Super attentive staff. Nothing was too much trouble. Excellent buffet breakfast – extensive selection of Indian, Asian and Western cuisine. Rooms were spotless and lots of little extras…mug with my star sign, welcome pack for the lady traveller, shoe shine as I came back with dusty shoes one day, bath salts and welcome snacks. Service and food at Jyran restaurant was fabulous.
Stayed in June 2019
Melting pot of the Middle East
While Baklawa, pita bread and hummus have made their way into households, the authenticity is what continues to evade whatever little Lebanese food is available in the city. Or so believes expat chef Jameela Zakey who is in town to curate a festival celebrating Lebanese cuisine at JW Marriott, along with her son Hystam Zakey. Of Syrian and Lebanese descent and running a restaurant in Bangalore called Zaks, there is nothing she lets come in the way of authenticity. Neither the fact that she’s been settled in India for the past two decades nor her love for Indian food. “The paneer is to die for. The dal makhni is yum too and then sarson ka saag but I believe that is not available in this season.” So much for Indian food, which is for another day.
Conversations on food, a specific cuisine all the more, has to factor in the history and health aspect and which is where the USP of Lebanese food lies. Explains Chef Jameela, “The USP of Lebanese food would be its health quotient. The vegetables or meat is grilled, boiled or baked and topped up with olive oil. So, it’s really healthy.” She adds, “Our salads come first and are a major part of the cuisine.” Which are again invariably sprinkled with herbs like sumaz and za’atar and often tossed in olive oil.
She doesn’t forget to throw in a few words of Arabic of the ingredients that are a major part of the Lebanese food, Zucchini is called Kusa. Using abundance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, starches, fresh fish and sea food with animal fats consumed sparingly, the Lebanese cuisine includes abundant use of garlic and olive oil. Chickpeas and parsley are other staples. Signature dishes
While Za’atar and sumac are signature herbs, signature dishes are what she promises at the festival. Starting with Kibbeh, a typical ground meat dish, made from imported broken wheat called Burgol. “It’s like your daliya but not quite that. Daliya melts when kept in water but burgol swells.” Then there’s Kousa Mashi, in which Zucchini is scooped out and stuffed with rice or meat. Mashawi is another consisting of barbequed meat. At the festival falafel rolls make for the vegetarian street food of Lebanese cuisine. Baklawa
Ask a foodie and any cuisine shall be truly judged on the basis of its signature dessert. Mention Baklawa and she chooses to remain silent rather than speak up. “I’m sorry. I don’t believe in criticizing food but the authentic Baklawa should taste like this,” she points to the spread at the festival. “It should be crispy and not soggy, and it should have a 100 per cent ghee flavour to it. An authentic Baklawa is made of primarily pistachios, followed by cashews and third little bit of almonds which are all later put together with sugar syrup.”
(Priced at Rs 1900 plus taxes, the festival is on till July 21. )
10 Common S’pore Breakfast Foods & The Calories Each Dish Has
10 Common S’pore Breakfast Foods & The Calories Each Dish Has By Email Skype
I t’s no secret that Singaporeans love their breakfasts.
That’s particularly observable in how our markets are fairly vibrant even in the early morning, as crowds of people already sitting around tables to enjoy their first meal even before the sky is bright.
We love all kinds of food for breakfast, from a simple pau to a hearty bowl of noodles, and it brings us comfort that often can’t really be replaced by fancy western breakfasts.
However, I think we have not really been conscious of the calorie count in our favorite breakfast foods.
Do bear in mind that the average healthy man needs around 2,500 calories a day while an average woman needs 2,000 calories, and this figure can of course vary according to age, weight as well as lifestyle.
Before that, you might be someone who has instant noodles for breakfast. Well, for that, you can check out how many calories one pack has, but here’s a video we’ve done on why you really shouldn’t have instant noodles for breakfast:
Regardless, here’s actually how much calories are in our favourite dishes!
We won’t want to be a killjoy, but won’t it sucks to know that you’ve already taken half of the calories you want in your very first meal of the day?
Siew Mai Starting small, siew mai is a popular dim sum item that can be found at practically any coffee shop. It’s so conveniently bite-sized and delicious that it would be easy to eat an entire tray of them, or like 10 at one go. However, 1 piece actually has 105 calories and if you eat 10 of them, that’s about half your entire day’s calorie intake. This little monster sure packs a lot!
Rice Dumplings Or more popularly known as bak chang, this is meat-stuffed glutinous rice hits all the right spots with occasional gold nuggets of fatty bits hidden in tender meat that’s wrapped by a soft, pleasant layer of sticky rice. While you might be tempted to eat more than one at one go, each dumpling can have up to 352 calories !
Wanton Noodles Who can say no to noodles? A popular dish that is often eaten dry and served with juicy dumplings (sometimes deep-fried ones too) and slices of char siew, it’s not that surprising that this adds up to 411 calories . Worst of all, this dish is usually not that filling #justsaying
Nasi Lemak Singapore, being a proudly multiracial nation, definitely enjoys a range of cuisines for breakfast. Nasi Lemak is always a simple but hot favourite, especially the star of the dish which is fragrant coconut rice. However, just the rice alone with egg and ikan bilis is already 494 calories. Don’t forget the fried chicken wing or the otah you might add on the side! For all you know, with your sides, you’ll have consumed half of the calories you need that day.
Bak Chor Mee Another popular noodle favourite is the minced meat noodles, served with generous heaps of minced meat and sometimes pieces of crispy lard at the bottom. It is then no wonder that this hides 511 calories in one bowl of goodness . Plus, the lard can’t be that good for you, right?
Egg Prata We’ve talked about Chinese and Malay cuisine, so let’s not leave out Indian food! Lots of Singaporeans are fans of a plate of piping hot prata, dipped in sugar or spicy curry, as a wake-me-up dish. However, just two egg pratas added together already have 576 calories, most likely excluding the curry and sugar and the sugary cup of teh tarik you probably paired it with.
Kway Chap Hey believe it or not, people love kway chap for breakfast! Not sure about what makes the dish of braised pig intestines attractive as a morning meal, but hey if you’re eating pig intestines, I don’t think it really matters what time of the day it is. But do take note, this dish has a mind-blowing 650 calories! Shocking, considering that it looks so soupy, eh?
Laksa Ah yes, the rich, coconutty, and spicy dish that has a special place in the heart of many Singaporeans. It has a flavour that is hard to rival and few things are more pleasing than a bowl of good, hearty laksa and cockles. However, a bowl of this dish with high coconut milk content clocks in at an eye-watering 700 calories per serving…
Kaya Toast The traditional breakfast can’t be that bad, right? Boy are you wrong. A serving of kaya toast (2 slices of bread) or a serving of putu mayam can add up to almost 200 calories each! That might not seem like a lot, but when you consider that you’re adding this on top of your main meal, you might be eating much more than you expected.
Drinks What meal doesn’t come with a drink? Especially when Singaporeans can’t resist a good cup of teh or kopi? Unfortunately, although these drinks taste amazing, they do pack quite a bit of calories and sugar. A cup of kopi has 113 calories whereas a cup of teh has 153 , and a cup of teh tarik has a shocking 229 ! This could mean that you’re rounding up your meal with almost 1000 calories in total!
At the end of the day, a healthy and balanced diet is more important!
And of course, there’s one more solution if you want to have these breakfasts regularly: exercise regularly as well. You’ve already known about this, haven’t you? We
Where to Find the Best Indian Food in the Hudson Valley
Adobe Stock / Joshua Resnick
India is one of the world’s largest and most diverse countries, and as such hosts a complex and wide-reaching food culture. The nation’s dozens of ethnic, religious, and cultural groups have all made their mark on the cuisine, resulting in a wealth of vegetarian options, halal dishes, inventive curries, and more.
Fortunately, those flavors have made their way to the Hudson Valley, popping up in restaurants from Albany to Brewster. So, the next time you’re craving spicy curry or tempting tikka masala, you can find it all at the Valley’s Indian eateries.
What Are the Amazing Places You Can Visit in Malaysia?
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country.The stunning natural beauty amalgamates with rich tradition of the country which will offer you a great holiday.
13, 2019) — A foreign trip in a year is really quite exciting and it gives you a new experience in life. Whenever you visit a new country, you learn about the culture and tradition of that country. Not only that, but you get to know about the food, local people, style of apparels, fashion trend, and so on. If you are looking for one of the best countries to visit in South Asia, you should include Malaysia on the top of the list. The stunning natural beauty amalgamates with the rich tradition of this country which will offer you a great holiday. Besides the amazing places, there are wonderful casinos where you can play online slot games Malaysia . So, if you want to get accustomed to the diversity of Malaysia, here are the best places to visit. Read on to know more-
1. Kuala Lumpur
The capital city of Malaysia is really worth to visit when you are in this country. Kuala Lumpur is the perfect example of a cosmopolitan city where you can find different cultures, like the Chinese, Malay, and the Indian. That’s why you can find varieties of restaurants, shopping centers, and other entertainment zones. The interesting sights of Kuala Lumpur that you should not visit are the Perdana Lake Gardens, the Petronas Tower, and the Menara KL Tower.
This state is located on the border of Thailand and that’s why the culture of this state is often dominated by Malaysia and Thailand both. If you want to visit the rural side of Malaysia and want to get accustomed to the rustic culture, you should visit this place. The long stretched paddy fields, the traditional Malaysian-styled guest houses, and the Zahir Mosque, the oldest in the country will definitely woo you. Spending a night or two here will give you life experiences.
If you are looking for a beach state where you can get the best tropical vacation, you should head towards Langkawi. The archipelago of Langkawi consists of 99 islands where you can find the amazing restaurants, resorts, and spa to enjoy a lavish holiday. Whether it is the marvelous beaches, or the dense, green forest, you can relax in Malaysia when you are in this place. This beach town will make your holiday full of fun and it will be a memorable experience.
4. Sipadan Island
Do you love water sports? Then you have to include visiting this island on your list of Malaysia trip. This is the best place where people around the world come for snorkeling and scuba diving. Besides that, you will find the most fantastic coral reefs and marine life on this island. The beach is located in the remote area of the country and reaching here is a bit troublesome. But, if you want to spend your best time of life in a white sand beach, surrounded by lush green palm groves, this is the place you should visit. The pristine natural beauty will soothe your troubled mind and the calmness will help you find peace.
Penang is the place for which you will return to Malaysia again and again. The first thing that will excite you about Penang is that the affordable yet comfortable resorts. Besides that, you can also get in touch with mixed culture and the awesome beaches of this state. Once you are here, you should not miss visiting the Lok Si Temple, which is the epitome of Malaysian architecture. Besides all these, Penang is famous among tourists for a unique reason. It is considered to be the best place of varieties of street foods in Southeast Asia. So, if you are visiting Penang, don’t forget to taste these street foods .
Malaysia was a colony of the British Rule for many years. Still now, the British culture is quite dominant in several places of this country and you can get the best taste of it in Malacca. The British-styled architecture in the red-hued churches and other buildings are worth to notice. The city was also colonized by the Portuguese and the Dutch, so there are imprints of both these cultures also. Once you are in this place, you can take a visit to the maritime museum and also stroll around the night market around Jonker Walk to buy whatever you want.
7. The Perhentian Islands
If your motto is spending a few days in undisputed nature, you should head towards the Perhentian Islands. There are two islands which make the Perhentian Islands. The biggest one is known as the Perhentian Besar where you can find good accommodation and also spend your quality time on the beach. Usually, people prefer more the smallest island, the Perhentian Kecil which is famous for snorkeling and other water sports. Remember, the Perhentian Islands are quite seasonal. July is the peak season when the island is crowded while winter and the rainy season are not suitable for tourists.
8. George Town
If you are a foodie, you should not miss visiting George Town when you are in Malaysia. There are lots of restaurants , café, eateries, etc. where you can find the best quality local and international cuisine from the chef’s kitchen. While visiting the restaurants, you should make a booking advance. You should be ready to stand in the queue while you are visiting the local eateries and the street food corners.
9. Cameron Highlands
For travelers who prefer to visit the mountainous region, Cameron Highlands is the best destination for you. The picturesque trails, sprawling farms, emerald-green hills, etc. will win you instantly once you are in this place. Spending a few days in the lap of nature is possible on this island.
So, these are a few best places to visit in this country. There are lots of other tourist spots that will attract you a lot. It is really impossible to complete the sightseeing just once. So, visit the country again and again and you will fall in love with Malaysia.
The Ultimate Vegan (and Vegetarian) Survival Guide for Japan.
Mission frickin impossible . That’s how a fellow traveller described my quest to spend a month in Japan, exploring the country beyond Tokyo, Kyoto and the regular tourist trail – as a vegan.
I took that warning seriously and got to work: A Japanese cafe owner in Bangkok helped me write in the Kanji script how to politely ask for vegan food, a friend whipped up homemade energy bars, I packed a ton of healthy vegan snacks and spent days researching the local cuisine. I was determined to make my mission possible – and I’m thrilled to share that I not only survived as a vegan in Japan, but the journey also led to some incredible local food, beautiful friendships and unexpected culinary secrets across the country!
Also read: Why I Turned Vegan – and What it Means for My Travel Lifestyle
Does Japan have any vegan roots? Vegan Japanese bento from Evah Macrobiotic Dining in Fukuoka.
On my second night in Japan, I braved the cold of Matsumoto (in Nagano prefecture) and landed up at Itoya Izakaya , thanks to the HappyCow App. The cosy traditional wooden bar turned out to be the home of 60+ year old Itoya San, who spoke a bit of English and had handwritten several cards explaining what local Japanese dishes she could make vegan or vegetarian. Over an immensely satisfying meal of oshoyu-no-mi (black soybeans with rice mould), jaza chizimi (potatoes with wild leeks), soba gaki (kneaded buckwheat with soya sauce) and warm homemade sake, we chatted about Japan, the mountains and her love for cooking.
When I asked why she offers vegan options unlike most other restaurants in Matsumoto, she said that during the Edo period, before Japan succumbed to western influence, their traditional diet was largely plant-based and meat-free! It was only in the late 1800s that people started consuming beef, horse meat and all kinds of marine animals in huge quantities. Both Buddhism and Shintoism, practiced for centuries in Japan, promote compassionate eating.
In fact, many Japanese rulers had banned the rearing of cattle and consumption of meat , because they couldn’t afford to lose more forest areas to practice animal agriculture. I later read that in January 1872 , an emperor called Meiji ate meat publicly for the first time, encouraging the rest of the country to follow his lead. Rumor had it that eating meat would let the Japanese become big, buff and blonde like the Europeans! Thus began the Meiji era.
Although plant-based eating has now become an alien concept in most of Japan, the Japanese still say “ita daki mas” before every meal – an expression of gratitude towards the animals and plants whose lives were sacrificed to fill one’s plate.
Also read: Why Visit Japan? Because Everyone Who’s a Friend Was Once a Stranger
What to expect from vegan / vegetarian food in Japan Yam and tofu based vegan Japanese food at 2F, Yakushima.
I spent my first week in Japan exploring the island of Honshu on assignment for Japan Tourism; we had a fixed group itinerary, and my guide and translator went out of their way to make sure my vegan diet was catered for. However a couple of restaurants – a small izakaya and a soba restaurant – had nothing for me when we arrived, apologizing they could do no vegan food. Through my translator, I explained that I could eat anything with tofu, veggies, soya sauce etc, and within minutes arrived a small feast of dishes at the izakaya, and zaru soba at the soba resto. Lesson learnt: I had to modify my note asking for vegan food in Japan to include what I CAN eat.
Over the other 3 weeks in Japan, I travelled independently – partly with my partner and partly solo – spending most of my time on the islands of Kyushu and Yakushima, and exploring the Kansai countryside. Here’s what I learnt about being vegan in Japan:
It’s not mission frickin impossible , though it helps to be well-researched and well-prepared. Let this post be your guide! In popular tourist cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Fukuoka, there are plenty of restaurants offering vegan / vegetarian options of local dishes. Get the HappyCow App to map what’s near you. In smaller, less-visited villages on the Japanese countryside, most restaurants and izakayas only have Japanese menus and hardly anyone speaks English. During this time, I found it really helpful to have a written note explaining what I can’t and can eat. You’ll find the note below. Since Japanese cuisine is mostly raw, I happened to eat mostly raw vegan food for an entire month and could feel the effect on my mind and body. In retrospect, I’ve never felt more energetic and creative as I did in Japan. It’s worth engaging in conversations around veganism when locals get curious. When I checked in to my ryokan-style guesthouse in Tokyo, the host told me he wasn’t familiar with vegan food and lamented that he couldn’t offer me any breakfast. But the next morning, as I was stepping out for breakfast, he said he googled for ideas and had whipped up a vegan tofu steak and miso soup made with seaweed dashi (broth) for me! He was so stoked by his little experiment that he decided to add a vegan option to his breakfast menu. Also read: How to Travel as a Vegan and Find Delicious Food Anywhere in the World
How to ask for vegan food in Japan Mochitsuki – the tradition of pounding to make mochi, in Nara.
STEP 1: Begin with telling the staff, watashi wa begetarian des (I’m vegetarian) even if you’re vegan. The point is to convey that you can’t eat most of what they’re going to offer. This will likely leave them very perplexed.
STEP 2: Use a written note explaining what you can’t and CAN eat. The Japanese language and Kanji script are complex, and Japanese culture demands that any requests be made with utmost politeness. With the help of a couple of friends, I came up with a note (photo below) that had nearly a 90% success rate for me – for it politely explains that I can’t eat meat, seafood, dashi made with bonito / katsuo (fish), milk products, eggs or honey, but that I CAN eat vegetables, mushrooms, soy beans, seaweed, cereals like buckwheat, wheat, rice, tofu, soya sauce and fruits. At this point, the staff member will usually call other service staff to understand the note, maybe even the chef if it’s a small restaurant, and give you an idea of what they could make. Accept it with a smile!
STEP 3: Whip out some basic Japanese phrases to express gratitude for the meal. Arigatou gozaimas (thank you very much) and oishikatta des (that was delicious) went a long way. I listened to the Japanese – Survival Phrases podcast to learn some conversational Japanese before my trip, and found it super helpful.
Also read: Why Travelling in Japan is Like Nowhere Else in the World
Vegan Japanese food to try Bento box
If I could go back to Japan and eat only one thing the whole trip, it’ll be the delicious, wholesome, colorful bento boxes, packed fresh for train travellers every morning. I ate them even if I wasn’t getting on a train! My favorite, hands down, was the vegan bento box at Evah Macrobiotic Dining at Hakata Station in Fukuoka. The bento shop near platform 8 at Tokyo Station has a vegetable bento box too. Show them the note, just to be sure.
A vegan Japanese bento box at Tokyo train station.
In Japan, I learnt that it is a misconception that sushi means fish. It simply means rice with vinegar, topped with various ingredients, one of which happens to be fish. I loved standing sushi bars (you literally stand around the table eating sushi) and revolving sushi restaurants, and each of them had vegan sushi with ingredients like cucumber, pickled radish, wild mountain vegetables, natto (fermented soybean) and seaweed. Turns out though, that even though avocado grows in Japan, avocado sushi is a California creation.
I was also surprised to learn that it is absolutely acceptable to eat sushi by hand in Japan (you need to be able to use chopsticks for everything else though!)
Homemade vegan sushi in Osaka.
Inarizushi is a kind of sushi made of sweetish deep-fried tofu, filled with Japanese sticky rice and sometimes other ingredients like sesame or sakura. Often available in supermarkets, and almost always vegan. Just check to be sure, one version contains shrimp.
Made from grains and soybeans fermented with salt and koji (a fungus), miso is a big part of traditional Japanese cuisine, especially as a soup. It took me a while to get used to the fermented flavor; while I found the flavor in some soups too strong for my liking, I had some delicious ones, especially in local homes in Osaka and near Kyoto. The broth of miso soups typically contains fish, but I found many people willing to make a version from scratch using vegetables only.
Vegan miso soup.
A traditional Japanese meal inspired by Zen Buddhism is entirely vegetarian and largely vegan (it sometimes comes with egg, so please specify). I tried a Shojin Ryori meal in Nikko, which specializes in making dishes with yuba (tofu skin) – and what a treat it was. Expensive, but so worth the indulgence.
A shojin ryori meal (feast).
Zaru Soba, Udon noodles
Soba (buckwheat) and udon (wheat) noodles establishments across Japan serve only that, and luckily, it is possible to customise a vegan version of both, without fish dashi. Zaru soba (cold soba) noodles come without broth, typically with a garnish of spring onions and soya sauce – and although it doesn’t sound like much, it can be quite a tasty meal depending on where you eat it. Some udon places will offer a vegan version made with seaweed dashi, mushrooms, veggies, tofu and garnish – such a treat!
Zaru soba – cold soba noodles.
The cold weather and mountain terrain in the Nagano prefecture wasn’t conducive to growing rice so oyaki – soba flour dumplings – became a specialty. They are typically stuffed with veggies, fruits and/or bean paste, and mostly vegan.
Yuba (tofu skin)
Sounds strange to have a dish or meal made largely with tofu skin, but boy oh boy, are the Japanese creative!
Pretty sure it’s inspired by the flavors of the Indian curry minus the spice, is a chain restaurant across Japan that serves up chickpea, vegetable and a host of other curries!
My friend and famous Canadian vlogger Micaela , who’s been living in Japan for a long time now, invited us to try a shabushabu restaurant located in the basement of an obscure building – and as with all things quirky in Japan, it turned out to be quite an experience! We sat on cushions in a tatami cabin, and ordered spicy, seaweed and soya milk broths, with glass noodles, yuba, tofu and veggies. Such a feast – though you definitely need a friend who speaks fluent Japanese to be able to order it vegan.
A vegan shabushabu meal in Fukuoka.
The Japanese version of pakoras, basically. The batter is sometimes made with eggs, sometimes without, so ask before you order.
Noodles in a spicy broth! I only found vegan options in Tokyo and Kyoto, worth a try.
These half-steamed, half-fried Chinese dumplings are quite popular in Japan; if you see a veggie version, go for it.
Vegan gyoza in Tokyo.
A popular Japanese pancake – a bit like a Swiss rosti – made with flour, oil, veggies and typically eggs and mayonnaise. My host on the Kansai countryside was sweet enough to make me a vegan version; a couple of restos in Hiroshima offer one too.
Japanese rice balls, wrapped in a nori sheet, typically with a tiny filling inside, like red beans, a pickled plum (that one is called an umeboshi). It was a favorite picnic snack for one of my Japanese hosts, and readily available
Fermented soy beans, available as natto sushi or as beans with rice. Super nutritious though an acquired taste, one that I never did acquire!
Tofu is available in several forms in Japan, but my favorite was the koyadofu, a dried version which soaks up the ingredients it is cooked in like a sponge! Even if you don’t like tofu in your daily life, I urge you to give it a try (with an open mind) while in Japan. It’s nothing like you’ve tasted before!
Vegan Japanese snacks
Snacks sold on Buddhist temple / Shinto shrine premises: Since both Buddhism and Shintoism promote compassionate eating, many street snacks sold on the premises of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines tend to be vegan. Show the note to find out. I loved munching on rice cakes with soya sauce and seaweed on a stick, soft soyabean sweets and crispy rice crackers with spicy seasoning. Soy milk and “Soy Joy Crispy” bars (white chocolate, macademia, strawberry flavors) – Vegan Japanese snacks available in most supermarkets. Crispy rice cake, one of a few vegan Japanese snacks!
Vegan Japanese sweets
Mochi: A traditional Japanese rice cake, pounded with great strength in an act called Mochitsuki, available in many subtle flavors like sakura (cherry), ume (plum), horse chestnut and more. It’s a work of art – and a perfectly light vegan Japanese sweet. Vegan chocolates in Japan: The Meiji 72% and 86% dark chocolates are accidentally vegan chocolates made in Japan, available in most supermarkets! Mochi – a work of art and one of few vegan Japanese sweets.
Matcha green tea: Though a hipster trend now, the consumption of matcha green tea began with traditional tea ceremonies in Japan, and attending one with a Japanese tea master was quite an experience. Sochu: Alcohol made with fermented rice, barley and potato. Pretty potent. Sake: Fermented rice alcohol; I liked hakuba nishi but mostly just went with the izakaya’s recommendations. Whisky: Well, whisky hasn’t been the same for me since Japan. Nikka has me addicted, yet it’s so rare to find outside of Japan. And Hibitchi was out of stock in Japan too! Who knew Japanese whisky could give the Scots a run for their money?! Matcha green tea with mochi – often served to welcome someone!
Also read: What I Learnt Volunteering on a Remote Island in Cuba
My favorite places for vegan / vegetarian food across Japan A vegan Japanese meal based on fermented foods, at Hakko, Nagano.
Osaka Macrobiotic food in the home of Naoko and Noriko San, through Airbnb Experiences – easily one of the best meals I had in Japan! Macrobiotic Japanese cooking aims to balance yin and yang. The idea is that everything has opposing energies (black-white, male-female for example) and what we eat should be a balance of the two. Vegetables and fruits are in the middle of the spectrum, while meats, seafood, dairy and soy are pretty extreme and need balancing. Over a couple of hours, we cooked together a sumptuous meal of vegan sushi, spring shiroae (traditional creamy tofu salad), daikon radish salad, seaweed avocado salad, miso soup, and khoya dofu (freeze dried tofu) and fuki (a spring vegetable) – and ate (devoured) it together in their traditional tatami room, chatting about life, food, India, Japan, veganism and Bollywood. A most memorable and highly recommended experience! Fukuoka Evah Macrobiotic Dining : Incredible vegan food at this all-vegan establishment, located in the Amu-Est shopping area of Hakata Station. Their vegan bento box, burgers and sandwiches were absolutely delightful. I would readily travel back to Japan just to eat here! Nagano Hakko : Not far from the Jikokudai Park with semi-wild snow monkeys, Hakko is a local resto that specializes in fermented foods and mushrooms. A fantastic meal – though it’s better to inform them of your dietary preferences in advance, over email with a reservation. Nara Totingo sushi go round: Revolving sushi with marked vegetarian options on the menu, including inarizushi, cucumber, pickled radish and natto. Hanata go: Like an izakaya but fancier. Has an English menu with some veg options. I tried the mushrooms in soya sauce (ask for it without butter), cold tofu in bamboo sieve and edamame, and liked it all. Nakatanidou: Known for its Yomogi mochi, made of a Japanese wild plant called yomogi. One of the few places in Japan that still pound mochi by hand; watch it happen a couple of times every hour! Aso Train station cafeteria: What appeared to be a meagre meal of fried rice in sesame oil with pickles (an Aso specialty) and tofu turned out to be a quite a treat. East: A small restaurant that was befuddled by my request for vegan food, but whipped up a strangely satisfying meal with steamed rice, tofu, pickles and garnishing. Kurakawa The Tofu restaurant: Tofu steak with sauce without meat and tofu ice cream! Ryokan Wakaba (No 10 on the map): A delightful meal of zaru soba with soya sauce, vegan tempura, some veggies and garnishing. Yakushima 2F, Miyanoura: An obscure restaurant on the second floor of a souvenir shop, walking distance from the ferry terminal, served up a rather creative vegan meal made mostly with yam and tofu! Jiijiya, Anbo: A charming old house, run as a resto by the grandson of the family. He speaks a bit of English and was sweet enough to mark the few side dishes on the menu that could be made vegan. I opted for the chilli oil tofu and mushroom dish, both yummy. Kyoto Ain Soph : After nearly 4 weeks in Japan, I really needed some comfort food and splurged at the all-vegan Ain Soph, on the softest, fluffiest pancakes, with a side of fresh fruits, homemade jams, soy whipped cream and 2 delicious ice cream scoops! I didn’t make a note of the other places I ate at in Kyoto, but HappyCow has 34 listings of all vegan spots in the city, so there’s plenty to try! Tokyo Vegan bento box: The Bento shop near platform 8 at Tokyo Station has a vegetable (vegan) bento box; make sure you get one for your train ride! We’re spoilt for choice in Tokyo; start with HappyCow’s highest rated vegan-friendly spots in the city. Also read: Is the Japan Rail Pass Worth it? A Practical Guide to Bullet Train Travel in Japan
Challenges of being vegan in Japan – and how to overcome them The charming exterior of an izakaya.
Reading labels: If you’re vegan, your eyes probably hurt from all the labels you’ve been reading in supermarkets too – and Japan gives you a break from that 99% of labels and ingredients are written in Kanji – and Google translate often fails to translate them accurately. Luckily, the supermarket staff often obliged in helping me translate the ingredients in freshly packed food, especially when I showed them my note. I also found the Vegan Japan Facebook group to be super helpful in identifying which products I could buy – browse through the group, especially photos, to see the range of products identified vegan in supermarkets. Dashi, the bane of my existence in Japan: I often came so close to getting a promising vegan meal, only to learn that the goddamn dashi (broth) was made of bonito / katsuo (fish). Why oh why? The key is to keep cool and ask if making a seaweed dashi is possible. Small restaurants not always willing / able to customise dishes: Although people everywhere tried to help, small food stalls and establishments were often unable to tweak a dish slightly because of pre-mixed ingredients – or weirdly enough, because there weren’t sure how much to charge for a customization! Oh Japan. An alien idea: Even though Japan might have some vegan roots, veganism / vegetarianism is still an alien concept in most of the country. My note explaining what I could eat sure helped! Also read: Japanese Tourist Visa for Indians: Tips and Requirements
Joys of being vegan in Japan With my hosts Naoko san and Noriko san, after a really satisfying macrobiotic vegan meal!
Despite all the challenges, I have to confess that even as a vegan, I had some amazing meals in Japan! On average, 8 out of 10 people spent time trying to understand what I can and can’t eat – and that says a lot about the Japanese culture. Most Japanese menus have photos of the dishes on offer, making it just a tiny bit easier to order (or point that you want tofu!). There’s no joy like asking about a broth-based dish in Japan and hearing that the dashi is / can be made with seaweed. A joy you’ll relate to only after travelling in Japan as a vegan / vegetarian. Also read: Secrets Behind Some of Japan’s Most Intriguing Traditions
Tips for travelling as a vegan in Japan Comfort food – vegan pancakes at Ain Soph in Kyoto.
Get the HappyCow App: Especially in cities frequented by tourists, like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, you’re sure to find some amazing food based on the recommendations of past vegan / vegetarian travellers. Don’t lose hope if you find no vegan listings on HappyCow / TripAdvisor / Google: I was extremely skeptical of survival, but had some amazing food in / around Aso and Yakushima, even though Google returned no search results for vegan food in these places. Keep the note handy: I can’t emphasize enough what a savior the note asking for vegan food was for me. Don’t be afraid to show it all the time and ask for help! Join the Vegan Japan Facebook group and browse through old posts for a wealth of information on vegan food in Japan. They’re also pushing a petition for products in Japan to be labelled vegan / vegetarian, which would make life so much easier. Sign it here . Carry some back-up food , especially if you plan to spend a lot of time on the countryside. I carried a ton of energy bars and quinoa flakes that could cook quickly in hot water, and often made my own avocado toasts with local avocados and bread from the supermarket. Vegan-friendly places you can always find in Japan: Sushi bars, soba restaurants (order zaru soba – cold soba noodles without broth), MOS burger (order a soy patty burger without cheese or mayonnaise), supermarket food (get soy joy bars, soy milk, onigiri, chocolates). Ingredients you can always find in Japan: Rice, tofu, spring onions to garnish, soya sauce, chilli seasoning. It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes the most meagre meals turned out to be surprisingly delightful. Learn from the experiences of past travellers: Some blog posts really helped me build my confidence to travel as a vegan in Japan: Never Ending Voyage: Vegetarian survival guide to Japan Inside Japan: Being vegetarian in Japan: A survival guide Vegan Japanese food for breakfast at a ryokan!
To tell you the truth, even though I had a few challenging experiences in Japan during my search for vegan food, most of my food memories from the country are incredibly positive. I still yearn for the creative bento boxes, the aesthetically presented meals, the delicate flavors and the energetic, creative feeling born out of a mostly raw vegan Japanese diet.
I hope you won’t forego travelling in Japan or worse, compromise your commitment to a plant-based diet or seeking out local experiences. With some research, creativity and determination, it is absolutely possible to relish Japan as a vegan (or vegetarian). Ita daki mas!
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Yay @ChrissyW a bath! You deserved it after your long week at work!
Googling affogato. Mmmm sounds delightful. My daughters mom in law brought me Indian food when I had my surgery. She dumbs down the fiery spices she uses in her “Delhi” cuisine she calls it.
So refreshing baths and birthday celebrating and planning a real cruise
Your land of reality sounds good too
Enjoy dear hippy sis!
FLOUR Chef’s Table tries its hand at story-telling and tells a colourful tale
160 views 5 minute read The Chef’s Table takes a trip out of the day-to-day offerings to venture into something unknown, but like the best things in life, its travels are rooted in home. Chef Yogesh Upadhyay walking diners through the Chef’s Table experience Fans of Indian cuisine have long found comfort in the fluffy naans, thick masalas and smoky grilles of FLOUR Restaurant in Bukit Damansara. It has become a namestay in the neighbourhood dining enclave for its humble offerings of authentic Indian food spanning North to South, whipped up by Chef Yogesh Upadhyay, who started it all with the vision of sharing his favourite flavours of home India with KL-ites.
Perhaps it’s a wave of homesickness, or perhaps it’s an injection of ambition, but the chef proprietor recently spiced things up with a whole new concept that strays quite far from what frequenters of the restaurant are familiar with.
The Chef’s Table, as it is aptly called, takes a trip out of the day-to-day offerings to venture into something unknown. But like the best things in life, its travels are rooted in home, offering those sampling it a brief adventure in the form of a 10-course dinner menu of what could be if they take a bet on courage, before returning safely to the shores of comfort.
Are you ready to go on a trip? Course 1: Curd
The first course translates Chef Yogi’s apprehension about leaving home into a creamy medley in the mouth. A dollop of Indian yoghurt brings a confusing mix of tart milkiness, intensified with muruku spice. But the longer it mulls on the tongue, the sweeter it gets, aided by two streaks of beetroot and green pea puree. Towards the end, you’ll end up wanting more, just as how a new place warms up to you the longer you stay to familiarise yourself. Course 2: Skewer
Chef Yogi moves into the excitement of being in a foreign place with the second course of chicken and goat skewers. The chicken is steamed while the goat is grilled, presenting two meats prepared in two different ways for two different taste and texture. It tells the contrasting effect of being in a new place and experiencing novel things. Course 3: Licking good
Being exposed to new ways of doing things is one of the most prized experiences of travel. Pushing the boundaries of that, Chef Yogi makes us abandon everything we are accustomed to with dining – like cutlery, in this instance – and literally lick the third course off the plate. Three strips of FLOUR’s most popular house-made sauces – creamy and savoury butter chicken, a nutty cashew curry, and light paneer munghu – present explosive flavours laden with all the most prized Indian spices. Course 4: Corn
This fourth course challenges everything we think we know, and presents an idea out of the ordinary. Fooling first the eyes, corn is disguised in a golden deep-fried ball that we can easily pop into the mouth. Then our tongue is taken on a ride with a chewy centre that’s not quite corn. It is later revealed that a small scoop of vanilla ice cream makes up the body, lending the unmistakable sweetness of corn a touch of pleasant creaminess. Course 5: Soup
Venturing even further from home, Chef Yogi heads to the Northeast and borrows some Tibetan influence with the soup. His rendition of the traditional thugba noodle soup is peppery like the original, spiced with generous use of Szechuan pepper. He swaps out rice noodles for rice, however, for an element of home (Malaysians love their rice), presenting a dish that’s exciting in its exoticism yet familiar in its flavours. Course 6: Sorbet
Don’t let the name fool you. It’s too easy to serve sorbet as a palate cleanser so Chef Yogi swaps things out to serve the bright freshness of a ginger tea sorbet as a tea, complete with mini teacup that you sip from. Course 7: Fish
Chef Yogi pops by the coasts of West Bengal next, serving up the traditional machhet johl curry fish stew of the region. Diced green chilli, tomato and peppers add a nice juicy burst of sweet and sour to the rich curry. The fish itself is well marinated with spices, and make for immensely satisfying bites on a bed of quinoa for texture. Course 8: Duck
Thick slices of duck, smoked to charred briney perfection would have been delicious on their own, in our opinion. Chef Yogi’s decision to serve it on a bed of pureed black lentils and young mango pulls out the game of the duck and complements it with a juicy tartness, grounded by the nuttiness of the lentils, for a heightened experience. Course 9: Cheese cake
Yet another dish which isn’t quite what its name suggests, this pre-dessert is the traditional Indian yoghurt cheese served atop a piece of fried bread. A drizzle of sugar syrup and a sprinkling of pistachio add a contrast of flavor and texture. Course 10: Ice cream
Ice cream is served as a befitting cold finale to a dinner journey of complex spice, playful textures and dazzling colours. It’s a frozen yoghurt ice cream of course, but what you’ll be surprised to learn is that it’s frozen from the same yoghurt cream first served as the appetiser. This is Chef Yogi’s message of homecoming, a return to the the first point of departure at the end of they journey. “The way you began, so shall you end,” says he.
It was a dinner of questions, of sharing, of figuring things out, just as the best form of travel does to you. In that, Chef Yogi’s intention to have us travel by means of our palate is a successful one.
The FLOUR Chef’s Table is a 3-day pop-up that will be take place as and when Chef Yogi feels like so keep an eye out on its Facebook page for the announcement of the next session. Meanwhile, you can enjoy FLOUR’s original menu of everyday Indian food.
Masala Art, spice masters of India’s culinary craft
Masala Art, spice masters of India’s culinary craft By Patsy Yang | 00:00 UTC+8 July 14, 2019 | Print Edition
MASALA Art still stands tall in Shanghai’s food scene, after 16 years in operation, and never falls short in serving the most authentic Northern Indian cuisine in town.
The restaurant has a much bigger and brighter dining space on Dagu Road now, than it did on its inception all of those years ago and, of course, the menu has expanded as well. Masala Art has managed to integrate all the classic Indian staples and street snacks with almost every dish available from the country’s northern part.
Service is attentive and unobtrusive, and all the staff are Indian and long time residents of the city. They are happy to guide you and introduce their country’s food.
The menu is large and organized into several categories, from tandoori specialties, curries to Indian breads and biryani . Stopping by for a night meal, I decided to go for the tandoori specialty, curry, appetizer and naan for two to share.
My dinner started with the Badami murg (79 yuan) which is boneless chicken cubes marinated with Indian almonds, dry coriander and fresh flavored spinach.
A range of sauces was presented to pair with the grilled meat. The mint sauce, a true mark of any great Indian restaurant, was somewhat bland though.
The chicken tandoori meat was fragrant and tasty while the mint sauce offered a hint of cooling and offered a spicy note. The mutton rogan josh (69 yuan), tender boneless lamb cubes spiced in traditional Kashmir red gravy, however, lacked any punch.
The appetizer aloo tikki chaat (crispy fried baby potatoes topped with tangy yoghurt and mint sauce) (59 yuan) was one of my favorites here. It featured an interesting mix of sweet yoghurt, sour tamarind sauce and a hint of pepper. But what will always draw me back to Masala Art is its offering of genuine Indian breads from naan, parantha , roti, kulcha to my favorite papadum.
Don’t forget to order a bottle of Indian beer. It’s ideal to pair with the restaurant’s flavorsome plates. If you come between noon and 6pm, you can try the snack menu.
Karnataka Bans Late-night Parties In Popular Tourist Resorts
Like 2 views Taking a cue from Goa, Karnataka too has tightened its norms on international tourists and expats partying late into the night in popular tourist destinations across the state. Those caught in the act will not only be profiled, but their activities will be video recorded and photographed as well. youtube.com In addition, organisers will have to obtain necessary permission from the deputy commissioners of the respective districts. That is not all. If required, the police can gatecrash the party to ascertain whether any reveler is indulging in drugs and even record the party proceedings on a camera. The only saving grace is that these rules do not apply to events being held in Bengaluru. These rules will hold good for international music concerts, local pageant shows, and other tourism promotional-related activities across Karnataka, including for public-private-partnership activities.Though tourism department officials did not wish to comment on the issue, the notification is clear about the move. Between February 3 and 5, 2012, the Udupi district administration, in association with a private agency, had organised a tourism promotion event ‘Spring Zouk’ on the St. Mary’s Island where foreigners were found indulging in drugs and other unsocial activities. The incident led to a major furor since the party took place on a sacred island considered a pilgrimage centre for Hindus. Unhappy over the notification, party organisers and concert organizers termed it as a retrograde step. “Under the pretext of preventing unwanted scenes involving foreigners in tourist destinations, the government is introducing several unacceptable rules and regulations. This will drive away tourists from coastal Karnataka. The notification is not yet made available to us. Once we read it in detail, we will lodge a complaint against it,” said Ronnie D’souza, a leading operator of tourism promotional events in Karnataka. Ironically, many international tourists, including backpackers, have now found solace in Karnataka’s tourist destinations after Goa. The pilgrimage town of Gokarna, Om beach, and the Hampi ruins are some of the most visited places by the foreigners. However, several complaints were lodged after tourists were found indulging in rave parties and walking nude on the beach lately.Airlines Air India (AI) and low-cost SpiceJet are introducing more flights and offering special packages for tourist destinations during the summer holidays. SpiceJet will operate special flights from Delhi to country’s top three tourist hotspots—Srinagar, Goa and Bagdogra— to meet the increased traffic demand during the peak holiday season. Services on the Delhi-Goa and Delhi-Bagdogra route, which apart from being a gateway to the North- East is a tourist destination as well, have also been increased to three flights per day from June 3, it said. The airline is also offering an introductory all-inclusive fare of Rs 4,999 on the Delhi-Goa and Delhi-Bagdogra route, and Rs 5,999 on Delhi-Srinagar route, the airline said. Share A senior AI official told Mail Today that the Maharaja is also introducing additional flights to cater for the summer holiday rush, especially since government officials normally use their LTC at this time of the year.The national carrier has also tied up for holiday packages which include stay at hotels and the deals can be made through its website, he added. The holiday packages include deals such as a Rs 27,224 trip from Delhi to Srinagar that throws in a four-night twin sharing stay and a Delhi-Kathmandu trip for Rs 16,667, which includes a three-night in the Nepalese capital. The AI official said that the airline’s team is already in Moscow to take mandatory approval for the first flight between Delhi and Moscow. The approvals are expected shortly after which services will begin, he added. According to the airline official, though the service will first start with Boeing 747s due to climatic conditions, it will soon be shifted to 787s as more of these aircraft are expected to join the fleet in the coming months. Spicejet piled up a huge loss of Rs 321.5 in the March quarter. This is nearly twice the loss of the previous year.What do you call a five-day, five-night sumptuous stay in the hills in sweltering summer in India? A study tour, of course. A parliamentary panel of the coal ministry decided to undertake such a tour to Leh between June 11 and June 16 this year to study something that is yet to be disclosed. The panel, which took to the hills for ‘brainstorming’, isn’t the only one with such bright study plans in the season of ‘austerity’. According to an RTI reply, as many as 25 parliamentary committees of different Union ministries have spent crores on study tours since 2009, when the 15th Lok Sabha was constituted.These extravagant ‘study tours’ make you cringe also because of the austerity measures announced by the UPA government in the wake of the global economic meltdown. The ministry directives on austerity also spelt out economyclass flying and lodging in government guesthouses and state-run hotels in case the tours are unavoidable. The measures, however, do not seem to have affected the travel itineraries of our MPs, who have planned meetings at destinations which have hardly had anything in common with the subject of their ‘study’. Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Srinagar, Leh, Kerala beaches, Dalhousie, Goa, Lakshadweep, Shimla and Munnar are some of the destinations where the parliamentary panels planned their ‘study trips’. If the places make you aspire to be on the panels, also take a look at the accommodation which the MPs chose for their stay.Taj Vivanta (Goa), Lalit Grand Palace (Srinagar) Westin, Taj Mahal and Leela in Mumbai, Le Meridien (Chennai), Oberoi Grand and Taj Bengal (Kolkata), the list of luxury and super luxury hotels is long (See box). One wonders how and for what purpose the panels on coal and steel spent Rs 26 lakh, Rs 20 lakh and Rs 16 lakh in three separate trips. There were two more trips by the same panels for which the bills are yet to be submitted. The railways panels made eight ‘study trips’ between May 2010 and May 2012 and the subjects ‘studied’ primarily included passenger security and catering services.Four separate railways panels undertook ‘study trips’ in the name of passenger amenities and safety, the results of which are there for everyone to see. They stayed at Westin in Mumbai and Taj Krishna in Hyderabad. Another panel of the same ministry spent Rs 11.35 lakh between June 29 and July 4, 2011, visiting Mangalore, Palakkad, Kochi and Thiruvanthapuram while the officials spent over Rs 4 lakh. The first was a weeklong tour in July 2010, covering Kolkata, Shillong and Cherrapunji, Aizwal, Guwahati and Dimapur. The second was a five-day trip by 15 MPs in January 2011 to Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Madurai and Mumbai. The third trip also lasted as many days. The committee hasn’t even cared to submit the bills for any of these visits, despite covering at least three corners of the country.Moreover, the purpose of these visits is still not clear. The committee on the welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) was prompt enough to submit its travel bills, but in the process it only exposed its ‘travelling binge’. A five-day visit by the 12 members of the committee to Mumbai, Nasik and Goa cost the exchequer Rs 12.8 lakh. Not to mention, the MPs stayed in Hotel Ramada Caravela Beach Resort during their visit to Goa. The information on the travelling and stay of the MPs was divulged in reply to an application filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.A dog abandoned on the streets of Goa, India, has made a miraculous recovery after falling victim to a brutal acid attack. The young dog, nicknamed Bones by her rescuers, was left wondering the streets with half of her face burned away. It is not known who carried out the cruel and seemingly unprovoked attack on the ‘trusting’ pup. The acid had eaten away through her skin and tissue, creating a huge hole in her head exposing her skull. With such a huge gaping wound, Bones faced a lingering death from infection. However, villagers took pity on the sorry dog and alerted vets from a British-based charity WVS, who quickly came to the rescue.WVS described the acid attack victim as ‘suffering from one of the extreme wounds we’ve ever seen’. They managed to capture Bones and quickly gain her trust, allowing them to treat her with stitches, bandages, and antibiotics. The dog is now happy, healthy and living with a WVS volunteer while waiting for someone to adopt her. WVS Goa Clinical Director Dr. Karlette Anne Fernandes said: ‘From day one, despite the severe trauma, she let us bandage her face, without trouble, and she learnt to breathe through the mouth instead of her clogged nostrils. This dog was destined to live, she was a fighter and she taught us how to fight to save lives. Dorset-based WVS has a rescue centre based in Goa, providing long-term clinical care for abandoned, abused and injured street dogs in and around the Indian state. The centre also provides practical surgical training to Indian vets and local charity workers, promoting best practice techniques in animal welfare. Vet Luke Gamble launched WVS from Cranborne, Dorset, in 2002 to combat animal suffering and now has long-term projects with animals of all sizes in places such as India, Thailand and Malawi.New Delhi has been ranked 22nd in the world and eighth in Asia in the top destination for 2018, Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations by TripAdvisor. A city famous for mouth-watering food, New Delhi the capital of India was ranked 22nd in TripAdvisors’ top 25 travellers choice of destinations list for this year offering alluring Mughal minarets, magnificent colonial-era buildings and flourishing culture. Paris in France topped the list of Travellers’ Choice awards for Destinations followed by London (UK), Rome (Italy), Bali (Indonesia), Crete (Greece). Award winners were determined using an algorithm based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions in destinations worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period, as well as traveller booking interest on TripAdvisor.The awards honour 402 outstanding destinations in 42 lists across the globe. New Delhi at eighth position, followed by Goa at ninth and Jaipur (Rajasthan) at number 16 position. Goa with its picturesque beaches, pristine waters, spectacular landscapes and a happening nightlife continue to fascinate travellers around the globe, while ‘Pink City’ Jaipur attracts people with culture, cuisine and unmatched architecture. Bali in Indonesia topped the Asia list followed by Phuket in Thailand, Hanoi (Vietnam), Siem Reap (Siem Reap Province), Tokyo (Japan), Kathmandu (Nepal) and Hong Kong. Get live Stock Prices from BSE and NSE and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.Indian police said Wednesday they had launched a murder investigation after a young Irish woman was found dead in the popular tourist state of Goa. The body of 28-year-old Danielle McLaughlin was discovered in a field on Tuesday and an autopsy is being conducted to ascertain whether she was sexually assaulted, deputy superintendent Sammy Tavares of the Goan police told AFP. The deaths, many in suspicious circumstances or from drug or alcohol abuse, have blighted the picturesque state’s reputation as a tourist haven. It has been confirmed that the woman travelled to India using a British passport, so the local British consulate has the lead responsibility in terms of dealings with the Indian authorities.Travel agent Thomas Cook has come under fire after video footage emerged showing British tourists riding elephants on one of their holidays in India – two years after the company promised to ban the cruel practice.. Jai Das, 21, filmed other tourists riding elephants at a spice plantation in Goa, which he visited with his family as part of an excursion during a Thomas Cook holiday. youtube.com He claims two elephants gave rides to 16 people in one group over the course of an hour and another coach-load of tourists was waiting to take their place. The elephant riding was included as part of a package offered by a representative for Thomas Cook, one of Britain’s most-respected travel agencies. It comes after the firm promised to stop offering elephant rides to its customers in January 2016, when 175,000 people signed a petition urging it to do so.Share 230 shares On its website the firm states, ‘Thomas Cook Group is not selling elephant rides or shows in any of its markets,’ and claims to be an ‘industry leader in animal welfare’. But the clips, filmed in December last year, indicate that Thomas Cook continues to promote the inhumane practice. Mr Das, of Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, said: ‘It just didn’t seem right. Everyone else in the group was riding them but I wasn’t comfortable with it at all. Evidence: Student Jai Das says he was the handlers aggressively prodding and jabbing the animals – which are chained to trees when they’re not working – in a bid to control them. We saw the handlers being cruel to the elephants.They had to respond to different jabs or pokes to keep their mouths open as they posed for photos. The fact the we were stood next to such huge wild animals and yet they were so docile showed that they had been trained and it seemed unnatural. Thomas Cook is a well-respected company that you expect to trust and expect the best from. I never thought they would do anything so unethical, especially after their claim that they don’t offer such excursions. I’m appalled that they think they can get away with it. According to animal rights charities, taming elephants to the point where they are so docile that they will give rides to humans involves a torture-like process.The creatures are often captured from the wild and ‘broken in’ – beaten – so that they fear their grooms, known as mahouts. As well as being made to give bareback rides, tourists smile in photos with the elephants as they are fed bunches of bananas and prodded to pose with their mouths open. Swimsuit-clad holiday-makers also sit on their backs as they’re doused with water for a third photo op. Mr Das, who is training to become a primary school teacher, said a Thomas Cook representative at Phoenix Park Inn in Candolim, Goa, offered his family the excursion. They were not told about the elephant riding at the time of booking and only found out about it while on a minibus on the way to the spice plantation for breakfast.After eating, the group was led to a muddy patch of land hidden behind a toilet block where two elephants – named Lila and Lakshmi – were tied to a tree. According to the plantation workers, the animals had been there for around ten years and give approximately 20 rides a day. One said they were gifted to the farm by the government to produce manure and lead ‘good lives’, with their only work being ‘giving rides to ants’. Thomas Cook said: ‘We take animal welfare very seriously. It is clear this excursion should not be available to book through Thomas Cook, and we are working to rectify this immediately.When the iconic Playboy Enterprises announced the launch of its clubs in Goa, India in November, the big question on fans’ minds was what the Playboy bunny costume would be. This was unveiled at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday. The famous corset has been tweaked with an allusion to sari and paired with a translucent ankle-length skirt. But the other trademark paraphernalia, like the ears, bow tie and tail, remain. The new sheer corsets do not follow the traditional, skimpier Playboy Bunny uniform, in that sheer panelling has been added. But even with the culturally-cognizant design, some fear the costumes mark a slippery slope and that opening the Playboy club would encourage debaucherous and vulgar behavior.Dilip Parulekar, the tourism minister to Goa, said in November: ‘We will not entertain anyone who is here to spread obscenity and nudity,’ according to the Times of India. Sanjay Gupta, the chief of Playboy India explained the rationale behind the still-skimpy apparel in a country where modesty is highly valued. ‘Revealing outfits are frowned up to in this country. youtube.com If you watch Bollywood films, you will see women dressed far sexier and in more revealing outfits,’ he told the Telegraph. Share The change in the costume, designed by US-based Mohini Tadikonda ‘keeping in mind Indian sensibilities’ is a first for Playboy, its executive vice-president and chief revenue officer Matthew Nordby said. Playboy, which has its origins in the magazine founded by Hugh Hefner in 1953, inked a deal with its India licensee PB Lifestyle India in November to open at least 120 outlets over the next 10 years.The outlets include clubs, bars and cafes. The first club is coming up on the Candolim beach in Goa by March, which will be followed by another one in Hyderabad. We plan to have eight clubs in four years and 49 bars in seven years,’ said Sanjay Gupta, chief executive, PB Lifestyle. The firm, which will play a royalty to Playboy, has targeted an investment of Rs 200 crore over the next seven years. With our various formats, we are looking at all kinds of target audience,’ Gupta said. But fans looking to see Indian women in the bunny costume are in for disappointment as for now the bunnies will all be foreigners.India’s state ministers have money and muscle power in abundance, but when it comes to education, there are plenty of lessons to be learnt. While 34 per cent of ministers from state assemblies have declared criminal cases against them, 76 per cent of them are crorepatis with average assets of Rs 8.59 crore, shows a recent study. About 160 ministers out of the 609 covered have studied up to class XII or below. Ponguru Narayana of Telugu Desam Party has assets worth Rs 496 crore, followed by D K Shivakumar (left) of Cong with Rs 251 crore. In contrast, of the 78 ministers examined from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, 14 (18%) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves. A total of 609 ministers out of 620 have been analysed from 29 state assemblies and two Union Territories. The study said 462 (76%) of them are crorepatis.On the other hand, north goa hotels -eastern state Tripura (12 ministers) is at the bottom with average assets of Rs 31.67 lakh, with Kerala (19 ministers) above it at Rs 78.72 lakh and then Manipur (11 ministers) at Rs 83.92 lakh. Among the ministers with the highest assets is Ponguru Narayana of the Telugu Desam Party with Rs 496 crore, followed by DK Shivakumar of the Congress at Rs 251 crore, says the ADR report. Three state assemblies — Arunachal Pradesh, Punjab and Puducherry — have the distinction of 100 per cent crorepati ministers. They are followed by 97 per cent ministers of Karnataka and 92 per cent ministers from Rajasthan, Goa, Meghalaya and Chhattisgarh who also have declared assets valued at Rs 1 crore and above.The states with the highest percentage of ministers with serious criminal cases include nine from Jharkhand, four from Delhi, nine from Telangana, 18 from Maharashtra, 11 from Bihar and two from Uttarakhand. The study revealed a dearth of female ministers, as out of the 609 examines, just 51 are women. The highest number of female ministers is from Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, with five each. State cabinets of Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Mizoram, Nagaland, Puducherry, Punjab and Telangana have no female ministers. Wealth does not guarantee good educational qualification. There are nine ministers who have studied up to class V or lower. A total of 59 ministers have cleared class X while 77 have passed class XII. Only 157 ministers have attended colleges and are graduates. The list also comprises those ministers who have postgraduate (125) and doctorate (26) degrees. As far as age goes, a majority of them are between 50 and 60 years old and a few are in the range of 80 to 90 years. A total of 226 ministers are in the 50-60 age group, 144 are between 60 and 70 years of age, 23 are between 70-80 years and five are more than80 years old.A British couple on holiday in Goa were left with just 10p after their £2,000 spending money was stolen from their hotel’s safe. The padlock on the secure locker had not been tampered with but all their money, stored in two lockers, was missing. When they asked to inspect the hotel’s CCTV, staff told the couple there were no cameras in the the safety deposit room as they feared it would be an ‘invasion or privacy’ for guests. Bosses at the Silver Sand Hotel in Candolim, then landed them with a bill of £13 for using the locker. Police in Goa suspect the money was stolen by a rogue member of staff at the hotel using a duplicate skeleton key.Share Mr and Mrs Pattrick, from Bury, Greater Manchester were forced to ring home to get their bank to activate their credit cards so they could finance the rest of the two week trip which was booked through Thomsons Holidays. Now they are only be able to reclaim £250 due to a clause in their travel insurance policy. Mrs Pattrick, an NHS therapist said: ‘It was bad enough that the money went missing from the safety deposit box but to then charge us for using it was bare faced cheek. youtube.com We were left with just a few rupees worth around ten pence and we had to ring home to unlock our credit cards to see us through.