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Tastes of Jammu; Prelude by Chef Umesh Mattoo



Jammu is haven for food and there are number of finger licking local recipes that makes the place indeed a gourmet paradise. The food of Jammu is influenced by the gourmet culture of Dogras and Kashmir.

Having my roots in the city, summer capital of Kashmir, Jammu has been a second home to me.

Rejoicing the part I love the most about Jammu, let me take you down the memory lane in gastronomical gullies of Jammu.

Popular Food in Jammu

Popular Food in Jammu

Dogri Food like Ambal, Khatta meat (Sour Meat), Kulthein di dal, Maa da Madra, Rajma Chawal, Dal patta, Auriya are quite popular amongst the locals as well as tourists.

Few other flavours of local cuisines are Morel Pulav, Oria (Potato & Pumpkin in mustard sauce), Maani, Khameera are also popular.

Dogri Food also offers variety of pickles to name few Kasrod, Girgle, Zimikhand,Tyaoo, Seyoo and Potatoes are relished by natives.

One of the things which I miss the most is the Rich thick Dahi or yoghurt with a thick layer of malai on it.

The Dahi was sold in donas (cups made of leaves) which were not only eco-friendly but would also give an aroma to the Dahi and with a spoonful of sugar this Dahi tasted divine.

Those days mostly buffalo milk was used. Whether it was the breed of the buffalo’s, their diet or the technique of making the yoghurt those days that yoghurt has just vanished and unfortunately there is no effort being made to revive it?

Jammu is popular for its Chole Kulche and Rajma Chawal, my main reason to avoid carrying tiffin to school; as it was essential item in our cafeteria menu.

With Changing trends a lot has changed but still there are few of traditional confectioners (halwai) operating in popular markets in Jammu practicing the same old authentic recipes.

One such is Rawal Pindi Halwai, the shop has been operating in Jain Bazaar, Jammu since 1920 started by forefathers of Gupta family. The business is currently helmed by Praveen Gupta third generation.

Rawal Pindi Halwai, Jain Bazaar, Jammu

His specialities are Aloo Pooris made from Desi Ghee with a generous accompaniments of Tangy Mustard tossed Potatoes, Chick peas curry (chloe), few varieties of chutney’s and salads. The popularity of his food has taken him beyond the city circumference to urban cities like New Delhi, Punjab, and Kolkata for catering orders.

Our interaction with the confectioner revealed the philosophy behind his great food in such a humble thought, “Its simple great ingredients, make great food”. How true is that like I said before Jammu is indeed a place known for purity of ingredients and its geographical indication, untouched by technology and commercialisation that we see in urban cities.

Food is celebrated in this city and hence is pure and deliciously divine.

Another foodie memory that I have is during summers, when we used to visit Srinagar, Kashmir, a stop at Nandini (one of the most sorted after eateries) was a must just to have Paneer Pakoras (Cheese Cottage Cutlets) with Anardana Ki Chutney (pomegranate seeds paste) that tasted heavenly.

They also sold soft creamy paneer which was a must buy for friends and family; it’s rather sad that the shop is no more operational and this confirms my belief that it had got to do with the breed and the feed of the buffalos and quality of milk.

As a Food connoisseur when I now look back, the lavish spread of food in Jammu amazes me; I feel fortunate to have relished these local delicacies.

The other iconic delicacy of the place is Phenis, most popular during fasting, it is enjoyed otherwise also with Kashmir Sheer-Noon Chai. My mom was an expert in making Noon Chai and passed on her culinary skills to my sister and wife. For those who know less about this tea, it’s indeed a tricky tea to make for sheer effort that goes in getting the colour pink.

Our family noon chai sessions use to be with phenis from Jalliyaan Di Hatti in Jain bazaar. Established in 1915; known for his contributions in keeping the traditional alive for five generations.

Mouth-Watering Delicacies of Jammu

The present generation is represented by Shri Satish Kumar Arora & his son Rahul Arora. Proud of the fact that they have kept the culture alive they flaunt their originality by displaying the state subject.

His specialities are Phenis, Katlama, Sund-panjeeree, Chocolate Barfee, Puga (Til ki Mithai); Asli (flax seeds) ki pinni.

Talking about food and people of Jammu, it’s compelling to see that natives of Jammu are fond of eating which is why the place offers mouth-watering delicacies to savor your taste buds. Amongst the popular snack item of Jammu is Dabara.

My father would often bring Dabara for the evening tea, these Dhabaras looked like an Aloo Bonda or Aloo tikki (Potato Cutlet) but these deep fried patties of cauliflower, potatoes with generous amount of ginger, anardhana, amchoor and green coriander had a different taste and flavor altogether.

On my last visit to Jammu, I tried desperately to find a shop which still sells these Dhabaras , after a lot of labour finally found one but to my disappointment was told that now they are available only once a week. So I decided to revive the food.

Learn more about the recipe in our Food and Chefs section.

Bakery is one the most loved items of the city, lip smacking cream rolls, wood fired oven biscuits; pastries and cakes. It’s a sweet paradise indeed. What I like most about the place is that it has a mix of both traditional confectioners as well as modern ones. Though my personal favourite are the conventional wood fired oven bakers.

Spotlight today is on one such old conventional baker Darshan Kumar of Darshan bakery In Jain Bazaar, Jammu.

He loves to still practice the old conventional method of baking in wood fired oven; a skill that he adorned from his father.

Darshan bakery In Jain Bazaar, Jammu

Though feels sad that his children preferred to give into modern technology and as a progressive father he bought them a modern bakery in Trikuta Nagar; Jammu while he still is passionate about his old art.

His bakery is a Vaishno (vegetarian) bakery and offers a wide spread of Rusk, Biscuits, Cream Rolls and Kulchas both sweet & salty ones.

Late evening would often mean a stroll down to the famous Raghunath temple and Ragunath Bazar and I would make sure that my father bought me some goodies which invariably would be Jammu chocolate barfee and some desserts from Darshan Bakery.

Chocolate is invariably favourite of all kids and so was mine. This chocolate had a rich dark colour and resembled the texture of toffee.

The ideal and traditional way to make this sweet is to keep simmering heat and cook till the sugar gets carmelized and dish gets a natural brown colour.

Jammu is flooded with vendors making these but the ones known for these since ages are Jallayian Di Hatti & Pahalwaan Di Hatti.

I can go on with praising the food of this modest city but for now do make sure that Jammu is for sure in your travel bucket list.

As a tribute to the traditional food of the city; catch my recipes on iconic delicacies of the city offering same authenticity, flavor and purity that seems to have been compromised over time.

Chef Mattoo Recommends # Must Try Foods in Jammu

  • Jallyian Di Hatti for Phenis and Katalams
  • Phalwan Di Hatti for Chocolate Barfee
  • Rawal Pindi for Aloo Pooris
  • Ram ladoos In Raghunath Bazaar

Content          : Chef Umesh Mattoo & Saloni Kilam Rampal
Edited By       : Saloni Kilam Rampal
Photography : Paramjit Chawla

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Culture on your Palate.




Food is lens to one’s country’s culture. It is said very often that to know a place better, one must try its cuisine.

Phuket, one of the popular islands of Thailand was once primarily known to be a commercial hub that eventually led to invasion of multiple cultures and hence richness in its cuisine.

I was invited for yet another culinary extravaganza at Old Town Phuket  by A Chef Tours. Though I am pro at reviewing food but then I do have some dietary limitations. What impressed me the most was the design planning of the tour that takes care of your dietary requests and limitations.

Pema Juanjenkit was our group’s Culinary Guide. Just like Cook brings soul to a recipe, she brings in soul to the tours she conducts. She is a complete walking human library with so much information to offer about food and culture both. I have reviewed so many food tours but what’s really amazing is to feel her passion, energy and knowledge about history of place, culture and the food. The tour indeed is worth every penny spent as not only do you get to experience the dishes but those small details about ingredients, origin, history itself makes it worth indulging in.

Our Group had these two lovely ladies from Sydney, mom daughter duo and they were such good sport throughout the tour. This one tour taught me so much about people and culture that I am glad I did take this invitation.

Coming to the Food what makes this foodie experience interesting is the choice of places and the people behind the show. We had some interactive sessions with Restaurateur’s and chefs. Stories not just about food but about culture too.

The tour is said to be for about 4 hours but Pema tends to evaluate the interest levels of her group and is generous enough in letting the group enjoy each session. Our Tour turned out to be 6 hours session. Not that I am complaining.

What Does A Chef Tour Phuket Old Town Tour Offers.

The Phuketian food tour starts from Wet market in old town, one can see varied variety of fruits and vegetables, meat and local delicacies. Great food and contentment on people’s face’s selling their produce is humbling.

Next on the card was Backstreet Burmese Tea House serving some rich Burmese Beef Curry, Wood Fired nans, samosas and tea. Oh! that reminds me of our Desi Nan, samosa back home.

Learning about Zee Kwet (Owl Pairs) in Myanmar culture was so enriching.

Knom Jee nam Ya Ba – Bowl with herbal Kanom Jeen Noodles with vegetable Jungle curry was another interesting meal. Flavours of mild herbs and greens so well blended that it indeed is a relaxing and an energising bowl.

Phuketian Sticky Rice- This is not just the local speciality but has a great history behind it. Rice is so well marinated with meat and nuts that each bite lets you relish the flavours so well.

Hokkein Noodles –These silky noodles are so different than the regular noodles. Such gastronomy tours are indeed a must they open you up to so many unknown facts about food.

3rd Generation Sweets

After long day of spice around it was time to treat our sweet tooth with Thai Sweets prepared by 3rd generation family. It was a delight to watch this 3rd generation lady speak such profoundly about her passion of preparing these sweets. Variety on her table for us to taste. And what made this tasting session memorable was the dollop of her generosity showered on us when she handed us our favourite picks as giveaways. Such heart-warming hospitality is often hard to find.

Fresh Exotic Juices

These are juice’s being sold right in middle of the Old town green market. Fresh fruits around to choose from and the lady quickly churns them to offer you thirst quenchers.

Handmade Spring Rolls & Satay Chicken

Unlike Spring Rolls that we are accustomed too. It was a sight to see them live preparing the roll sheets and then the fillings.  The inside filling is of Thai greens and meat can be pork, chicken to one’s preference with dab of sauces to add flavours.

Satay Chicken; Popular dish of Thailand usually served with peanut sauce. The Chicken is tender and soft with well mix of spices.

Iced Dessert: Quite similar to Indian Ice Gola, the only difference is this iced dessert has pieces of traditional sweets at bottom. Simple and Sweet looking Lady busy making icy dessert from her small cart in one of the by lanes in Phuket Old Town is definitely a must try.

Crispy Roti & Southern Coffee

The last meal for tasting and the most interesting of the all  was a giant mug of frothy Southern Coffee & Crispy Roti at Arun, a local Muslim Restaurant.  The action is in watching the way coffee is made don’t forget to go to the kitchen and watch how it is made.

Coffees at this place are mind blowing. Must Try.

The place is also known for some amazing Crispy Roti served with beef curry.

This food tour was not just about the dishes that you will savour walking down the alleys of Old Town but witnessing history on roads, wall murals , and a  short visit to Blue Elephant Cooking School which was the surprise element for our over enthusiastic group.

I would rate 4/5 stars for this tour and 0.5 for Pema Extra Efforts  to make this tour an eye popping experience. Oops! Apologies… Effort Nah! Passion Yeah. Pema really loves doing what she does and she is awesome at that.

Must Do A Chef Tours- Phuket Old Town Food Tour. Book Now.

Review also available on  TripAdvisor. Follow  Lady Gypsy Sal @Tripadvisor

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Mumbai Secret Street Food; A Gastronomic Orgasm




Foodie TravelerSometimes I think, it’s a boon to be a foodie traveller. I mean one gets to taste and relish a platter full of gastronomic delights from around the world. One such foodie tour by A Chefs Tour took me into by lanes of Mumbai gastronomy.

Mumbai popularly known for Indian Cinema is also famous for its street food gluttony. This city offers a concoction of various cuisines and their renditions are simply mouth-watering.

I am no different to city’s food delights but let me tell you what amazes me about Mumbai Street food is the culinary talent and illusion that they create with  food.  Mumbai’s Food is nothing but a sheer food orgasm.

I was invited by A Chef Tours, a company that believes essentially in “Taste to recommend” for a culinary Mumbai Street Food Tour. And I have to say this on records that I am glad I did this tour.  They offer various Food Tours to foodies, tourists and people who love to experience the world gastronomy at places they travel to.

What’s best about A chef Tours is that their team not only researches on the choice of food that would cut across all communities but also work on small details like weather during the tour- how to keep their clients hydrated if required; mode of transport and most important the selection of places to eat.

One of my observations about Food of any city is that there are plenty of places promoting regional tastes and flavours  but there are very less places where one gets to relish the authenticity and the heritage of food both. And A Chef tours has got their hands on just the right cords. So a big thumbs up for that.

This experience with A chef Tours in Mumbai leaves me super excited for my upcoming tours in Thailand with them.   

So here’s my review on “Mumbai Secret Street Eats”

As reviewed on Trip Advisor

Shri Saraswathi Samaj Thank you God for the Food we Eat.

Mumbai is definitely a food lover’s paradise. With a platter of local flavours from the diverse cultures that dwells in this city. Mumbai street food is indeed a gastronomical orgasm one must indulge in. 

The Mumbai CityI am a Mumbai resident for over 6 years now and as a food blogger have tried no. of joints, street food offerings in Mumbai but I take this opportunity to confess that the Mumbai City Food Tour by “A Chef’s Tour” was simply outstanding.

Shailesh - Food Tour GuideLady Gypsy Sal with Shailesh –Food Tour Guide – A Chefs Tour

Shailesh the food tour guide is warm, knows the nuances of the city and food as well.

Sancha Ice cream at Bhendi BazaarAt Taj Mahal HandMade Sancha Icecream outlet at Bhendi Bazaar

The selection of Food was amazing and so well laid. A total of about 12-13 delicacies. Though all were simply amazing. But here are my best picks; Sticky tamarind, Sweet Paan (betel leaf); Tawakkal Kebabs, Surmai Fry Fish, & Taj Mahal Handmade Sancha Icecream.

Mumbai's Secret Street FoodTo taste about 12 dishes in 3 hours across south Mumbai is an incredible planning; especially for the traffic that we survive 365 days a year.

Shailesh ensures one is not tired and dehydrated but enjoys food and the city stories as well. His knowledge about the right mix of dishes and the choice of places offering the same is excellent.

Shailesh comes out as one of those human library that keeps you engaged and engrossed with climax that is yet to come. Must Try #MumbaiStreetEats by #achefstours

You can book your tours on

Mumbai Secret Street Eats Tour

  • 4-hour guided walk through 3 distinct areas of Mumbai
  • A ton of tastings at some of Mumbai’s oldest eateries
  • Learn about the history and culture of Indian cuisine
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Refreshing Indian drinks and bottled water
  • Fully licensed English speaking (foodie) guide
  • Limited to just 8 exclusive guests each day

Group Size: 1-8 People

Duration: 16h- 20h 30

Menu- 12-13 Tasting

Price: USD $55 per person


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Eat Your Greens – National Spinach Day




I’m Strong to the finich, cause I eats my spinach. I am Popeye the Sailor Man!
(From theme song of Popeye the Sailor Man).

Age old cartoon Popeye sailor man  gained huge popularity for munching Spinach way back in 1929 to amass bulging muscles.

Research and facts of Spinach state that spinach has nitrates that are energy puffers and help muscles stay active.

Spinach is inbred plant of Persia (Modern day Iran) was cultivated some 2000 years. It got introduced in China in the 7th century and till date it’s popularly known as “the Persian Green” in China, brought to Europe in 12th century and then was promoted in North America in 1806.

West & Northeast part of the world are high on consumption of Spinach. Spinach also has found its way into Asian kitchens.

On eve of National Spinach Day 26th March, Dr. Sarika Nair, well known Nutritionist & Dietitian from Mumbai, tells us why Spinach should be a part of our dietary intake.

High Powered Nutritional & health facts about spinach

Popeye loves spinach and we love what it does to Popeye! Right?

Everyone knows that green leafy vegetables are healthy and spinach is one of the most popular leafy vegetables. It is available most of the time throughout the year and it has a taste that blends well with anything, be it rice, roti, pizza, eggs, and salads anything.

Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse. It is high in niacin and zinc, pigments like beta carotene, fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It is also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. This humble leafy vegetable helps you in many ways.

  • It improves blood glucose levels.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves bone health.
  • Keeps the digestive tract healthy.
  • Improves iron levels.
  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Reduces the risk of cancer.
  • Promotes healthy cardiovascular health.
  • Healthy skin and hair.

Dt. Sarika Nair
Dt. Sarika Nair

Founder of Slim & Happy is an awardee of “The Most Promising Dietician in Mumbai” at International Healthcare awards 2017.

Pack more leafy goodness into your daily diets. For tailor-made diet plans and information on nutrition.


Chef Umesh Mattoo
Celebrating Greens on National Spinach Day, we bring you healthy recipes from the Kitchen of Celebrity Chef Umesh Mattoo.

Venue & Kitchen Partners: Mirasol Resorts, Nani Daman, UT of Daman & Diu

1. Recipe –Apple Spinach Lime & Honey Health Drink


Chef Umesh Mattoo's Recipe: Apple Spinach Lime & Honey Health Drink

2. Recipe – Spinach, Paneer & Corn Bhujia


Spinach, Paneer & Corn Bhujia

3. Pratish Tandel, MD, Mirasol Resort tasting Healthy “Apple Spinach lime & Honey Drink                 by Chef Umesh Mattoo


How to Celebrate National Spinach Day.

One can celebrate National Spinach day in many ways. Simply include lots of spinach in your daily diet today. And not just today ensure that Spinach should be ideally included in your diet daily in some or the other form, if not daily then minimum thrice a week. One can eat it with salads, in soups, omelettes or even shakes & smoothies. Spinach based beverages have become drinking fodder for lot of health conscious people. Its mild flavour, low in calories, high on protein makes it ideal healthy alternative against sugar based drinks. A lesser known fact about spinach is that it is a mild laxative. So say bye to constipation with this super food!

Do make children aware about benefits of Spinach, an interesting way to do that is watch Popeye cartoon with them and encourage them to eat Spinach in their daily diets.

Hope you enjoyed forgotten facts about Spinach. Thanks for reading the post. Do share your Spinach day stories with us on social media #Spinachday

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