Food | Mumbai, the land of chaat!

Mumbai is famous for it's wide variety of street food that is both ubiquitous & affordable; & chaat is arguably the most famous among those. Come evening, you'll hardly find a street corner in the city without a paani puri walla or a cart serving hot ragda pattice. Whether you're visiting the beach, street shopping or coming home from work chaats are one of the best snacks in Mumbai & you will never be hungry for long on the streets of Mumbai.
Today I'm going to talk about some of the most commonly available chaat in Mumbai with tips on how to enjoy it safely.

Paani Puri - In Delhi it's called gol gappa, in Kolkata it's called phuchka, in Orissa it’s called gupchup. In Mumbai it’s called paani puri. The dish itself is a simple combination of a crisp, hollowed-out bite-sized puri filled with white peas (& occasionally boondi, a light preparation made of chickpea flour) and potatoes and dipped into tamarind water mixed with chilies and chaat masala. It's most delicious when the ragda is piping hot & the paani is ice cold. It's a delicious explosion of flavor that can make your eyes water, but it's definitely my favorite Mumbai chaat & the thing I miss the most when I'm travelling out of Mumbai.

Sev Puri (pictured above) - Sev puri is essential Mumbai chaat made of puri (compared to the thin, almost sperical hollow pur used for paani puri, this one is thick & flat) which is loaded with diced potatoes, onions, three types of chutneys: tamarind, chili and garlic and topped with sev. It is seasoned with raw mango, when raw mango is in season or with a hint of lemon and chaat masala.

Dahi Bata Puri (pictured below) - Dahi Batata Puri is just a variation on Sev Puri, but instead it used the same hollowed out puris used for paani puri & includes dahi (plain yoghurt)

Bhel Puri - Bhelpuri is made from puffed rice (kurmura) and Sev (a fried snack shaped like thin noodles made from besan flour) mixed with potatoes, onions, Chat masala and chutney and mixture (a mix of different types of fried snacks), as the base of the snack. Bhelpuri has a typically Gujarati balance of sweet, salty, tart and spicy flavors, with different textures as well, including crispy and crunchy from the puffed rice and fried sev. Other commonly used ingredients include tomatoes, and chilis added to the base; In northern India recipes also made by adding boiled potatoes cut into small pieces. Different chutneys impart a sweet,tangy or spicy flavour. There are two popular chutneys used: a dark brown sweet one made mainly from dates and tamarind (saunth chutney) and a green spicy chutney made from coriander (cilantro) leaves and green chillies.

photo credits: veg recipes of India

While Mumbai chaat is very delicious (trust me, just writing this post had me craving some paani puri!) street vendors sometimes use unclean water in the preparations, leading to food poisoning & a host of water bourne diseases such as typhoid. For this reason, it's best to stick to the larger shops that serve chaat, though they are slightly more expensive they use mineral water in all their preparations so you'll be better off, health & cleanliness wise. Here's a list of the Best Chaat shops in Mumbai, go out & enjoy some delicious chaat!


Travel | A Frequent Wanderer's New Favorite Feature

Hi guys! It's been a while & I definitely have some catching up to do here. Since the beginning of 2015 I've been travelling a fair amount this year... I took a very brief trip to Tamil Nadu in January... and I loved my three days so much, that I came back & planned a much longer trip with mom that turned out to be all kinds of amazing. Here's a little taste of the trip, via my phone photos-

All images from my instagram @magali_c (taken on an iPhone 5).

But before we get into that, let's talk about the process of planning a trip - it can be absolutely harrowing. I've never really talked about it on the blog, but almost exactly a year ago I was planning a trip to Split, Croatia. I had stumbled upon the little country online while researching it for a blog post & fell more & more in love with every word I read & picture I saw. I convinced my parents to come along with my crazy scheme & very soon we were planning our first European holiday, to bring in my twenty second birthday. But, just a fortnight before we were due to fly (with every booking in place, mind you!) my mom's VISA was denied on a passport technicality & without enough time to apply for a new passport, even a 'tatkal' (emergency) one, we were forced to can the whole trip.

As if losing a great deal of money on all kinds of non-refundable fees wasn't enough, the ordeal had to be made worse by having to follow up a million times with our supremely inept travel agent just to see our money returned. Ugh! While it might not be the worst thing in the world, it's definitely not something I'd wish to relive anytime soon.

Which is why I was very excited to hear about MakeMyTrip's new #Uncancel feature. To explain it in short, #Uncancel is a first of it's kind feature that allows you to reschedule a planned trip instead of cancelling it, should some unforeseen issue come up. This also protects you against further price hikes, so you can take the trip at the original price itself. Pretty nifty eh? They even came up with this neat TVC to promote it! 

Whether the Croatian embassy or our travel agent was to blame for our unfortunate #travelfail last year, it definitely put me off the idea of planning another big, international trip. But I know with a feature like #Uncancel I can breathe easier the next time I think about taking a transatlantic flight to my next adventure!

Have you ever had to cancel a leisure trip? Did you end up going to the same place later on?


YouTube #DearMe Campaign + Contest Details!

In celebration of International Women's Day (on the 8th of March), YouTube launched #DearMe, a global initiative to inspire & empower young girls everywhere. As a YouTuber I was given an extremely simple brief - to make a video with a message to my younger, teenage self, so I set my camera on the tripod, sat on the couch & just talked. It's definitely the most personal video I've made until now.
My teen years were definitely not easy... I went through all of the sadness, isolation, angst & then some. What I can definitely say is that I've felt much more at peace (with my surroundings and myself) since I've entered my twenties, so I shared some advise that I think would've made my teen years easier, & if you're at that age & going through a tough time, I hope some of it can help you too.
My #DearMe video ended up being featured on the YouTube Spotlight channel, along with 24 other women like Felicia Day, Lilly Singh aka Superwoman (who I actually met at YouTube Fan Fest last year),  Grace Helbig, etc. I know it seems like I'm namedropping but it's just because I'm so incredibly starstruck & honored to be in the same video as these lovely women.

And now onto the contest - if you're a a female, based in Mumbai & would like to start a YouTube channel (or have just started one & would like to know how to grow it) hop onto my twitter page [@magali_c] at 2PM today to enter in the #DearMe contest... I'll run it for a couple of hours & the winner will get a one on one session with me at the fabulous YouTube Office in Mumbai on Monday, 9th March.