Thursday, February 23, 2017


Tourism in Sharjah is family oriented, and the many museums created are all child-friendly; Sharjah city is absolutely worth a visit: all excursions start at the amazingly and appropriately named Ethnic Roundabout, where Renaissance look alike buildings casing numerous museums ring the roundabout….
The Emirate of Sharjah is a distant call from the allure and flashiness next door and it takes only a little bus ride to get from one to the other, and is borderless but the dissimilarity is amazingly beautiful. The folks of Sharjah have oil wealth too, they drive their share of Ferraris, have their grand buildings and 5 star hotels, but you only need to casually scuff the external to learn that they are profoundly entrenched in their traditions. The finest museum to visit is certainly the Sharjah Art Museum, the leading art gallery in the Gulf, with an inspiring assortment of Arabic and Orientalist art. It’s a great idea to take a tea break on the third floor, with its stunning domed ceiling decorated with patterns and the night sky. A gathering of old buildings house yet more museums; and there’s also a striking fort. One old house, conserved as it would have been when the family lived there, gives a thought-provoking vision into how wealthy Arabs lived before the onset of the high-rise apartment. Sharjah’s heritage centre lies on the north side of the corniche, and opposite it, old-style dhows from Iran still nod on the harbour, as they have done for years.
The souks especially the Central Souk is beautiful in the heart of town, is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs, and rates are lesser than in Dubai. Sharjah is also the place to come if you want to get a hint of genuine Arab life. Head for the beach, serene and beautiful; In Arabic culture, the beach is a place to meet and hang out, to picnic with family and friends.
With a swarm of stalls vending fruits, vegetables, clothes, accessories, domestic items, portable prerequisites and handcrafted goods, the market is a must visit and an interesting insight to the local culture.
 Most of the people include families visiting food stalls complete with an assortment of dishes and snacks including samosas, Vadas as well as Kadak Chai.
The desert safari is an experience unique to the social and cultural fabric of Sharjah. Visiting Sharjah and going back without boarding on a desert safari is quite impossible indeed! This safari gives a real chance to experience the many flavours of Sharjah courtesy a complete range of activities. The inexplicably alluring desert sands make for a beautiful landscape while the dune bashing sessions signify pure adventure and adrenaline pumping vehicle dexterity. Also denoted to as Dune bashing, this activity can securely be measured the biggest attraction on desert safari trips where automobiles are seen immaculately balanced above sand dunes. Arabia’s superb deserts come thriving with a multitude of fascinating experiences for tourists at these safaris. The Meliha desert safari is a brew of adventure, excitement, warmth and amorousness diversified into one extremely pleasant experience that will create memories to be prized for a lifetime indeed! Meliha, Sharjah has its own exclusive excursion desk where you can book a desert safari adventure for your entire family without any hassles. Not only are the tour packages really affordable, they also throw in numerous supplementary lures that you will not get elsewhere! Do not miss taking pictures of the Camel Rock and fossil exploring!
Best Way To Reach: Fly Air Arabia, it’s a great budget airline; For Reservations:

Best Place to Stay: Oceania Khorfakkan Resort & Spa, Corniche Road - Al Mudifi – Sharjah offers breath taking views at affordable rates.

My story first published in Statesman

Friday, February 17, 2017


More often than not, people call me and ask where to go for a meal? I truly don’t know what to say as everyone has a different preference and my first question back to them is obviously, ‘so which cuisine are you looking at’?
Well if you are looking at Arabic this weekend, then definitely head to threesixtyone at The Oberoi, Gurgaon.
Chef Hatem's professional highlights include
being recognised with a honorary badge by
the ' World Association of Chef's Societies'
& the 'Egyptian Chef's Association'

Chef Hatem Ezzat Sabra, the culinary expert, who is at the helm of the Arabic cuisine section at The Oberoi, Dubai is right here in ‘Mahro Gurgaon’ these days and brings with him culinary delights from the heart of Egypt, Palestine along with traditional local cuisine of Dubai.

There’s nothing that can impulsively snatch conversations giving way to a thrill of exhilaration when a whole assortment of Arabic Mezze is placed right in the center of the table. Well that’s exactly what happened on my table amid conversations with the talented Chef Hatem and Executive Chef Manish Sharma.. Of course, the chatter resumed but only to be in awe and appreciation for the food that had arrived.‘Tabbouleh is the first thing many women eat and begin their day, it keeps them healthy and fit’, shares Chef Hatem, and of course the women on the table look at him in glee and want to know all about it! ‘Parsley is rich in many vitamins and keeps your immune system strong and Bulgur is a good source of fiber, protein, iron and also vitamin B-6, he further adds. By this time I am totally convinced to ask Chef Hatem for his recipe and add it to my daily diet. The quality and balance of the Tabbouleh as well as the other dishes on offer are very different from what you may be used to in Saadi Dilli and extremely authentic and I say that because I have travelled extensively to the Middle East. Although most individuals are acquainted with a few staples of the region, Middle Eastern food has endured a mystery for the most part. Hummus, Shawarma and Moutabel are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Arabic food out here at the food festival. You may want to order quite a few dishes off the A La Carte menu, which means that you should pretty much order the whole menu. Go for it, because it’s all fantastic !
The ‘Arabic Cuisine’ showcase is on until the 19th February, 2017. The Lunch buffet is priced at Rs. 2650 plus taxes per guest.  Dinner has an A La Carte offering  
WHERE? Amaranta, Level 3 @ the Oberoi Gurgaon, 443, Udyog Vihar, Phase V, Gurgaon
RESERVATIONS 0124 245 1234
HOT MEZZE: Cheese Sambousek, Arabic Spinach Fatayer, Shrimp Harrah and Falafel - Served with mixed pickles, tahini sauce and warm pita bread
COLD MEZZE- Hummus, Babaganoush, Muhammara
ARABIC SALADS – Fattoush & Tabbouleh 
SOUPS - Arabic Lentil Soup, Moroccan Lamb Harira Soup and Egyptian Chicken Rizo Soup 
TRADITIONAL ARABIC MAIN COURSES - Sea food Sayadieh, Lamb Machboos, Arabic grill platter, Arabic chicken shawarma, Chicken Mandy, Vegetable couscous, Vegetable Moussaka and Egyptian Potato Tagine
DESSERTS – Basbousa, Baklava with clotted vanilla cream, Kunafa bil kishta, Balah al sham and Um Ali

Sunday, February 12, 2017


If you are a traveller who craves for Indian food abroad, these cities will definitely make you feel at home
Talli Joe, London
Nalli Nehari at Talli Joe London
Coming from a land of avid tea drinkers, we Indians love our ‘cutting chai’ from roadside stalls too, it is astounding to see that a product such as tea could be considered special and is treated with such reverence in London. Indian High tea could range from samosa, kachori, dhokla to Bengali sweets on the various plates of the Afternoon stand. Brick Lane, which is basically just a lane, a long lane of curry houses, and a lengthy permanent evidence of how multi-ethnic and distinctive London can get from one boulevard to the next.  
Also prominent is the Sunday market, at the end of Bacon Street, which attractions mass from all over London and then there is always Soho for the Dosas and Chaats. Then there are the ever popular restaurants such as Benares, the much loved Talli Joe and certainly Cinnamon club.

Predictably the Indian influence has added spicy curries and much more to the cuisine here. Interestingly nearly twenty percent of Durban’s residents are of Indian descent, and that is visible in the cuisine. On offer are exciting chutneys, buttermilk, curries and even Rotis.
Bunny Chow
The preferred local dish is ‘Bunny chow’ essentially partial loaf of bread scooped out and packed with curry which can be chicken or mutton and beans for the vegetarians. Indian stalls also govern the Victoria Street Market in Central Durban with shop owners selling a vast collection of curry powders; the utmost fascinating names being ‘razor blade’, ‘mother-in-law’ and ‘hellfire’ powder which are surely not for the faint-hearted.
This city has several Indian speciality restaurants.
Interestingly at a restaurant called ‘Pickle’, celebrity chef Sunil Ghai does Indian dishes with carefully sourced Irish ingredients; Fancy an Irish lobster or a wild boar curry anyone? Then there are several offering Just Indian curries and grills and some specialising in Vegetarian. Indian cab drivers swear by the curries on Mary Street and believe it or not Dublin has over twenty curry houses in the city. Rasam is another favourite restaurant for Dubliners.
A feel of nostalgia comes over your my senses as you stroll along the jam-packed street, stopping at stalls in little India. Getting Indian food in this town should be the least of our worries. A range of Dosa and chapattis, homemade Vadais or idlis are available, everything from sweat inducing, spicy dishes to sweet condiments will tempt one’s taste buds. Quell that Indian rumbling tummy by opting for specialty Biryani, banana leaf rice, fried Mamak noodles and even vegetarian rice. Leave a bit of room before you finish for some colourful sweets too. You can even buy churan or eat a meal during your stay at the glitzy Kuala Lumpur.

my story first published in ET Panache Travel

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


The Sharjah Light Festival is a distinctive experience intended to arrest the imagination of all, as well as focus Sharjah’s illustrious landmarks and significant buildings, has been enormously prosperous and popular, enticing over 560,000 spectators.
This magnificent and captivating ten-day-February event deluges Sharjah with light and colour, and rejoices the art of illustration with light and syndicates images with charismatic music to create an exciting experience. Sharjah’s architecture shines in a new breath-taking light. When the sun goes down, streets are lit up and architecture is mystically transformed.
A selection of artists and professionals have created numerous new shows this year, using the fascia of eminent landmarks and monuments to bring out the appealing beauty of Sharjah’s architectural marvels, tourist lures and art and culture. The colourful light works transformed landmark buildings into monumental pieces of art using patterns and calligraphy highlighting Emirati, Arabic and Islamic culture. A highlight is also the collaborating technology show at Dr Sultan Al Qasimi Centre for Gulf Studies, which has amalgamated with the festivities for the first time this year.
The edge of art, technology, history and culture across the fourteen locations generate a masterpiece of civilisation, bringing life with astounding light exhibitions and melodic performances. This year’s festival also stands out from previous editions for its use of 3D video techniques at all 14 locations.
The locations selected for the festival comprise the University City Hall, Cultural Palace, Al Noor Mosque, Al Taqwa Mosque and Al Qasba in addition to the interactive light shows in the Palm Garden and the parade on the Khalid Lagoon Corniche. Other sites through the emirate are Kalba University, Khor Fakkan University, Dibba Mosque, Al Dhaid Mosque and Masjid Sheikh Rashid Bin Ahmad Al Qasimi in Dibba.

The seventh annual Sharjah Light Festival, SLF, started on 2nd Feb night at the University City Hall in Sharjah City.
The 10-day event will conclude on 11th February.
The festival has been structured by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, SCTDA, under the support of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
BEST WAY TO REACH: Fly Air Arabia, it’s a great budget airline