October 5, 2010

Masala Trails…Spicy side trips off the road less eaten


Culinary enthusiasts now have the unique opportunity to take one-of-a-kind, cuisine themed trips through India! Beacon Holidays, the travel company synonymous with niche travel, and Celebrity Gastronome Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal today announced the launch of their luxury culinary food tours of India – a country in which the cuisine changes with every fifty kilometers!

The tours feature a smorgasbord of boutique culinary experiences of India, a country where food takes a priority; and yet the explorations of its most delicious and undiscovered culinary secrets are overdue

Called Masala Trails, these tours aim to take the food traveller off the ‘eaten’ track into lesser-known regions of India, showcasing local cuisines through the street food, home kitchens and fine dining experiences. On the menu are dozens of carefully selected experiences designed to bring out the full flavour of India.

The Masala Trail will wind itself through some of the most vibrant culinary cities such as like Kolkata, Hyderabad, Cochin, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.

The tour will feature culinary experiences that will span the gastronomical spectrum – from market tours and street food to private kitchen experiences and demonstrations with

expert cooks and chefs. Our clients will interact with and learn from, local food artisans, and experience a very different side of India through intimate contact with local regional cuisines, food customs and traditions.

“At Beacon travel is a passion and this is a legacy that we as Heena Munshaw’s daughters have inherited; putting all the elements together to create a perfect holiday, discovering the unique experiences that will really transform that holiday from a mere tour to a memory, these characteristics are in our blood. Having grown up in India, selling Indian holiday experiences to the world is a personal project for me and with a Foodie in the family, this culinary tour was a given!

The Masala Trails product enables us to take the next step into experiential travel, offering access and encounters only the right pairing of travel and food knowledge can provide with the quality and consistency consumers can expect from one of the travel world’s most trusted brands. It’s taken us a year to ‘cook’ it up travelling all over India, trying out all sorts of things but finally we are ready to dish it up and I can’t wait!” says Himanshi Munshaw – Luhar, Director, Beacon Holidays (Australia).

“Indian cuisine or spices, it is hard to say which is the more abused! Both have been eulogised and exoticised to such an extent that their reputation precedes them, inspiring – at the very least – a reluctance to try them and – in extreme cases – ABJECT FEAR!” Says Celebrity Gastronome Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, the other half of the sister duo behind Masala Trails. “And much of what is best of India’s vast and incredibly diverse cuisine is hidden from the visitor’s eyes in home kitchens and street corners across the country. Masala Trails has been simmering for a long time; it just needed the right ingredients to become a perfect offering. Through it, I hope to realise a lifelong dream of showcasing the rich culinary heritage of my country”

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October 4, 2010

Kerala – Gods Own County

Beacon HouseBoatBeacon Ayurveda

Where do I start, I landed in (Kochi) Cochin, and Fort Cochin is a pleasure to walk around. The Chinese fishing nets, smiling coconut men at their stalls, and the backdrop of water and greenery – Kerala is definitely a unique part of India.

Stay at the charming heritage hotels of Brunton Boatyard – as the name suggests it used to be a boatyard and they have preserved a lot of their Portuguese and British influence or try Malabar House, and if you’re after something a little more personal the Old Lighthouse Bristow Hotel is the perfect option.

The drive from Cochin to Thekkady is on a bit of a windy road, but when you get there the plantation hotels make it all worth it. Stay at the Spice Garden, appointment amidst a mangos, nutmeg and cardamom its natural environment and friendly staff with a restaurant serving high quality Italian food amongst other cuisines is special place.

The other property that really comes to mind is the Spice Village, run by the CGH group you can’t really go wrong. Make sure you take a walk around the property with their naturalist and eat at their 50 mile restaurant – All the ingredients are from within a 50 mile radius.

By Far my best ever experience was the Houseboats. Once I boarded it was like time stood still….and I was instantly relaxed. Cruising around the lake and being waited on for evening tea took all my troubles away. The beast meal I ever ate in Kerala was on this houseboat. Cooked in the traditional fashion, it was simple food, healthy food and food I was literally liking off my fingers. If you have a choice, choose the traditional houseboats. The experience of sitting outside is much better than sitting behind a window. You cruise till sunset and then docked by the edge of the lake sleep comfortably in an air-conditioned cabin.

Of course being in Kerala one has to have an Ayurveda treatment, this is after all the capital of Ayurveda. Though after the houseboat you might not need it. Ayurveda is a gentler form of massage so remember to let them know if you would like a bit more pressure. Relaxed, rejuvenated and I was ready to go again….

Kerala truly is Gods Own Country.