Okay, this is the month after which I stopped logging my monthly favorites. I had this one in drafts and, to be honest, its a very random set of things I made a note of, but I am still making it live.
Mango Lilac Sling Bag: I had a wedding to attend in Baroda and I was in need of some things for my trip which is when I ordered this bag on Myntra. Its a basic bag but I liked it a lot because it was a very compact design and super light weight plus it looked better than in pictures. Basically, it superseded my expectations. However, the moment I got the bag, I was randomly browsing Myntra again and saw that the bag got discounted heavily. Sadly I returned it then to buy it again at the discounted price. However, by then, my trip was done and my need was not there anymore, so I just never bought it again. I am not able to find the bag now on Myntra, but here’s a picture in a different color.
Carlton London Heels: I ordered them the same time as this bag and the only reason to put them in my favorites is that they were perfect for my purpose, I needed a basic golden pair which goes with all Indian wear but is low heeled enough for comfort while looking pretty.
Classique Cake: I saved the best for the last. This is a home baker in Surat and if you see yourself in Surat, you have to try their cakes. I don’t have a big sweet tooth but these are really best of the best.
Edit: I didn’t add this in May and neither did I try this in May but writing about Classique reminded me of a bonus favorite. Blue Vanilla Patisserie on Swiggy/Zomato has one of the best cheesecakes I have ever tried. I am pretty sure I’ll get some packed next time when I am flying back to Delhi.
Share some of your favorite things in this year or this last month, it’ll be fun!
Remember my trip to Manali and Kasol in 2021? First of all, please show that post some love since it was truly one of my favorite trips. Living for so long in the mountains is a dream come true for me, and I cannot be more thankful that this pandemic allowed us to do that.
Now, onto the topic for today, I had this post sitting in my drafts since long from the time I was reminiscing about all the good food I ate on that trip. A disclaimer though – all the dishes mentioned below except one are not specific to Himachal Pradesh. They are popular in the rest of North India as well, but I am specifically going to talk about the Himachali versions today.
Let’s get started:
Siddu: This is the only one on the list which is a pure Himachal based dish. Siddu is basically a dumpling made of flour (it didn’t seem like wheat flour or all purpose to me but I Google-d and it is in fact wheat flour only) and its filled with spicy pastes, like the regular North Indian Spices, salt, pepper, red pepper, coriander powder etc, but the real deal is poppy seeds paste. It seriously changes the game. It’s usually served with, well, again some spicy chutneys (dips) and loads of ghee (clarified butter) on top. I think its the kind of dish which either you would love a lot or hate a lot. For me, its the former. I would kill to eat a nice Siddu plate right now, but its a very traditional Himachali dish. Honestly, I have started appreciating foods that are only available at certain locations a lot more as I realize that everything being available everywhere just takes the charm away.
Rajma Madra: Rajma is red kidney beans and though rajma curry is the most popular North Indian dish, but “Rajma Madra” is specific to Himachal. It is basically Rajma curry but in a very thin and spicy gravy. Its almost like a thin consistency, spicy soup and despite the thinness, goes well with rice. Personally, I am not as much of a rajma lover as North Indians usually are, but I love this Himachali version a lot. I also read up just now that its probably different because the gravy is yogurt-based. Yumm!
Kadhi Pakora: Funny thing, as a kid, I used to hate Kadhi and never understood how can it be someone’s favorite food. As a grown up, I have nothing but respect for this yogurt curry. I was once out with few colleagues in Ljubljana, Slovenia to an Indian restaurant and a foodie colleague of mine ordered Kadhi (which was served under the soup section there). I didn’t expect him to like it because its a very distinct taste. He fell in love with it. Anyhow, coming back to the Himachali Kadhi. Now, the thing is that Kadhi is made in many variations across India, or at least in the states above the peninsula. 😀 Rajasthan has a very thin soup-like Kadhi and Gujarat ones have some sweet and sour thing going on but the Kadhi in Punjab, or higher up North, like Himachal, is super thick and rich, and is always served with Pakoras (fritters) dipped in it. What I especially liked in the Kadhi in Himachal was that it was not supremely thick like the ones you get in restaurants, which are nothing but killjoys really. It was just the right consistency, thick but not chokingly. 😀
Bun Chole: I don’t know which North Indian state this street/fast food belongs to but in recent times, I have most commonly seen them in Himachal. Basically, a super spicy Chole (white chickpeas) dish is made and served stuffed inside buns like a hamburger, along side green chillies and raw onions. My spice-loving a*s loves it and misses it now.
I know, I know. My list is very generic and I haven’t even touched upon very traditional cuisines. I really hope I get to taste more of Himalayan cuisines. In fact, on that note, I recalled that I love this restaurant in Delhi – Yeti, the Himalayan Kitchen – I think its Nepali and Tibetan food. I have only been there once but I wholeheartedly recommend it IF AND ONLY IF your spice tolerance is high.
I actually got pretty lazy with keeping a track of my favorites after a couple of months, so I have very few in this post which I managed to draft back in April. :O
Prelude to a Riot: I talk about this book here. Its one of the good books I read this year, albeit too small. Weirdly, not in an I-don’t-want-this-to-end way, but rather that it felt incomplete, I wish there was more to the story. Maybe, there’s one coming soon and the book is strategically named a “Prelude”? (I mean, yes, that name has another meaning in the book but a girl can hope).
Om Sweets Gol Gappe: If you don’t know what are Gol Gappe, what are you doing with your life? Anyhow, specifically Om Sweets Gol Gappe is a pandemic favorite. So, this is an Indian street food and before the pandemic, I used to judge every single person who would even consider making it at home, forget ordering in. However, during the pandemic, a friend ordered it at our place and we made fun of him for the first 5 minutes, but eventually we were hooked. Gol Gappe are just as tasty at home, you guys, and Om Sweets has set the bar high now with convenient packaging and all.
Pencil Case for Kiyan’s Return Gifts: Kiyan is my husband’s nephew and we spent a lot of our pandemic period in Surat at my in-laws place with him. We were there for his 5th birthday which was also a timeline when people were trying to bring back kids birthday parties post the pandemic dry spell. I took the responsibility of being in-charge of return gifts for his birthday party. Since I love kids stationary so much, I ended up loving what I finalized so much that I took one for myself as well. 😀 Below is a picture. By the way, I had many other cooler ideas in mind for kids birthday party return gifts which didn’t end up working that time, so, if you are looking for any such ideas, do hit me up. 😀
I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting. Hence, I started with this monthly favorites series (literally the second post in a year but that’s because I didn’t have media storage space, I’ll hopefully be regular with my favorites now!). Don’t think I remember my Feb “favorites”, its just that I had this post in the drafts.
Diving right into it, I do realize there’s a lot of personal care featuring here this time around:
Coconut oil by The Moksha Life: As some of you would know, it is my friend’s brand, so you are bound to think that I am biased. It may be difficult to believe but its actually one of the best coconut oils I have tried. Admittedly, I didn’t go beyond a certain price range but within my preferred price range, this one truly stands apart. Its taste is incredible for using in dishes and when i apply it on hair, the fragrance and feel is better than any that I have used.
Wide tooth neem wood comb by The Moksha Life: For this, I don’t really have a comparison as this was my first time using a wooden comb. However, I was expecting a lot more issues with getting used to a wooden comb. This didn’t take me any time to adjust and the best part which led to it being in my favorites list is that it has a very mild and soothing fragrance. I don’t know if its the fragrance of the wood or what but I love it!!!
Boroplus cream : Completely cliché, iconic Indian moisturizing cream! I mean its a child product of the old product, Boroline. Boroline works very well for moisturizing lips and so does Boroplus cream. I should not have actually listed it as a favorite because its not, but it reminded me of Boroline, which I love, not just for what it does but also because of the iconic packaging that stood the test of time!
Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: It was my favorite scent till I tried more of Jo Malone’s scents. I have not tried many designer scents, but I think Jo Malone is always going to be my favorite. I am loving all the new ones that I am trying.
Jodhpur Jaisalmer trip: I think I should do a separate post on all the travel that I have done since some time, since not everything is documented here and I hope I don’t forget!
Club Iraa: My dad was posted in Raipur since more than one year, he recently got retirement. So, we had visited this one restaurant/pub there when we were visited him once. It was so good! I mean, such an amazing vibe this place had and, in India, since usually tier 2 cities don’t have space issues, it was a huge place. We loved it. I wish we had gone there again in any of our follow-up visits but we did not end up doing that.
I know these are really old favorites, but I would love to know your current ones! 🙂
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I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting.
One of the suggestions by Moksha was to do monthly favorites like the YouTuber Sherry Shroff. A little interesting fact – I have loved Sherry’s monthly favorites videos since a long time. In fact, they are some of my favorite videos on her YouTube but I find doing monthly favorites myself scary. My reasons are no doubt petty, but they matter to me. 😀 First of all, I am not someone who goes through a lot of products to make a good enough monthly favorite products list. However, I am now seeing this as a boon – it means my monthly favorites will be a good mix of experiences & how the month went, instead of only ‘products‘. Secondly, I also fear getting too much into the groove of tracking your favorite stuff throughout the month which may take away the joy of just being, but I hope that doesn’t happen, and, therefore, I am just taking the plunge here.
I now present to you my monthly favorites for January ’22. 😀
RiteBite protein bar: Ritebite is my new favorite snacking brand. You will know when you read my favorite #2. I keep trying a lot of snacking brands and I think food will always be a feature in monthly favorites one way or the other. The biggest reason I like RiteBite is because of favorite #2. Chips is a food category where its difficult to make a healthier alternative for regular chips that just tastes as good. I love their chips & if I go by their claims, one packet of their chips has ~10g protein. As for their protein bar, I like it for a very straight forward reason. It tastes good & is not as expensive as other protein bars available in the online space. Just to be clear, I don’t consume these products as any supplement or meal, its just that I snack a lot and I understand no packaged food is as good as home made, but I just look for healthier alternatives to the regular snacks I am addicted to.
RiteBite chips: I have already explained this.
Crax: Do you remember this brand we grew up eating? This particular variant is very tasty and a good snack for chilled out things like watching a movie. You know, like popcorn.
Cheesecake from ‘Salt & Sugar’: Its a cloud kitchen in Gurgaon that you can easily find on Swiggy/Zomato. We recently got their blueberry cheesecake for our friends’ wedding anniversary & it was a hit. I have had better cheesecakes, but it was a good mix of everything – product, price, promo & packaging. 😀 The taste was such that four of us demolished a full cake in half an hour.
Himalayan Ciders: We recently went on a trip to Shimla & again had the famous Himachal Ciders. Its a lovely drink to try out if you like trying out new things in alcohol. The apple one which is the most common is not that great for me, but I love the ginger ale variant.
Kurkez: There is a famous bakery on Shimla Mall Road called Krishna Bakery. I am not sure what their claim to fame is although most of the stuff I tried, I loved. They have this specialty item called ‘Kurkez’. I really can’t explain what it is. It is such a desi colonial hangover dish. It is a completely Indianized cutlet but looks like a seekh kabab. Just have it with the ‘white sauce’ they give the next time you are there. I don’t know whether you will love it or not, but I for sure miss it!
My new Kaftan: My massi (maternal aunt) gifted me this Kaftan which is a traditional Kashmiri dress & I love it to bits. She is selling Kashmiri clothes until 28th of Feb after which she would move to another handloom product that is seasonal for the North India. In case you want to buy what I am wearing in the picture, please reach out to her – +919216745142
Kindle Cover: This has nothing to do with January and I got it a long time ago last year but its one of the best purchases ever! I was very torn for the perfect Kindle cover and I was being too critical of all the options I had. Finally, went for this one and its so sturdy but also feels good to the touch. I love it!
Aroma Therapy sunscreen: Sunscreen is one thing I am always experimenting with. Reason? I am yet to find a perfect one, but this one’s close. First of all, it smells amazing to me, a fresh herby smell but nothing overpowering. (I have a very sensitive nose). Secondly, it glides on my skin so smoothly and while it may be light for parched skin, but I also have normal to dry skin and this is decently moisturizing for me. To me, the texture seems like it would work for most skin types.
B&BW Vanilla Lavender Candle: This is my first ever Bath & Body Works candle and its a bit controversial that this product is on my favorites list. Let me explain. I have used some of their cosmetics in the past & they are known for having amazing fragrances. This also means that most of their products are heavily fragranced, I have ended up loving some of those fragrances, but the fact that they are heavily fragranced made me feel uncomfortable about using them a lot. Same goes for the candles. They smell amazing and the fragrances are very long lasting. However, no doubt they are overpowering and in this age of soy candles which are more environment & inhaling friendly, they continue to be made of paraffin. I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing these any time soon but there are 2 reasons why its on my favorites list – 1) I love this fragrance & since its long lasting, I use it very, very often to create an ambience. this itself is a good enough reason, but 2) I have tried a couple of Indian newer brands for candles and my experience hasn’t been even decent, forget being good. So, if you are completely satisfied with any soy candles that smell amazing & are available in India, please share your suggestions in the comments.
Trip to Shimla: We recently did a cousins trip to Shimla which was a lot of fun. This trip came with its own challenges due to the friction of finalizing plans, this and that. However, Shimla is one place I always love to be, no matter how crowded and commercialized its getting. The weather was chilly but with that sweet sunshine and we also got to witness snow at Narkanda (although not snowfall). However, the biggest highlight of this trip was the place we stayed at which brings me to my next favorite.
Marley Villa: This was your typical villa with a swing, tiny garden to play cricket in, wind chimes, creaky floors and a colonial interior. So heritage feels, such beautiful bar glasses. They have a functioning kitchen from where two caretakers & a cook serve all meals. The view from the garden is top-notch. The best part – its located slightly away from the mall road so you don’t witness the typical crowd but its close enough for an appetite building walk up the mall road. My favorite part was the garden. If I had to find cons with this place, one is that its not completely private. It is basically a set of two villas that are connected to each other, which didn’t bother our group in any way by the way but parking gets tricky up the hill. The other con is that we stayed in a 5-room villa as we were 9 people and there are two rooms in that villa which don’t have a door separating them, only a curtain. Depending on who you are travelling with, this may matter with regards to privacy.
So, these were my monthly favorites and I would love to know some (or all) of yours now. Please comment your favorites or leave a link to your blog if you do similar posts.
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I have done a similar post in the past. There are some bloggers that I came across in my old days of blogging which don’t post a lot anymore but i go and revisit their blogs every now and then.
I will be doing a post for the new blogs that I have discovered too, but to be honest, I haven’t really been that active in finding new blogs. However, I still got lucky with some that I absolutely love reading.
The list obviously has to begin with two of my favorites which I have already written about:
A Splash of my Life: its a funny story how I found her. In the comments section of a really popular blog. If you guys follow WedmeGood, you may know that the founder had a personal blog earlier for beauty & makeup. Which reminds me, I should put that also in this list. 🙂 Our girl Princess Butter (That’s what she calls herself on A Splash of my Life) had commented something and I ended up clicking on her blog. I love how funny she is and how she puts a fun spin on everything she writes about. I wish she would write more. I now know her real name but I like to address her as PB even when I am talking to her offline. 🙂
A Dashof Pepper: I love the way she writes. I found her via the above blog and have been hooked since. She is not super regular but gives an appearance on the blog every now and then and I am living for it. I also realize just how many life events I have seen for these two blog owners. Isn’t that a great thing?
Peaches & Blush: This is the founder of Wedmegood. I have been reading this blog of her since I got into blogging. A little note – How I discovered the world of blogging was in 2011 when I searched for best Kajals in India (more on this coming soon). Hence, I landed up on a lot of beauty blogs at that time so my first intro to blogging was beauty blogs. One that stood out for me was Peaches & Blush and even now I love going back to her old posts, although she has almost completely stopped writing here. Her bridal series became a huge hit and that’s how she started Wedmegood.
Keira Lennox: One of the few in this list who continue to post. She is a lifestyle blogger and its sometimes difficult for me to like content of lifestyle bloggers outside of India as it may not be relatable but I love her content & her journey.
Know-All’s Box: One person I loved interacting online, he found my blog first I guess. Usually I am not into photography blogs but his photographs are just beyond ethereal. I wish he hadn’t stopped posting. He posts a little more regularly on Instagram but I definitely miss his presence on WordPress.
Nishita’s Rants & Raves: Another on this list who continues to post regularly, thankfully. I don’t remember how I found her, it would have been something to do with a bookish post. However, her blog is pretty diverse. She covers a lot of topics but the most I love are books and, more than that, her family & travel stories. Funny thing – both of us feel when reading each other’s post that its so good to be reading someone’s post whom you have been following since a long, long time.
Blush Canvas: She writes mostly about high end makeup and I enjoy her aesthetically done blog & beautiful pictures. She does make an appearance every once in a while but its super rare and irregular.
Shoestring Style: I wish I could write in as many words just how much I miss this blog. The girl who owned this blog, Shivani Dogra, is an interior designer and if you just Google this name, you would come across multiple publications of her work & her own design studio’s website. If you end up liking her aesthetic, you would understand why I miss her blog posts. Those posts were on her personal style but with this aesthetic. I mean, I can’t even begin on how much I loved it! I just did a quick Google search and I am now going to go through her interviews on various publications! 😀