What do you say if 5 plates out of 15 are desserts in my collage from Sharjah? Well, I don’t need to look far as to why I don’t lose weight anymore! I could find vegetarian food in Sharjah. Most of my meals in Sharjah were in hotel buffets. There was a reason for this. On the FAM there were bloggers as well as travel agents. When travel agents are part of the group, you get to see a lot of hotels. And the hotels then mostly host us for lunch or dinner! I ate at Royal Tulip Act, where I stayed, Sheraton Sharjah, Oceanic Khorfakkan, Golden Tulip Sharjah and Zahr El Laymoun, which is a restaurant. I also had a lunch Sultan Saray, Ajman.
Arabic cuisine has fantastic mezze meal which has Pita Bread (Kuboos), hummus, Babaghanoush, fattoush, olives, falafel etc which for me is good enough as meal. However it is otherwise treated as starters.
They also make excellent lentil soup. The bread selection at all the hotels was good. For me the starters and soup and bread were quite filling in itself. I could easily find rice at most of the buffets. Arabic bread feels like roti.
But then what happens when the novelty wears off after a few days? I could always find rice at the counters, sometimes we would pour the lentil soup over it as it tasted like our दाल (curry). But I did not see dedicated vegetarian counters in the hotels. There were live pasta counters at some buffets and they were popular with vegetarians.
In desserts all kind of pastry was available. There were a few local desserts that I tried but I remember the name of only one, the most popular known as Umm Ali. If you don’t believe me you can google the name and see if it is a dessert or not. It is made of puff pastry and condensed milk!
But the most rocking thing I had was Arabic Coffee with dates. It is kept in the hotels around the reception area for the guests. The cups are small and the coffee is black and bitter. But it is to be taken with dates (not the valentine day dates but dates as in खजूर) which counters the bitter taste. I wonder how I managed to miss it in Dubai!
So overall I was fine in Sharjah as a vegetarian. I have a feeling that if we went to more restaurants rather than hotel buffets, probably it would be easier to find more variety in vegetarian food.
What do I say about food? Food should be an integral part of travel but if you have been following my blog you can see that I hardly ever talk about food. Food and me, food is not my forte! There are many reasons for this. I will tell you my food story along with the food from Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner.
I have stayed for long in hostels, with bad mess food. Then I’m a vegetarian too. Gradually I realized that the world is not a vegetarian place, in India I am spoiled for choices but it is not true for other corners of the world. I have to admit it is getting better with time, as more people are turning vegetarians around the world. But with bad mess food which killed all my taste buds and vegetarianism, I hardly ever talk about food. But then I click food pictures diligently, almost of everything I eat, only I do nothing with it.
At Narendra Bhawan (and Suryagarh) they feed you a lot of good food and it would not be fair to keep all the food pictures to myself. So for starters, I am making a collage of the food I ate at Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner. Mind you, I ate much more. There was a gala dinner where my phone was dead, the power bank was dead, so I clicked no food pictures. I missed out on clicking a lot of drinks that I consumed! What you see above is some of the food I ate! And I ate it all in my 3 night 4 days stay. You can see that it is a lot of food!
In my daily life I am a light eater, the food at my home has hardly any spices or oil. Then suddenly on my travels, I eat a lot of rich food. I am a big fan of desserts though, even at home. I have a huge sweet tooth.
I learned the art of not finishing everything on my plate (only when I am on trips) simply because my stomach cannot take it! But I finish almost all my desserts (both home and away).
And while I am traveling I do not exercise much. If the itinerary includes a lot of walking, I am happy. But there are times when we travel by car, get down and walk a little and then sit down to eat, again and again! How do I keep myself healthy is a big question, to which I do not have a good answer at the moment. I am one of those people who can’t live without sleeping a lot. So I never manage to go to the gym while on a trip.
But here I am, I started with all the intention of documenting the good food (or at least some of it) I ate at Narendra Bhawan, Bikaner and I ended up discussing mess food, vegetarian food and my health. But this is a start, I have at least talked about food. Now the trick is to make it a habit and do it after every trip!
PS. I was invited by Narendra Bhawan to Bikaner as a blogger.
The first time I visited Malaysia I stayed only at Kuala Lumpur and I always got vegetarian food. My colleagues took a pity on me that I won’t try their fish delicacies but I was content. At the conference that I was attending I would have to tell the server that I needed vegetarian food and they would produce it always.
Then when I walked around the China Town in Kuala Lumpur I managed to get vegetarian street food as well. It would be fried in the same oil as everything else but I have learned to be less fussy. So I had fried mushrooms on the road side and they tasted good. Later when we sat down for meal we asked for Vegetarian Noodles. It arrived with a piece of egg in it (I eat eggs) and my colleague returned it and asked for another plate. We got freshly cooked noodles after that. And they replaced the dish without any fuss.
Breakfast at any major hotel would have continental and vegetarian options along with local options.
People in Malaysia consume a lot of rice so you can always be assured of getting rice. They do make a version of Sambhar as well. Vegetables are commonly used.
However on my second trip I traveled to quite a few places in Malaysia and some of them were small. I was faced with a situation when nothing on the platter was veg. Well, that is not strictly true because there was always rice but all the side dishes would contain meat or fish. I managed well with rice, fruits and sweet dishes even then.
When I am really forced to the wall I do eat fish but not out of choice. So I tried out a few fish dishes at times and I have to say I am missing out on good food but what to do! That voice inside my head turns nasty if I eat too much fish!
Overall if you are a vegetarian you would be fine in Malaysia in bigger cities and larger hotel chains. One needs to be a little flexible if you are trying for food in a smaller place. Though you would always get something rice based for sure.
I feel that half the charm of traveling is in discovering things that are different from home and I would never let a bit of food stop me from going places!
I started my India travel blog, Travel Tales from India in 2005. In 2016 I realized Travel Tales from India and Abroad better reflected my writings. I love to walk and ride in metros around the world. I have not been everywhere, I am not even close, but it is on my list. I also quit my job as a professor in 2015, it was a happening year! I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur ages ago!
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