Friday, 20 April 2018


According to many Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with something wonderful around every corner.


Budapest is the capital of Hungary and is situated on the banks of the Danube river. It is made up of three unified cities; Buda, Pest and Óbuda that were united in 1873 when a bridge was built across the river joining Buda and Pest.

View from the Fisherman's Bastion -JCO

Our next day was in Budapest, Hungary through a guided coach tour that left from Vienna. Again this tour was booked from home in advance meaning that we didn't have to plan much for this day. In what felt like no time at all, we reached the border and made our way into Budapest. The weather was STUNNING! There was barely a single cloud in the sky and the sun was shining brightly - a welcome surprise in early January. Even with such a short drive, it was apparent that we were in a different country - the different architecture and streets.

We first stopped off at Heroes' Square for a photo stop. It was perfect timing, being around 10 am there wasn't a huge crowd of tourists. Then it was time for lunch at Varosliget Café. We could pay here in either Euros or Hungarian forint.

We then had a coach tour of both sides Buda and Pest. We drove through Andrassy Avenue which is recognised as a World Heritage Site since 2002. Lined with the most spectacular neo-renaissance mansions and grand cafes, it was an absolute pleasure to drive through.

We passed Dohany Synagogue, one of the largest synagogues outside of Israel, before winding our way up Castle Hill with some truly spectacular views.

From here, we disembarked from the bus and was taken on a walking tour of the Castle District. Here, we were surrounded by medieval, baroque and 19th-century buildings. We made our way to
the Fisherman's Bastion which was probably a personal highlight!

The view of the parliament building from here was breath-taking. Turning the corner brought us to Matthias Church. The steady sunshine basked the church in a gorgeous light and brought out all of the colours on the roof of the church - all set against a clear blue sky.

Matthias Church-Budapest-Hungary

Even though we were taken up by coach, it is also possible to ride the funicular up Castle Hill to Buda Castle. This funicular was opened in 1870 and is the 2nd oldest of its type in the world. The journey has been sped down so passengers can enjoy the view for longer. It runs until 10pm.

We were then given a few hours of free time to explore ourselves. It was nice to stretch our legs again and discover Budapest ourselves. Meandering through, we walked past the Hungarian Opera House before arriving at a large square. From here, we visited St. Stephen's Basilica. Sadly, we didn't have much time to go inside. It is also possible to go up to the Dome and take in the views from there.

Chain Bridge Budapest Hungary

Walking along the Danube Promenade (which stretches from the Elizabeth Bridge to Chain Bridge), we had a fantastic, unobstructed view of the Buda Castle and the bridge. The sun was slowly setting, making the sky a beautiful pink and purple colour.

Boats were cruising along the Danube, summing up the charisma of Budapest. As we ambled slowly up the promenade, the sheer size of the Parliament was becoming more and more apparent and you could see the detail more and more.

Hungarian Parliament Budapest

We reached the memorial "Shoes On the Danube Bank" which gives remembrance to the Hungarian Jews shot at the banks of the river and swept away by the water.

Finally, after a slow 20/30 minute walk, we got to the Parliament Building. Constructed with 40 million bricks, half a million precious stones and 88 pounds of gold, this building is nothing short of extraordinary. The perspective of looking at it from across the river and being right up close to it both have their own appeal.

Just as we began to make our way back, the sun began setting and lights slowly began turning on. We raced along the Szechenyi Chain Bridge to see the Parliament lit up in all its wonder - well worth it! My mum turned to me and said that it dawned on her that Budapest was used in the Bollywood film - Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, even though in the movie, they are meant to be in Italy.

Budapest definitely made an impact on both of us and I told my mum that I would love to come back again and this time spend some more time around here.

Through this New Year trip, we also visited Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck.

Author-Hayley Dhanecha
All the pictures are taken by Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey either by Mobile phone or DSLR.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Aubergine Parmigiana - Product Review - Cirio

When life gives you aubergines, make Aubergine Parmigiana! One of the most iconic and tasty Italian Dish that is prepared with aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese. It is a great recipe for a mid week meal when you serve with plenty of fresh salad and crusty bread.

Aubergine Parmigiana is most popular Italian dish made with Aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese.

So the weather for the English is a great conversation filler and finally, we have something that we really love to talk about, yes and that's weather! Gorgeous sunny weather is here and seems, not sure for how long but at least we can enjoy this week and bask in the sunshine. Not only good weather but colourful and fresh produces are flooding in the market too, and they are at their very best in the height of warm weather. I absolutely love this time of the year for that reason.

More aubergine recipes:- Roasted Spicy Aubergine Hummus | Ringana No Oro (Gujarati style spicy aubergine dip) | Do Pyaza Baingan Matar (Aubergine and Green Peas Curry)

I go super crazy when I see fresh, shiny and deep purple Aubergines in the market and I don't even think for a second but they just go in my basket because I and aubergine have a special bond :) that my daughter won't understand!! Did you know that  Late Princess Diana used to love Aubergine and one of her favourite recipes was Stuffed Aubergine with Bulgur and Buckwheat 

Aubergine Parmigiana is most popular Italian dish made with Aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese.

I love to create recipes with Aubergine, you can create all sorts of delicious recipes from any cuisine. Indians throw them in a fire and produces finger licking smoky Baingan Bhartha, take it to Greece and you'll be served amazing Moussaka, and how can we forget Baba Ghanoush from the Middle East and one of my favourite holiday destination Italy, will make you drool on Ratataoluli and aubergine Parmigiana. We have been to Italy three times already, and never miss out on enjoying Aubergine Parmigiana!

Cirio is an Italian tomato products company since 1856.

Just a couple of weeks back I received a box of Cirio Products to sample. I was more than happy to receive their products as Cirio products were introduced to me by My MIL in 1992. Cirio is Italy's most loved brand and since 1856 they have created a range of tomato products to bring the authentic taste of Italy into every home! Products of Cirio made from 100% Italian tomatoes and create the real rich and unique 'Taste of Italy'

I used Cirio Passata in making aubergine parmigiana, that turned out exceptionally well. Just imagine yourself tuck into this moreish and hearty layers of slow-cooked aubergine and tomato dish that is so simple and easy to prepare.

Aubergine Parmigiana is most popular Italian dish made with Aubergine, tomato sauce and cheese.

I have used Vegetarian Hard Cheese instead of Parmesan Cheese ( Many vegetarians don't know that Parmesan cheese made using animal-based rennet) 

I did use Cirio brand Napolitana flavoured Passata.  

print recipe

Aubergine Parmigiana
Aubergine Parmigiana is a classic and most iconic dish of Italy, it is so easy to prepare with minimum ingredients yet it is scrumptious!
  • 4 Aubergine
  • 400g Cirio Passatta
  • 300g Mozzarella Cheese cut into slice
  • 180g Vegetarian hard cheese or Parmesan Cheese
  • Extra Virgin Oil
  • 8-10 Basil leaves fresh
  • Salt to taste
Wash the aubergines and cut them into slices of less than 1/2 cm thick.Apply little oil on the slices and grill them for 4-5 minutes each side or until nicely browned.Preheat the oven to 200C or gas mark 6.Flavour the passata with some of oil and salt. Alternate layer the aubergines, passata, basil, mozzarella cheese and hard vegetarian cheese in a lightly oiled heatproof dish, finally topping with passata and hard cheese. Bake for about 40-45 minutes in a gas oven or 20 minutes in a fan oven.Scatter with a few leaves of Basil and serve hot with fresh salad and crusty bread.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 servings

Disclaimer -Thank you Cirio for sending us these products. I was sent Cirio-Tomato products for an unbiased review and not told or paid to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Makhandi Halwa

It's the weekend! Are you in the mood to try something with a caramel flavour, and that too Desi? Try this Makhandi Halwa! A smooth, satisfying and delicious halwa is uncomplicated to make but hits the sweet spot every time.

Makhandi Halwa is apopular sweet dish from Punjab, pakistan. It is made with Semolina, Milk , Ghee and sugar. It tastes so amazing with caramel flavours and served on a special occasions.

This hugely popular recipe of this halwa hails from North West of India Punjab, now it's Pakistan. This unique tasting halwa although prepared with the same ingredients as normal sooji ka halwa, this halwa has it's own method. It shows how the method changes its tastes and textures.

Makhandi Halwa is apopular sweet dish from Punjab, pakistan. It is made with Semolina, Milk , Ghee and sugar. It tastes so amazing with caramel flavours and served on a special occasions.

A few weeks back on Facebook in one particular group few ladies were chatting about particular this halwa, the name itself drew my attention to that particular post and back of my mind I was thinking I've heard about this dish but couldn't recall it that time, however I found their chat very interesting, how those girls were missing their mum's Makhandi halwa, some of them said they can't make it and want recipe etc quickly I checked on google what is this halwa all about? When I read the recipe of this halwa, suddenly a rush of memories was in front of my eyes.

Makhandi Halwa is apopular sweet dish from Punjab, pakistan. It is made with Semolina, Milk , Ghee and sugar. It tastes so amazing with caramel flavours and served on a special occasions.

Almost 26 years ago, I did hear about this recipe, one of my Pakistani college friends told me about this Halwa. We decided to bring one dish for lunch, I took Muthia many brought some other dishes and Pakistani lady brought Shir Khurma, ( Vermicelli Pudding )which was phenomenal, and that time she told me that next time she will bring 'Makhandi Halwa'. I never got to try the halwa as I left that college and then also completely forgot about this halwa.

More Halwa Recipe:- Almond, Coconut and Pineapple halwa | Badam Besan Ka Halwa | Shahi Aate Ka halwa | Nariyal Kesar Halwa

When I saw the recipe for this halwa, literally my mouth was watering and made my mind up to prepare this Halwa for hubby's birthday along with Panjabi Chole Bhathure, a combination he loves to devour.

Makhandi Halwa is apopular sweet dish from Punjab, pakistan. It is made with Semolina, Milk , Ghee and sugar. It tastes so amazing with caramel flavours and served on a special occasions.

The halwa turned out soooo good, but was so simple to make. It was scrumptious, without needing caramel, this halwa had caramel flavour which we loved the most. You won't need any fancy ingredients for this recipe or much skills, just follow the recipe to T and you'll have this incredibly irresistible dessert to devour on any special occasion.

This halwa best serve while it's warm.
Warm halwa oozes lots of ghee.
I took pictures while Halwa was very cold.
I have used Rose petals for only photographic purpose.

print recipe

Makhandi Halwa
Makhandi Halwa, with a unique caramel taste and delightful dessert.
  • 170g or 1 cup Coarse Semolina
  • 500ml or 2 cup Full fat milk
  • 150g or 3/4 cup Ghee
  • 200g or 1 cup Sugar
  • Big Pinch Cardamom powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp. Almond and Pistachio Slivers
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried rose petals ( optional)
In a bowl add semolina and milk, mix together and leave it aside for about two hours. Heat ghee in a nonstick kadai or heavy bottom pan, and add sugar and cardamom powder.Mix it very slowly, and let the sugar melt.Once the sugar melted you'll see caramel brown colour syrup, don't let the sugar burn otherwise halwa will taste bitter.Now carefully add the semolina mixture, and keep mixing the mixture. Cook this halwa mixture around 30-35 minutes on a low heat. As the halwa cooks it will slowly go brown and harder. These are the signs you are cooking the halwa in the correct method. The ghee will separate from the halwa mixture, if you want, you can take out that ghee, I left it.Once the halwa is ready, turn off the heat.Serve in a serving bowl and garnish it with almond and pistachio slivers.Enjoy warm.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Monday, 9 April 2018

Innsbruck - The Capital of the Alps

Innsbruck ~ Magical City and Dream Land!

Golden Roof-Innsbruck-Austria
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey

Swaroski World-Innsbruck-Austria

Innsbruck is the capital city of the Tyrol, in Western Austria and is scenically shadowed by two magnificent mountain chains. It is known internationally as a winter sports hub, but we would be keeping our feet firmly on the ground! Strictly sightseeing only. A simple train journey from Vienna would take us direct to Innsbruck station.

We were visiting Innsbruck on the third day of our holiday (day 1 - Vienna, day 2 - Salzburg) to see the Swarovski world and spend our spare time in the Old Town. We sat in 1st class, which I think is worth the money compared to getting a 1st class ticket in the UK for train travel. The view from the train was mesmerising as we coasted through Austria. This is my and my mum's 5th time visiting the Alps but the novelty of them just doesn't wear off!

Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey

As we arrived in Innsbruck, we spent some time at the OBB lounge at the station before making our way to Swarovski world. From Innsbruck main station (Hbf), we could take either the S1 or S2 train towards Rum b. Innsbruck station. From there, we could take the 4123 bus to Swarovski world. For this train journey (between Innsbruck Hbf and Rum b.) and bus, the fare was collectively around £5/10 per person.

Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey

I had once seen a picture of the giant green man when I was very young in a travel magazine and have always wanted to go since! Finally, I was fulfilling this wish. The weather was cold, there was snow, raining and almost clouds were touching our face but did not dampen our spirits at all. Somehow the cold actually felt good and added to the effect! Surrounded by the mountains, the bus journey was breathtaking. 

Swarovski world itself was dazzling. The landscape outside was a hint to the splendour inside. We slowly made our way through the various exhibits, all showcasing Swarovski crystals.

A nice surprise was the exhibit by Manish Arora and we were entertained with some Indian bhangra music! If you asked me, I couldn't tell you which exhibit I liked the most, each had its own charm. Once we had shopped around the Swarovski store (souvenirs to take home right ;)), it was time to make our way to Innsbruck Old Town.

Swaroski world souvenir shop innsbruck austria
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey

From the station, we walked along Maria-Theresien-Strasse and up to the Golden Roof - only a 10 minutes walk.  Who knew that I'd go to watch a Bollywood film - Tiger Zinda Hai, just 2 weeks later and see them in Innsbruck by the very same spot! From there Hofburg Imperial Palace.

Maria-Theresien-Strasse is in Innsbruck Austria.
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey

Golden Roof situated beautiful Innsbruck Austria where bollywood movie Tiger Zinda Hai shot recently.
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey 

Hofburg Imperial Palace one of the best place you can see in Innsbruck Austria.
Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey 

The clouds were a little low making it difficult to see the majesty of the mountain peaks that watched over Innsbruck but that didn't take away any of the allure of the city. The bustling street was gorgeously lit up with rows of shops and beautifully designed street lights. This was sophistication huddled by nature.

Our onward journey would take us to Hungary! (Post coming soon)
Author- Hayley Dhanecha

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Saturday, 7 April 2018

Salzburg ~ Stage of the World!

Salzburg ~ Calm, Tranquil and Picturesque 

Salzburg Vienna

Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and is situated on the Northern edge of the Alps. It is surrounded by lakes and mountains and straddles the banks of the Salzach river. Salzburg has a rich musical heritage and is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Its fairytale setting of stately homes, churches and hillsides made it perfect for one of the most loved musicals in the world - The Sound of Music.

We had another early morning as today we were off to do a guided day tour to the panoramic Salzburg from Vienna. We booked our tours early from London.  For today, we didn't have to do any planning of our own except sit back and relax in the coach. Of course, you can travel by train from Vienna to Salzburg.

We were explained by our tour guide that the name Salzburg means "salt castle", from the salt traded along the Salzach river. He taught us a lot about Austria during our coach journey - Vienna is made up of 23 districts and 11 languages are spoken but German remains the main language. We learned that Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave, meaning that no one knows the exact location of where Mozart lays.

Our journey through snow-capped mountains and valley, along with useful information from our coach guide and listening to the classical music of Mozart brought us to the most enchanting Austrian Lake District - Salzkammergut, where you can witness clear turquoise water, snow-capped mountains and greenery in every direction, mother nature at it's best, simply too perfect for words. It was our bad luck that that day we had the worst weather. We could not step out of the bus so we hardly took any pictures - our brain had to be our camera and make the memories instead. 

Jagruti's Cooking Odyssey - Pictures taken from inside the coach 

After 4 hours journey, we reached Salzburg. We first had a guided walking tour of Salzburg, then some free time to explore ourselves. The guided walking tour was done by a local tour guide.

We visited the beautiful and calming baroque style Mirabell Palace first. The gardens seemed like a lovely place to sit and watch people go by if we had more time. I could only imagine just how beautiful it all would have looked in Spring and Summer with all of the flowers in full bloom!

Mirabell Palace salzburg Austria

Taking a short walk from Residenzplatz, we got to the pink-marbled Salzburg cathedral. Inside was enthralling. It was probably the most at peace I had ever felt in any cathedral even with a large number of public inside of it. It was also where Mozart was baptised.

 pink-marbled Salzburg cathedral Austria

We reached Mozart's birthplace and you could tell we had arrived there and there was a large gaggle of tourists all trying to get a photo! I was happy to know that his birthday was only one day away from mine! Mozart's birthplace is No 9 on the Getreidegasse, where he and his family lived on the 3rd floor.

Mozart's birthplace No 9 on the Getreidegasse Salzburg Austria

Getreidegasse is a narrow but busy shopping street filled with international shopping chains but still maintains centuries of tradition and craft. The street is lined with beautiful doorways with many through-houses leading to other streets and squares. We loved the intricate guild signs hanging from the buildings. This was the perfect spot for a quick lunch before we carried on sightseeing.

No trip is complete without savouring local food. We visited Salzburg Mozartkugal, which is 130 years old. Still, to this day, Mozartkugel or Mozart chocolate balls are created by hand using the original recipe. Consisting of a marzipan center with pistachio and nougat, the sweet is then dipped into dark chocolate to form a perfect smooth ball.

Salzburg Mozartkugal Austria

After spending a few hours to explore ourselves, we made our journey back to Vienna to be dropped off at the Vienna State Opera. Our journey in Austria continued onto Innsbruck, Budapest and another final day in Vienna.
Author - Hayley Dhanecha 

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