The Wandering Veggie – Hyderabad Food & Travel Guide

Hyderabad is quite well-known for its rich, eclectic culture. We visited Hyderabad a few weeks back, and here is what we uncovered in terms of sight-seeing and food-binging.  We know what you’re thinking – what does Hyderabad, a place with one of the largest non-vegetarian populations in all of India, have to offer us vegetarians? A lot, actually, a lot.

Bawarchi, Hyderabad

Qutub Shahi Tombs

Qutub Shahi Tombs

Day One:

After checking into the awful Fabhotel V (the only thing going for this hotel was its excellent location in Banjara Hills), the first thing that occurred to us was the obvious – let’s have some biryani! We heard a lot about Paradise being overrated, and opted for the highly recommended Bawarchi at RTC. We ordered veg biryani, raita and khubani ka meetha. After all the hype surrounding Hyderabadi biryani, we realised the veggie biryani here wasn’t much too different from the biryani in Mumbai. Khubani ka meetha was interesting, though – the amount of sugar it contained woke us up and boosted our energy to such an extreme level that we were able to venture out to Qutub Shahi Tombs and Golconda Fort.

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

Golconda Fort, Hyderabad

Chutney’s, Hyderabad

After an average food experience at Bawarchi, we were absolutely blown away by the delicious flavor at Chutney’s, a chain you’ll see throughout Hyderabad. The ghee karam dosa was absolutely divine. In fact, we have not had better dosa anywhere else. The epic variety of chutneys was also a dream come true. The utappam sampler was also decent, with four options. Avoid their mango lassi and opt for some good ol’ filter coffee.

Charminar, Hyderabad

Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad


Day Two
:

After exploring Old Hyderabad’s gems, including Charminar, Makkah Masjid and Choodi Bazar, while binging on kacchi kairi, we decided to try out Andhra cuisine at Vivaha Bhojanambu – the staff was pretty unprofessional, although the owner was extremely courteous. After a 45 minute wait, we were a bit disappointed with the simplistic, generic veggie thaali. The pudina paneer vepudu and rose milkshake (which the owner recommended), were quite nice, however, compared to the thaali.

Vivaha Bhojanambu, Hyderabad

Concu, Hyderabad

Our next stop was Conçu for some dessert. We heard tons of good things about this place – well, it lived up to all the praise. The desserts were absolutely heavenly and even the peach melba iced tea was fresh and flavorful. The ambience of this place was beautiful, and the staff was upbeat and informative. After a quick siesta, we took a ferry toward the Buddha Statue from Lumbini Park and later stayed for the laser-light show.


We had dinner, over a food review, at The Gallery Cafe, one of the very few venues in Hyderabad which is dedicated to giving budding artists a platform to showcase their talent. We tried out their hummus-pita, strawberry slush ice cream, sandwich, spaghetti, mushroom dish, pizza with mushrooms, churros, hot chocolate out of which the spaghetti and sandwiches were our favourite and the hot chocolate with marshmallows made our day. You can find a detailed review of The Gallery Cafe right here.

Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad

Day Three:

After a very average experience at Ramoji’s, which was quite sad compared to Imagica and even Essel World, for that matter, not to even get to Universal Studios and Disney Land and Six Flags, and let’s not even get into the sad food options there and majority of the food counters being empty, night-time was much more happening food-wise, when we decided to try out two dosa places.

Ram’s Dosa, Hyderabad

The pizza dosa was quite nice at Ram’s Dosa, though not as great as the Mithibai version of the same, and the Erra Karam Dosa at House of Dosa was delightful, though we felt neither place was as extraordinary as everyone made it out to be and we couldn’t understand why people preferred these places over Chutneys. The fruit ice creams were okayish and a bit costly. Someone at House of Dosa recommended that we check the street food at DLF, and the cheese maggie was quite nice, though it wasn’t a special place to venture out to, quite frankly.

If you end up visiting Hyderabad, do comment below to let us know where all you ventured out to and what all you ate. And, if you know someone who is about to visit Hyderabad, go ahead and share this guide with them!

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The Wandering Veggie – Orissa Travel Guide

Odisha has always been a place that has intrigued me – ancient temples, clean beaches (well, compared to Juhu Beach that is!), and a slower pace of life. So, I recently ended up hopping on a bus from Kolkata toward Orissa to put an end to all my curiosity, and visited Puri and Bhubaneshwar. Here are some recommendations, both food and travel-wise, for all your veggie wanderers, in case you are planning a small vacation here. 

Golden Beach, Puri

Konark Sun Temple, Puri

Puri

Places to Visit: I lucked out in my choice of stay – Ananya Resorts. It was just a 1 kilometre walk from Golden Beach, which you must visit. For just 10-20 rupees, you can even rent out a plastic chair to park yourself like a total beach bum. However, don’t spend all your time here, because there are several other places you must check out, including the very famous Jagannath Temple (which is just a Rs. 30 cycle rickshaw ride away from Golden Beach – so try clubbing both together early in the morning, or toward the evening), the majestic Konark Sun Temple (this is THE one place you simply cannot afford to miss seeing), and on the way to Konark, you can spend time at much cleaner and prettier beaches – Chandrabhaga Beach and Ramchandi Beach.

Jagannath Temple, Puri

Ramchandi Beach, Puri

Chandrabhaga Beach, Puri

Tips: So, there are hop-on-hop-off buses (which are very affordable) that leave from Urban Haat, but you’ll need to be there by 6/6:30am. In case you are not able to catch the bus, you can easily strike a deal with an auto rickshaw for Rs. 500-600 to see all of the above mentioned places at your own pace. If you visit Jagannath Temple, don’t forget to keep an eye out for the beautiful bangle vendors near the shoe counter in the evening. If you are venturing out to Chandrabhaga Beach and Ramchandi Beach, then it is not advisable to go alone later in the day as these places are a bit isolated.

Colorful Bangles from outside Jagannath Temple, Puri

Where & What to Eat: While there are places like Wildgrass, Cafe Coffee Day and Dominos to eat at, if you are vegetarian, then you’ll feel most comfortable eating at Amrut Food Court, which is right next to Ananya Resorts. They have a pretty elaborate and entirely vegetarian menu. Also, if you put in a request in advance, they can actually prepare local delicacies for you, like daalma and badi chura. Check-in with them if they can also offer you a special, local sweet, chenna poda.

Bhubaneshwar

Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar

Not as amazing as Puri by any means, there are a few places you can easily cover within one day if you start early, including the following: Lingaraj Temple (I personally didn’t find it too amazing architecture-wise), Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves (totally worth a miss if you’ve been to Mahabalipuram, for example), 64 Yogini Temple (not really that amazing, unless you have a thing for all things tantric) and Dhauligiri Hills (serene, though not too picturesque if you’ve been to other hills in India).

64 Yogini Temple, Bhubaneshwar

Dhauligiri Hills, Bhubaneshwar

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Bhubaneshwar

Tips: A hop-on-hop-off bus will actually take you to even more locations, so it might be a good idea to plan all of this out more thoroughly and in advance. And, most of these buses let you cover both Puri and Bhubaneshwar in the same day! I highly recommend, in retrospect, starting off with one of these buses in Bhubaneshwar and then spending a lot more time relaxing in Puri. However, if you are unable to align your schedule with the bus timings, then you can rent out an auto-rickshaw for Rs. 600-700 to cover the above mentioned places in Bhubaneshwar.

Central Perk, Bhubaneshwar

Where & What to Eat: Mayfair is absolutely gorgeous, and has plenty of dining options. Even their cafe, Teapot, is quite lovely. Mayfair is so extravagant, you could actually just spend an entire day within this huge resort and not run out of things to experience. There are several other restaurants and cafes across all of Bhubaneshwar, but let me advise you against eating at Central Perk 7 – the food is absolutely horrid. If you are a huge fan of FRIENDS, then click a few photos here and venture out elsewhere for your meal.

If you do visit Orissa, please let us know what all you saw and where all you ate by dropping a comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

The Wandering Veggie – Kerala Travel Diary

Kerala is an amazing holiday spot, with so many picture perfect locations. From the majestic hills of Munnar and the calming waters of Kovalam Beach to the dreamy backwaters of Alleppey, Kerala has everything to offer to those who are seeking some solace for their gypsy soul. I visited Kerala a few months back, and here are some do’s and don’ts, especially food-wise for all you wandering veggies out there! –

marine drive, kochi, kerala

marine drive, kochi, kerala

kochi, kerala

kochi, kerala

Day One – Hello, Cochin!

It is so rare to find a city with such a picturesque backdrop. After walking down Marine Drive‘s promenade, I visited Kashi Art Gallery, which was absolutely delightful. The food portions and preparation was perfect, and so was the ambience – I loved the French toast, which came with a generous serving of fresh fruits. Afterward, I caught some fresh air at Willingdon Island and then caught a play at JTPAC, followed by dinner at Coq d’or (The International Hotel) – the Kerala paranthas, aloo gobi and boodni raita were to die for, and there was a vocalist covering many classic Hindi songs.

munnar, kerala

munnar, kerala

munnar, kerala

munnar, kerala

Day 2 – Munnar – Part 1

An early morning bus journey took me to the lovely hills of Munnar. The first thing I did after checking into the beautiful Issacs Residency (where the staff was extremely helpful and caring) was to catch a kalaripayattu show at Kalari Kshethra – the kathakali show was worth a miss, but the kalaripayattu acts were quite something!  Food-wise, I highly recommend visiting the relatively unknown cafe, Taste the Brews – it is a cozy and cheerful place and the teas, coffees and breakfast food will make you feel at home. In case you are looking at stocking up on some munchies, nuts and chocolate are really inexpensive and fresh here, and you have got to try the Ginger Coffee available at select stores.

dream catcher resort, munnar, kerala

dream catcher resort, munnar, kerala

Day 3 – Munnar – Hanging Out In a Tree

On the third day, I simply marveled at the serenity of being by myself in a treehouse at Dream Catcher Plantation Resort, with a view of nothing but greenery around me – so much soul-searching happened here. The restaurant adjacent the treehouse area served delicious filter coffee and amazing paneer dishes. And, the staff was extremely considerate to arrange a hearty take-away breakfast for me at 5:30am before I caught my bus to Alleppey. While staying at a treehouse is a bit on the expensive side, trust me, it is worth every penny for the experience.

alleppey backwaters, kerala

alleppey backwaters, kerala

kerala

kerala

Day 4 – Alleppey – Hello from the Backwaters!

Alleppey was just as I imagined it, in fact, better. The amount of bliss I felt soaking in the breath-taking views of the backwaters from a houseboat for 2-3 hours simply can’t be put into words. Afterward, I feasted on lemon tea and delicious vegetable cutlets at the famous Indian Coffee House – I don’t know what on earth they put into those tiny little cutlets, but they sure are addictive. The cafes I hopped in and out of here were rather average. In case you are looking to buy a Kerala sari, Alleppey’s market area is the place to take care of it!

light house beach, kovalam kerala

light house beach, kovalam kerala

light house beach, kovalam kerala

light house beach, kovalam kerala

Day 5 – Trivandrum & Kovalam/Light House Beach – Feeling the Waves

I took an early morning local bus from Alleppey’s bus stand to Trivandrum, and made a quick pit stop at Truffles Bistro, which was a huge disappointment, even though it was highly recommended by a friend of a friend. The sandwiches here were extremely average, perhaps even below-average, one could say. From Truffles, I booked an Uber to my final destination for the vacation, Kovalam. I was delighted with the hospitality, pools and view from Sagara Beach Resort and the fact it was just a 5 minute walk to the beach, where the Light House was visible. Compared to the public dustbin of a beach Juhu has turned into, Kovalam felt very clean and peaceful and safe. The fritters and mint tea at Malabar Cafe were tasty and the coffee at The German Bakery was decent – the view from both these places was pleasant and calming, and they had many veggie options listed for proper meals.

Kerala was always on my list of places to visit in India, and though I was a bit worried initially of going solo and traveling through local buses from one part to the other, not only was it actually super safe, it worked out very economically! And, food-wise, I sure am missing Kerala paranthas like crazy and those tasty ol’ cutlets.

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Top Food Places in Mussoorie – The Vegetarian’s Guide

So you love the hills, eh? If find yourself in the very peaceful and picturesque realm of Mussoorie, and you also happen to be vegetarian, you might be wondering where to head out to for meals and some coffee-time unwinding. This guide is just for you!

Recommended Places:

cafe de tavern

cafe de tavern

cafe de tavern

cafe de tavern

Cafe De Tavern

Out of most of the places in Mussoorie, Cafe De Tavern has the best options of non-desi dishes, ranging from pizzas and pastas to soups and starters. The ambience is lovely and they have a good music playlist, in comparison to other places in the Picture Palace/Mall Road vicinity. Simply spending time here reading and writing over a pot of piping hot tea is highly recommended, as well.

chaar dukaan, landour

chaar dukaan, landour

Chaar Dukaan, Laal Tiba

Venture out to Landour for a relaxing walk around Laal Tiba, and park yourself at Chaar Dukaan for a light and delightful breakfast consisting of Maggi noodles, bun maska, eggs and tea. Don’t forget to give pancakes a try here, too – though the batter is a bit thicker than what constitutes a pancake, it is yummy and fresh!

Ritz Theatre

If you suddenly feel a craving for nachos and a place that is actually warm, you’d be surprised with the amount of comfort food you’ll find at the tiny little Ritz Theatre – the staff is kind enough to let you sit and eat inside, even if you are not watching a film.

Cafe By The Way

Cafe By The Way

Cafe By The Way

Cafe By The Way

Cafe By The Way

While the folks at Cafe By The Way don’t know the difference between a cheese toast and cheese garlic bread, the vibe at this cafe is really neat, and they have a nice selection of books to keep you occupied. Skip the food, just order a cup of coffee (or tea) and take care of any reading, writing and work you need to here.

Places to Avoid:

Kalsang

No, do not go here if you are vegetarian – you are going to be supremely disappointed. The potato cheese momos and spinach cheese momos were undercooked and abnormally slaty. And, even my fiend who is non-vegetarian was disappointed with her thukpa. Most importantly, no matter what happens, do not even dare to order the butter tea, although it would be a fun prank to recommend it to someone you detest!

Bakeries

You might see a lot of hype surrounding bakeries on Mall Road, but the quality of desserts is highly average.

Honey Hut

From the outside, Honey Hut looked inviting and cozy – but the minute we stepped in we were surprised to see flies on many of the products kept in the glass case. That was our cue to head right out to another eatery.

Back-up Options:

Chic Chocolate

Chic Chocolate

Chic Chocolate

If you’re craving sandwiches, waffles, ice cream and milkshakes, Chic Chocolate might just be the place to grab a quick bite. Nothing extraordinary, though.

The Usual Suspects:

IF all fails, don’t worry – Domino’s, Nirula’s and CCD will keep you going!

Side-note: Do NOT forget to take time out to visit Cambridge Book Depot – the prolific Ruskin Bond swings by for book signings nearly every week, usually on Saturdays.