviting ambiance. From the moment you walk in, you feel a sense of luxury and relaxation, leaving the outside world behind. The scents that fill the spa are calming and the spa is every bit stunning as the property itself. I love to leave all the pampering sessions to the last day of my vacation, so I can have a rejuvenating experience before my trip came to an end. The well-lit spa was spacious with masseuse who attended me began with a ritualistic feet wash, and treated me with an hour of soothing body massage. The massage began with kneading and long strokes, the pressure on each trigger point was so fabulous, I let go my senses in no time. You know you are in hands of well-trained masseuse when you immediately slip in Zen mode and next 60 minutes were pure bliss.

Pro Tip- while most of the spa’s make you fill forms and know your requirements. Make sure you let them know about your concerned areas and don’t ever feel conscious to tel them if the pressure is too much.

Punjab Province – Post spa i made my way to the in-house restaurant where Chef Shiv prepared a scrumptious North Indian meal for me. Tempting scents of food and an air of extravagance calls you out in this airy restaurant, I stepped out and took a sit in their alfresco seating, appreciating the slight winter chill.

We started off with a platter of appetizers that had tandoored ‘Chicken Tikka’ ‘Lamb Chapli with Anda’ ‘Fish Amritsari’ and ‘Kala kukkad’ the robust flavours made me realize how no part of India can beat the flavours of Punjab, maybe i was being biased but the food was just a gastronomical treat. My favourite and highly recommended dish is Kala Kukkad, with subtle yet lip-smacking flavours.

For main course chef presented yet another platter in an intricate ceramic plate, with a leaf that had several dishes like ‘Butter Chicken’ i mean you can’t leave Punjab without this. I was so glad it was still end of winters so i got to taste seasonal specialty like ‘Sarso Ka Saag’ paired with ‘Makke Ki Roti’ and side of gud (jaggery) and makkhan (butter) ‘Matka Gosh’  with tender mutton cooked really fine, i am not a big fan of chole so skipped that. The accompaniments like ‘Masala chaach’ ‘Kuchumber Salad’ made the meal elaborate and authentic. For desserts chef had a sweet gesture and presented me with a dessert that was full of different desserts. I mean literally desserts in dessert, it had kulfi faluda, ice cream with unique flavours like pan, gulkand etc all served in a glass. Well i can say it was not just food and presentation but the also the hospitality that made my visit a memorable one.

On my tour to property I noticed a vibrant section dedicated to kids, they had staff dedicated to look after kids while you enjoy a spa session of a leisure drink at the bar. They have 2 rooms divided for different age groups and open throughout the day. Form soft toys to video games, board games to movies; they were all stacked dup so your kids can easily spend a few hours without getting bored. I felt it was a wonderful thought and more and more hotels should do this as it gives the parents a much desired break and make the most of their vacation.

For more check out – Hyatt RegencyAmritsar

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Feranoz Patisserie and Cafe

Started by two brothers with passion for food and soft spot for desserts ‘Feranoz’ in Hyderabad is latest addition of soul pleasing Patisserie and cafes. Pretty and minimalist the cafe is spacious and almost gives a English tea room vibe.

Trained in baking, they have laid down some incredible options for sweet tooth lovers keeping in mind both- quality and taste preference of the city.

Desserts, starting with my favorite ‘Salted Caramel Eclair’ a version of long choux pastry filled salted caramel cream, glazed with caramel and topped with a tiny gold leaf is something i savored with every bite.

I also gorged one of their highly recommended ‘Rocher’ that is a result of hazelnut chocolate sponge, crunchy hazelnut praline disc topped with chocolate hazelnut gianduja mousse finished with nutty chocolate gourmand glaze.

When it came to ‘Tiramisu’ i was really keen because having tasted quite a few, i was mentally prepared to compare it with others, that was until i had dug out my first bite right through it layers and transported it to my taste buds who relished it thoroughly. It was lite, creamy and rich in taste.

Apart from desserts they also do gourmet cakes on pre-order, and offer a range of teas and coffee as as perfect accompanists to the desserts. I really like the Kashmiri Kahwa and Mountain Rose tea, i cant wait to try their hot chocolate, which they claim is good.

The location is great, valet service is definitely a bonus as the area can see a lot of traffic during the day.

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Sailana food festival, The Park

Royal cuisines are always a treat, they are extravagant, flavorful and a taste of food that has been passed on by generations of zaikedaz. Just as such is a royal cuisine of ‘Sailana’, a food festival curated by the park this December. Being hosted in ‘Aish’ the specialty Indian restaurant at The Park Hyderabad adds further charm and feel to the experience.

The food festival included delicious kebabs and aroma-filled gravies. According to what I read and heard, Sailana, a princely state located in Malwa of Madhya Pradesh, was famous for its hospitality and cuisine that included dishes laced with exotic spices, rose petals and sandalwood powder. The recipes as part of the culinary world of Sailana are over a century old. Influenced by Maharaja Digvijay Singh’s book, The Park, Hyderabad offers this well curated menu for the two-week festival.

From the array of dishes, I tried over the bloggers table, they were few that really stood. ‘Be Masale ka Gosht’ it was great way to start the meal and instantly won my heart, the dish is mutton slow cooked in yogurt and ghee without any spices,‘Luft-e-Dariya’ a prawn appetizer was spicy and crispy and Gosht Asafjahi a bhunna mutton enriched with nuts and spices paired with crisp naan.

In mains Machhi Ki Biryani, the one served in a big deg with a fish right in between is one you should definitely try. Murgh Irani, Gosht Asafjahi, paired with naan or kulcha made for flavorsome options

There are more options, a lot of which include vegetarian options like Harey channe ke kebab, Karela Nafees (even bitter guard haters will like it) Gooler kebab made of wild fiigs, Aloo La-Jawab, Zarda Pulao, Sailana Daal and its non-vegetarian counterpart offered Raan Mussalam, Maans ka Soola yet another mutton dish tempered with cloves, Murgh Kebab Gorkhar – whole chicken roasted in whole spices and Machhi Kebab Sailana that has a tangy twist.

Desserts were something I was really looking forward to, with names like Laisun Ki Kheer, Gosht Ka Halwa and Hare Chane Ka Halwa i was intrigued and well it was met with complete satisfaction. The kheer was delicious, but I loved the halwa, unlike its name, the flavor of meat was very subtle and it was very unique.

Till December 9th
Price for two: Rs.2,000.

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Love Satpreet Kaur

NH 2 Food Trail by Marriott Hyderabad

Get on highway of taste with ‘NH 2 Trail’ a food festival curated by Hyderabad Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre. The food festival showcases food from streets of Delhi to cafes of Kolkata.

The effort that went behind the conceptualization is commendable. The team lead by Chef Aungshuman Chakraborty traveled 10 days on National Highway 2, stopping at most famous places, tasting food, even trying their hand on recipes, to get the best sense of flavors and what goes in process of it. They covered places like Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Bihar, Dhanbad, and finally Kolkata, savoring the best each city has to offer.

I was glad to be invited and be part of this food trail, that brought to life the outdoors of Mariott, not only were the dishes an inspiration but the setup, presentation was all given a hint of relatability to where they hail. There were 28 live counters and it took me first 45 mins to just go around, from a foodie point you will definitely need to visit twice before you taste it all, and trust me you will want to have a bit of everything. Apart from special counters outdoors, the buffet indoors will also be a part of the food festival.

From what I tasted I really liked the Chur Chur Thali, Butter Chicken, Malai Kofta, Lamb Chops and other Tandoor Kebabs that included Chicken Mutton and Fish all of which came from Delhi counter. Sattu ka partha with almost five types of chokha sets in perfectly with the weather, also the Litti Chokha that’s made right in front of you is proper winter food that’s so hard to find in Hyderabad.

Even when i wanted to take a break, i went for Puchka and Jhal Muri begging them to give me smaller portions. Inspired from streets of Kokata, they got the flavors just right. More from the state were steamed and baked Momos, Hakka noodles and Egg and Chicken Rolls.

Sweets were delightfully from the world famous Mathura, it has everything from Petha, Peda, Imarti, Jalebis and my favorite Malpua that comes topped with rabri, just thinking of it right now makes my mouth water.

Choose to have cocktails from special drinks menu, masala chai with Nankhatais or lassi because it’s not just food that will leave you spoilt for choice but beverages too.

They had so much more that I still wish to try, Parthas, Chole Bhature, Dahi Bhalle,Samosa Chat, Chaap both veg and non veg. Undoubtedly Delhi counter stood my favorite and also most recommended to begin with, but make sure you have ample of time and a good appetite for it is going to be one big feast.

It is one of the best food festivals of 2018 in Hyderabad and i would recommend you to take your family and friends along, as there is no better way to experience an array of dishes form different parts of the country, all at one place. I for one, am sure many travel memories are going to resurface and nostalgia will accompany throughout the evening of good food and ambiance.

Where: Okra, Hyderabad Marriott Hotel & Convention Centre
When: 14th Nov to 1st Dec for Dinners Only & Sunday Brunch
Price: 1800/- plus taxes for Dinner
2300/- plus taxes for Sunday Brunch (with alcohol)

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

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Aerial view of Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Goa has for long known as to be the party capital of India, but there is so much more to it. The exotic landscape, virgin beaches, water sports and luxury indulgences. Named as one of the best beach villas by a leading magazine ‘Coco Shambhala’ as personally experienced is a tropical paradise with best of hospitality, amenities and privacy.

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Open air villa at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Mezze  platter served with Goan poe  bread and wine overlooking monsoon rain at coco shambhala, Sindhudurg 

Coco Shambhala has two properties, one in Goa and the other tucked away on the border of Maharashtra in a small town- Sindhudurg luckily i had my fair chance to experience a stay in both in leisure. Set in a tropical garden, barely 200 meters off the beach, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg has villas designed as inclusive, barefoot retreats, each with their own infinity pool looking out to the sea. Coco Shambhala is a place of peace, happiness and tranquility.

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Room with a view at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Monsoon getaway at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

There is a lot i love about this place, but what tops it is privacy that nurtures a sense of balance, much needed in the hectic lives of today in combination with ample of nature all around us. Each villa has a stunning sea facing living area, 2 large bedrooms also facing out to the sea, a well-stocked bar in the living pavilion and its own infinity pool where i spent my day and night, sunrise and sunsets, floating in he pool under rain and stars giving me some of the most breathtaking moments of my life so far.

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Spacious lounging area in villa at coco shamabhala, sindhudurg

read, eat, play all at the luxury of your privacy at coco Shambhala, Sindhhudurg

The villas are spacious and are spaces designed for dining and lounging. It works beautifully for quiet reading, intimate and family dinners alike and group bonding over games all at luxury of your villa, while providing a sweeping vista of the sea just below, and the tempting turquoise waters of the infinity pool in front. The bedrooms are designed to provide natural light, just as the entire villa with stunning sea views and boast of artfully designed coconut wood furniture, sitting alongside the modern amenities of a luxury bedroom.

Breakfast by the pool at coco shambhala, sindhudurg

A taste of Malwani cuisine at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

The kitchen team prepares everything ahead of your arrival; Their head chef got in touch with us, post our booking confirmed to discuss our culinary preferences and make tailor menus based on your feedback. Their complimentary car and driver are at hand, to not only take you around but also, run errands for you. We were also provided with free usage of the pre-programmed cell phone in each villa to contact anyone on the Coco Shambhala team for any assistance.

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Missal Pav  for breakfast at Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg

Their menus showcase the best of Goan cuisine, fresh local produce and sea food. From the mezze platter that’s served with Goan poe bread on welcome (which i have repeatedly ordered every evening) to the delectable spread of Malwani cuisine everything left me craving for more. They also had carefully curated an alluring collection of wines, single malts and craft beers, in the comfort of our (each) own villa. Their Director of Cuisine, Shagun Mehra, crafts new menus each season, which are further tailored to your preferences and palate.

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Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg is a destination in itself, calm beaches, water sports in the season and if you fancy being a little more energetic and can tear yourself away from the sun lounger the hotel offers option to venture out and visit local villages. After a full day of exploring, the one place we desperately wanted to get back to is the ocean followed by a sun downer at the privacy of our villa.

Infinity pool that overlooks beach and endless ocean, Coco Shambhala, Sindhudurg 

For more visit- www.cocoshambhala.com

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Staycation at Trident Hyderabad

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I have been focusing a lot on my travel side of blogs lately, when i am in town i work on my full-time job that helps me set my next travel goals, amidst all this when i got an invite for a staycation from Trident Hyderabad, i just obliged happily  

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Trident Hyderabad is a business hotel, part of The Oberoi Group located right in the heart of formidable global tech capital. A quintessential business hotel, thanks to its contemporary finishes, club floors with a dedicated lounge, and prime location in Hitec City.  From the lobby that is welcoming, staircase with grand chandelier to the rooms the architecture is modern fused with contemporary art; all while fulfilling that expected 5-star flair. We were mesmerized by the expanse of the property and how simple, yet artistic and modern the architecture was.

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Room: We were allotted the ‘Premier Suite’ one of the best at the hotel, that is perfect for work and relaxation. As soon as we entered there was cozy living room with a work desk and ceiling to floor glass window. The bedroom, spacious and contemporary had a walk-in closet and the bath area with a double vanity counter, bathtub, shower area, robes, toiletries, and everything required to ensure that you feel pampered at any given time of the day.  The comfort was so intense that overslept and ordered a lavish breakfast in bed, because for me its not a relaxing holiday until you get a good 10 hours sleep followed by breakfast in bed.

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The pool was our favorite part to unwind, the pleasant weather outdoors just added to the whole feel. From taking a long dip, lounging post breakfast to enjoying our cocktails and quick bites with twinkling skyline to accompany us during evenings, it was just splendid.  

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Restaurants 

Tuscany is an award-winning Italian restaurant that is focused on fresh seasonal produce, reinventing menu and hosting most interesting food festivals expanding the taste of Italy to guests in finest way possible. The risotto and pizza are my staple favorites here. I love Italian and food festivals like ‘Fiesta Fungi’ that bought a line of dishes all using mushrooms was this year’s favorite. With finest of wines, soulful dishes Tuscany is my favorite in-house restaurant at Trident Hyderabad, also it is open only for dinner only making it a great place for special diner dates.  

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Amara is a multi-cuisine buffet restaurant at the Trident Hyderabad that offers Mediterranean, Asian and European cuisines. The restaurant is functional all through the day from 7 am to 11 pm and also serves a la-carte. While Sunday buffet are extravagant the spread on weekdays are also lavish. We picked a seat by the long window glass that has a view of cyber towers and let world pass by as we savored everything from salads to desserts.  

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Kanak, I feel is heart of this uber luxury business hotel that offers Indian specialty. From a bar at entrance that offers you best of world class spirits to santoor players adding dreamy music to the ambiance the visit here is more of an experience that speaks luxury with every detail.  I was glad to be a part of ‘Lazzat-E-Rampur aur Awadh’ curated by guest Chef Rehman who is known for his expertise in this cuisine all over India. The food was a gastronomical journey of rich flavors, age old recipes in company of talented chefs including in house  Chef Dharmender Lamba, who shared stories and memories that made for an evening to cherish. The menu included dishes like Murgh Tikka Mirza Hasnu,  Chapli Kebab, Nasheela Jhinga in starters, Changezi Murgh, Yakhni Gosht Pulao, Nawabi Baigan Bharta, Anannas ke Boti, Taar Khorma in main course and star of the evening were desserts Ande ka Halwa, which was surprisingly good (i tried something like this for first time) and Chukander-e-Afroz made from beetroot served along with  Gur Ki Yaquiti. 

Ninety-Six, the lounge is open from 1 pm to wee hours of 4 am. Be at an after-meeting drink or just late-night cheer, it is a very soothing place that offers range of single malts, cocktails, beer and wine. The bartender can whip up some really fascinating cocktails just tel him what you prefer and leave the rest on the specialist.   

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Our experience has been a combination of excellent service, great food and warm people that would always bring us back. What truly touches your heart are the little things, the attention to details, in everything they do that sets them a class apart. 

Book : Trident Hyderabad 

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Brunch at The Square, Novotel

 

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The Square at Novotel Hyderabad Convention Center, is especially popular for its Sunday Brunch but I decided to go for it today since i was at the hotel for a meeting. Having heard so much about the place, I have been here for dinners but never lunch. This chic and friendly restaurant and its AL fresco area has quite a welcoming vibe.  Executive Chef Gaurav Malhotra joined us for lunch talking about the new live station additions to the brunch counters and upcoming food festivals at the hotel.

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The brunch menu has a lavish spread consisting of revered regional classics to contemporary international highlights, from counters that stocked variety of reads, cheese, salad there was a special counter of grills that I loved the most.

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While most of it came on table, I always enjoy going for a quick round, around the spread picking some breads, choice of salad, maybe (definitely) a piece of dessert too.

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Being a weekday it was quite laid back and I enjoyed the relaxed ambiance of overlooking lush greenery, letting the monsoon air soothe me while I enjoyed every delicacy that came my way.

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A sinful assortment of desserts, along with a selection of wines and beverages, are the perfect complement to revered regional classics and international delights.

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Opening hours: Daily – 6:30am to 11pm
Address: Novotel Hotel Road, Near Hitec City, Kondapur, Hyderabad. Ph: 66824422

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Must Do, Must visit – Fort Kochi

The Jew Town area of Fort Cochin has many traveler orientated restaurants and cafes with mixed menu of all the Indian, Chinese and Western traveler favorites and you can also buy fresh seafood and street food along the shore by the Chinese fishing nets.

Pepper House Cafe serves light lunches, drink and snacks in the cute courtyard setting of the waterfront heritage property. It includes a gallery, art studios and event spaces. i love the store, that stocks some really made in India brands for clothes, quirky jewelry, books, bags and even perfumes.

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Pepper House, Fort Kochi

Qissa Cafe a cafe walking distance from any touristy spot in Fort Kochi  and whips some really good french toasts and coffee, i spent hours here, people watching, reading books and reordering iced coffee. They also like many places here promote local artist and talent and you can always buy something as a souvinear to take home.

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Kashi Art Café  is one of the most popular place for coffee, breakfast or lunch served in their courtyard surrounded by art work from local artists.

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Try: Because of the abundant supply of spices and medicinal plants Kerala is the home of Ayurveda, an ancient, natural healing science that has been practiced in India for over 5000 years. Fort Kochi is a perfect place to try a relaxing Ayurvedic massage at a spa or hotel. I skipped the luxury and went for a local center- Ayurville a walking distance form my hotel and a traditional ayurvedic session, they have oils that are made in house, you can choose depending on your concern or skin type. If you don’t concentrate on the ambiance, this place is great for a traditional massage and will leave you relaxed and lighter. I could feel it with the strokes on my back, pressure on the scalp and not to forget the stretches of arms and legs. it was a great experience and i am so glad i visited this place. If you plan to visit, make sure you take a prior appointment, they also offer long term therapies where you can go for several sessions depending on your concern.

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Watch a Kathakali Dance – Kerala’s famous traditional dance form dates back to the 17th century and is as enchanting as it is unique. The colourful, elaborate make up and costumes and incredible facial expressions provide a fascinating experience, although its probably better to opt for a touristy performance as traditionally the performance can last for many hours and can be hard to follow at first. The Kerala Kathakali Center has nightly performances where you also see the make up being applied and get a demonstration of the different, subtle but fascinating movements and facial expressions.

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Chinese Fishing Nets – On the shore at the tip of Fort Cochin these huge spider like cantilever contraptions are the iconic emblem of Cochin. These impressive nets are a legacy from Chinese traders from 1400 and require at least 4 people to operate.  The Chinese fishing nets are at their most photogenic at sunset and, even though modern fishing methods and a lack of fish here have made these nets mostly redundant, you can still see them in operation and even try it yourself (they will ask for money of course!)

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Pardesi Synagogue and Jew Town – The small but enchantingly beautiful over 400 year old Jewish synagogue in Fort Cochin features a small exhibition of paintings describing the role the Jews played in Cochin and beautiful chandeliers and tiling. The synagogue is right in the middle of Jew town and the bustling, colourful old port area, one of the most atmospheric parts of Fort Cochin, many of the old spice warehouses are now shops catering to tourists selling spices, antiques, nick nacks, colourful shawls and handicrafts but it’s still a nice place to wander and a great place to shop for souvenirs.

To read all about my stay at the beautiful Ayana Fort Kochi, click here

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Westin Hyderabad- A Wellness Staycation

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A warm welcome at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Planning to get away for a relaxing break that is good for your mind, body and soul- without the cost and efforts of jetting off abroad? Then a ‘Staycation’ at The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace is just the luxurious break you need.

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Heavenly bed at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Sleep Well – Their rooms bring together a composed refuel of the body and mind, the Sleep Well program helps you replenish overnight and leaves you well rested for the next day. Their heavenly bed under the sleep well program provides restorative sleep at its truest. The award winning Heavenly Bed is uniquely designed with plush, pillow-top construction for a relaxed sleep.

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Room at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

With the exciting Hyderabad city skyline in the background, I enjoyed a complete relaxing 2 days.  The Taipei carpets, lotus headboards, and full menu of activities and services that helped me meet my travel goals at comfort of my city. Whether its productivity, fitness, relaxation, or simply wellness of being, everything is available right at the hotel premises. I however preferred soak in the monsoon showers and views of the bustling technology district from the privacy of my balcony accompanied with pakoda’s and masala chai (thanks to the Chef Rajiv, who made this special arrangement possible)

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A special masala chai at privacy of my balcony at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

Eat Well- Westin offers a very unique Culinary experience, their Eat Well program is a mélange of a healthy lifestyle with nutritious foods, energizing juices and smoothies that keep the guests maintain their best. My breakfast options were super healthy and super tasty, from gluten free muffins to exotic mix of smoothies and juices they had it all. it was just a great way to give my body a break and perfect detox.

 

While i opted for a healthy breakfast, i planned to take a culinary trip around the world without leaving the hotel. The Westin Hyderabad Mind space offers unique dining experiences that will delight even the most discriminating palettes. From traditional Indian dishes of the Northwest frontier, to the vibrant flavours of Italy, their restaurants, cafes and lounges showcase the best of global cuisine in inspiring settings. I chose to relax and unwind at Casbah their Mediterranean offering.

Casbah is situated at the elevate lounge of the Westin Hyderabad Mindspace it offers mouthwatering Mediterranean finger food but what i love is the middle eastern ambiance with low seating and arched wall surroundings that gives a feeling of living the experience.  The dishes you must try are the Mezze Platter, Soya Chap, Chicken Souvlaki and Grilled Prawns all cooked to perfection with mouthwatering taste, that will leave you wanting more. The fact that it is open till 2 am in just a bonus.

Another option i tried was the ‘Seasonal Taste’ which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed an enlightening (because i had a really good conversation on food over wine with Chef Rajiv who educated us on so many things)  which included a lot of local fare along with international options. They offer nutritious super foods as well as endless selections of desserts.

Feel Well- Designed to awaken the senses, The Feel Well program offers rejuvenating spa experiences along with services catering to therapeutic massages, cleansing facials and invigorating body treatments. When staying at Westin, a visit to spa achieves complete harmony of body and mind with their signature Heavenly Spa treatment, restores balance and promotes a foundation of wellness that lasts beyond your stay. It’s a sanctuary of wellness, where every touch, sound and scent are carefully designed to revitalize your body and calm your mind. They have specially designed rooms for different treatments. The expert masseuse makes sure of an unforgettable experience right from welcoming you; soaking your feet for a cleanse, once you are settled on your massage bed, after declaring your area of concern, you are just transformed into the Zen mode throughout the treatment. Reliving each muscle of stress and pain, you can feel each cell in your body ease its way into relaxing. The Heavenly spa treatment is a complete experience of mind body and soul that includes massage and stretches. Post your therapy you will be lead to steam room, to let the oil absorb and of course detox. You can choose to go for a normal shower, or just lay back in the Jacuzzi. The treatments winds up with a warm cup of herbal tree and chocolate truffle in soothing ambiance at their post spa lounge area while you share your feedback and have some more me time post your treatment. Heavenly indeed!

Move Well – With a motivation to provide guests a well-designed fitness program, move well offers specially designed workout routines with gear lending facilities and local running maps. Their world-class fitness studios offer active state-of -the-art equipment and all the essentials to power your performance.  The also have In Room workout facility provided to the guests on booking offers a treadmill or a stationary bike at the privacy of the guest

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Gym at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

While i experienced these three wellness aspects, they also have ‘Work Well’ that connects, convenes and collaborates with thoughtfully designed work spaces at the hotel. The program streamlines work experience with rent-able by the hour designed to facilitate along with organised and efficient work stations keeping meeting spaces open and clear. Apart from this ‘Play Well’  initiative brings into focus extended breakfast hours, local activity guide, the guests can explore their surroundings and embark on adventures much like the Westin brand, Westin Hyderabad also promotes wellness in every element of a guest’s stay including the heavenly bed, heavenly spa, Westin workout designated gear which guests can borrow, and the specialty menu with powerful nutrients to energize and fuel the day.

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Seasonal Taste at Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

All in all Westin Hyderabad Mindspace  is the perfect place for a ‘Staycation in Hyderabad’, where you can not only focus on wellness, but be rest assured to be pampered to the fullest! The property is also ideal for events, intimate business meetings and extravagant gala functions.

Location: Building No: 15, Raheja IT Park, Hitec City, Madhapur, Hyderabad. Ph:67676767

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Dum Pukht Begum’s at ITC Kohenur  

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ITC Hotels are synonymous to the term responsible Luxury, with launch of their latest gem ITC Kohenur it has wooed its guests (and me) with artistic charm at every corner.  The moment you step in, the grandeur of the place engulfs you. The more you explore the more you realize how Kohenur dint just gets its name from the famous Kohinoor diamond found in Hyderabad but finds inspiration for its interiors from different legacies and aspects of the royal city of Nizams.

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Dum Pukht Begum’s

The restaurant offers a regal dining experience, one that needs to be enjoyed in complete leisure, from indulging in delightful aromas emanated from the dish to its flavors that’s spark your taste buds. Set in a beautiful setting, Dum Pukht offers a unique culinary experience that is inspired from the kitchens of begums. The food here is delicately spiced yet packed with flavors. There are two aspects to the Dum style of cooking: Bhunao and Dum or ‘roasting’ and ‘maturing’ of a prepared dish. Herbs and spices play their own unique role in Dum style of cooking by lending their characteristic flavors and aroma to the dish. The slow-cooking of Dum Pukht , pushes the spices, meat and vegetables used to give the maximum flavor and cook gradually in its juices.

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Appetizers at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

During my review chef had an exquisite line-up prepared all we had to do was sit back and savor it all. Our meal began with the welcome drink ‘Jamun-E-Sahi’ which was a jamun juice with hint of lemon and chilies. In appetizers I really enjoyed the ‘Dudiya Kebab’ that melts in the mouth just like its non-vegetarian counterpart ‘Galauti Kebab’ For the ones who are fond of lamb must try the ‘Kakori Kebab’ cooked to perfection with flavors of cloves and cinnamon.

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The appetizing dishes at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

I enjoyed the assortment of breads, especially the sheermal with dishes like ‘Qasar-E-Pukhtan’ paneer simmered in tomato gravy, ‘Murgh Khushk Purdah’ another aromatic dish that has succulent pieces of chicken. The mandatory try is the ‘Dum Pukht Biryani’, the showstopper dish which is mutton biryani served with curd chutney, raita and mirchi ka salan.

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Biryani at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad (p.c  Saloni- salt to taste)

Wrapping up the meal we were presented with ‘Khwaish-E-Shereen’ , an assorted platter of desserts that includes Khubani ka Meetha, Badami Kheer &  Gulab Jamun.

 

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Desserts at ITC Kohenur, Hyderabad

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The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg

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The Khyber Resort & Spa, Gulmarg

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With a stunning location at an elevation of 8,825 ft in the Pir Panjal range of the majestic Himalayas, The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg, is spread over seven acres in a pristine pine valley. Clad in timber and stone, the resort offers breath-taking views of snow-capped Apharwat peaks. The awe-inspiring location of the resort combined with the unfolding drama of Gulmarg’s changing seasons is a treat to eyes as well as soul. The unavailability of network has given me a real holiday in a very long time (yes in spite of all that travels), I did use my phone a few times on hotel Wi-Fi but I did that mostly to quickly reply on important msgs or mail (only that needed immediate response) rest of the time I used it only to try and capture the beauty around me.

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Luxury Balcony Room at The Khyber Resort & Spa

My Room: We stayed in the ‘Luxury Balcony Rooms’ with generous private balconies that has a huge reclining chair to sit and sip hot cup of kahwa as you catch the first rays of daybreak, I spent hours in the balcony as rain shut us in with no option of going out, but making every moment worth it, in the serenity of its surroundings. This was not it, our room had a separate dressing area, leading to a plush bathroom with a sunken tub where large picture windows offer brilliant view.

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Soaking in a hot tub, with some fresh fruits and mesmerizing view at Khyber Resort, Gulmarg

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Room with a view at The Khyber Resort & Spa

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The Khyber Resort is place that has more than one or two breath-taking spots, this being one of them- The pool

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There is nothing you can’t have at Khyber, having my own wine and cheese sunday

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An evening at calabash at The Khyber Resort &Spa, Gulmarg

Calabash, their sheesha lounge, has fine carpets and seating, designed to invigorate lounging for hours on end and floor-length windows that look out to forests of fir and the Himalayas. Indulge in sheesha or light starters, while the hotel doesn’t serve alcohol, you are welcome to carry on your own, and this indeed is the perfect place to enjoy a few drinks and endless conversations.

Clove is an elegant all-day dining restaurant at The Khyber Resort open where food from across the globe is served up with panoramic views. From pasta to mezze, dim sums to Kahsmiri Wazwan, they serve it all in an atmosphere that captures the grandeur of the mountains.

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Breakfast with a view at The Khyber Reosrt & Spa, Gulmarg

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Tea Lounge at The Khyber Reosrt & Spa, Gulmarg

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L’Occitane Spa at The Khyber Reosrt & Spa, Gulmarg

There is an exclusive spa review coming up, so watch this space and don’t forget to subscribe so you get all updates right in your mailbox. Also follow me on Instagram @Fashioneatista , Facebook – FashionEatista, for more instant updates on all things fun food and fashion… and ofcourse Travel

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