Family Recipes from Kerala

We were thrilled to hear from Anjan Mitra who shared just how inspired he and his Executive Chef, Arun Gupta were by their recent journey with us to Kerala, India. So inspired were they, that they have adapted their spring menu at their two San Francisco restaurants DOSA SF, to reflect the home-cooked tastes they experienced in India. Here they reflect on their journey and share some insights in to their Nanda Journeys, Kerala inspired menu! Thank you Anjan and Arun, we look forward to our next journey together and of course your new menu!

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The best dishes you can eat are definitely the home-cooked meals prepared in India that reflect the cuisine of the respective regions, the influences of their community, while using fresh, local ingredients in family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.  Many of these dishes never make their way to the restaurants in India, let alone the U.S. or London (which is certainly a hot spot for great Indian food).

Consider the rich diversity of delicious recipes prepared everyday by countless families in a country of 1.3 billion people and you realize that we have barely scratched the surface! 🙂

For this reason, Executive Chef Arun Gupta took a two-week culinary trip to India to cook with several families and local chefs in Kerala, along the West coast of Southern India.  This picturesque region has forty-four rivers that flow from the Western Ghats, and gently meander into the Arabian Sea to create a dense network of waterways known as the Backwaters; a picturesque ecosystem that defines not just the flora and fauna, but the lifestyle of the local people.   You will see miles of rice paddy fields, millions of coconut palms and thousands of fishing nets all across this thriving landscape.     The climate, topography and soil also makes it the spice capital in a land of many spices!

 

In addition to eating a various spots every day, Chef Arun Gupta explored the Spice plantations of Periyar and Kumarakom, enjoyed delicious family meals at the Home Stays of the Philipkutty’s Spice Plantation and the Kalaketty Rubber Plantation Estate.    This region has a relatively significant presence of Christians and Muslims who define their own non-vegetarian culinary styles with dishes such as Fish cooked in banana leaves, Mutton Biryani and Beef Chile Fry.

Many of these local dishes are currently on our Spring Tasting Menu at DOSA on Fillmore which includes different dishes that are prepared to be shared family-style, and start with light bites and a delicious spice-driven salads.  We promise it will transport you to this wonderful region of Southern India without being over indulgent.   Or you can opt for our a la carte dishes like the Phillipkutty Chicken Curry (the best one we’ve done to date), Lake Kochi Grilled Prawns, Asparagus Avial, Kerala Fish Fry or even the Periyar Curried Pork, which is only served at the DOSA on Valencia menu.   Of course, some ingredients change daily depending on what’s available at our local farmer’s markets in San Francisco.

We are exploring hyper-regional and obscure dishes from India that we love, but are unfamiliar to most people in the West!  We might not serve what people are commonly familiar with in the U.S., however, we deeply respect traditional Indian recipes, techniques and spices, to create dishes that use seasonal and local ingredients.   We are excited to help you explore this richly diverse cuisine that varies from region-to-region, city-to-city, and often household-to-household.

Should you find yourself in San Francisco, be sure to explore Arun’s new menu at DOSA on Valencia, or DOSA on Fillmore.

 

Rise and Shine Globally – Dr. Dolores Battle

What could a speech-language pathologist learn about clinical service by travelling to South Africa?

Imagine visiting a small Anglican school in a township outside of Cape Town South Africa, called Khayelitsha, which is home to 2.4 million black and colored persons who were displaced during the apartheid era. Imagine learning how the 3E Learning Project aims to screen the hearing and vision of 10,000 5-6-year-old children in underserved communities. Imagine a community where 40% of the residents are under the age of 19 years and where the annual income for a family of four is the equivalent of $1872 USD.   Imagine a school with no electricity and no running water and no indoor toilet facilities.  Imagine a school where the official language of instruction is English, but the language of the community is Xhosa, or Sotho, or any one of 11 other official languages in the country.  Imagine a school where books are not in evidence and where there is no computer or television.  Imagine hearing screening being done using bluetooth to deliver the sounds and an app on a mobile phone being used to test vision.  Despite all that there is, and all that there is not, imagine a mural painted on the wall of the school that says, “Rise and Shine Globally”.

Imagine visiting the cosmopolitan city of Cape Town, home of Bishop Tutu, and the city of Johannesburg, home of Nelson Mandela.  Imagine visiting the island where Nelson Mandela was held for 27 years and who later forgave those who retained him and later became the president of the country to lead its transformation to a country where equality is the goal of everyday life.  Imagine visiting the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and the District 6 Museum in Cape Town, and talking with those who lived through apartheid and are now involved in transforming the diverse nation to  its place in modern society driven by a recognition of the value of diversity but the importance of equality.

Imagine standing on at the Cape of Good Hope and reflecting on a vast country with diverse people, diverse geography, diverse vegetation and amazingly diverse animal life.  Imagine being among the elephants, lions, rhinoceros and hippos within days of being among African penguins, seals and baboons.

Imagine what we can learn about the glories of the world around us, the wonder of what our fellow man has accomplished against all odds, and the challenges that remain and optimism of what the future holds.  Imagine what the world could be if we all took the advice from that school in Khayelitsha to “Rise and Shine Globally”.  What a wonderful world it would be.

Impressions —A Human Resources Journey Through Japan. Dr. David Miles

In November of 2017, I traveled with China Gorman and Gerry Crispin on a Nanda Journeys continuing education experience to Japan.  This is a random collection of thoughts and opinions seeing Tokyo and the surrounding areas with a group of loosely related HR executives.  Most of the group have travelled together on prior HR journeys with the Nanda Journeys team, to such areas as Cuba, India, China and other locations.  The focus was to experience the people, culture, education, business and labor environment in real time as well as to participate in the “farm to table” agricultural life.

This journey, like the ones before, provided an unforgettable experience.  Learning about world cultures and people is an awesome privilege.  A special thanks to all that made this possible from the team at Miles LeHane for their support; our clients; Nanda Journeys; the participants and of course all of the people in Japan who made sure that we had an educational, safe environment and an enjoyable learning 9-day experience.

Impression 1 – The People

ToykoDay to day life is played out in a very small geographical area with 13 million people in and around Tokyo.  Think lots of people in a total space about half the size we would be used to in the Tokyo metropolitan area.  Yes, physically they are smaller in stature and size (I should be that slender!) but are amongst the most courteous and helpful when engaged.  Some are shy, but culturally it is not appropriate to stand out and or make excessive noise or talk loudly.  While this may seem unnaturally quiet it is a norm you soon learn to appreciate.  In fact, you start adopting this approach when in a group setting, always mindful about others in a crowded space.

Impression 2 – The Environment

We may talk about common problems such as trash and litter.  The people in Japan live a life that is in my opinion very respectful of the environment.  For example, trash and litter are basically nonexistent.  There are no public trash cans except in food locations.  You are expected to carry your trash until you locate a receptacle.  It is the cleanest city, roads, highways and public areas I have ever witnessed.  While they do clean the public areas, they do this during the middle of the night to be efficient.  We even witnessed the cleaning of a bullet train of 9 cars to include “reversing each seats direction” in under 10 minutes by a crew of just a few workers. Homes, public spaces and businesses all follow a very strict level of cleanliness.

Impression 3 – Structure and Procedures

Hitotsubashi University round tableMuch of Japan follows a culture of compliance and structure as compared to the US. While on the surface this may seem negative to some, it certainly has advantages when integrated across all areas.  For example, education is very structured and provides a solid foundation that has universal meaning.  Employment is also structured in that ALL college graduates are offered equal starting salaries when graduating.  Literally all hiring is done over a few weeks. For example, it is expected that when a family decides to have children that the mother will take years off to raise their children.  In addition, the adult children will care for aging parents.

Impression 4 – Life on the privately held farm

Japanese Farm landsFood and dietary are much simpler in Japan.  Fresh food and an emphasis on fish from the surrounding waters of the country with a staple of a few starches such as sweet potatoes, other root vegetables, a variety of greens and of course rice; provide the basics at all meals.  Japan prides itself on a high level of self-sufficiency in feeding the population.  Given the environment-mountainous from volcanoes-think Mount Fuji- and being surrounded by ocean water, most items when served in balance provide an extremely nutritious diet.  Preparation, natural flavors and using some seasonings, provides a variety but healthful food culture.  Yes, there are fast food restaurants and other processed food items, but from a cost and diet perspective the people prefer to “eat healthy” and more natural.

Our journey included 2 nights and 3 days living with a “farm” family in their home and practicing traditional life style.  This was quite an eye opener experience.  First, sleeping on a floor with the traditional tatami mats is a concept I do not plan to adopt (I enjoy my Marriott plush foam 10” mattress too much). Eating at a low table on a cushion –no shoes of course- is something that I also will not adopt.  The simple life of minimal creature comforts along with the work of running a farm, is something I am pleased to have experienced but am glad to be back into my normal routine.  Believe me, they work hard and steady from sun up until the end of daylight.  I must admit that the meals were some of the freshest I have ever eaten.

Impression 5 – Trains, Planes, Automobiles and other

With so many people in a smaller geography, transportation is a key focus area.  It is amazing to view the highways (what we would call interstate roads) from a macro perspective.  ToykoAs you fly into Narita airport (90 minutes from downtown Tokyo) you are immediately focused on the number of waterways throughout the entire coastal area.  In conjunction with staying in harmony with the land, the major roads are created as elevated roadways along the “river” waterways therefore allowing the land for buildings.  Fortunately, snow is not common in Tokyo but the temperatures do drop below freezing.  These elevated roads connect with a series of bridges and tunnels that rival no other location I have visited.  The underground main tunnels through certain segments of the city make the Boston “big dig” look small.  As expected the tunnels were clean, did not leak or have pot holes, and appeared as accident free as you would hope.  A polite society also carries over to polite drivers.  Impressive!

Bullett Train.jpgThe cars were mostly those that are produced by Japan.  Yes, a few luxury imports but mostly Japanese cars.  Also, the government supports hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles which are abundant.  Since Japan has very limited natural energy sources, pure electric cars are at this time not very common.  With a population of approximately half of the United States and people clustered in key areas, public transportation is the lifeblood of most workers.  We rode a bullet train, which some utilize on a daily basis, at speeds of 140 plus miles per hour.  These trains then connect with other more local train s and rail options.  While buses are available they are not a primary source of transportation as many streets are narrow.  A surprising number of bicycles and moped supplement public transportation.

Impression 6 -Traditions

Japanese WeddingEverywhere you go in Japan has a long history and values tradition.  From the appropriate and respectful “nod” or “bow” to the presenting of your business card, is all done with respect for others.  What is more important is that the people do care about the meaning of these traditions and learn them from both the family and the education system. The joy of greeting and saying goodbye is equally important.  Taking time for these little gestures builds a feeling of respect amongst all.  We also had to opportunity to visit a couple of Temples and Shrines and observe 6 or more weddings.  Again, these sacred places are open for Weddings, Religious services, tourists and locals to enjoy all.  Most are free of charge to everyone except for Wedding Ceremonies.  Families come together from the youngest to the oldest.

Having formal tea is also a tradition with strong religious overtones. Many of the pottery cups and tea pots have significant design implications.  For example, we were served in special reserved cups that were made for the 1964 Olympics.  Note 2020 will bring the Olympics back to Tokyo.  The brewing processes, the tea leaves, and the small treat candy is all important to the gathering for Tea.  Respecting the past-celebrating the present-and hope for the future is all embedded in the ceremonies.

Impression 7 – Language-Kimonos-Calligraphy

Calligraphy LessonAs expected, language barriers are always difficult to navigate.  While living with our “farm family” the four of us and our hosts utilized simple body gestures and hand movements to attempt to communicate.  This proved both interesting and somewhat amusing.  In the end it all worked well. For all business meetings an interpreter was provided by our host.  While many government and professionals understand other languages, all speak Japanese on a daily basis.  Fortunately, with a little effort we were able to navigate.

One of our opportunities was to learn calligraphy, an art form in Japan.  This was to say the least, difficult for me.  But I did gain an appreciation of Japanese letters (3 styles over the centuries).  In addition, we also made decorative paper notes and were fitted with a Kimono for a Tea Ceremony by the Buddhist Priest. My thought -t hank goodness for word processes that make perfect Japanese letters!

Final Thoughts

Like prior journeys this will always be remembered. A smaller group of 14 allowed for more time to share and process our experiences. I will continue to mentally draw parallels and differences between prior trips.  What stands out most is the genuine “care” embedded in day to day life and relationships.  Yes, they really do care about you and your needs as a person.  The sincerity of how they interact, learn from you and share their knowledge is encouraging.  A highly successful culture that has endured for centuries looks forward to the future.  Yes, they too have issues: a declining birth rate of less than 1.4 / couple.  An aging population putting social programs under stress.  A shortage of talent in the work force and of course the ongoing global disruptors that we face also. But in summary the people of Japan are up for and open to the challenge.  It was a personal honor to have this experience which they made possible.

Dr. David Miles SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CMF
Chairman Miles LeHane Employable Talent

 

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“All in a day’s (or week’s) work…”

The path to entrepreneurship has been an enlightening one.  I have learned so much and been humbled by just how much it takes to launch and grow a new business. As a self-confessed procrastinator with “shiny new toy” syndrome, I found it difficult to create a routine for myself that ensured I focused on both the exciting, and not so exciting tasks required to manage my business. This challenge plagued me during my corporate career, however, with a more structured environment and project deadlines, I was able to course correct and ensure I didn’t drop the ball. Truth be told, procrastinators work best with hard deadlines, so the pressure served me well!

Today the responsibility sits firmly with me to determine my own priorities and ensure the needs of the business are met.  I’ll admit the task can sometimes fill me with dread while other days be a great joy. Free from structure, I’m able to allow my mind to explore new ideas unencumbered, but this is both a blessing and a curse. On the upside, I can let my imagination run wild and I can act quickly on a new idea. Conversely, I miss the energetic debates and conversations with my esteemed colleagues, the energy, the building upon an initial thought, the support and collaborative promotion of a new project.

In the last few months I began to realize I needed a little structure (not too much) and set about trying to find a solution that would fit my “busy brain” personality.  In February and March, I attended two very enlightening workshops for women entrepreneurs.  The first was a three-day Women Rocking Business Workshop with CEO and Founder Sage Lavine, The creator of the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and online Women’s Business Training Programs, she has shared the stage with Neale Donald Walsch, Jack Canfield, Janet Attwood and many more. Sage introduced the “Freedom Schedule” concept and how she works three weeks each month while running a multi-million-dollar business. That got me listening! While I do not presently aspire to that (in a year or two maybe…) the concepts Sage introduce resonated with me and started the wheels turning. She walked us through an exercise where we began to structure our week and allocate themes to each day to allow for a greater focus and allocation of time to specific tasks and projects.

Sage Lavine Freedom Schedule
Photo Credit Sage Lavine, Women Rocking Business

 

 

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Jackie Morgan MacDougall

Immediately following the Women Rocking Business event, I drove to LA for the launch of a dear friend’s new business Forty Thrive. Jackie Morgan MacDougall is passionate about helping women become the best version of themselves.  She is dedicated to supporting women in the best years of their lives to launch their dream business, get healthy, create and fulfill their bucket-lists, and live out the life they have envisioned for themselves. Jackie talked about committing to yourself and for me that spoke volumes. We can often commit to the business, but without commitment to yourself you are somewhat limiting the possibilities for yourself and your business.

 

So, what ultimately did I learn and what am I doing differently today? I now have a new approach to the work week that provides me with a structure that has some fluidity to it (allows the busy brain to play sometimes!) and creates focus where it is needed the most.

MARKETING MONDAYS – designed for all things marketing. Blog posts, social media ideas, PR and media, new web pages, promotional ideas, creative space

TEAM TUESDAYS – Nanda Journeys is a remote office with team members and partners across the US and the around the world. Each Tuesday we spend time connecting, catching up on our priorities, what’s new with everyone and how we can help each other stay on task

WHAMAZING WEDNESDAYS – my mid-week recharge! Today is about doing everything I love, connecting with my network groups, analyzing data (I love a good pivot table project!), and “me time” be that a yoga class, time to reflect or time to have fun

THRIVING THURSDAYS – Jackie taught me to focus on Thriving Forward, today is all about how we can grow the business and thrive. Connecting with potential leaders for our programs, looking at our prospects and designating projects to follow up and nurture our leads, new program ideas

FEARLESS FRIDAYS –  today is about tackling everything I have been avoiding or putting off! By clearing my “nagging” to do list I can go in to the weekend free of guilt and feeling accomplished.

I most certainly do not have my new week mastered, but I sure am seeing an improvement in my productivity and creativeness and the business is THRIVING  so I guess that tells its own story!

Share in the comments below how you organize your time, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Happy Thriving,

Nicola

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A message from our national guide in Peru, Daniel Flores.

ENJOYING INCREDIBLE PERU WITH NANDA JOURNEYS

Nanda Journeys Mental Health Peru

As a Tour Manager in Peru, I meet many people coming to visit Machu Picchu. This of course is one of the highlights of my country and I enjoy knowing that travel companies include this visit as part of their experience.

There are however, many different ways to organize tours in Peru and I love to participate in ones that show a real taste of my country. The best part of every Nanda Journey is connecting people to local communities through authentic and meaningful activities. Not only visiting museums and archaeological sites, but also local markets, talking with local people in a plaza, trying different fruits, vegetables and local dishes that you prepare yourself under the instruction of a local chef or member of the community.

I have had the chance to lead some Nanda Journeys in Peru and it was great to meet so many awe-inspiring, passionate and generous people. I feel so blessed to see our guests working alongside our Andean communities; visiting young children that have never seen a Deontologist; sacred valley dental examsvisiting Peruvian Universities to interact with our professors and eager to learn students;  bringing medical supplies and donations to a remote medical center in Ollantaytambo, a small rural community in the Sacred Valley. These are just some samples of what we collaboratively do with Nanda Journeys to immersive our guests and create a truly experiential and authentic journey.

Working with Andean communities is a powerful and energizing experience to me. It enriches me in many different and positive ways and I love to share with others enrich and make a difference in their life. It feels great getting involved and connecting people because it helps me to grow as a person and fulfill my need of purpose. This is what inspires me to work with Nanda as their National Guide.

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Being a National Guide for Nanda Journeys makes me feel fabulous, we create meaningful and rewarding experiences that make a difference in my local community.  I look forward to meeting you in Peru!

Daniel Flores – Professional Guide, Peru.

Daniel will be the national guide for the following upcoming journeys:

 

 

 

Traveler, Tourist, Global Citizen, what’s the difference and does it matter?

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When you start to envision your international travel experiences, do you do so as a traveler or as a tourist? Do you believe there is a distinction between the two references or are they one and the same? This conversation cropped up all the time in our team discussions and product development meetings as we established the core values for Nanda Journeys. There are many articles written on the subject and as many alternative perspectives on the topic!

Ultimately, we decided our guests would be referred to as global citizens or travelers and not tourists. Our belief is that there are enough nuances and differences to make the distinction unique and that we believe our programs lend themselves to a traveler vs. tourist denomination. In fact, we went a step further and the term “Don’t call me a tourist, I am a global citizen” has become a secondary tag-line as we talk about our unique journeys and how they differ from other international travel opportunities.

I’m sure at this point you are asking, “So what exactly is the difference between a traveler, a global citizen, and a tourist and is one better than the other?” My own personal belief is that any type of international travel is a great thing, a glorious thing. Travel deepens our understanding of other cultures, their history, their beliefs and ultimately enriches our lives and the lives of others living in communities where tourism dollars are often key, if not the primary source of income for the local economy. I also believe it helps us to nurture global relations and promote a more peaceful and collaborative world.

As President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed in his “The Chance for Peace” speech in 1953 to the American Society of Newspapers, “A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.”

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U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (from left) greet South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem at Washington National Airport. 05/08/1957

 

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Photo Credit – A.F Bradley, New York

Or as Mark Twain so eloquently put it “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

 

So, while we actively support and promote all modes and types of travel, we do see us fulfilling a particular niche that lends itself more to a global citizen and traveler than to a tourist.

As a global citizen or traveler, a key component of our experience is the desire to connect with local educators, business professionals, community leaders, government officials or community members to learn firsthand about their language, culture, history {past and present} and how we can deepen our connections and relationships to improve cross-cultural understanding between nations. As a tourist, a key motivator is more likely to be traveling to a beautiful new country that has unique elements which there may not be easy access to in one’s home country/state. A primary driver is likely to be access to activities, natural resources such as beaches, lakes and mountains and hotel chains that are somewhat familiar.

A global citizen or traveler is excited to learn about local customs and meet people in their homes, maybe shares stories over a home cooked meal. Or, head to a local culinary school or restaurant and learn how to cook a local dish. A tourist is likely to be more driven to find a restaurant that has an English menu and has food options that are a little more familiar.

A global citizen or traveler wants to personally impact the local community they visit and show their gratitude through support of a community project or service opportunity. Maybe they, as we do at Nanda Journeys, take gifts for people they will encounter along the way, help teach English at a local school, provide much need supplies that the community does not readily have access to such as basic medical supplies, hygiene products or as on one of our groups recently, flutes for the local music group who had never seen the instrument or practiced on it before. A tourist likely loves to participate in the activities offered by their local hotel, stay a little closer to their resort, or relax on the beautiful beach or waterfront.

A global citizen or traveler takes a little time to research local customs and language and may even take a basic language skills course before they travel. At a minimum global citizens and travelers learn basic phrases so they can be gracious and thankful in the local language. Tourists are likely to expect that all interactions and communications be conducted in their own language. They are less likely to be motivated to learn the language and will select a destination where they know they can communicate easily in their mother tongue.

A global citizen or traveler is likely to select accommodations that are locally owned, boutique style and non-chain ownership. Loyalty points and rewards are less likely to be a factor in the decision as to where they might stay whereas a tourist is more likely to be loyal to a certain hotel brand to ensure they can reap the benefits of their loyalty. The location of accommodation is also likely to be different. For travelers, they are more comfortable with a non-central location vs. being in the heart of the city or town, if the accommodation is unique to the area and adds value to their cultural experience. Maybe a converted historic building, a former Maharaja Palace, glamping tents in a remote village, or a unique home-stay appeals to a traveler or global citizen. Tourists are more likely to select a chain hotel or a cruise where the amenities and facilities are more familiar and comfortable.

As you can see, there are merits to all styles of travel.  None is better or worse than the other, rather the way we experience a destination is quite different in the same way that we are each different both in life and in travel. We at Nanda Journeys are excited to provide programs that are more likely to appeal to the global citizen and traveler while at the same time broadening the appeal to the segment of tourists who want to do or see more but maybe just don’t know how.

We encourage everyone to seek out new experiences, visit new places, and engage in a journey that will open your eyes and awaken your senses!

“That’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There

Safe and happy travels wherever and however you may choose to explore.

Nicola Balmain
Founder/CEO – Nanda Journeys

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Cooking class, Kumarakom India
Textile and carpet making experience Jaipur (18)
Learning art block printing, Jaipur India
Caligraphy class (19)
Calligraphy lesson, Japan
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Pediatric dental exams, Sacred Valley, Peru
JSHRM meeting (37)
Meeting HR Executives, Tokyo, Japan

Foodie Chap, Liam Mayclem, reflects on his Culinary Journey To Kerala, India

 

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KCBS Interview with Liam, Anjan & Arun

KERALA, INDIA – A culinary journey home with Chef Arun Gupta & Restauranteur Anjan Mitra. Coconut & rice, lamb & fish and all things spice – these are the tenants of Kerala cuisine in Southern India.

At a time when Indian cuisine appears to be everywhere in the Bay Area and being recognized with accolades and Michelin stars: (August 15, Rooh & DumSF and more), I joined the team behind San Francisco’s first South Indian restaurant DOSA (opened 2006) for a one of a kind culinary adventure. Chef Arun Gupta & restauranteur Anjan Mitra embarked on a trip home to India to rediscover their culinary roots and find inspiration to place on the menus at popular DOSA restaurants in San Francisco (on Fillmore & Valencia). I had the joy of tagging along for this bucket list once in a lifetime “foodie-cation”.

“For me this journey was an opportunity to find the best of Kerala cuisine and to understand what is at its heart” said Anjan.

In one week we travelled from Mumbai to Delhi to Kerala. From the coast of Kerala where the Kerala fish curry rules and further south into the mountains to tea country and further in to Periyar, known as India’s “Spice box”. The bounty here is impressive, it’s a pantry in nature. It’s mind blowing what can be found on one farm.

“You can go into the back yard and pick and taste and smell curry leaves and cloves from a bush and pull up ginger and tumeric from the ground. Then you step into the kitchen and smell the same spices being cooked, simmering in fresh coconut oil” says Chef Arun.

 

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Nanda Journeys cooking class with the experts

We cooked and learned with amazing chefs from the region’s resorts and with home cooks too. Each chef provided a chance to delve deeper into the roots and culture of this spice driven Indian cuisine. Chef Jerry of SPICE VILLAGE cooked “Avial” – a vegetable dish with coconut, curry leaves and turmeric. Home cook Anu Mathew cooked the Kilcutty Chicken Curry with her Mother. It was indeed one of the highlights showcasing the best of the region, an impressive embarrassment of riches from the 35 acre farm. A chicken curry made Kerala style with coconut oil & milk and all the spices the garden grows:  Cloves, curry leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, fennel, cumin and allspice. Chef Arun hopes to feature this Kerela favorite on the DOSA SF menus. A dish that will represent Kerala with spices from region coupled with fresh California ingredients.

I learned a thing of two as well on this culinary adventure by Nanda Journeys. I learned that the best of Kerala’s cuisine is to be found at the homestays, the food cooked by mama or grandma, recipes passed on through the ages and each cooked with that extra portion of love and soul. Visitors who stay at these homes get an authentic Kerala experience, eating and living like a local. They also get three full tasty meals a day and will often eat with the family. The homestays are as varied as the spices that show up in Kerala dishes. One we visited was on a 100 plus acres rubber plant farm and the other on a 35 acre farm that grew it all: Bananas, coconuts, curry leaves, cloves,cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, peppers and more.

The food came from the back yard to the table and the fish from the river just feet away. The freshness of the cuisine was palpable, the flavors banging, the joy from each tasty bite expressed through the quiet as we ate and satisfying smiles from all as we finished every soulful bite on our plates.

Chef Arun on the Kerala culinary journey: “We spent 10 days in a region of India that is very connected to the land, to what they eat and what they grow.  You have a people that are very proud of their culture and eager to share it and teach it. We got to experience the whole food story here in Kerela for example picking pepper corns from a tree and seeing them evolve from bright and green to a biting black and later to a bowl of prawn pepper fry.”

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Kerala Backwaters cruise

Expect the flavors and spirit of Kerala to show up with a California sensibility soon on the DOSA SF menus.  Perhaps Appam – the coconut flavored bread eaten with the Kilcutty Chicken Curry or a local fish cooked with Kerala spices wrapped in a banana leaf.

I cannot wait to return to Kerala for another food seeking mission but for now DOSA SF, closer to home will give me and you the opportunity for a yummy taste of Kerala. Every single Kerala dish an inviting spice party on your palate.

Enjoy my tasty “chaat” with DOSA’s Executive Chef Arun Gupta & owner Anjan Mitra. A big heartfelt thanks to them both for being my travel companions on this trip that took them to their ancestral home – India and to the heart of their native Indian cuisine.

Cheers, Liam!

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Grilled Striped Bass With Moilee Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium (~4-5 striped bass gutted fileted and pinboned with the scales left ON)
  • —placeholder for Kerala marinade—-
  • 1 bunch cilantro washed and dried.
  • 1 TBSP ginger, finely grated
  • 1TBSP garlic finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño finely chopped with seeds
  • 1 Thai chili finely chopped
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes (one chopped and one puréed)
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 60 ml unsweetened coconut milk
  • 5 of curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed
  • Coconut oil for cooking as needed

Fish Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups coconut vinegar (sub white wine vinegar if coconut vinegar is not available
  • 1 small red onion thinly sliced
  • 8 dried red chilis
  • 6 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 TBSP ginger freshly grated
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 TBSP desiccated coconut

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Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except dessicated coconut and let sit for 2 hours or up to one day.
  2. In a small food processor purée until smooth. Fold in coconut and apply to fish. This marinade can hold for up to one week.
  3. For the fish season well with salt and ground black pepper. Apply marinade thoroughly and let sit for an hour

Moilee Sauce Instructions:

  1. In a medium stockpot, and heat coconut oil on medium high until oil is shimmering
  2. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring constantly until lightly browned.
  3. Add jalapeno and fenugreek seeds and cook until fenugreek is lightly browned- this will help eliminate bitter flavor
  4. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly until shallots are golden brown, approximately 5-7 minutes
  5. And curry leaves and continue to cook until mixture is dark brown (not burnt) actively scraping and stirring any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Approximately 5-7 minutes
  6. Add chopped and puréed tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes or until raw flavor is gone
  7. Combine powdered spices with 1/2 cup water and pour mixture into pot. Turn heat to low and cook 4-5 minutes
  8. Add coconut milk and continue to cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes. If sauce looks to be getting too thick add water
  9. Season to taste with salt and fresh lime juice

To cook the fish:

  1. Using a gas or charcoal grill place filets on hottest part of the grill scale side down.
  2. Cook for 5-7 minutes until fish is 80 percent cooked. Place cilantro on grill creating two separate beds for the fish filets to lie on and flip filets into cilantro.
  3. Continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
  4. The scales on the fish should tighten up and even blacken. This will help keep the fish’s moisture and also keep the fish from sticking to the grill. When the fish is cooked the flesh should flake write off the skin which should not be eaten.
  5. Serve with Moilee sauce and rice as well as chutneys and mango pickle if desired.
  6. (Note: if you do not have a grill you can substitute scaled filets of striped bass and bake fish in the oven wrapped in a banana leaf or aluminum foil until fish is cooked through 12-15 minutes depending on thickness)

CONTACT:
DOSA on Valencia
995 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 642-3672
www.dosaSF.com

Dosa on Fillmore
1700 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 441-3672
www.dosaSF.com

Music Education in Argentina & Chile

As I reflect on the music education delegation to Argentina and Chile last summer, I keep picturing the young orchestra students at the Buen Consejo School (Buenos Aires, Argentina) who performed for us. They were so excited to have music teachers from the United States visit their school. Several members of our delegation donated instruments to the school because it was located in a poor community and it depended solely on donations to exist. When West Virginia teacher, Sherri Tadlock, presented a used flute to the school, the students were elated and the flute teacher was overcome with joy. With tears streaming down her face, she explained that one of the students needed to use her flute because they didn’t have enough instruments. I’ll never forget watching Sherri play with all of the other flute students and seeing the joy on everyone’s face.

The staff members of Nanda Journeys go above and beyond what is required to ensure that the delegation has a safe, informative and experience-filled trip. We have a great time with our international guides and I have always felt safe and cared for in these delegations. It is important to me that we have an educational experience because I have an intense desire to learn about music education and the indigenous folk music wherever I travel.

The insights I’ve gained because of my travels to other countries goes beyond the limitation of language. I’ve learned that people are the same all of the world: they want a better life for their children; they have hopes and dreams just like we do; children are beautiful, curious and mischievous in every corner of the globe. More and more I appreciate all of the luxuries and experiences life in the US provides. My awareness of my privileged life is much stronger now than before I traveled abroad.

I didn’t know what to expect when we traveled to Morocco. The kaleidoscope of new architecture, mosaics, camels, flowing tapestries, fragrant/exotic spices and warm, friendly people expanded my mind and heart even more. We danced and played drums and other percussion instruments with musicians in several restaurants. And the food was AMAZING!

When you spend up to 10 days in another country with other colleagues from the US we share experiences that form deep bonds of friendship and respect. Everything is new and unfamiliar and the language differences can be a challenge at times. We are all supportive of each other and these trips have fostered deep friendships with people who might never have crossed my path. We share teaching strategies, stories about our families and unexpected experiences. Our bus broke down on the freeway on our way to a coastal city in Chile. Some people might have been upset or frustrated but we actually had a great time sitting and chatting with each other, so when the “rescue” van came to get us we were actually surprised to see it drive up.

I still feel connected to each of the delegation communities that have traveled together. Whenever I hear something in the news about a country we’ve visited memories immediately pour into my mind with images of moments we shared together and with the people we met on our trip.

It’s been my privilege to lead music education delegations for nearly ten years. Each time I venture to another country and meet people steeped in unfamiliar cultures I am reminded of our differences and, more importantly, our similarities as humans. I come home a different person after each trip and I am grateful for these opportunities. Now I am counting the weeks until we head to colorful, exotic Tanzania this summer! To learn more about how you can join us in Tanzania, click HEREBlog image

Why Nanda Journeys?

Welcome to the Nanda Journeys Blog. Here we will share traveler stories and highlights from our unique journeys. By way of an introduction, I thought the best place to start would be to share a little about Nanda Journeys, how we came to be and why we are so passionate about what we do.

My team and I have over 60 years collective experience creating and delivering highly immersive experiential travel programs. Our goal is to connect people who are passionate about the sames things and who together can be change makers, improving the lives of communities around the world through education, community project support and friendship. We are dedicated to people, global communities, responsible travel and authentic experiences.

I decided to call my business Nanda Journeys for two reasons.

  1. India is my personal heart destination and I feel a little piece of me lives there, each time I visit I fall in love a little more.  Nanda is the Sanskrit word for Joy.  I want each of their travelers to have a joyous and happy experience when they are traveling and thus this seemed very apt.
  2. Journeys spoke to me as it evokes a sense of curiosity, an evolving experience that never ends. I want our guests to have that same feeling. Their journey should never end as we should have facilitated creating friendships and connections that will go on forever, regardless of their ever taking another Nanda Journey.

The idea came to me after a particularly inspiring yoga class and as soon as I had settled on the name Nanda Journeys, the tag line Travel for People with Purpose and Passion popped in to my head and I didn’t give it a second thought! One of the joys of owning one’s own business is the ability to be decisive!

So there you have it how Nanda Journeys came to be. We hope you will journey with us vicariously through our blog posts or by joining one of our journeys.

 

Taj Mahal with Haji (65)
Nicola visiting her heart destination and proudly showcasing the Nanda Journeys brand!