Food

In the words of Chef Edward Lee, “Dessert is like a feel-good song and the best ones make you dance”

Belonging to a family of digital nomads, I totally abide by this thought! Relishing the diverse flavours while hopping across borders can be considered as our hankering at work. It was my never-ending love for desserts which compelled me to peregrinate through southern India – land of temples, plantations, and uniquely-prepared sugary delicacies.

A large group of north Indians, including me, have had a misconception regarding the south Indians. Yes, I confess! Most of us have this perception that the two are vastly different and cannot gel well.

Even when it comes to south-Indian cuisine, we don’t shy away from stereotyping. For instance, when we hear or read the term south-Indian sweets, we can only picture white slurry payasam and nothing else. Even I believed it, until I discovered the divine sweetness of soul-stirring South India through its wide assortment of yummy delicacies during my meridional stopover!

As digital nomads, we sometimes fail to notice the hidden treasures of a city or town. Nevertheless, such facets can be identified in the narrow lanes of old cities which still hold the good-world charm.

My job or my passion (fortunately, it is the same for me), lets me unearth the hidden facades of the globe. You do not know what you can discover until you explore it. Thankfully, my brain seeds germinated in regard to the delectable south Indian sweets during my travel sojourn in major parts of South India.

Let me take you through my saccharine experiences and brief you about some lip-smacking sweets of South India which are sure to remain on your taste buds for hours.

1.      Kozhukattai: from land of the Vedas, Tamil Nadu

These white and yellow dumpling-like offerings are available in every local market of Tamil Nadu. The presentation and taste of Kozhukattai makes one think of it as a distant cousin of our Maharashtrian modak.

These are prepared from rice and stuffed with a mixture of jaggery and coconut. Tamilians make it on special occasions and festivals. According to a few history books, Kozhukattai was a favourite dish of the deity Pillaiyar. You too must try this delicate-textured sweet of Tamil Nadu.

2.      Khubani ka meetha: from the pearl city, Hyderabad

No Hyderabadi meal is complete without this dessert. Khubani or qubani is an Urdu term for apricots. It is a traditional delicacy prepared with dried apricots, cream, and dry fruits. This extremely soft and smooth treat will melt in your mouth the moment you put it in.

You ought to relish its magical taste when you are in Hyderabad or any part of Telangana. The mehman-nawazi in the Nizami city is deduced with lingo like ‘Kya miya, qubani ka meetha khaye?’ So, when you are in Hyderabad, do try this delicacy and give your reviews in Hyderabadi slang.

3.      Mysore pak: from city of palaces, Mysore

The king of sweets in South India got the tag of ‘royal’ as it was discovered in Wadiyar dynasty’s royal kitchen. This delightful mithai has a rich taste which will steal your hearts right away. This sweetened concoction is made with gram flour, ghee, and is delicately flavoured with cardamom.

Every celebration in Mysore starts with Mysore pak, and this sweet is also packed in bulk amounts, to be sent to friends and family staying in different continents of the world. I am a fan of the mildly sweet taste and grainy texture of this grand south-Indian sweet.

4.      Payasam: from Deccan Plateau

The list of south-Indian sweets is incomplete if I miss payasam. Payasam refers to milk in Sanskrit. In my digital nomad journey throughout southern India, I was pampered with varieties of payasam made with rice, vermicelli, coconut, and other ingredients. It is a popular sweet dish in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The treat is prepared on auspicious days and special occasions. Whether it is Onam, Pongal, Gokulashtami, Dasara, or any festival, payasam brings every member of the family together and spreads joy around with its sweet flavours.

5.      Boorelu: from Andhra Pradesh

It is a sweet that represents Andhra Pradesh. The round, golden-brown boorelu will take you to a sugary zone with just one bite. My taste buds were dancing when I fed myself this irresistible sweet ball made with jaggery, coconut, Bengal gram, sugar, cardamom, and rice served with hot ghee. Andhraites love this classic recipe which is made on Ugadi and other auspicious festivals.

6.      Mutta maala: from God’s own country, Kerala

The unique combination of ingredients puzzled me initially while I was travelling towards Kerala. My heart was dying to try this delicacy made with egg, water, and sugar. The Malabari dessert astounds one and all not just with the presentation but with the delectable taste as well. This distinctive dessert is sure to impress the food enthusiasts of the world.

7.      Kajikaya: from Telangana & Andhra

It is a traditional Andhra sweet stuffed with a mixture of coconut, roasted chana, jaggery/sugar, and plenty of dry fruits. The deep fried kajikaya (kajikayalu – plural) is a must during Sankranti festival. Crispy from outside and soft inside – it is an absolute delight for a sweet tooth.

One can come across different variants of this delicacy in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. For instance, if you are health-conscious then try the baked version. And if you have no limits to eating sweets then go for kajikaya which is soaked in sugar syrup for a night. Sounds interesting right? Do give it a try!

8.      Chiroti: from land of fragrance, Karnataka

It is a crispy, flaky, sweet round poori, popularly known as chiroti or pathir pheni. It is an authentic recipe of Karnataka and most-loved by Kannadigas; it’s so delicious that you will be pampered to the core. The party menu of every wedding in Karnataka gives prime importance to chiroti. Try it out and become its fan like me!

If you are already drooling then I suggest you walk in my shoes and spoil yourself with the sweetened choices offered across southern India. Let the sugary delights from meridional regions of India offer you the contentment that your heart craves, and give a boost to your digital nomad’s journey.

Keep nomading and do share your experiences!

Author Bio: Shikha Thakur, is a foodie, writer, and gym-enthusiast. She loves to cook food, and likes to explore different cultures of the world. She is a happy-go-lucky person, and serious about her work.

Unplanned travelling can mean improvising a routine but your do not have to give up a healthy lifestyle while you are on the move. Here are a few ways to ensure you still eat healthy while travelling.

Pack your own snacks: Pack foods that don’’t spoil — trail mix, biscuits, and energy bars are durable and make a healthy snack if you get hungry while travelling. You’ll save money at airports and always have something to munch on.

Avoid fast food chains: While familiarity can be comforting and relatively safe, especially in another country, trying the local food is healthier than resorting to chains like McDonalds and Burger King. Aim for small restaurants that have good ratings and a wide variety of cuisines. If you are unsure about the local food, find some standard fare like seafood and make sure your meals are served hot.

Travel appliances: There are many kitchen appliances that come in a travel size such as electric kettles, slow cookers and coffee machines. With a few trips to the local supermarket, you can make small but healthy meals within you hotel room. A snack of steamed vegetables is preferable to the calorie-heavy snacks that a minibar has to offer.

If you have rented an apartment, make your own food: If stating your food preferences is an option, always make use of it. Better still, if you choose to live in rented apartments or homestays, you can be more specific about what you choose eat, or make your own meals.

Water is your best friend: Of course you’re allowed to have a drink or two at the local watering hole but during the day water is your healthiest option, especially if you are exploring a place on foot. Stay away from sodas and other sugar based soft drinks as these do not hydrate you and just add on calories. Don’t overdo the alcohol either, quite apart from the painful physical effects of a hangover, it leaves you severely dehydrated.

Avoid the mini bar: In fact, if the peanut MnMs in your hotel mini bar are too tempting, you can ask for the contents to be removed and use it to store your own snacks.

Download Apps: Find and download apps that tell you your culinary options in an area. There are several apps that rate restaurants, map local supermarkets and farmers’ markets and have information about healthier eating options.

Make use of hotel freebies: Save up on any freebies like packets of ketchup, mustard or tea bags from your hotel room, as they become your travel sized packeted condiments that you can use while on the move.

Don’t skip on important meals: Many hotels offer a free breakfast so always eat well before you begin working for the day. Make lunch an important meal as well, whether you choose to make your meal or eat out. With two  solid meals during the day, along with healthy snacking while you travel, your dinner can be light.

Eating healthy while travelling can be combined with physical activity in many ways. Choose to walk around or rent a bike of that is an option. You can work out for the day while exploring new places. If you have to take local transport or for any reason cannot commit to walking around, take some time off from working to exercise. If your hotel has a gym or pool, use it. Staying fit while travelling is always possible.

Hardcore digital nomads tend to have some very interesting birthdays while traveling. Birthday meals at local haunts are always a different experience but some chains give out great birthday deals. There are some restaurants where you can get some great birthday offers, whether its just appetisers, desserts or a full fledged spread. Mix up some offers below to have a great birthday meal:

Appetisers:

Outback Steakhouse: They have excellent offers on appetisers; the more appetisers you order, the higher your discount.

Joe’s Crab Shack: This chain has a straight up free appetiser on your birthday so by default it’s an amazing offer. They also have half off on certain days and even big discounts for big parties.

Entrees:

Hooters: If you celebrate your birthday at Hooter’s, it means 10 free wings and if you join their eclub, you will get to know more offers the run through the year.

Red Robin: You can get a free burger at Red Robin on your birthday and team it up with some super cheap offers on appetisers.

Firehouse Subs: Signing up to Firehouse Rewards before your birthday means you get a free medium sub on your birthday. The offer is valid for the following 6 days.

IHOP: Like signing up for something called a Pancake Revolution doesn’t sound good enough, celebrating your birthday here would mean free meals including items apart from pancakes too.

Souper! Salad!: Being a member of the Souper! Salad! eclub gets you a coupon for a free buffet on your birthday.

Johnny Rockets: You get a free hamburger just for signing up to the Rocket club. Once you’ve joined it, get another free burger on your birthday. Enough said!

Ponderosa Steakhouses: Sign up for the Ponderosa Steakhouses Club Sign Up and get offers all through the year, with special birthday offers.

Denny’s: Not only do you get free coupons by joining Denny’s Rewards, you can get value meal selections beginning as low as $2. They also have an all you can eat pancakes offer for $4.

Desserts:

A number of places like Chili’s, Applebee’s, Baskin Robbins, Jack in the Box, TGIF and Buffalo Wild Wings offer a portion of free dessert.

Arby’s and Del Taco offer free shakes on birthdays if you sign up to their rewards programmes.

Cold Stone Creamery and Dairy Queen have buy one get one free offers so if you don’t have company you can have two desserts all to yourself!

Wish you a great celebration folks!

Songs have been written on it and movies have been centered on it, such is the street food of India. Like the culture of our country the food here too is diverse. If you’re a digital nomad, one of your biggest expenses is definitely food. Digital nomads usually survive of affordable, local food and what would fit better in that category than street food. Continue Reading

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