Taj Bekal

Travel guide to Bekal

Bekal is a small coastal town in northern kerala just off Mangalore. The Bekal fort is best recognized as the fort where Arvind Swamy in that iconic white and blue T-shirt sings “Uyire” against the backdrop of crashing waves and it is all you can do to not run to the screen and hug and pacify him. It is still about Bekal that we’re talking about. We travelled to Bekal earlier this year after our customary visit to Mookambika temple. It is just off the border of Mangalore, about 4 hours from Kollur, Karnataka. It was late March and it was hot. We stayed at Taj Bekal which sits just off the beach and on the sides of a lovely stretch of backwaters. This place was so charming, so tastefully done, there was little reason to venture anywhere else. We stayed busy the whole time. We ate, sat, gazed, ate, laid down, sat, watched, fell asleep, ate, sat, watched … all day. We did this out on the grass by the backwater, on the swing bed in the patio, in the pool and on the beach. The green all around soothed my eyes. I couldn’t have enough of the coconut trees, the gentle flow of the backwater, the silence interrupted only by birds and my kids. I sat there drinking in the quiet relishing the delicious prospect of doing nothing the rest of the day. I wanted to hold on to it, take it back with me. The property has lovely touches of kerala all over the place. Kerala houseboats are called Kettuvallams. These Kettuvallam style bamboo awnings adorn every entrance, veranda and roof. Little statues of elephants with the most adorable little umbrella stand guard in front of every room bearing the room number. Striking Pillayar (Vinayagar/Ganesh) sculptures greet you at every turn. People were canoeing in the backwaters, getting Ayurvedic spa treatments, making friends with other guests, dressing up for meals and broadcasting real-time to their social circles. I slept. You can try your archery skills, play cricket or stand in the pool and order cappuccino. Women had shopped specifically for this holiday. They wore tie-around the neck swimsuits, one side sleeved swimsuits and sunglasses and walked into the pool to stand and chat. They ordered cappuccino and fries. I was wearing Saroja Devi’s swimsuit with the frills at the thigh. I took in a long deep breath,...
Maggi

Checking in

It’s been a long long time since I wrote but I’ve been worrying all along that I am not writing. I don’t do and I worry that I don’t do. I don’t exercise for a week and I feel lousy all week that I am not exercising. Somehow it is easier to continue to feel lousy about something, than to do it. I’ve made my laziest meals the past few months upcycling old chappathis into kothu chappathis, making back-to-back idli-dosai-dosai meals, skipping chutney and dishing out milagai podi every possible instance (so much so that my milagai podi is nearly over and I need to make it again), making maggi a regular weekday dinner, running through eggs and bread and letting the veggies get old. I’ve not cooked a meal worthy of being blogged about. I’ve been engulfed in work. When I am anxious, overwhelmed, time pressed and going mad, I go out and stock up on Maggi. For backup. For comfort. For solace. #maggi #foodbetterbegood #food #foodtalkindia #noodles #instant #instantfood #foodie #comfortfood #foodblogger #comfort #chennai A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Mar 17, 2018 at 3:42am PDT In between I managed to go on a family vacation-cum-pilgrimage to Mookambika, Kollur and Bekal (travel post coming soon). Exclusive action shots from my vacation at Bekal, Kerala. People around me were canoeing in the backwaters, swimming, cycling, making sand castles on the beach, dressing up for meal times, making friends with other guests.. I was doing this. ??? #vacation #bekal #hotel #kerala #holiday #sleeping #indiatravel #trip #instatravel #familytrip #southindia #foodbetterbegood A post shared by jayanthi (@jayanthi.padmanabhan) on Apr 18, 2018 at 12:40pm PDT On vacations I like to take my planner and make bucket lists. I saw the bucket list that I’d made on last year’s vacation. I wanted to learn swimming Lose 18 kilos with an additional if-clause item that IF I lose that weight I get to buy new clothes Blog 5 times a week and Reach a 100000 followers. I had 1340 followers then. 2018 Planner, Tabbed sticky notes and Norpro classic popsicle mould brought with love from USA by my dear friend lakshmi. These are exactly what i want. How can a friend know so well? She won't. That is why I get her mailing address as soon as she reaches the US, buy on amazon.com and ship it to her and let her be my...
How to be kind to fat people, Kindness challenge

How to be kind to fat people

I started the kindness series a while back with the intention of sharing stories of kindness. I was hoping it would spread some positivity and set off a chain of kindness. If you have a story of kindness whether given or received that you’d like to share with the world, please write to me: jayanthi.padmanabhan@gmail.com. It need not be Nobel peace worthy. I am talking about little everyday acts of thoughtfulness, sensitivity and kindness. I’d love to highlight your story on foodbetterbegood. While I wait for these stories, I thought it might be a good idea to intersperse it with short “How to be kind to X” posts. Last month it was about “How to be kind to hung over people“. Today it is all about being kind to fat people. Feel free to share this post with friends who need this. I’d love to hear your ideas on how to be kind to fat people or anybody else. Who else could do with some kindness? Your comments, feedback are most appreciated. Thank you! Stay happy, stay kind!  
hung over clipart

How to be kind to hung over people

Wish you a very happy new year! May all your dreams come true this year! Wish we all show more kindness to each other this year. I received exactly one email from a dear reader – Aarthi about my kindness challenge who rightly pointed out that people might not be comfortable sharing their stories of kindness, in blowing their own trumpet. She also suggested that it might be easier instead to share stories of kindness that they have experienced from others. I think that’s a great idea too. I am still open to highlighting stories of kindness in this space, whether given or experienced. So please feel free to share your stories with me; you can mail me at Jayanthi.padmanabhan@gmail.com. In the meantime until the kindness stories start pouring in, I thought I’d pepper the series with a “How to be kind to x” post each week. This week it is all about being kind to hung over people. Let’s jump right in: How to be kind to hung over people Hung over people are in a bad state. They’re already regretting the previous night. Harder than being hung over is pretending not to be. So please make it a little easier and save the sermon for later.  If you’re the spouse, parent, child or sibling please wait for the next day to say anything. If you’re anybody else, it’s not your business. Avoid judging them by way of innocent sounding questions about their family, kids, drinking habits and such. You need not approve of any of those. If the hungover person is a woman, avoid snide remarks trying to shame her. It is still not your business. Avoid judging her by way of innocent sounding questions about her family, kids, drinking habits and such. You need not approve of any of those. Draw the blinds. Provide some food, a big jug of water, a combiflam or the preferred tablet for headache and let them sleep in. Give them their sunglasses if they find it too bright when moving around the house. If possible, cover for them. Try to take care of their chores or commitments for the day. Lend a patient ear if they want to explain or talk about the previous day. Hear completely and try not to say what you would have done in the situation. When they’ve recovered, objectively list out your problems, your expectations and a...
light diet

Diet Plan for weightloss

I hope you’re doing great. How is weight-loss journey shaping up? Do you have any goals you want to achieve before the end of the year? I was thinking of setting a mini-goal for end of the year within my project 50k. End of the year is a little over a month away. But there’s a lot you can do in a month. I am going to be sharing a diet plan for weightloss today to help you stay on track. Truth be told, I’ve barely stepped in the gym the last few weeks. I spent the past few weeks hugging a hot water bag, a pain relief spray in one hand and popping tablets every now and then. I’ve been plagued by a persistent back-ache that still hasn’t gone away. I know now how it feels to not be able to bend at all. I also realized that I bend only when I am putting on my shoes or photographing food. I lower myself gradually into the chair and get up even slower. Nobody dare hustle grandmas and grandpas for being slow! It is easy to slip off the diet when you are not exercising. There just isn’t that motivation. But it is so important to stick to your diet to stay where you are, to not ruin the work you’ve done all along. I had a few readers ask me about the diet to follow for weightloss. So I decided to put together a couple of diet charts for the benefit of those who wish to lose weight. There are two versions of these diet plans – the light version is for beginners and anyone who doesn’t want to make too many drastic changes to their daily diet. The Advanced version is for the seriously disciplined kind who are up for a challenge. I have the vegetarian and non-vegetarian options for both diet versions. Feel free to use the diet plan that suits your goals best. I am no expert, far from it. I have lost weight in the past with the “light diet” and regular exercise (5-6 days a week). Jagan follows the advanced version of the diet plan and has seen impressive results. He works out 5 days at the gym in addition to a cross-fit class he attends 3 days a week. These are also some of the things that I’ve heard from dieticians. This...
10 things we do on whatsapp

10 things we do on Whatsapp

I’ve been toying with the idea of this post for quite some time now. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a big enough list. I didn’t want to offend the Whatsapp folks I know of. But then I realized I’d exited most Whatsapp groups that I was part of. Also I don’t expect the serious Whatsapp-y folks to have enough patience or attention span to read this 900 word article. A video or meme may have stood out but not this one. So here goes. Let me know your experience with Whatsapp. I’d love to hear. HBD We never remembered birthdays and anniversaries of cousins, cousin’s wives, their kids, uncles and aunts. And rightfully we did not wish all these people either. Things seemed real. With Whatsapp when all these extended family members are cloistered together in a Whatsapp group just a tap away, every day is somebody’s birthday, somebody’s anniversary. The cousin’s wife or brother or sister gives the cue usually by changing the title of the group. Changing the title is the red carpet treatment of Whatsapp. Everybody else follows suit with their own “HBD” wishes. The more cake, balloon and confetti emojis you add, the greater your effort and therefore the heartier your wishes. Easy, quick and empty. Not wishing would make you a mean person. Vaguely texting a bunch of emojis would make you a vacuous but sensitive person. Choose.  There are the groups within groups. This is going to look like an analytical reasoning problem in CAT paper, but bear with me. There is a Whatsapp group (group 1) that has A, B, C, D and E. There is another group (group 2) that has just A, B and C. D and E don’t know about this group. Another group (group 3) has A, B, E and F. C and D don’t know about this group. A also talks to D one on one. A talks to everyone within the group and outside too. People need to keep track of the group overlaps when forwarding messages. You don’t want to send what was sent in group 1 to group 2 or group 3 because some of them have already seen it. You need to look up to see which group you’re texting in to make sure you’re not talking about D in the group that has D. Not easy. There are the office...
book review - the ministry of utmost happiness

What are you reading these days?

What are you reading these days, apart from types of plants, festivals of India, common nouns and shapes and patterns? And how exactly did this come about? At exactly which juncture, did you take up the homework portfolio? You were changing diapers. Dad did too at times. You played with him and dad recorded videos of his adorable little tantrums. You fed him. Dad maybe played a rhyme or two. You shopped for his clothes. Dad was browsing his phone. You bought him the cars and guns. Dad played with them. Dad and mom dropped him for his first day of school. You lingered on. Dad didn’t see the point. You waited for him to return from school to pamper the poor little boy. You quizzed him about school, his teacher, his friends. You got nothing. You sat him down and made him write his first letters. Dad felt it was too early. You felt dad wasn’t taking this seriously. You had to take charge. You made him study every day. Dad continued to be nonchalant. You couldn’t. You were being bombarded by other moms’ messages, elaborate discussions on the daily lessons, their kids’ class notes, their drawings, the prizes they were winning and their performances. You couldn’t let your child lag behind. But you aren’t as obsessed either. Study times are getting more arduous. You want help. You turn. Dad is not around. Dad has left long ago. Roles have been set. Once the homework manager, always the homework manager. Precedents are very very important. What are you reading? I won’t be surprised if you don’t remember the last real book you read or if you haven’t completed your last book. There was a time I slept with multiple unfinished books around my pillow as if I feared that I may not finish them if I put them back on my shelves. I didn’t finish them anyway. Things improved a little as Hasini and Yuvi grew a little older. And then Jagan gifted me a kindle. I still didn’t read a book a week. But I scrambled back into reading. I realized that my tastes have changed now. I’ve gravitated away from novels towards memoirs, epics and history. I wanted to share what I’ve been reading these days. I hope you’ll share what you are reading and we could do a reading club kind of thing. Sometimes I am...
Carrot kheer

10 Tips to help plan your next big party | Carrot Kheer recipe

Have you experienced “biryani fatigue” ever? I am in the middle of it now. I don’t want to eat biryani ever.. in the next 2 months. We were about to have a large family get-together of nearly 30 guests. We decided to order biryani and make everything else at home. I’d make carrot kheer, gulab jamun, mangalore ghee chicken roast, mutton kola urundai, rice, rasam, vegetable biryani, mixed vegetable jalferazie and curd rice. We wanted to make sure the biryani was top-notch. So the week leading up to the party we ate biryani daily, taste testing biryanis to decide the best place to order from. If you had seen a woman with a faint masala scent, walking up and down the store with a notebook in one hand and a fully loaded cart, kneeling down here checking the label behind the byadigi chilli pack, going back and adding an extra pack of everything and stopping every shop assistant for help, you should have probably helped her, without judging.   I made estimations and calculated volumes of each dish and worked backwards to calculate volumes of each ingredient I had to buy. I visited the grocery store twice a day during that period. I bought extra ladles, extra-large woks and steel buckets to serve from. I spent the 85 hours of the next 72 hours in the kitchen. I cooked each dish one at a time, slowly, tasting along the way, tweaking, taking a second opinion, fine-tuning again. I erred on the side of caution and made a little too much of everything. And about one-third of them didn’t show up. Nothing serious. In our part of the world, requesting for RSVP is considered rude. However not showing up is perfectly fine. And so I ate biryani the whole week after the party as well. The party menu was our family menu for the entire week after that. This after I dug out all the dabbas I possessed to pack food for my maid, for my parents, for my parent’s cook and for relatives who lived close by. This, my friends is what party hangover feels like. You’ll want to not cook even an omelette, you’ll feel like you’ve released “Bahubali”, you’ll crave a leg massage, you’ll want to eat out, watch a movie, rest for a week and want to go on a holiday alone. I compiled a list of...

8 Cool kitchen tools

I’ll start out online looking for a new wireless mouse but will find my way to the cast iron skillet or the no-drip oil dispenser or the cute milk bottle. I’ll buy the cast iron skillet, vacillate over the oil dispenser and forego the new mouse as a compromise.   I am a kitchen nazi (bajaari in Madras tamil), a hoarder of spoons, a dabba fanatic, a crazy collector of all things vintage and kitchen and a greedy kitchen-tool buyer. I am always on the lookout for that new nifty little tool that’ll peel the sambar onions for me. It is always the sambar onions. In pursuit of that elusive tool, I have amassed easily the largest amount of clutter that my tiny kitchen can hold. But I haven’t yet found the one that’ll peel sambar onions for me. Here’s a list of some of my favourite kitchen tools. My absolute must-haves are my knife and pressure cookers. I’ve not listed the staples here. I am not the one who’ll buy a yogurt maker or bread machine. I am not a fan of super-specialized gadgets. The tools I have listed here are a bit more diverse yet really good at some very specific tasks. Double blade Mincing (rocking) knife – I love to use this to chop up greens and herbs. I bunch up my greens and go over them once with my rocking knife, turn 90 degree and chop again, turn – chop, turn – chop and it’s done. What I really love is that I don’t have to be holding the greens but I can still chop them real fine. You could easily use this knife to chop or mince onions, garlic or nuts too. These knives are extremely sharp. So be extra careful while washing them. Popcorn maker that I never make popcorn in but roast nuts in all the time – I bought this one at an exhibition (its called Smartpop), the kind where there are these stalls that sell vegetable choppers and roti makers and they do such impressive demos, it takes all your will power to not buy them. I bought it for just under 1000 bucks if I remember correctly. You can air fry small vathals, fryums and nuts in them. Jagan likes to roast a big batch of almonds in them. He lets them cool down before transferring them into a jar....

Why Tamils fight for Jallikattu

The next time you take your dog for a walk and he goes bounding up to the neighbourhood aunty don’t yank him by his chain, you cruel moron. You’ll choke him, you’ll hurt him. Reason it out with him. The aunty shouldn’t mind a tiny bite. My mother likes to create a platter everyday for the crows and pigeons that visit our terrace. She keeps aside a portion of the day’s tiffen – idli or dosai or upma, the malai from the day’s milk and few biscuits and sets them up in a plate on the terrace. “Stop feeding them your upma. I am not answering PETA if those crows and pigeons suffer from an upset stomach. You are morally responsible.” As I write this, thousands of my fellow tamils are sitting in Chennai’s Marina beach, Alanganallur, Coimbatore, Salem, all over TamilNadu and across several countries, unrelenting in their demand to revive Jallikattu while national media and newspapers reluctantly turn their gaze on the third day to protests they distantly refer to as “an ancient bull-taming sport”. They conduct panel discussions usually comprising of a couple of socialite women who’ve never walked their dog and have therefore not had to hurt them, a lone passionate Tamil person who they cut short every time he is about to make a point and an advocate or historian to spew facts/laws. The non-Tamil news anchor doesn’t understand why the entire state is up in arms favouring this cruel sport. The rest of the panellists beat up the lone passionate Tamil person from what they perceive as their moral high ground.   This in essence is what the protestors are fighting. It is the fact that people who are far-removed from the state and the sport, who are uncomfortable with the sport, can do away with the sport that was being held for hundreds of years. Just like that. And call tamils “emotional”. If this isn’t fascism I don’t know what is. To decree that everyone should be like them is the most violent form of fascism. I am against any group that calls itself an advocacy group (including PETA). I don’t want anyone advocating anything to me. It’s easy to eliminate an un-organized sport, a farmer’s sport that happens only in villages with no sponsors, teams and bids. “Play cricket, hockey or chess like the rest of us.” One particular animal activist comments...
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