We are still basking in the afterglow of the Great Indian Food Trip – South Indian Biryani Trail with Milton India. Full tummies and a promise to give biryanis a break for some time are doing the rounds on the various online groups that the travel companions interact on. As I reminisce on what we did on the 13 days that we spent on the roads, over 4000 km for me and 5 cities, through 4 states, I can’t but talk about some of the more salient aspects of this drive. Themed as Biryani In A Milton (#BiryaniInAMilton), we carried piping hot Biryani in Milton Casseroles to the next city we went to be relished by travelers in that city! A simple concept made possible by Milton casseroles!
We took 2 vehicles on the Great Indian Food Trip. Mine was the Skoda Superb petrol manual (fondly called Lucifer) and Srikanth, our affable scout brought his Renault Duster (christened Dusty) from Hyderabad. Both big vehicles, both more than capable to handle good and bad roads. We wanted to test how comfortable the sedan and SUV were on the relatively smooth roads of South India.
The cities that we planned were the major ones in South India and connectivity between them were awesome. Most of the roads were 4 lane highways, the best being the roads in Tamil Nadu. We also had some narrow roads in Kerala, full of traffic that we had to negotiate. We came back through the Wayanad hill range area, so there were some ghats also. I had faced a stretch of over 50 km on my drive from Mumbai to Hyderabad and the return, near Solapur which was pretty bad.
All in all, we had a full range of roads. Both the vehicles performed admirably! Not a single breakdown, except one puncture on the duster, we were glad our research on service stations en-route was never required. Both these vehicles were comfortable and easy to drive, great for road trips!
The travel companions
Any road trip is made or destroyed by the company you keep in your vehicle. We sure lucked out! A mad bunch of road trippers we had a blast during the Great Indian Food Trip.
Popularly known as the chief foodie at @myyellowplate, is music junkie! His collection of remixes astounded me. He has promised to keep me educated on the latest trends and sends me artists that he follows. His sense of humor is dry and this Delhi boy can eat! I did not see him leave a single piece of meat on his plate. The discipline and the care that he takes to ensure his yellow plate is photographed and then used and cleaned is admirable, if you don’t follow him yet, do so immediately!
Be careful that you spell her name right! Nikhita is half Punjabi and half Bengali and full-time foodie! Relegated to the back seat of the duster for the most time, she was the one coming up with ideas of how we should shoot the next leg of the journey and what quirky things we should post, etc. Most of our pics and posts look great because of her ( I had to say that!). She was craving for hot waffles and cold ice cream in hinterland Tamil Nadu while we were on the Great Indian Food Trip.
Gadget guru and the complete social media queen according to me! Her list of cameras and gadgets to enable her to blog, vlog, chat, and whatever else she does is immense. She almost gave me a heart attack with the size of the suitcase she was carrying, but it was justified! I counted no less than 3 tripods, 2 phones, one professional-level DSLR, one GoPro, one point and shoot camera, a drone and I am sure I am missing a few! but to see her work and constantly chatter while working is truly a pleasure, never a dull moment when she is around!
The universally loved boy on the trip, Srikanth is the quiet, understanding adjusting boy next door. Basically, everything that I am not. His sense of humor and Hyderabadi accent cracked us up every time! The lone pure vegetarian in the group, he was probably the most undernourished in our group. With mad driving skills, give Srikanth a cup of filter coffee and he can go on and on and on! Srikanth was the official scout for the Great Indian Food Trip.
Cheeky fellow this one. With four small furry paws, the cutest guy on the trip without doubt. But once he starts yapping away; there is no stopping this mutt. We ensured he got off our back by feeding him a lot of biryani and not his staple dog food. He was a happy dog! Not a good boy though!
Milton casseroles, Thermosteel bottle and Melamine plates!
I am including Milton and some of its products as a road trip companion because that’s what they were. One of the key concepts we had for the South Indian Biryani Trail was that we wanted to carry biryani from one town to another and give the taste of this biryani to foodies from the next town we traveled to. Each city was at least 7-8 hours away and we needed to keep the food fresh.
We went to Milton for help and they just pointed us to the direction of their Microwow One touch casseroles. Now, not only does the biryani last for 7 hours, remains fresh, we can just pop the casserole into the microwave oven and warm it quickly before feeding our foodies. Brilliant stuff! That is not all while traveling, we all have our pet peeves or comfort points. Black coffee and cold water for me, Warm water and filter coffee for Srikanth, Juice, and tea for Saumya and so on and so forth.
The Milton Thermosteel flasks that we carried with us ensured that cold drinks remained cold and warm drinks warm for over 7-8 hours! This was a revelation. Imagine traveling in interior Andhra Pradesh where temperatures can soar upto 40 degrees and you can sip cold water from your thermosteel flask. It’s bliss. We also were travelling roughshod. So all our plates ( again provided by Milton ) were melamine and they withstood the test of time and really harsh conditions. Banging around the boot of the car, being dropped and what have you. We even did a drop test to see how much it could withstand, we used it like a frisbee and still not a scratch on it. My next set of plates are for sure melamine plates from Milton. It looks good, lightweight and can take a punch! trust us, we know!
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A travel planner helps!
We had meticulously planned every leg of our journey. Though the community forum of ScoutMyTrip we had researched, asked about the road conditions, and what we should and shouldn’t do on this trip. This is important. Plans change and that’s what the road trip is all about. But if you have the general idea of what you need to see and do in an area you can quickly improvise and move on .
Routes, places of interests, petrol stations, and service stations, places to eat, toilets, hotels all form a part of an itinerary that you need to have access to. Do not rely on the mobile phone for the last minute booking because, in a lot of places, you wouldn’t have connectivity. Directions and printed vouchers or at least an offline copy of the itinerary is worth its weight in gold. What adds to the entire experience is the fact that you get to talk to the locals online before you embark on the journey. This is important and will definitely get you to enjoy the all-important road journey just that much better! Check out the route we made for the Great Indian Food Trip!
The Great Indian Food Trip in conclusion
During the South Indian Biryani Trail, we realized that albeit there are so many variations of a simple rice dish, the debate of which is the best Biryani never ends. For instance, Saumya Rai, who hails from Lucknow still believes that the Biryani she gets in the city of Nawabs triumphs everyone else around. In fact, a simple rice dish variety teaches an amazing life lesson that although each Biryani may look the same, the taste and variety in each type are unique for each region and that deserves bigger applause. Much like India where unity in our taste binds us despite the diversity of food types.
The check out the media coverage for the Great Indian Food trip for more articles and news about the first edition – The South Indian Biryani Trail with Milton India and Milton casseroles!
Here’s to the team, the first-ever Great Indian Food Trip and to many more!