My thoughts on experiences this far…
Saturday August 18th 2018

3 Spiritual Reads-The Journey Home

My mother’s death and the forces around me have led me to look for solace in books. I try to review all my reads on Goodreads but it’s only the recent 3 on spirituality that I’m sharing through this and the next 2 posts here. I’d be interested to get impressions from others on these books or any other that come close to this direction of learning.

This was my first autobiography read. It was gifted by a spiritual uncle at the time I lost my mother, as an attempt to help settle me…

The book took many weeks to finish because of distractions and preoccupations but I did seek it out despite much mental and physical confusion. It offered a fluid and believable read. Radhanath Swami’s journey from a 19 year old American Jew boy to become Srila Prabhupada’s follower 2 years later was full of tough travels, conflicting experiences and much exploration. It took him 6 months to reach India through Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan by land and with little or no money. I admired his determination and belief in his own quest. It was a surprise that the idea of India came to an American teenager in the 1970s when this country was even less tourist-friendly or known. It was good to know about all the sadhus he met–including Neem Karoli Baba who I’d heard about only in Steve Jobs’ context–and his genuine interest in learning from them. I felt sorry for his troubles so many times and heaved a sigh of relief each time he got to eat anything substantial. After all his doubts, learnings, struggles, I’ve to say, however, that I was disappointed with his final decision to connect with a glamourous brand like Iskcon. Much as I enjoy going into clean and large Iskcon temples, eating its lovely prasad or buying rosary beads from its Delhi store, in its present state, Iskcon’s concept brings many doubts to mind about its mission. And, this is when I believe in Krishna as a God too. Recently, when I asked a young Sivanand Ashram Swami about his impressions of Iskcon’s mandate and method, he said that it has evolved into something that may not have been Srila Prabhupada’s vision of it. To my own mind, Iskcon promotes a cult movement by offering music, dancing and single-minded chanting of a mantra. It’s almost as if it’s created a template that is attractive to adopt by Western seekers. I realize that many would advice me to keep my own heart and quest clear instead of deriding any sect but for now my impression of Iskcon is based on my experience of it…however limited that may be at this stage.

And yet, I do not mean to trivialize Richard Slavin’s journey to find God and a guru. I’m full of admiration for his hardships and bravery to leave a comfortable life. The book itself is well written for someone who hadn’t kept notes on his experiences and wrote about them 35 years later.


My Mom is out of this world…

My Mom passed away 2 weeks ago on the morning of 27thMay. She was only 67. She had physical problems like osteo-arthritic knees, a painful back, and earlier, she’d been through 3 surgeries to fix her abdominal hernia, but her death was sudden and abrupt even for my father. As for me, I’m left with

A photo my Mom liked of herself

regret over my detachment from her in the recent years that, at the time, I justified due to my disillusionment with my father. My father and I are both strong willed individuals with differing views on almost everything concerning my parents’ lives, health, diet, pursuits, world view and more. My father has had a restricted mobility after his stroke 25 years ago and a delayed detection of bone TB that affected his hipbone severely, and Mummy had remained his duty-bound companion through his years of physical degeneration and mental unrest. Now his 3 children–including me and mostly my younger brother with whom he’s now staying–must become his active and involved companions through this phase that’s begun with my Mom’s passing away. It’s my father I argued with the most about his unrelenting ways involving his children and wife, and it’s my father I’m left with whom I must help come out of his increasing depression at the loss of his constant companion of 48 years. Over the years, he’s found one or other reason to be anguished about but the current one is so final in its meaning and repercussions that it’s going to take everyone’s mental strength to help him adjust to it. For now, therefore, as his children, we must put our own grief aside and help him adapt to his loss…

Through the years, I saw my Mom as a chilled out person who took life as it came. I used to get hassled that she left my education, career, boyfriends, marriage and other critical

Me as a baby in my Mom's arms

decisions to me or destiny. That she remained very busy with her daily chores and didn’t stop long enough to worry about the future. Either her’s or her children’s. Instead, she prayed and fasted for her family’s welfare, her husband’s long life and her children’s good health. And, she cooked and cleaned for us relentlessly. I grew to somewhat accept her outlook of life as a transactional business and not worth brooding over. I couldn’t be like her but I tried to help her have fun by taking her out to handicraft dos, meals out and small shopping sprees. But not as much as I’d have liked to for she couldn’t leave my father unattended for long or so frequently. Despite her restrictions though, it used to be good fun to make her laugh as laughter came to her easily. Sharing jokes and inane instances with her used to be a satisfying exercise as she’d oblige by laughing wholeheartedly. I could see that she was proud of Kishore as an undemanding son-in-law and found her laughing at his jokes even more willingly!

Her belief in God was so complete that I grew to believe in God too and followed some of the religious rituals I watched her perform through my upbringing. They were enjoyable also because they almost felt like playing with dolls. And, I learnt to chant some prayers like her but not all that she knew. The last 2 decades of my life I went on to form my own equation with God and manners of connecting with him that I’d even get a little impatient with her insistence on surrounding herself with all forms of Godly calendar art and for listening to discourses by all sorts of self-proclaimed Godmen. She saw much goodness in their words and took them simply at their face value. I used to be surprised at her childlike take on spirituality and at finding mental peace.

Secretly though I’ve thanked her for instilling in me a strong belief in God being a supreme parent and caretaker, and one to be turned to in war or peace. That belief has given me much strength over the years and made me feel special and loved. I can only hope that it’d continue to give me the strength I need till my dying day as she herself isn’t with me to tell me how proud she is to see me looking young or to laugh at my oft-repeated jokes or go with me to Diwali-melas…


Goa: Birdwatching in Bondla

Goa has shown me more forest birds in the last 3 years than the rest of the country seen this far. Bharatpur or Bhindawas has shown a higher density in DSC_4019wetland birds but since it’s the colorful forest birds that I generally seek, Bondla in Goa has had a special place in my heart. So much so that recently, when a Pranik healer gently suggested that I, among her other disciples, envision a calming place, I could only think of the forested path lined­­ with Gulmohar laden trees in Bondla…such is the effect of a walk on this single winding path showing a profusion of colors in birds.

Our first visit to Bondla was in the company of the bird guide, Raymond (also Rama Govekar) who had carried a scope on that walk and he’d barely take a few seconds to focus it on a bird of interest. On that first walk, I remember being amazed by the iridescent colors of an Emerald Dove, sheer numbers of the beautiful Indian Pitta and the comfortable look about a dainty Black-naped Monarch sitting in the tiniest of cup-shaped nests hanging between two stems. On the most recent trip to Goa, I managed two visits to Bondla but Kishore was lucky enough to cover it two more times and that too with Raymond pointing out birds to him…a luxury I couldn’t manage as Raymond was busy those days.

Some quick facts on Bondla for those who’re still to get there:  It is 50 km away from Panjim, about 90 minutes away from North Goa, placed next to a village called Usgaon and it’s the smallest Wildlife Sanctuary of Goa. Most locals visit it for its zoo but I found the zoo inside rather small and sad looking on a visit. I hear that its current Forest Range Officer is trying everything in his power to organize the place and yet ensure that it remains undisturbed by Goa’s growing commercial activities. For those interested in a look at the zoo should avoid it on its weekly closed day of Thursdays. Those interested in birding can go there any morning, whether low or peak tourist season, but they should start walking around the place by 6:30 am.

The area Kishore and I prefer scanning is the 4-5 km forested stretch from its tiny board going up to a pond appearing on the left. Both sides of the road show many birds and the regular ones that have remained imprinted on my mind are: Emerald Dove, Indian Pitta, White-rumped Shama, Blue-faced Malkhoha, Scarlet Minivets almost always in pairs, Orange-headed Thrushes, White-cheeked Barbets, Black-hooded and Golden Orioles, Black-naped Monarch, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Yellow-browed Bulbuls, Blue-bearded Bee-eaters and the graceful Racket-tailed Drongos—one place one is sure to see them in good numbers.

For those keen on a guided walk of Bondla, the ever-busy Raymond can be reached at +919922271840.



Notes on Goa: Yard birding

A couple more posts on the theme Goa.

Not so long ago, I’d posted a bird checklist of my residential complex in Gurgaon. In comparison to Gurgaon, our Goa home complex is tiny and dominated by a swimming pool around which 20 flats are made. On the first look, the greenery around the place looks charming but on a closer look, it’s easy to see that it isn’t dense enough to attract too many birds. The pool is surrounded by small shrubs that attract some small birds but it’s the two far sides of the pool, showing off a cashew tree, a mango tree, a Kachnar, an Araucaria, a large ficus, a spread-out bougainvillea on the boundary wall and a large breadfruit tree, that bring in bigger delights. Ardent yard birders that Kishore and I are, we keep peering into the foliage visible from our flat balcony to spot our avian visitors. Birds that we commonly spot from the balcony are:

1. White-rumped Munias – seen regularly
2. Crimson-backed Sunbirds – seen regularly
3. Oriental Magpie Robins – seen regularly
4. Asian Koels – often found nesting on a large ficus tree
5. Rufous Treepies — seen regularly
6. Red-whiskered Bulbuls – dominant bird and seen regularly
7. Black Kites – out of the complex on coconut trees – 3-4 are commonly seen
8. White-throated Kingfishers – 1 or 2 show up to take a dip in the pool
9. Asian Paradise Flycatcher-female –lone bird

At the back of the complex, a neighbour has some coconut trees, one cashew tree, a cheeku tree and at least one large Frangipani tree. One of the coconut trees is thoroughly pock-marked with nesting holes, and often shows these two species using them:

10. White-cheeked Barbets – can be heard every few hours but seen only once or twice
11. Jungle Myna – this angry bird is seen regularly but only in its nesting hole

While I’m drawing up the complex checklist, I can’t skip mentioning these beautiful woodpeckers whom we saw only one of the summers when the mango trees were laden with ripe mangoes and would lure them to the complex:

12. Black-rumped Flamebacks

Other than spotting a full-time resident like a Jungle Myna in its nesting hole, there are 2 rituals that we look out for on each stay. One is the daily bath by a Magpie Robin in one of the deep plant pots and the other is the visit of just one Asian Paradise Flycatcher (APF) female every afternoon. This bird mostly visits between 3 and 4 pm, lands straight onto a Bottlebrush tree close to the swimming pool, takes 3 dips into the pool and each time goes and rests on the same tree, only to fly away after its third dip. I don’t know if all birds are creatures of habit, but I can sure vouch for APF being one. In Gurgaon too, we’ve had a Rufous male visiting every March-April for a week to ten days, whom we managed to spot just a couple of times before we took off for Goa.



Notes from Goa: A blend of amazement and frustration

Each time I live in Goa, I’m amazed at some sights but also saddened by many experiences. Sights to look forward to are Goa’s greenery, bird life, flowers and sea waves. Just a two-hour drive gets us into thick forests and to colourful birds. In contrast, from Delhi it takes 6-9 hours of driving to reach Morni Hills or Corbett for any remarkable change in flora and fauna so those drives have to be consciously planned. Some fruits available here are most certainly sweeter than those in Delhi and yet they are affordable. Papayas come at Rs15/piece if I avoid the tourist zones and track down the lone woman seller on the Parra road or go over to the Mapusa Friday market and, if I’m lucky, I also get some smiles and a chat. There are big supermarkets like Newtons or small shops like Viegas, both of which make shopping for Kodai cheeses and fresh herbs a pleasure. We love to use the local produce and try to learn about it some amount on each stay. That includes Goan breads, kokum, chorizo, bakery products and more.

Sights and experiences causing frustrations can be far too many though. First of all, here I’m treated as a tourist so get fleeced by helpers and service providers with a disturbing regularity. Based on my basic belief that we humans are the same species with the same basic needs, I’m friendly with any human being I come across, irrespective of one’s caste, language or physical appearance. These include Goans, other Indians providing services and non-Indians. And yet, I can’t be sure why people are so superficial in some cases, remote in some more and arrogant in so many more? Just because they know Goa more than me, does it entitle them to a boorish behavior?

Coming to some seemingly mundane aspects of life, Goa’s humidity seems to result in too many ants everywhere. I’ve to keep absolutely everything in the refrigerator for even raw rice or dal attracts little ants here, leave alone cookies or breads. Humidity also causes namkeen and crisps to get soggy no matter how airtight a container. Soaps too remain soggy and don’t retain shape unless placed consciously propped up or on surfaces allowing a flow of air. Clothes take 6-7 hours to dry. Closed and even open wooden cabinets get moldy. We’re extremely careful with what we leave behind in the flat for any leather footwear left here will presumably acquire layers of mold and be unrecognizable some months later! And…more such stuff. The place seems to call for a different strategy to living one’s life than the one I’ve grown up with and I’m wondering how non-Goans adapt to Goa’s humidity, ants, mold, lack of vegetables or a short-lived memory among its long-term dwellers?


Notes from Goa: Fish-curry thali

Many of us know that Goa offers a variety of seafood. Some may also know about its coconut based Fish Curry. But it’s only a few who’d have heard of Goa’s Fish-curry Thali.

The ideal preparation of this fish-curry has a tangy and spicy curry that is based on coconut but doesn’t have coconut shreds. Most restaurants in Goa offer Goan food in general and fish-curry in particular but it’s only a few that offer a thali with fish-curry in it. The thali is on their menu only for lunch and never as a takeaway. For dinner, these restaurants would certainly have fish-curry as an item but they would charge for it as for a la carte fish items. During lunch, the Fish-curry Thali would be offered as a combo platter and  include i) a small bowl of fish-curry, ii) a large portion of rice, iii) green beans or another vegetable with fresh coconut shreds in it, iv) some Tisario (clams filled with coconut based masala), v) some dried shrimps sautéed in fresh coconut, vi) some salad/pickle vii) sol-kadhi or Kokum water, and very importantly viii) a fillet of rava-fried fish. Restaurants would even allow free refills of rice and the curry of fish-curry for this platter and yet price their Fish-curry Thali fairly competitively. The lowest we’ve paid for a thali is Rs35 at a popular open-air restaurant called Kamlabai in Mapusa. Those with a large appetite for fish, and long-term plans to stay in Goa, could have this thali every day for lunch and still not feel financially drained…may be just a little over-weight…that’s all ;-)

We’ve had Fish-curry Thali at many restaurants in North Goa but have only two favourite places for it. One happens to be close enough to us in Arpora. It’s called Starlight. This place is open for the whole year, looks more like a shack and almost dreary on the first look but it’s invariably filled with locals. This season, Starlight’s Fish-curry Thali (also called Rice-plate) is priced at Rs60 and the lowest we’ve paid for it in the past is Rs40. The ‘Best Fish-curry Thali’ per our experience, however, can be had only at Ritz Classic in Panjim. The first time we ate their thali 4 years ago, we paid Rs71 for it. This season it’s priced at Rs100 and still reigns supreme.

Further, this awesome collection of photos of fish-curry thalis from different parts of Goa says everything else that I couldn’t express in words!


Notes from Goa: Dismal food and then some surprises!

A couple of posts from Goa to share experiences in real time…and this one’s on non-Goan and non-Indian food I’ve had here over 4 years. There’s much to say on the subject but I’d try to limit my observations to a manageable-sized post :)

First, I’d break the myth about foreign cuisines here. The continental, Italian or Chinese food I’ve had in most places in Goa has cost as much as it has in Delhi or Gurgaon and it’s been poorly cooked and hugely disappointing. Going by experiences related in the Goa section of Indiamike, one would think that Goa is a haven for well-presented steaks, sizzlers, fish preparations and pastas. The truth is that almost any eatery in every other lane of Goa claims to present the ‘best steaks in Goa,’ and much of this food is cooked by mundus (cooks) from Orissa, Himachal or Nepal who douse their preparations with excessive ketchup, Worcestershire or soy sauce. Floyd’s in Candolim had long been on my list for sizzlers and steaks but recently a meal there showed me why it’s safer to steer clear of tourist-oriented zones for food. Its steak and chicken sizzler were unpleasantly sweet and the meats were hurriedly combined with their sauces. Sunset Bar at the edge of Baga presented a beautiful setting for a meal and I could see why Europeans from my complex liked visiting it regularly for a drink. But its lasagna tasted stale and it was topped with such a lot of chewy mozzarella that it felt the cook had been compelled to add loads of any cheese he could find just so he could skip the pasta sheet and still sufficiently hide the meat sauce. Conversely, its bite-sized grilled chicken sandwich didn’t plan for any cheese unless one insisted and paid extra for it.

Another place I was determined to catch this time was Kimfa on Calangute. Most reviews had mentioned its Chinese to be VERY good. Kimfa is blessed with a visible location and pulls in a lot of Westerners but I feel its main course dishes are close to the over-fried Chinjabi fare popular among us in Delhi. It probably does some authentic Chinese cuisine like Roast Duck (mentioned as a special item on my visit) that appeals to the Western taste but its two dishes we tried were just palatable, NOT very good.

One more place that had long been on my list to visit was Lila’s Café on Baga. We could never find the place operating until this time. Yes, it’s run by a German lady and the food is authentically German. As a group of 7, that we were on our visit, we managed to try many main course items on the menu and we thought the food was only just about okay. Its steak meat was good but the sauce was salty and the pepper-steak meant far too many peppercorns to negotiate with.

It appears that Sunset Bar in Baga or another place, Guru in Anjuna, believe that people will go there any which way for their location so they needn’t bother working on their food. Many such places throw in free WiFi as a good measure to ensure the crowds but don’t work on their food. St. Anthony is another such place on Baga that attracts crowds because of its Karaoke and location on the breezy beach and less for its food.

Then some surprises…

Lila’s Café does a fantastic job of its Chocolate mousse. Go there for that and a shot of espresso. Its croissants are so buttery and soft that the teenagers in my group easily finished 3 of them waiting for their orders and could have had more. Also, don’t leave Lila’s Café without its flax seed smeared Knackbrot cracker packet. Those crackers are lovely to have with tea. Then, a chance order of a Chilli Cheese Garlic stuffed Naan at Floyd’s has redefined the concept of a Naan to us. Since discovering it, we’ve ordered it at many other places as our first order with drinks, but haven’t found it to be as well done as the Tandoori cook at Floyd’s manages it. Our meal at Kimfa educated us about steamed chicken wontons that we enjoyed experiencing and liked the way they came in a steel steamer. Before this, we’d only heard of fried wontons and steamed momos–never the two blended together! Our two visits to Capricorn on Calangute, in the past, have got us good preparations of pastas. We’ve been avoiding the restaurant to give others a chance but need to revisit it. Infantaria on the Baga-Calangute road has all its food pricey but also good. Its risotto, steaks and pastries have never disappointed us. It mostly pulls in crowds for its 5-pints of beer for Rs100 deal, but to us, it’s been practical to stop by some afternoons for its takeaway burgers and rolls. While in Calangute between 5-6 pm, I’d also push you towards the little Shwarma cart owned by Michael as after that he’d be out of food!

Do tell me what you think of these places and don’t forget to tell me about those you’ve enjoyed going to in Goa.


Birds of Greenwoods City

We’d been birding a few years before moving to Greenwoods City in Gurgaon but our yard birding got the much needed impetus on moving to this residential complex. There are 5 landscaped parks in the complex and each proudly sports tree groves or at least a row of trees on its periphery. One in front of our house has a bamboo grove in a corner, a Kadamb tree right in the middle and Kaniar, Laburnum, Bottlebrush, Gulmohur, Earpod Wattle and more on its 4 sides. The trees are high but not dense. They get pruned annually so lose their girth in the process. This also means that they aren’t appropriate for making large nests by birds. Still, it’s been great to see some birds making do with them.  We’ve kept track of birds seen over the last 9 years of our stay here–even though the density of House Crows, Rock Pigeons, Laughing Doves and Jungle Babblers tends to be higher than prettier Oriental White-eyes or Coppersmith Barbets, we consider ourselves fortunate for a close look at any birds…as also for possibilities of spotting winter and passage migrants.

Kishore has had an album on birds of Greenwoods city in his gallery that would give an excellent idea of how these birds look, but here’s my meticulously maintained checklist for those birding in Gurgaon :)

  1. Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus – Usually a single male with 2-3 females in tow
  2. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala – Heard regularly; once saw 4 together in Aug 2006
  3. Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris – Only once in Mar 2007
  4. Common Hoopoe Upupa epops – Seen on multiple occasions but not often
  5. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis – Heard regularly
  6. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis – Good numbers from March onwards
  7. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea – Heard regularly in peak summer
  8. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis – Seen only twice
  9. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameriI – Regular sightings
  10. Rock Pigeon Columba livia – Regular sightings
  11. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto – Regular sightings
  12. Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis – Regular sightings
  13. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera – Seen March onwards
  14. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus – Seen March through summer
  15. Shikra Accipiter badius – Regular sightings
  16. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii – Only once breeding plumage in June 2010
  17. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach – Only once in April 2005
  18. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda – Regular sightings– at least 2 resident pairs
  19. House Crow Corvus splendens – Regular sightings
  20. Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus – Only once in Aug 2006
  21. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus – Seen them nesting
  22. Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradise – Seen twice: Feb 2005 and Mar 2009
  23. Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrine – Only once in Dec 2007
  24. Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva – First noticed in April 2009
  25. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina – Only once in March 2007
  26. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis – First noticed in Mar 2012
  27. Bluethroat Luscinia svecica – Only once in December 2007
  28. Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata – Regular sightings
  29. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros – Winter migrant – Noticed from Nov 2007
  30. Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum – Rare sightings but seen multiple times
  31. Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra – Regular sightings
  32. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis – Regular sightings
  33. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer – Regular sightings
  34. Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis  – Regular sightings
  35. Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus – Regular sightings
  36. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius – Regular sightings
  37. Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita – Rare sightings – Ist in Sept 2006
  38. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus – Regular sightings
  39. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca – Winter migrant – good numbers every winter
  40. Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica Regular sightings
  41. House Sparrow Passer domesticus – Regular sightings


Jdesignlab to just me…

I’d registered my domain while learning and experimenting with web designing in pre-CMS days. I moved on to other areas of learning but kept the domain for emailing. At some point, blogging seemed like a good use of it. A couple of days ago, I thought out aloud in Kishore’s company that as a domain name hadn’t quite worked for me in my non-designer incarnation. That it’d frequently led to my explaining to people how I was no longer into formal designing and why I left it. I also had to spell out J and LAB repeatedly over the phone so people did’t miss them from my email id…

Well…Kishore can take me seriously at times. He checked and I was surprised to find a .com domain in my own name–no mean feat these days! He registered it for me and migrated the blog to the new site. So, here I am: happier blogging under the name I’ve had longer than either Jdesignlab or my maiden name Jyoti Puri.

Nothing else changes. This WordPress theme has been working for me…give and take a few minor quibbles. So, I’d still be blogging about seemingly unrelated interests of mine–and, now boldly in my own name!

Keep visiting to leave your mark here.


Kelly’s Ginger-Garlic Fish

I’ve begun working with fish only recently. Kishore couldn’t handle the taste or smell of fish the first 2 decades of our married life, and Kabir can only just about handle it now. Then Goa happened to us. While there, I’d be surprised to find Kishore enjoying the staple lunch of Goan fish-curry thali for many more days than I’d manage! Since then, I’ve been experimenting with fish at home. Most Indian preparations call for deep-frying of fish before adding it to gravies. Something I like to avoid doing to fish. Or use coconut for it. Much as I love coconut milk based curries, I like to keep my fish preparations largely healthy and yet tasteful. That’s where Kelly’s steamed Chinese fish preparations come in.

The appreciation for a Chinese preparation of fish follows our discovery of a Chinese restaurant in Gurgaon. Some months ago, we happened to notice this new restaurant on a Sector road. Later, we heard a bit about its owner Kelsang Tsering (also Kelly) from our friend Amit Kalra and decided to check it out. Our first meal there was a pleasant surprise and included a lemon-coriander chicken soup and chicken in hot-garlic sauce with hakka noodles. Everything about the place and the food looked clean–including the non-greasy noodles. We started going there regularly as also began bullying our friends to meet us there to sample Kelly’s food. It was probably on our second visit that Kelly introduced us to his steamed fish in a ginger-garlic sauce which had us asking for it on almost all our subsequent visits…

Then some weeks ago, I urged Kelly on the phone to share its recipe. I followed a vague order of those instructions about thrice at home and recently, requested Kelly to allow me a peek in his Kitchen to watch his cook make it. Kelly was kind enough to oblige. On the visit, the cook got creative and prepared 2 versions of it. One was the earlier ginger-garlic recipe and largely red in colour. The new one was done in a black-pepper sauce and looked brownish. And my, this new variation was even more enjoyable and now something to eat there regularly. This post is to share the ginger-garlic recipe so people can try it at home, and then go over to Kelly’s restaurant Hachi ba for the black-pepper version. Or, sample both on multiple visits…


Boneless fish fillet: 200 gms thinly sliced in
about 1.5″ big squarish pieces.

Marinade: 1 tablespoon plain flour+
1 tsp salt+tsp white pepper+2 tsps oil+
1 tsp crushed garlic+1 tsp ginger juice


Tomato: 1 finely chopped
Onion: 1 finely chopped
Ginger: 1 tablespoon finely chopped
Garlic: 1 tablespoon finely chopped
Tomato sauce: 2 tablespoons
Tomato puree: 1 tablespoon
Red chilli paste*: 2 tsps
Corn flour: 2 tsps mixed with 3/4 cup water
Salt: to taste
Oil: 1 tablespoon
Spring Onion: 1 chopped in 2″ long slanted pieces
White Vinegar: 1 tsp


Marinate fish slices in the listed items for 10 min.

Bring about 2-3 cups of water to boil in a wok and add the fish slices while gently separating them from each other but taking care to not break them. It’ll take about a minute for fish to firm up. Take it out then and let the pieces drain in a colander.

Empty out the wok, let it dry on the flame and add 1 tablespoon of oil in it.

As it heats up in 30 sec, add chopped onion/tomato/ginger-garlic one after the other. Stir fry on a medium to high flame to combine them over 1 minute.

Add the next 3 sauce ingredients and stir them till the onion+tomato mix acquires them well–1 minute. Add salt.

Then add corn flour mixed with water and keep stirring till the added water thickens somewhat and mixes with other ingredients-1 minute.

Finely, add boiled fish** slices to the sauce. Fold the fish in the sauce in a way that it doesn’t break and the sauce covers the slices well. Add spring onions and after a quick toss, remove the fish to a dish.

It’s ready to be eaten on its own or with a bit of steamed rice.


* Kelly uses 2 kinds of chilli sauces and his own tomato sauce. I use Fun Foods chilli garlic paste but 2 kinds of tomato sauces out of branded products.

** This recipe originally uses steamed fish. Boiling the fish is a variation and faster than steaming it.


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