a taste of india before we go to new zealand

Posted on

India. India. India. You are a country that we really want to visit but just haven’t got around to yet.

And one of the reasons we want to go , other than culture, landscape, architecture and UNESCO sites is the food. We absolutely love Indian food.

So what’s the next best thing to being in India right now, the day before we fly to New Zealand?  

You may have read about our last experience doing the Global Explorer, this time we were invited to join a tour of Little India, right here in Harris Park, Sydney. This tour had a different flavour (excuse the bad pun) but we enjoyed it all the same and got to try PLENTY of Indian dishes that we haven’t tried before.

Fear not the spice or heat of the food because the food we tried bordered more towards medium heat. Filled with spices, practically everything we ate or drank was bursting with flavour, even the mango lassi which is usually a super sweet drink.

IMG_0020Dhokla – made from chickpea flour and served with a sweet and savoury chutney. Treated more as a breakfast snack, it was a great start to the feast, we were about to have.IMG_0003Cheese paratha – flat-bread like pieces that were stuffed with cheese, served with yoghurt and Indian pickles – this one had a bit of kick to it! IMG_0004Pani Puri – small puff balls, which you crack the top of, fill it with boiled potato and chickpeas that have been mixed with a tamarind chutney, topped with spicy mint water. Then put all in the mouth in one go. This is literally a mouthful of flavour and texture. What an experience!IMG_0009 IMG_0010Raj Kachori – almost like an oversized pani puri. It was delicious and really too beautiful to break up and eat. But we did, and the mix of texture and flavours again was like nothing we have eaten before: sweet, spicy, crispy and soft!IMG_0012Utta Pam – first impression is that it looks like a pizza but it doesn’t taste a thing like pizza. A dough base, with vegetables scattered over the top and cooked – the texture reminded us a lot like okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake-like dish).  Eaten with the spicy sambal, the capsicum chutney and coconut chutney, once again FULL of flavour. IMG_0017Masala Dosa – much like a crepe but with a super crunchy exterior, it is stuffed with mashed potatoes that are infused with tonnes and tonnes of spices. This one we have tried before and LOVE having it whenever we can.IMG_0018And all of this was pre-lunch. We were certain that after this restaurant, we had completed the eating but it turned out that we had more in store.

Seekh Kebab – lamb minced cooked in tandoori. The spices in this provide a bit of heat to the taste buds but when doused in cucumber mint yoghurt, it wasn’t too bad! IMG_0021Malai Kofta – imagine butter chicken BUT not with the chicken, cottage cheese dumplings instead. Wow! This was absolutely delicious. Our taste buds were very pleased with this one.IMG_0023Baigan Achari – roasted eggplants cooked with pickle sauce. Now this was something we enjoyed a lot! Eggplant is a great vegetable to throw in with a lot of flavours and cooked slowly because the results never seem to go wrong. IMG_0025Goat Curry – don’t think we really need to describe this, let’s just say, curry at it’s best.
IMG_0026And if all that savoury wasn’t enough, we also got dessert. So when it wasn’t flavoursome-ly spicy, it was super sweet.

If you have ever tried Indian sweets, you will know what we mean.

Gulab Jamun

So with approximately 7 stops in all, although we didn’t eat at each one, we were definitely filled with Indian food by the end of it. Accompanied by 2 very competent and entertaining guides, Gunjan and Yamman, we were given plenty of information about the area and the Indian culture.

Indian cuisine varies so much, thanks to the many different regions in India. Some Indian food can be quite heavy, while others are quite light, refreshing and fluffy. We usually order what we know, unless we go with our friends from Indian backgrounds. So a food tour, we have found is a great way to be exposed to flavours by getting a “taster” rather than ordering a full dish of something we are unfamiliar with.

For more information about Taste Food Tours and the tours offered, see their website.

Disclaimer: Wise Monkeys Abroad were guests of Taste Food Tours, however there was no obligation or arrangement for us to write or promote Taste Food Tours. The opinions expressed throughout this piece is entirely that of Wise Monkeys Abroad.

Do you like Indian food? What’s your favourite dish?

Tell us what it is here.

camino de santiago: top 10 most memorable

Posted on

It’s almost been a year since we embarked on the journey of a lifetime.

Before we started the Way of St James (also known as The Way or the Camino de Santiago), we had no idea what impact it would have on us; almost 365 days on, we can tell you.

Each and every day since we returned, we still think about our time walking the 790-odd km from the south of France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Anything related to the Camino still pulls at our heartstrings and stirs up the urge for us to return.


We may have completed it but it never leaves us, not even for a moment. Today we read an article over at Camino Adventures where the author shared his top 10 things about the Camino de Santiago. And maybe it’s because we are almost celebrating our Camino anniversary that we shed a tear.

We were inspired by that post to share our 10 most memorable things:

  1. Fellow pilgrims – hands down – our Number 1 most memorable! Being on the Camino is like being on an alternate world. A world where kindness is normal and so is sharing blister stories. The camaraderie along the way is like nothing we have experienced before. People do the Camino for all sorts of reasons, come from all different backgrounds and have different beliefs and values yet on the Camino everyone can get along. The tales of friendships and generosity are not myths.
  1. Sunrises – waking up and starting the walk before the sun came up meant we were able to witness some striking sunrises. We were always sunset fans but after the 40 days of walking, sunrises mean so much more to us.


  1. Crossing numerous medieval bridges to enter and leave the villages – we are big FANS of anything historical so to enter a village looking for the basics, usually food and water, we felt like pilgrims from back in the day. It truly felt like we had been sucked into a time warp. The bridges also proved to be stunning structures for photographs.


  1. Burgos and Leon Cathedral – as we pass through so many villages and towns, we see plenty of churches. Most are part of small villages or towns and are rather modest. Burgos and Leon Cathedral, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They are lavish and are the centre pieces of their cities. The constructions of these cathedrals would be a history lesson in themselves. Plus the added bonus of seeing Burgos Cathedral on our wedding anniversary is a memory for us for always.

Burgos Leon

  1. Beautiful countryside – not a day went by where we weren’t in awe with the scenery around us. Every single day we would soak up everything around us. We captured what we could on camera so we could relive it afterwards. We do that often still to this day. There were mountains, rolling hills, green fields, fields of sunflowers and vineyards. There was NEVER nothing to look at.

Camino1 Camino5 Camino8

  1. Feeling free and humbled – it was just us and the path. Our biggest concern was when we would eat next. Other than that, we had no worries and nothing to stress about. We did a lot of soul searching and reflecting. We learned a lot about ourselves and about life. We were so humbled to think that we were walking in the footsteps of millions of pilgrims from hundreds of years before us. We were also walking on ancient Roman roads. It really put lots of things into perspective.
  1. Little surprises along the way – we went rather unprepared for the Camino. We trained little and we read very little because we didn’t want to experience the Camino before the Camino. When we stumbled across fiestas, we were excited. When we stumbled across the many different snails, we were excited. When we stumbled across a yellow rubber ducky race, we were excited. There was plenty along the way that we will never forget. Camino12Camino3
  2. Clam shells and arrows – these were creatively displayed along the way to point out where we were to go. Sometimes they were found in the most unassuming places. Seeing a shell or arrow during our lives before this long walk meant nothing, but seeing them nowadays means a completely different thing. It immediately serves as a reminder of our time on the Camino; that we are never lost and that we should always look for the signs, that we should have faith in ourselves and what we are capable of doing.


  1. The hills – crossing the Pyrenees was meant to be the hardest day of all the Camino; 20-something km all uphill on Day 1. It was unforgiving and brutal but we would do it again in a heartbeat. You see the Camino does this to those who have walked it. It keeps drawing us back no matter how hard it felt. Every day felt like we had a hill to climb up or down with varying gradients. They’re not all hard but they did test our endurance! But yes, we will go back to climb every one again.


  1. Entering Santiago de Compostela – after 40-odd days of walking through dramatic scenery, a maze of streets, roads and “civilisation” welcomes us. It’s nothing like we imagined where the clouds open up and sing “Hallelujah”. The feeling of arriving at our destination; the cathedral of St James is one we can never truly describe. It was one of sheer disbelief that we walked almost 800 km. It was one of pure happiness and such a sense of achievement. It was also a feeling of the reality that our journey had come to an end. With this much overwhelming emotion, what does one do? One cries! And that is what we did: we hugged each other and cried!


This journey helped us grow in so many unimaginable ways. We are different because of it! We see life and the world through different eyes. We will go as far as to declare it our BEST travel experience ever. We will walk it again some day.

If you are interested to see any more of our photos from the Camino, check out our photo essays: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Have you walked the Camino? What would your top 10 be?

Leave us your comments.

tearooms at vaucluse house: review

Posted on

Nestled in the lush, green gardens of Vaucluse House is the Tearooms.  The quaint and stylish eatery on the estate provides a tranquil setting to enjoy a lovely lunch, brunch or high tea.

Seeing as we were in the “neighbourhood” following our climb of 100 steps up then down in Macquarie Lighthouse (which really is hardly anything), we were famished for a hearty lunch.

Upon arriving at the Tearooms, the staff politely and promptly greeted and seated us. We couldn’t help but admire the layout of the room and the table settings. What stood out were the fluorescent pink light shades above the tables – definitely didn’t blend with the rest of the room but somehow seemed to work!


We ordered right on midday which was when the lunch kitchen opens and the food arrived fairly quickly.

The lunch menu wasn’t expansive but there was enough variety to choose from. Le chose the vegetarian pasta: fettucine with mushrooms and artichoke. It was full of flavour and the pasta was cooked perfectly. The portobello mushrooms were so juicy and flavoursome.


David ordered a 10-hour slow cooked lamb pie which was served with potato puree with roast parsnips. The potato puree was more like mashed potatoes and the roast parsnips were like hot chips (and we are NOT complaining). It was all delicious. In comparison, David’s lunch was a lot heavier than Le’s.


The rest of the party that joined us for lunch were all very satisfied with what they ordered.

A beef burger:


Fish and chips with pea mash:


Atlantic salmon:


The serving sizes were ideal for lunch and filled us up perfectly – the only shame was that we couldn’t try any of the dessert menu :(

While we enjoyed our lunch, a group of ladies sitting nearby were having high tea… we couldn’t help but get a little food envy!

Missing out on dessert and high tea was too much for us, so we settled our bill and went to burn off lunch by walking around the well-kept grounds of the estate.

This is definitely a lovely spot on a beautiful day to eat and explore a part of Sydney’s history. Visiting here made us feel like we had a “little getaway” from the hustle bustle of Sydney.




a visit to australia’s oldest lighthouse

Posted on Updated on

It would be tough to pick that it was winter from the blue skies, the sun shining and the 21 degree Celsius day. It was perfect conditions to visit a lighthouse; Australia’s oldest lighthouse, Macquarie Lighthouse. IMG_0070IMG_0069

From Macquarie Lighthouse situated in the eastern suburb of Vaucluse, there is a stunning view of Sydney Harbour and of the Opera House, especially on a clear sunny day like today.

Apparently from the Opera House, the lighthouse can be seen – we will have to check it out next time we are that way.

Every 2 months, the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust runs 20-minute guided tours (with lovely and entertaining volunteer guides) to go up the lighthouse. Today happened to be one of those open days!

We booked the tickets 2 weeks ago to ensure we got the time slot we wanted. And for $5 per person, it was well worth it to be able to climb the 100 steps for a magnificent view of the ocean and of Sydney Harbour…IMG_0092 IMG_0097 IMG_0098… and also learn a little more about lighthouses and Sydney history.IMG_0104

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, we sure did!