Thursday, August 21, 2014

Soup for your soul

Ever since I joined the NDA a bowl of soup has been on my menu. Later on in the navy, soup was a regular item on the dinner carte du jour. Many glorious evenings were spent sipping ‘Mulligatawny Soup’ – an Anglo Indian invention- it is a combination of the Tamil words molaga (pepper) thanni (water).Cream of Almond soup was for important functions – heavy but a very delectable soup. Mixed vegetable soup (grated leftover vegetables cooked in water) was a regular feature along with its miserable partner ’Cabbage Foogath’ during the lean seventies. Chicken soup was for parties and there were many others.

Soup has been around all through the ages. In times when food was scarce, dumping various ingredients (often left overs or just the bones stripped of all its meat) into a pot to boil was not only cheap, it was filling. Its simple constitution made it accessible to rich and poor alike, and plain ingredients made it easy to digest for both the healthy and the sick. Military hospitals are very adept in dishing out soups to nourish a sick soul. Naval duty free canteens had ‘Maggie’ soup powders long before it hit the Indian market. Our children grew up having Maggie chicken and tomato soups.  

Ordering Sweet Corn Chicken soup in a Chinese restaurant was mandatory. I loved this soup and never let go of an opportunity to slurp it up. On the other hand my very dear friend KM Nair would always say, ‘No soup for me, thanks!’ and then end up quietly instructing the waiter to get an empty bowl – to devour half my soup –to my utter annoyance! Prem, my brother Sudhir and I went to attend Nair’s wedding in Thiruvananthapuram and on our way back we ordered SCC soup in Alleppey. The three ingredients namely – corn, chicken and sweet arrived separately and to add further misery the soup was luke warm. Tomato soup has been mercilessly butchered over a period of time in all Indian B grade restaurants, ‘Sagars’ and ‘Darshinis’.

In Russia they served us hot and steaming ‘Borshch’ made out of tomato, beetroot, cabbage etc. Soup probably has something do with cold weather. Rasam is an excellent soup to have when one is sea sick. All Indian naval ships serve rasam liberally at sea.

Over the years the art of souping has waned in the navy, in our homes and in restaurants. Along the way, soup somehow got attached to sitting in dinners, formal state dinners, cold weather and so on. People hardly drink soup any longer.

Of late, along with salad ‘Soup’ has become an integral part of our dinner at home. Salad, soup and toast are all a part of our ‘bill of fare’ on most nights. Soups are very nutritious, low on fat and calories and extremely filling.

In the French tradition, soups are classified into two broad groups: clear soups- ‘bouillon’ and thick soups –‘consommé’. The choice is entirely yours. I normally make soups with ingredients which are easily available in the market. My regulars are tomato, sweet corn with coriander, mushroom, celery, spring onion, mixed vegetable and on rare occasions cream of almond soup. Keep the preparation simple and easy to make.

One can improve the taste of the soup by using a stock. Chicken stock is generally used in all soups in lieu of water. Maggie chicken soup stock cubes can also be used in lieu. Vegetarian stock can be made by boiling celery, leek/onion and cucumber.

Try and avoid flour, instead use boiled potato, pumpkin or cauliflower mash to provide the required foundation. Ensure there are no lumps or residue in the soup. Use judicious amount of coriander, parsley, spring onion, dill, mint etc to garnish. Cheese and cream go very well as topping prior to serving. Use only butter or olive oil for cooking or sautéing. Hot soups should be served hot and cold soup - cold – no shortcuts are allowed. At the end you should be able to retain the taste of the vegetable intact. It is wise to use slightly less salt and pepper. Freshly ground pepper is a taste multiplier. One may add a little more from the table to suit one’s individual preferences. Sauces in a very small measure add zing to the soup. Try Chili, Tabasco, Worchester and soya sauce. You can also try using herbs, but with utmost care, as they tend to take away the original flavour and overpower the soup with their own.

I heard this story in the early seventies from a test cricketer friend. “Once the Indian cricket team was having dinner and one of the players was very audibly slurping his soup, ‘fruk, fruk!’ Very annoyed at the new comer and his bad table manners, the famous Farook Engineer is reported to have said, politely but sarcastically, “Yes, excuse me? Did you call out my name?”

I strongly recommend you start souping from today. To help you in joining the ‘Soup for your Soul’ club, I have given you a few recipes which are basic and simple. The rest is left to your imagination, daring and keenness on experimentation.

Visit my other blog to read recipes for Sweet corn with Coriander Soup, Mushroom Soup, Celery Soup, Tomato (egg drop) soup and Mixed Vegetable Soup.

Similarly, you can make onion or spring onion soup. The veggies are cut fine and sautéed in butter. Add either maida or potato for foundation and the rest is simple - do not grind. Spinach needs to be cooked, ground into a paste and strained. Add two or three cooked garlic pods while grinding.


Happy souping!!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

My Salad Days

I have always relished salads and have been making a variety of salads for ages and ages. The word "salad" comes from the French salade of the same meaning, from the Latin salata (salty), from sal (salt). In English, the word first appeared as "salad" or "sallet" in the 14th century (wiki).

In Karnataka, salads go by the name of ‘Kosambari’ or ‘Gugari’. Elsewhere in India it is often called Kachumber. I am sure there are many more names and avatars in every part of India. We have a plethora of ‘Raitas’ - which in a broad sense may be termed as a ‘salad with loose dressing’. With a slight stretch of the imagination ‘Chaats’ may also come under this classification.

In my salad days (pun intendedJ) I used to make salads for parties, but now it has become an integral part of our daily dinner menu. It is healthy, with lots of freshness to provide the zing factor and above all, it lets you relish each and every ingredient. In addition, it provides all the required fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. It also helps to fill up your stomach – especially when your eyes are bigger than your stomach. There is no better way to keep your weight under check.

I use tomato, cucumber, carrot, onion, capsicum, radish, mushroom and cabbage from the vegetable basket. Varieties of lettuce and rocket leaves make up the greens. One should use fruits to complete the salad. Apple, grapes, raw mango, star fruit, pineapple, black berry, pomegranate, water melon, pear or avocado taste great in a salad. Mint, basil, dill, celery, parsley, coriander or spring onions provide the required flavour to the salad. Never even think of making salad with left over vegetables –that would be sheer blasphemy! Never store a prepared salad overnight and serve – it would have lost all its aforementioned zing. Whatever you use, make sure it is crisp and fresh.

If you are trying to make a full meal out of the salad and would like to incorporate some protein, add shredded and cooked chicken, hardboiled eggs, prawns, ham etc. To get a crunchy feel, add walnuts, almonds or pistachios in small quantities. Cheese is an inescapable part of any salad, especially parmesan, feta and goat cheese; there are many others to suit every palate – paneer and tofu do the job equally well. Olives, garlic, ginger, gherkins and jalapenos add the necessary punch. Salt, pepper, lime juice, vinegar and honey complete the picture. Dry herbs also give subtle overtones to the salad. One can use a number of sprouted lentils too. I often add American corn to throw in a bit of carbs. For a change, you can also use rock salt and chaat masala- why not? Edible flowers are another unusual option – try rose petals for colour and a subtle flavour. Before I windup – booze is a big game changer – both in the cook and in the salad. A bit of wine can add a lot of fizz.
Salads can be served plain or with a dressing or sauce which may be light, moderate or heavy. One may experiment with various dressing combos; olive oil, tomato ketchup, mustard sauce, butter, eggs and cheese along with salt, pepper, honey and vinegar are distinct possibilities. Do not attempt to use anything other than olive oil.

The preparation of salad is all about maintaining the freshness and individual flavors till it is on the table. I use four to six ingredients at any given time. Keep it simple - I recently served pomegranate seeds on rocket leaves with a hint of salt and pepper, lime and olive oil. For the dressing I used liberal amounts of feta cheese. I also like Greek salad with Tzatzki. Adding one fruit will go a long way to improve the basic taste of the salad. Garnishing should be sparingly used as it has the tendency to overpower the taste of vegetables. Similarly dressing should be used in moderation or kept on the side.

Wash all the vegetables well, especially the leafy ones and dry them thoroughly before using. (Use a salad spinner)  Lettuce should be absolutely dry to give the correct texture. Cut the veggies and fruits into cubes, rings, ellipses or julienne or shred them to a comfortable size. Tear the leaves and let them remain whole if possible. 

Salad as a rule should be served fresh, meaning – cut, garnish, dress, toss and serve. If it is not possible to serve the salad immediately, for instance during parties- cut the vegetable except greens, lettuce and store it in the fridge and add the G & D just prior to serving. If you don’t, the leaves wilt, mint and basil become dark and look unpalatable.

Raitas are fresh vegetables finely cut or shredded and mixed with thick curd. Coriander, green chili, and grated coconut are used for garnishing. Whereas cucumber and tomato are used raw, cut onions, capsicum, grated carrot, beetroot and radish are half cooked. Aloo raita is delicious.  At times garnishing with red chili, curry leaves, mustard and cumin is also done. Another great option is to grind mustard, green chillies and coriander leaves, add curd and put the usual raita veggies in.

Another very important aspect of any salad is its presentation. Food is all about one third presentation, one third taste and of course one third hunger. Try to make it into a beautifully designed work-of-art on a plate, full of bright colours, different textures and hidden delights. Use the net for more information but create your own salad to suit your taste, using what is easily available in the market. There are no boundaries in choosing the ingredients – be creative. Do not be afraid to experiment.

I often use pesto sauce on the side, mustard sauce with cheese and butter, olive oil with lime and honey, hung curd with dill, garlic Tzatzki etc. You require -  honey, sugar, vinegar, red wine, olive oil, curd, butter, cheese, cream, eggs, lime, Worchester sauce, Tabasco and lots of courage and imagination to churn out the best sauces.

There are no rules in the making of salads– make what you like, but become a “Saladarian” today.

Here’s a PJ for you:

Q: What is a Honeymoon Salad? A: Lettuce alone, with no dressing J

Sunday, August 10, 2014

We Visited Kruger National Park - 14 May to 17 May 2014

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It covers an area of 19,633 square kilometers. This makes it 5 times the area of Goa or half of Kerala. It’s really huge.  On 26 March, 1898 ‘Paul Kruger’President of the Transvaal Republic, now known as South Africa, proclaimed the establishment of a "Government Wildlife Park." This park would later be known as the Sabi Game Reserve and was expanded into the Kruger National Park in 1926.

Kruger is managed by South African National Parks (SANParks) (extremely informative) which is the leading conservation authority of all national parks in the country, responsible for 3,75,1113 hectares of protected land in 20 national parks. Truly the flagship of the South African National Parks, Kruger is home to an impressive number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals.

The whole area is serviced by 31 different camps providing accommodation, restaurants, safaris and other facilities for game viewing. An advisory recommends what game each camp offers for viewing. Our requirement was to see the ‘Big 5’ (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo) and we chose ‘Satara’ – which is also the biggest camp. It is situated in an excellent game viewing area, with the bush relatively open and the animals plentiful and diverse. The camp itself has a rustic charm, with the bulk of the accommodation set out in a series of circles. Different types of accommodation are available to choose from – Campsites, Bungalows, cottages, houses etc. We booked 2 bungalows. The rooms are comfortable, clean and basic. The rooms come with an AC, fridge etc. The entire camp is protected by an electrified fence. Once we were woken up in the middle of the night, thrilled to hear the repeated roaring of a lion, very close to our room – only to find out the next morning that they had been on the prowl just outside the fence.

Tid Bit: As the story goes, Satara Restcamp owes its name to an anonymous Indian surveyor who was sent by the citizens of the newly proclaimed Transvaal Republic, who split up the region for settlement. On his map, the surveyor marked the area that is present-day Satara with the Hindi word 'satra', which means 17.

We hired a Toyota Corolla in Johannesburg and drove to Kruger via Nelspruit. The driver is easy and really picturesque. There are a number of gates through which one can enter Kruger. We took the Orpen Gate and departed by the Malelene Gate. We left early and reached the gate by 3pm. All gates to Kruger close by 4.30pm.

There are a number of safaris. One can choose from the early morning, sunset, or night safari – one can go on a night walk with the warden into the forest. Private cars are allowed in designated areas at specific times. There are a number of rules, dos and don’ts which everyone needs to observe during the entire stay. This is where a self-driven car comes extremely handy. On all the three days, before or after the safari we would travel in our car chasing the game based on the warden’s advice and public report of any sighting of the elusive Big 5. The overall excitement and the anticipation of sighting game make these outings really remarkable. In spite of driving endlessly for over three to four hours at a stretch, one does not get bored on account of the sheer anticipation of a sighting. You find yourself alert, and keep scanning the landscape, much like a personal bodyguard who scans the crowd for a potential threat.

Two restaurants including 'Mugg and Bean' dish out excellent food and in addition one can hire all the things required for a barbecue pit located outside the bungalow. In some places, kitchen facilities are also provided. The camp works overtime to provide excellent facilities to the entire tourist population. Overall it is an experience to be relished.

In all, we spotted hordes of zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, elephants and buffaloes. On one of our self drives, we encountered a herd of elephants and one of them pinned us with his gaze for quite a while, standing as close as 20ft away from our vehicle. (My biggest worry was the damage to the Hertz rental car and the cost of repair :/) We saw hyenas, wolves, jackals, ostriches, porcupines, hippos, rhinos, owls, eagles, buck deer, vultures, impalas, steinboks, kudus, Mongoose and a single leopard sighting.

Tid Bit:Our Safari warden told us that giraffe has great height and expansive vision, but it cannot obtain sensory input from the ground. The zebra on the other hand can smell advancing predators at the ground level and see them under trees, but cannot see danger from afar.Zebras often graze in mixed herds with Giraffe which gives heightened awareness of potential predators.It is not uncommon to find few Wildebeest mingling in their company.

We finally left the camp early morning on 17th May towards Malelane Gate. Our spirits were really low as we were departing Kruger without sighting any lions. In spite of our best efforts, the King remained elusive. As our guide had told us, “the animals are always on the move – covering huge tracts of land every day – sighting is a matter of being in the right place at the right time – nothing is certain”. 
All of a sudden a car from the opposite direction stated flashing his headlights and asked me to stop. He told us in broken English that we should take the 2nd crossing to the right and proceed a little ahead to see the lions. We were left speechless at the turn of events – the Gods had certainly answered our prayers. With muted excitement and bated breath, hardly daring to believe that we had a chance of seeing a lion, we took the turning only to be confronted by a fork. We took the right fork and went ahead for almost fifteen minutes without any sighting. We then retraced our path and took the left fork – lo and behold, I screamed and the magical words came out – ‘There it is!.’ We stopped breathlessly.

There, in all his majesty, was a lion coming towards us, with a lioness in tow. The lioness walked past the car and lay down behind our car. The lion stopped next to our car window and just stood there looking into the distance. What a magical, overpowering moment! He posed there for five minutes, peaceful and without any sign of aggression. He invoked no fear whatsoever – only wonder and awe. Clearly it was the defining moment of our entire SA trip; a once in a life time event. After standing for a while, the lion sat down beside the car – as if to say ‘see me to your heart’s content’.  We had spent 17-18 hours in the past two and a half days looking for him and there he was! As if he had come just to meet us. Tawny eyed and glorious, with signs of old fighting scars on his face, we could not get enough of him.

A little later, almost an eon to us, the lioness got up and casually walked towards the thick growth. The lion rose and followed her obediently but leisurely into the undergrowth. (As we men generally do). In seconds, the clearing was quiet again.

As we left the clearing, we could not take the grin off our faces if we tried. Our hearts were full of happiness. We had been fortunate, thank the Lord! Contented, we left to go onward to the Malemane Gate

Finally we said Salani kahle, Totsiens, goodbye to South Africa and its natural beauty, people, forests and animals.

Now for a few interesting game photographs

A very interesting rock formation - on the way to kruger

Wild Boar crossing our path

A Mongoose on the prowl

An extremely graceful animal

Male Ellipsen Waterbuck posing for us

Female Ellipsen Waterbuck 

Fascinating sunrise on our dawn safari

A Tower of Giraffes - luminescent eyes 

White Backed Vulture 

This was really close for comfort

Kudu, another type of African antelope

Blue Wildebeest 

An eagle about to take off

Hyena on prowl

A group of Vultures

A Vulture on the look out - see its size

Horn bill

A Tower of Giraffes - day time

A herd of Wildebeest and a dazzle of Zebras

A lonely Tusker on heat

Total darkness,strange animal rumbling -The pleasure of cinder fire, charcoal smell and chicken aroma in the company of good friends - an explosive combination - add a bit of J&B with ice - you are on

Cape buffalo - a herd can take up to 20 minutes to cross the road.Stop your engine and wait.

Female Ellipsen Waterbucks 

A pod of Hippos
Lioness makes the approach

The King makes his appearance

looking ahead aimlessly - least bothered

Nose to nose - who is the real Jat
Decides to sit and pose - see a part of the car 

Straddled between the King and the Queen

Blue bird

Ostrich at a distance

Our Cottage

All in a circle caption

View from the Mugg and Bean restaurant

Another view of the close encounter - this was seriously bad

Rhinos near Camp Skukuza

Photo op mother and child
Absolutely thrilled. Jai and Navin at the Skukuza camp Wooden Banana restaurant
Slightly out of sync after ravaging a full African breakfast

On the way back - Typical village scene

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We Visited Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe -11 May to 13 May 2014

Having gone that far one should not miss seeing the great Victoria Falls, was the advice given to us from all the friends, who had been there and done that. To a large extent it is true. I do not think we will visit South Africa again – there is so much left to see in the world. We flew from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is spectacular throughout the year but the best time to visit it is from February to May - after the rainy season. This is when you'll see the greatest flow of water although it may be a little difficult to photograph the falls up close without getting your camera wet! Our timing was perfect. One can see the falls either from Zimbabwe or Zambia – the choice is entirely yours – we made an informed choice and decided to view it from Zimbabwe.

A word about Zimbabwe will not be out of place. Zimbabwe was originally called Rhodesia. It attained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.English is widely spoken here. Robert Mugabe has been at the helm of affairs since then – he has ruled the country for 34 years – a record of sorts. At the age of 90, Mugabe is currently the world's oldest head of state. Mineral exports, gold, agriculture, and tourism are the main foreign currency earners for Zimbabwe. A very interesting feature is their economy. Inflation rose from an annual rate of 32% in 1998, to an officially estimated high of 11,200,000% in August 2008 according to the country's Central Statistical Office. This represented a state of hyperinflation, and the central bank introduced a new 100 billion dollar note. Zimbabwe dollars have become collector’s items. Rand and USD are both widely accepted currency since 2009. I now own two bills – “Fifty Billion” and “Five Hundred Thousand Dollars” – in a frame over my bar.

Figure 1 – I am a very rich man indeed. Zimbabwe's central bank introduced a $50 billion note on 20 May 2008 -- enough to buy just two loaves of bread. $100 trillion was issued on 16 January 2009

Unlike SA, all the white, mostly British population has left and the country is entirely managed by their own people. The country is in very dire straits. Unlike SA the country portrays a very desolate picture – one of mismanagement and neglect.  As one leaves the airport, the change becomes even more evident. Shanty road markets, badly maintained roads, junky vehicles, loads of hangers on, empty shelves in the market and so on. 1 Kg Beans cost – 240 INR, Potato – 60, Mushroom 270 and so on. The country had a vibrant agriculture and was exporting the excess, today they import.  Some 3.4 million people have fled to neighboring countries as refugees – mostly to SA and Botswana. All the Brits have also left the country. A few expatriates from UK, Sweden and Germany manage some of their hotels and other attractions. There are a number of curio shops and their curios are terrific value for money. On sale are curios made of wood and soft stone. Bargaining is a must.

11 May 2014.

After a lot of research on the net we homed in on Mandebele Lodge located very close to the falls. A very private, quaint and well maintained guest house with four well appointed rooms and a swimming pool. The property is owned by a Swede- Jansson Hans Paul and ably assisted by Ze. Considering the exorbitant hotel room cost in Zimbabwe, Mandebele lodge was a steal and good value for money.

Figure 1a - Spacious garden in the lodge

Figure 1b - Our room beyond the umbrella

Figure 1c - With Mendebele staff - Ze next to me in yellow top

Victoria Falls Town with a population of around 20,000 is a ‘one horse town’. Apart from the main activity of visiting the falls there is very little to do in the town. The day we arrived, we were late for the falls and instead we took a beautiful ‘Sunset Cruise’ on the Zambezi River. Their brochure says it all “Heed the call of Africa while sipping traditional cocktails and enjoying delicious snacks in the fading twilight hours on this fabulous two hour cruise.” The cruise is slow moving, peaceful and exhilarating. If one is lucky you can spot hippos bathing in the river. All the guests are welcomed by a local band and dance group dressed in their tradition dress. We could see the spray of the falls in the sky at a distance. It took a few seconds to realize that it wasn't a cloud but the spray.

Figure 2 – Serene Atmosphere

Figure 3 – Hippo coming up for air

Figure 4 – Approaching Sunset

Figure 5 – A lovely Moon rise

Figure 6 – A fabulous Sunset

12 May 2014

After a sumptuous breakfast we drove to the falls. A visit to the falls is a life time experience. One can hear the roar and the spray miles before the actual falls. It is called “Mosi-oa-Tunya” meaning the Smoke that Thunders. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855.

While it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, it is classified as the largest, based on its width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft), resulting in the world's largest sheet of falling water. Victoria Falls is roughly twice the height of North America's Niagara Falls and well over twice the width of its Horseshoe Falls. In height and width Victoria Falls is rivaled only by Argentina and Brazil's Iguazu Falls. The unmatched beauty lies in the fact that the full width of the river plummets in a single vertical drop into a transverse chasm 5604 ft wide. The water spray can be seen from a distance of up to 50 Kms – on the way back to the airport, we saw it from a distance of 10 Kms.

The viewing starts from the Western part of the falls leading East and ends at View Point 15.The Victoria Falls Bridge is visible from this point. The bridge was built over a period of 2 years and was completed in 1905. The height is 111 metres above water level during the lowest water level and it’s about 198 metres long. This bridge links Zimbabwe and Zambia. The adventurous lot can do ‘Bungee Jumping’ from the bridge. We were satisfied by merely looking at a few jumpers. The bridge harbours two permanent rainbows. The rainbows are fascinating and we were reluctant to move away from that wondrous view.

The route winds through the rain forest and one gets to see the falls from various viewing points. The beauty defies description and no amount of writing can capture its amazing splendor. The force and the majesty of the falls leave you spellbound. In May, the water flow is at its peak and the whole area is covered by the spray. One has to wait for an ideal opportunity to click a photograph. The entire walk to the bridge and back takes around 2 hours. After a good lunch at the falls restaurant, we returned to the lodge satiated by what we had seen.

Figure 7 - Description of the falls as viewed from Zimbabwe. Markers 1 to 16 are along the walking path from the Devil’s Cataract to the bridge.

Figure 8 – Devil’s Cataract

Figure 9 – Little further

Figure 10- Indians everywhereSri Chinmoy Kumar Ghose Peace Marker.[August 27, 1931-October 11, 2007] was an Indian spiritual teacher and philosopher who emigrated to the U.S. in 1964.

Figure 11 – Two more spiritualists from India

Figure 12 – Totally engrossed

Figure 13 – Walk path to Danger Point. With utmost care I walked up to the point. The wind, the spray and the wet path were a treacherous combination. Not forgetting a very angry wife howling away to glory.

Figure 14 – Main Fall from View Point 8

Figure 15- Another view

Figure 16 – Livingstone’s View Point 12

Figure 17 –The Bridge connecting Zimbabwe and Zambia

Figure 18 – A bungee jumper in search of adrenalin rush

Figure 18a – Totally wet but feeling happy 

Figure 19 – A very happy state after viewing the falls – Lunch in the forest

From whatever little interaction we had, the people appear to be warm and helpful. According to Hans, Zimbabwe is very safe but for the elephants. It’s not uncommon to find the pachyderms entering your compound to feed on the vegetation.

After a bit of a snoozzzze and rest we dressed up to dine at the carnivore restaurant ‘Boma”. Guests are welcomed with a traditional greeting in Shona and Ndebele, the local languages and thereafter dressed in "Chitenges" (traditional robes) including paint on the face. Boma has been created to resemble a traditional village hut. We joined the welcome party in a tribal dance. This is followed by an evening of music and dance. The chief cajoles the entire guest audience to join the beat. Mouth watering display of game food which includes smoked baby crocodile tails, Mopane worms (caterpillar), Ostrich steak and many others are the main attractions. Dinner at the Boma is a legendary affair, with what looks like literally hundreds of local dishes served in buffet style, including impala terrine, warthog, Peanut butter rice –sadza, Umzingeli the hunter’s stew, a variety of salads, bread and desserts... A witchdoctor is available to tell you your fortune by throwing his bones. Jai and Navin enjoyed the show in spite of the meat overkill. They had lovely salads, baked vegetable, goat cheese and a variety of breads. They finally made up for what they missed with a huge helping of all the desserts on display.

Figure 20 – The entrance

Figure 21 – Dressed in "Chitenges"

Figure 22 - We joined the welcome dancers

Figure 23 – Warthog barbecue in progress

Figure 24 – A unique ambiance

Figure 24a – Curios on display

Figure 25 – A couple enjoying Mopane Worms

Figure 26 – Vegetarians delight

Figure 27- A traditional dance

Figure 28 – An emancipated tribal dancer

Figure 29 – Navin joins the dancers in gay abandon

Figure 30 – The dance reaches feverish pitch with mesmerizing drum beats

Figure 31 – Jai joins the head drummer

Figure 32 – Navin enjoying drumming

Figure 33 – I joined a local dance

Figure 34 – Jai with other revelers

Their menu card proudly proclaims "An essentially African experience not to be missed. The Boma is a celebration of Africa's tastes, vibrant song, dance and time-honoured customs”we totally agree.

13 May 2014

While having breakfast Ze told us that her grandfather had 7 wives and 20 children which included 3 pairs of twins. She spends 300 USD for schooling, 600 USD for house, rent and electricity. In the afternoon we flew back to Johannesburg totally satisfied.

A great travel experience

Ze wished us ‘Lisale kuhle’ (Goodbye)

Figure 35 – Victoria Falls from a distance of 10 Kms