Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Activity: Cupcake making class by Cute Cupcake Factory, Thane

Greetings Foodies,
I am sure most of our readers are.
How about some yummy desserts?

Cupcakes !

I personally favour cakes, pastries over ice creams, gelatos,...
So I was suprised & excited when a family friend called up on Saturday morning to check if I would be interested in joining her for a Cupcake making class. I liked the idea, plus it had 3 bonus points for me: 1) It was in Thane and 5 mins walking distance from my home, 2) It was a Saturday 3) In the afternoon from 2:30-5:30 when my son napped.

Perfect ! Frankly speaking I have always tasted cupcakes which you get in bakery shops. But the lovely, mouth watering ones with frostings I have only seen in pictures.
So I was pleasantly suprised when your Teacher- Shuchita Nayak, showed us how simple it was to bake the cupcakes and decorate with frosting.

After frosting, the line up of cupcakes, makes you droool :D

We were 14 of us that day. Suchitra started with introductions and explaining that we were going to make simple, yummy, no-fuss recipes that day. We made 3 types of cupcakes with around 5 frostings.

Yumm, 3types without frosting

There was the
-Classic Vanilla Cupcake
Classic Vanilla cupcakes, hot just out of the oven

-Chocolate Cupcake

-Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet, they say is a Rage now!

The Selling point of the class
-Shuchita is a very experienced in bakery. She has tried, tested lot of methods, researched online, tells you the science behind basic things, bakes all the time. Is ready to learn from her students all the while.
Shuchita, hands on training

-She gave out basic tips which can literally-Make or Bake your cake :D Like why cakes become tough after they come out of the oven, why to maintain proportions given in recipes, oven settings.
Frosting with blue berry

-There were no hidden techniques or secret recipes here. You learnt the same thing she does with every cake.
Dont churn too much, after adding the flour

-She kept making it relevant & highlighting-Practise makes you perfect. Every time keep noting what worked and what didnt. Keep improving. Dont wander away & mess with the recipe or proportions until you bake some 5-6 perfect cakes. She let us be a part of the making process. So everyone was asked to stir, beat, whisk, frost.
Everyone gets to Frost ;)

-Told tips of how to make the recipes egg less too if someone wanted that.
-You get to take home what you bake at class.
My 1year old gobbled up the pieces, even with just 5 teeth, so you can guess how soft & yummy it was ;)
Thats how my Box looked. I promise to improve ! ;)

It was a fun class & you got to learn a lot. I was busy taking down notes like a college student.
Guess thats my habit, I do it mentally when travelling, this time I had pen & paper :D

All Smiles class, heady with the yummy smells of cup cakes

The Cute Cupcake Factory arranges classes almost on all Sundays. So follow them on Facebook, to get the next class. It can be about making Cheese cakes, Cream cakes, Breads, tarts,..... The list is an endless yumminess. Go for it !

Bye. Take care.
Check my Activity page to get a list of Activities to-do.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Travel: Jaipur-Bapu Bazar

Good day ppl !
Here is the last part of the Jaipur series.

Read more about Jaipur:
Travel : Jaipur visit in 1 day
Travel: Jaipur- Albert Museum and Birla Temple
Travel: Jaipur- Hava Mahal and Jantar Mantar
Travel: Jaipur-City Palace and Jaigarh Fort/Jaivana Canon
Travel: Jaipur-Amber or Amer Palace and Jal Mahal
Travel: Jaipur-Bapu Bazar

After an entire 2nd day of visiting on my to-visit places, We returned to our Hotel for the day.

The famous puppet show
 The Puppet show was in full swing. The puppeteers were singing English/Spanish/.. some language songs instead of the traditional songs. Later after the kids had dispersed I asked them why they did so. They said that is Marketing. Tourists cant understand our songs & they get bored. So we learn and sing their songs. These people can speak 5-6 languages & sing.
They were ready to sell the puppets for Rs 600 a pair. 

 Next was our last day in Jaipur. We had a flight to catch at 4pm. This time we googled for Radio cabs & booked one Metro Cab for our trip to the airport.

I had seen the sunset in Jaipur, so why not the Sun rise !
Got up at 5:30. Went to the roof.

Hues on the horizon, preparing for dawn

A waiter came by to check, told me all these haveli's/houses are now turning into hotels.
 Tourism is the Major occupation now here.

Aah here is the Sun, finally.
This is our Hotels tiny Gift shop. But the items were priced double/triple. Google & Make a list of what you would like to take back as souvenirs.

The to-be-bought items of Jaipur. Rajai's or soft quilts, block printed bedcovers, mogdi's. This was displayed in the small shop our hotel kept. Here they were higly priced. So go to local markets for good bargains.
We went to Bapu bazar on our 3rd and last day there. Took an auto there after haggling with one to come down to the correct price for the ride. Roamed around most of the market, window shopping for 1hour. Then after getting an idea of the prices of things I wanted to buy as souveneirs, entered 1-2shops. I had in mind the Jaipur speciality-mojari or the upturned sandals, earrings, necklaces, bedcovers. I kept away from leather articles. I wanted to buy the glass lanters too, seen in almost every houses, palaces, shops.. but didnt :( .
How do you transport it all the way to Mumbai without breaking it even in an aeroplane, my as always practical husband pointed out?

Sorry I wish I had clicked a snap of the items I bought. So if you dont want authentic jewellery or diamonds found in Jhaveri Bazar, please go to Bapu Bazar. Its like Mumbai's Dadar or Crawford market.

Long poooost. Evident why I took 18months exactly to write it :D

Hope it is useful to people going for a quick visit and want to see it all.

I would love to complete the Golden triangle soon. Let you know when I do.

Till then Enjoy your Travels !

Let us know if you have more interesting facts about Jaipur & if we missed any interesting places.
Bye. Take care

Travel: Jaipur-Amber or Amer Palace and Jal Mahal

Good day ppl !
Here is the fascinating tourist spot of Jaipur: The Amer Palace.
I have given tipsalertstrivia wherever necessary.

The Amber palace on the other side of the mountain. The guards used to use torches to signal from one fort to the other.
My most awaited spot Amber Fort finally arrived, but it was getting sundown time. So we had to rush. Thankfully the driver had arranged for a Proper guide, a history professor-Mr Tiwari.

Entry to the Amber Palace
 Its a massive fort-palace complex. This palace is named after the Goddess Amba and the town Amber. Coincedentally it is also amber/yellow coloured. Its massively built in Hindu-Muslim style with red sandstone and white marble.
You can get an elephant ride up the palace but you need to arrive early in the morning, else by noon the elephants are over. We drove till the base of the fort. Little hike to the entrance. But pleasant. I was 5months pregnant and the day long roaming was catching up on me, but the beautiful fort made up for it.

The court where the king saw audience, comman man problems.

The entrance to the Palace, beautifully carved with marble and glass work.
The windows at top (forgot what the guide called it, something Vijay.. meaning victory. Where the queens used to shower the kings with flowers when they returned from wars)

The entire palace is known for its high walls which cannot be scaled, narrow passages which a single guard can guard, windows at the highest level.
While the exterior is forbidding, the interiors are lavish which will put our modern day 5-7star hotel to shame.

Dil-e-Aaram garden.In Mughul style.

Hot Jacuzzi for 4 people, in those times !
This must have brought the idea of Jacuzzi to its popularity. The guide showed us a room behind which had a huge fireplace which heated water, which was supplied by pipes to this tub. The tub had 4 seats, 1 for the king, 2 for whichever queen he wished to see and a masseur. The entire room was dimly lit by oil lamps in hidden recesses. The windows had khaas curtains which brought in sweet scented breezes. Perfect to Destress, What say ;)

Bathrooms could double up as Saunas  !
 Star attraction - Sheesh Mahal. Entire mahal made of glass pieces. It has been now cordoned off for public as miscreants were destroying it.
This palace is based on the forty pillars and the pillars are beautifully constructed and built with thousand pieces of mirrors.

This was pictured in Mughal-e-Azam

Bottom to top view. Pic courtesy- Our guide who knew the perfect spot and angle to get the entire view.
The King used to shift to this Mahal in winter. They say a small lamp used to be lighted, the mirrors reflected the light and made it warm inside.

Small corridors with stair like ridged ramps. They say the queens ghaghras or skirts used to be so heavy, they were moved around in wheelchair kind of chairs and to make that easy, these ramps were made.

The Wheelchairs for the queen


The window from where the queen viewed the king's darbar with the common man and showered the kings, army with flowers on return from war.

View of the darbar and mountains beyond.

Char Baugh garden is typically Mughal styled landscape garden within the palace

Sukh Niwas
 The Sukh Niwas or the Palace of Pleasure was sort of the king's Summer Palace. Its entrance doors are made of Sandalwood. The rooms had curtains made of  'khas' a perfumed type of grass. There is a pipe kind of facility on the roof, which carried water, keeping the palace cool & the Khas curtains wet.
Another Jacuzzi

This is in the Movie: Jodha Akbar.
 These are the chambers where the Queens resided and no Male expect the King was allowed in. The Queens had maids or eunuchs as servants, to keep the King & his lineage intact.

On top floor the Kings rooms, Ground floor was for the Queens
 The Chambers were so designed, that the King had access to each of the Queen's rooms but without the other Queens having knowledge who the King was with. Each room had an access from the Kings floor without anyone being none the wiser ;)

The walls were beautifully painted with Krishna Leela scenes
The walls had some erotic paintings in different unfathomable positions :|

The backdoor exit or Chand Pol. Loved the chandelier as usual

This is again in the Movie: Jodha Akbar where Jodha cooks for Akbar

Suraj Pol, the Sun gate
 Unfortunately it was closing time when we reached it.

Jaleb Chowk
There is a highly revered temple of goddess, Shila Devi here. They say the goddess idol was found at the bottom of the sea and recovered when the goddess came in the King's dream. This godess brought stability & prosperity to this region.

Jal Mahal. Sorry for the blurred pic

The Jal Mahal is a truly beautiful Water Palace in the Man Sagar Lake. Again there is a lot to see inside this. Read more here

Other locations in Jaipur:
Travel : Jaipur visit in 1 day
Travel: Jaipur- Albert Museum and Birla Temple
Travel: Jaipur- Hava Mahal and Jantar Mantar
Travel: Jaipur-City Palace and Jaigarh Fort/Jaivana Canon
Travel: Jaipur-Amber or Amer Palace and Jal Mahal
Travel: Jaipur-Bapu Bazar

Travel: Jaipur-City Palace and Jaigarh Fort/Jaivana Canon

Good day ppl !

More Jaipur spots:
Travel : Jaipur visit in 1 day
Travel: Jaipur- Albert Museum and Birla Temple
Travel: Jaipur- Hava Mahal and Jantar Mantar
Travel: Jaipur-City Palace and Jaigarh Fort/Jaivana Canon
Travel: Jaipur-Amber or Amer Palace and Jal Mahal
Travel: Jaipur-Bapu Bazar

I have given tipsalertstrivia wherever necessary.

 City Palace.
This was one of the spot I was waiting to explore. As we entered, we were told it had been the venue for a fashion show few days ago.

 It is a vast palace complex occupying nearly one-seventh of the Pink City. It was originally built by Maharaja Jai Singh II. The complex is divided into a series of courtyards, sprawling gardens and buildings.


Chandra Mahal, (home to present Maharajah of Jaipur)

Gangajali, Largest silver vessels in the world, recorded in the Guiness Book
 There are 2 of these vessels placed in the Diwan-e-Khas or Hall of Private audience.

The chariots, cars, horse drawn buggies... all placed and preserved in the courtyard. They say once a year the King's procession is driven in these vehicles.

Roofs, ceilings, carved doors and chandeliers My favourite.
  The gateway Ridhi Sidhi Pol (with four small doorways decorated with motifs depicting the four seasons)

Beautifully decorated with peacock motifs engraved

Sometimes when the royal family members come out, they can be seen in these windows.

2 more doorways
The camera doesnt do justice to its beauty and the people wont let you take a clear picture in its entirety
 Click to enlarge the picture.

Next on the list was Jaivana canon or Jaigarh Fort:
Never conquered in battle, this was considered the strongest of the three forts in the area. It is best known as the site of the world's largest cannon, the Jaivana, which was test-fired only once — according to legend, despite using only the half the amount of gunpowder, the cannonball flew 35 km!

Again due to tight schedule (drivers suggestion) we never went to the fort, since we had a car, drove right to the base of this canon.

Jaivana  the world famous  canon, beautifully carved and can be rotated in all directions. Too powerful, enemy never dared enter the fort and hence this was only tested once but never used.

Perfect description.
 After the canon, we just roamed around the exterior of fort. Beautiful panaroma of the city.

You can see the city and the Jal Mahal from here

They say the king used to bury their gold in this underground water tank. No enemy could find it. During Indira gandhi's time, it was pulled out, the government fell short of rooms to store it.

Sarees made with water used from the well to dye its color.
The doordarshan TV show-Surbhi was shot in this store and Renuka Shahne, had bought a saree here.