Monthly Archives: April 2014

‘Chicken tikka in Iran’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

flowers iic 1489 580 50Chicken tikka, a slice of juicy lemon, a piece of onion, green dhania, beatroot piece and  bread (naan/(roti)- some where in Iran.

Though it looks good, taste of the chicken tikka was bland and it was dry and not juicy- perhaps it had been insufficiently marinated and no spices used. The onion too did not have the punch and was on the sweater side. The bread/naan/roti was cold, unlike hot-right from the oven- that we in India are used to taking.

Yes, some people are very hard to please!

Photo, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Cactus soup in Mexico’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Travelling with a Group by bus in Mexico, we stopped at a small town to have lunch. What I found interesting in the menu was ‘Cactus Soup’ – in Mexican ‘Sopa de Nopales’. I ordered it for the sheer sake of novelty. It was attractive looking, not thick and had the taste of a vegetable soup and was good and was served with fresh tortillas.  And yes. There were so thorns in it.

Here is a recipe of this soup for those interested:

SOPA DE NOPALES (CACTUS SOUP)
Ingredients

*1/2 C. onion, chopped
*1 Tbs. olive oil
*1 lb. nopalitos (de-thorned prickly pear cactus pads, boiled and cooked with jalepeno peppers)
*4 C. chicken broth
*sour cream, to garnish
*diced tomatoes, to garnish
*chopped fresh cilantro (green dhania leaves), to garnish

Procedure:

Saute onion in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add nopalitos and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Garnish each serving bowl with sour cream, diced tomatoes, and cilantro before serving.
(Source of this recipe) http://www.mexicanrecipe4living.com/soup-recipes/315-mexican-cactus-soup.html).

Provecho (The Mexican Bon Apetit)!

Photo, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran, Part-3’ by K. J. S. Chatrath

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Golestan Palace is located in the heart and historic core of Tehran. The palace complex is one of the oldest in Tehran, originally built during the Safavid dynasty in the historic walled city. Following extensions and additions, it received its most characteristic features in the 19th century, when the palace complex was selected as the royal residence and seat of power by the Qajar ruling family. At present, Golestan Palace complex consists of eight key palace structures mostly used as museums and the eponymous gardens, a green shared centre of the complex, surrounded by an outer wall with gates.

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The complex exemplifies architectural and artistic achievements of the Qajar era including the introduction of European motifs and styles into Persian arts. It was not only used as the governing base of the Qajari Kings but also functioned as a recreational and residential compound and a centre of artistic production in the 19th century. Through the latter activity, it became the source and centre of Qajari arts and architecture.

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Golestan Palace represents a unique and rich testimony of the architectural language and decorative art during the Qajar era represented mostly in the legacy of Naser ed-Din Shah. It reflects artistic inspirations of European origin as the earliest representations of synthesized European and Persian style, which became so characteristic of Iranian art and architecture in the late 19th and 20th centuries. As such, parts of the palace complex can be seen as the origins of the modern Iranian artistic movement.

flowers iic 421 480 50This complex represents an important example of the merging of Persian arts and architecture with European styles and motifs and the adaptation of European building technologies, such as the use of cast iron for load bearing, in Persia. As such Golestan Palace can be considered an exceptional example of an east-west synthesis in monumental arts, architectural layout and building technology, which has become a source of inspiration for modern Iranian artists and architects.Golestan Palace contains the most complete representation of Qajari artistic and architectural production and bears witness to the centre of power and arts at the time. Hence, it is recognized as an exceptional testimony to the Qajari Era.

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Golestan Palace is a prime example of the arts and architecture in a significant period in Persia, throughout the 19th century when the society was subject to processes of modernization. The influential role of artistic and architectural values of ancient Persia as well as the contemporary impacts of the West on the arts and architecture were integrated into a new type of arts and architecture in a significant transitional period.

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(Text source UNESCO website)

You may like to see my two earlier photo articles on Golestan Palace by clicking at the links below:

‘Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran’ by K.J.S.Chatrath: http://traveltalk.co.in/?p=1782
‘Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran, Part-2’ by K.J.S.Chatrath: http://traveltalk.co.in/?p=1828

Photos copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran, Part-2’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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Intricate mirror work.

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Impressive tile work.

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Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Navroz decoration in Iran’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

flowers iic 2497Navroz celeberation in a shop in Iran

Photo, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Golestan Palace, Tehran, Iran’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

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The oldest of the historic monuments in Tehran is the Golestan Palace. “Gole’ or ‘Gul’ means a flower and hence it is the Palace of the flowers. This is one of the buildings that once were within the enclosed mud thatched walls of Tehran;’s historic Arg (citadel).The Complex consists of 17 palaces, museums, and Halls.

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It was the Qajars’ royal residence. Its garden radiates cool and peace. The major building, architecturally unpretentious, houses a museum with objects from the Qajar period in the self-important style of last century. In the Golestan garden, a one-story pavilion to the right and a short distance from the entrance, shelters one of the best organized museums in Tehran.

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It encloses about thirty showcases presenting almost everything related to Iran, which makes up the critical originality of Iranian life in the a variety of provinces of the country.

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Address: Panzah Kordad Square, Golestan Palace; Tel: 33113335-8; www.golestanpalace.ir (in Persian)

Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Chajju’s Amritsari Kulchas’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

I remember my father, on coming home from his tours, used to used to often say ‘Jo sukh Chhajju de chubarey oh balkh na bukharey’  (The satisfaction that one gets at home is unmatched).

A little about ‘Balkh’ and ‘Bukhara’ before one moves further. These were considered to be two great towns during the ‘Silk Road’ days. Balkh, near the town of Mazar-E-Sharif,  was a centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Marco Polo described Balkh as a “noble and great city”.

Bukhara is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan.  Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The historic center of Bukhara, which contains about 140 monuments, mosques, madrassas etc., has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Back to present. Whenever I come back from my not too infrequent travels, my sister and brother- in- law tease me saying ‘Ah, so Chajju is back to his chaubara.’

Another change of time and place. My birthday falls on April 21st. So some of my friends asked me on the 22nd April, as to how did I celebrate my birthday this year?

Well, it was like any other day for me in except that I did get a number of phone calls from my friends and relatives in the morning. Then I went to do my fortnightly provision shopping. By the time I finished it it was around 1 pm. I was hungry and thirsty.

On  driving back I saw a board ‘Chajju’s Amritsari Kulchas’ and I went over to that little shop in Sector 9 of Panchkula.

After placing my order for an aloo kulcha, I asked Sandip, the young owner of this restaurant on why the name “Chajju’ and who was ‘Chajju’. He explained that ‘Chajju’ was his grand father who used to run an eating joint in Lahore and that after partition they started ‘chajju’s restaurant in Amritsar. Is it still there, I asked. Yes Sirji, he said and added that it is on Lawrence Road but it serves only non -veg food.

One view is that Chajju was a real person who lived in Lahore during the reign of the Mughal kings Jahangir and Shahjahan and his house  was located on Anarkali Road in Old Lahore, south of Rattan Chand Serai.

Lawrence Road Amritsar’s Chajju non-veg shop- here I come.

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It was served with a blob of butter on the top.

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I caringly spread the butter to cover most of the kulcha and then started the assault.

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And soon that ‘kulcha’ was history!

Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

 

‘Delhi-Muscat-Tehran’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Recently I made a two week trip to Iran. I decided to join a package tour by Intrepid Travels which was to start from Tehran and after visiting various towns terminate in Tehran.

I looked for the cheapest flight with the least waiting time and booked myself on Oman Air. The flight was Delhi to Muscat and then after 3 hours Muscat to Tehran. Delhi to Muscat by air covering a distance of 1201 miles in about 3 hours. Flight by Oman Air was comfortable.

At the Muscat airport I went to the area designated for passengers in transit. After a quick security check-up we were ushered into a huge departure area. I had been told that Middle East countries are traditional and conservative. That alcohol is a taboo, did not disturb me as I drink maybe twice a year! I was prepared to wait for the next three hours in a dull place.

But as soon as I entered the Hall, I saw her. Julia Roberts. Or more correctly, a poster of Julia Roberts for the cosmetic firm Lancome. I froze and looked at her spellbound. In my view her toothy smile is much more winsome than the so called mysterious, over rated, almost constipated and depressing half smile of ‘Mona Lisa’. OK go ahead call me culturally  uninformed, but I say what I feel, not necessarily what is fashionable to be said.

I took a couple of photos of the poster, as if it was the real Julia. Just look at her:  flowers iic 2879 - Copy 400 90

Quite unwillingly I left Julia and moved in to the Big Departure Hall which was bursting with people, or in fact with Indians. There were Indians from all parts of our beloved country jostling to take flights to various destinations. I did not see, or at least notice  any Non-Indian in that crowd. And if Indians are there, then can Indian food be far behind? Take a look at the Food Court there- totally Indian.

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Soon it was time for another friendly security check and round of boarding formalities. Muscat to Tehran, a distance of 1500 kms was covered in around 2 hours and 20 minutes.

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At the Tehran airport, the Immigration formalities were amazingly quick- as I was the only person in the window meant for ‘Foreigners’. Coming out with my bag I saw the first signs of Navroz or the Iranian New year celebrations. A small corner had been tastefully and colourfully decorated by the airport authorities.

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For a detailed explanation of Navroz please read the following  article by Anurag Chatrath at http://peripateticously.blogspot.in/2012/05/nowruz.html

I came out and was surprised to find a number of taxis vying to get the attention of the travellers. Unambiguous large boards indicated the exact price of the taxi ride to anywhere in the Tehran city- a modest equivalent of less that 15 US dollars. I felt cheated as my Tour Operator had quoted 80 USD for this taxi trip and utimately I had booked with another Tour Operator for USD 40. But this had nothing to do with the Taxi Drivers who quietly took passengers at the fixed rate.

I waited and waited for my elusive booked Taxi. The local Taxi drivers were amazingly helpful and tried to help me. Since my mobile was not working they repeatedly rang up the three numbers that I had, but to no luck.

Ultimately I just stood there tired and exhausted. Then I saw an Iranian family standing not far from me. I asked the gentleman if he spoke English,  he smiled and said ‘No’ and then added ‘but yes’. He told his wife, who knew good English, to take over. She understood my problem, took the phone numbers from me and asked her 10-11 year old son to handle the telephoning part. A few attempts later I was told by the lady that my booked taxi had been located, it was a white Puegeot and the young tall driver sported a small beard. Within seconds the taxi arrived the the young 10 year old boy made me dumb with his affection  and regards by quietly carrying my bag to the taxi. Yes, the Iranians are very friendly and it is not a put on.

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This was my first view of Tehran. I was just not prepared to see the city next to the snowy mountains. But more about that in the later articles.

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I reached the modest hotel where I was booked about an hour later and noticed a small table with the Navroz decoration in the centre of the Reception area.

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Sowing of barley and letting it grow for 9 days and then disposing it off with grace is a part of Navroz celebrations- quite like what some do during the Navratras in parts of north India.

More and many more photo articles on my trip to Iran would follow on this website.

Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘Ah…Those Iranaian beauties!’ by K.J.S.Chatrath

Iranians are very fond of flowers. Take a look at some lovely Iranian beauties which I chanced to see in a public park in that country:

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Photos, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in

‘My first lunch in Iran’ by K.J.Chatrath

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My friends know that I am terribly fussy about food and insist on Indian dishes all the time, where ever I go. So when I return from any trip, the first question that my friends ask me is ‘how did you manage about the food’?

I am thrilled to say that I had absolutely no problem and loved Iranian food (because it is so much like Indian food!).

Take a look at the first lunch that I had on reaching Tehran. It was in a small ordinary restaurant in a park. Chicken with pullao (locally called ‘Pilaf’ or ‘Polow’ or ‘Chelo’). The small red pieces are not from pomegranate but  are dried red berries called Zereshk which have a lovely sweet taste. This dish and a bottled salted ‘lassi’ (more about that in a  later article) cost me just 3 USD!

Photo, text & copyright: K.J.S.Chatrath

 IMPORTANT: This website does not sell any hotel rooms/air tickets/packages/insurance cover etc.  This post is intended only for sharing information and experiences with travel enthusiasts. Readers are advised to double check the information and satisfy themselves before taking any decision.

 

Contact: kjschatrath@yahoo.co.in