About Me

Welcome to IshitaUnblogged!

This is my Culinary Travel Blog, featuring Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond. Culture, history, recipes, food stories, travel stories, chef talk, restaurant reviews and nostalgia unfold here amidst humor, soul-search and visual stimulation. And oh! How could I ever forget? With 2 kids in tow!

As you visit my blog, I hope that you will spend some time browsing through and leave behind your comments. You can always email me and I am pretty social, so please don’t forget to be SOCIAL (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and God only knows what’s next)!

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A Bit About Me:

We love to travel. And we love to eat when we are travelling. We refers to my husband (referred here in this blog as S) and me with our two little girls whom we address as the Z-Sisters (even outside the blog!). Big Z is going to turn 8 this May, has turned 8, has turned 9, has just turned 10, has turned this May and Li’l Z is going to turn 3 in March, has turned 3, has turned 4, has turned 5 years, has turned 6 in March.

I love clicking pictures. And I’m trying to pull Big Z, I’ve pulled Big Z into my team, Big Z has already gone out my team by having gifted her even though I had gifted her a small Canon ‘aim and shoot’ on her 7th birthday. She’s fallen into my trap without realising it. I have been told by my family and friends that I drive them up the wall when I am with my camera – a trusted Nikon SLR (and currently a Samsung Galaxy too). They have, gradually learnt to tolerate me mildly over the years. But my obsession to click pictures could well be an undiagnosed case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)! Updating a bit here in May 2014… recently my laptop and iMac, both crashed on the same day wiping away many pictures. This elevated my status from the digital geek that I had become last year (when I couldn’t enjoy my Turkish ice cream because my smartphone had died and I couldn’t take a selfie) to a spiritual foodie (it’s okay to write entire food posts with pictures taken in the smartphone, the Nikon can wait). Nowadays, I have started breathing once again, without the need to click every moment I live. The blog is my virtual home – I live here all the time and I’m unblogging it all. Like music unplugged, this is me – Ishita, #unblogged!

A Bit More About Me (I struggled quite a bit to make this ‘Bit’ as small as possible – if you skip this part you will still get the essence of the blog):

The following idiosyncrasies in us that you have a right to know and which will only help you, in-case we happen to be sitting next to each other while travelling:

  • If you have the window seat and I don’t, then you must necessarily look out of the window all the time. Otherwise, YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SITTING BY THE WINDOW. I’ll pester you with ‘Nice view isn’t it?’ till you end up saying ‘Would you like to see the view yourself?’ and swapping places
  • If the food served to you is different from mine (even though I have been served exactly what I have ordered), I will necessarily STARE at your food since at that point I will be thinking that YOU EXACTLY KNEW THAT YOUR FOOD IS GOING TO BE BETTER THAN MINE
  • My magazines and newspapers would necessarily be lying on the floor or would have been torn into multiple pieces by the Z-Sisters. And I will definitely BORROW MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS STACKED IN YOUR SEAT POCKET EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED READING THEM
  • I will want to take out my handbag from the overhead loft every half an hour to use my hand moisturiser, lip balm, chewing gum and my TRAVEL ITINERARY LIST – in exactly that order. THIS IS TO MAKE SURE THAT I HAVE INCLUDED EVERYTHING THAT HAS TO BE SEEN AND DONE, AS PER ALL THE TRAVEL GUIDES & WEBSITES. And No, I cannot keep my handbag on my lap or under my feet – it’s big and very uncomfortable
  • I look at people either through my camera lenses or through my senses – ‘Do they appear the way they sound? Does the face tally with the name of the person? Does the surname complement the name?’ etc. SO, EITHER I WILL STARE AT YOU BECAUSE YOU WILL BE A FABULOUS SUBJECT FOR MY PHOTOGRAPHS OR I AM BOTHERED THAT YOU LOOK DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I EXPECT YOU TO APPEAR That was before. Now, the first thing that comes in my mind – is he/she a food blogger? If yes, then it’s perfect. Both of us will click pictures of our food, tweet, share with our readers without the need to talk. If he/she is not a food blogger – well then efforts have to be made to resist my fingers from touching my smartphone
  • LASTLY, I WILL  BE STARING OUT OF THE WINDOW EVEN IF IT IS DARK!

If you are still interested in the other members in our family, then here are two more bullet points –

  • The Z-Sisters will definitely order apple juices and when they are being served apple juices, THEY’LL START HANKERING FOR MANGO JUICES. SO EXPECT SOME POLITE SCUFFLE (read chit-chat) BETWEEN THE STEWARD/STEWARDESS AND US
  • S will necessarily DRINK BEER on the flight and catch up on MOVIES; if he falls asleep HE WILL DEFINITELY SNORE. If he’s awake and his co-passenger sitting next to him snores then HE WILL DEFINITELY GET IRRITATED AND GIVE HIM/HER HIS ‘HOW DARE YOU DO IT LOOKS’. Also, please remember that the Z-Sisters will definitely fight amongst themselves for the REMOTES, HANDSETS, COMFORTERS and constantly declare that THEY ARE HUNGRY OR THIRSTY OR THEY ARE GETTING PLAIN BORED

I love Art museums and hate children’s parks that have millions of rides. I refuse to pay for my headache as well as the roller-coaster rides and bumpy cars. Big Z hates them too. But, Li’l Z is gradually showing promising nerves – hence entertainment parks are probably future holiday destinations that can’t be ruled out for long.

S loves architectural ruins and historical places where you can still hear the cannons boom. His shopping will typically consist of local T-shirts with profanities written on them and he’ll cover himself up with jackets (even if it is boiling hot) so that Big Z can’t read them. He’ll also buy caps and spices or liqueur from the region that we are visiting. As for me, I will definitely buy junk jewelleries made locally and a cookbook on the local cuisine. Big Z will want to buy everything that she sees. And Li’l Z is yet to form her own shopping preferences is already following on Big Z’s footsteps – wanting to buy everything she sees, saying she ‘needs’ them.

How does Food come into the picture? Blame it on my Bengali genes, perhaps!

The most important companion in our travel is FOOD. It’s futile to even try justifying the highest expenditure in our holiday bills – our Food expenditure. The four of us can travel far and wide just to experience a particular culinary delight. What to eat and where to eat comes first in our holiday planning, followed by everything else. I make notes of all the special cuisine of each place we visit and S scours the local groceries or food markets for local spices of the particular region that we are visiting. Big Z loves to eat, likes experimenting with food (an update here… has started to show interests in cooking and baking).  Li’l Z loves to take everything on her plate!

This food fetish can be blamed on our inheriting the Bengali genes. Talking about myself – I am a true-blue Bengali or a Bong, a term that takes the Bengalis into the funky, ubér-cool category! Born and brought up for the most part in Kolkata in India, food has shaped my personality and my character. My Bengali genes are surely to be blamed for my relentless creative pursuits and my unsatiated taste-buds. I am glad to have found a food-mate in S, my Bong husband. And we are happy to have made our Bengali ancestors proud by passing on similar genes (atleast the ones that determine the taste buds) to the Z-Sisters.

Our food preferences are contradictory. S demands everything spicy while the Z-SISTERS demand everything mild but always insist on tasting Daddy’s food and end up coughing till they are almost choked. Though our food preferences are contradictory, eating is a therapeutic and a soulful experience for our family and it’s the most exciting conversation in our lives.

As for me – I’m a confused eater. Confused, because I don’t know what I love to eat, what to order (there are far too many food options available in this world) and I always like what others have ordered!

little hands, big hearth is our travel inspired experiments with FOOD

My childhood in Kolkata as well as setting up homes with S in different cities like Kolkata, Colombo, Frankfurt and Dubai – have shaped our cookings and moulded our taste-buds. Post holidays, we are on our own food trips at home – experimenting our newly acquired expertise on the local cuisine fused with our regular cooking, thus, inventing new dishes which are mostly eagerly anticipated by family and friends. Since we come from Bengal, India, there’s a lot of experiments on Bengali cuisine – both traditional and fusion. Also a whole lot of Filipino food (yes, that too!), courtesy my Lady Friday who hails from Bicol, a region in Philippines known for it’s spicy cuisine. And finally, I have to mention the sweet sigh off – the Desserts & Sweets. This is probably the most important food discussion in our family and amongst friends as Bongs are well-known for their sweet tooth (once Bengali Sweets were parcelled to our home in Dubai from our friends in Bangalore!

I am an independent Food & Travel Blogger, and my journey beyond

When I started this blog in October 2011, it was with the intention of sharing my personal food and travel stories with like-minded readers – I wanted to write. But down the line, I had started getting invites for food events, restaurant launches, food-tastings, to contributing recipes and food and travel write-ups in various media publications. All these took a lot of time away from my blog. Nowadays, I mostly accept invites where there are ‘no obligations what-so-ever to write’ and only if I can learn about something that I can share in my blog. If and only if something inspires me and I’ve had an experience that I want to share with my readers, I will write a post. I choose what posts to write and each post is based on my own experiences and and my own independent opinions.

Over these months, I’ve connected with many readers at a personal level and have had the opportunity to meet up with some of the leading food bloggers of this region (some international ones too), well known personalities in the food industry, chefs and celebrities – both virtually and otherwise. I’ve been enriched with these experiences, specially with the comments left by readers in my blog and in this blog. The blog has also had it’s little share of Print and Media Mentions. Although it’s the blog which connects me to people, it’s also given me the opportunity to explore beyond my blog in the following capacities:

As I Sign Off 

From the time I have started penning down our culinary and travel journeys, this blog has evolved, but hopefully the essence or the blog philosophy remains the same. Travel, Food and Photography are pure passions for me and I have taken lots of effort and time in trying to make the site visually stimulating. S and the Z-Sisters have also had to sacrifice a lot, along with my friends. ‘DON’T EAT before I take pictures!’ or ‘FREEZE the spoon in your mouth – that’s a perfect ice-cream dripping shot!’ or ‘Can you please cut my vegetables – your nails will look perfect in my photographs!’ are some of my requests that are most dreaded. So, please don’t use any image or the content unethically or without acknowledging. However, your suggestions to make the site more interesting are always welcome. Do introduce me to different links and sites which might be interesting for me to pin them on my Pin Board. If you wish to get in touch with me, please leave a message in my inbox here or mail me. All images (unless it is stated otherwise), content & graphics belong to IshitaUnblogged.

As we travel with bag and baggage, cookies and camera chargers, chomping away local savouries and penning down new recipes or making travel sketches in a big fat common note book, my trusted camera tries to ‘capture everything and every moment‘ a few memorable moments (after my spiritual transformation that I have mentioned earlier) – even the intangible ones – like the cold tickle in our toes while walking on the grass or the fire-alarm-provoking spunk-spice drifting out of my kitchen.

All these with two kids in tow!

Unblogging it all… Ishita


Press & Media

On Radio: Dubai Eye 103.8FM

#DubaiToday, 31st December 2015

Dubai Eye: “ARN Reporter and foodie explorer Michelle Loxton recently went on a mission to find out about Bengali cuisine. The team behind this foodie night out was popular foodie blogger and editor Ishita Saha and Michelin star Chef Atul Kochhar. Michelle discovered just how much Bengali Chefs like to use mustard seeds and how Bengali chefs are the best pastry chefs in India. Read her story here >>

And here’s the podcast…

The Ticket, 28th Spetember 2015

Joining Zahra Soar on the brand new segment of The Ticket… #amiyourtype? I am also joined in by my family (including the Z-Sisters and a few other biker friends who had accompanied us on our 10days road trip to Ladakh! This was pre-recorded at the Biker’s Cafe, Jumeirah. Zahra also writes a brilliant recount of our trip… thanks very much! Read the story here >>

The Travel Show, 7th April 2015

Joining another edition of foodie Tuesday with a focus on travelling with children – chatting with Mark Lloyd and Michelle Loxton. The Z-Sisters join me on the studio!

The Travel Show, 31st March 2015

Joining the Travel team – Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM and Michelle Loxton, as Debbie Rogers aka Coffee Cakes & Running and I talk about Food Trucks and the upcoming issue of Food e Mag dxb. The podcast…

The Travel Show, 10th March 2015

Joining the Travel team – Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM and Michelle Loxton, as Debbie Rogers aka Coffee Cakes & Running and I talk about Inspirational Travel – Thailand, Mt Kilimanjaro and more. The podcasts…

We talk about Inspirational Recipes… Thai, Filipino recipes and more…

The Travel Show, 17th February 2015

Joining the Travel team – Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM and Michelle Loxton, as I talk about the trend of pop ups and food trucks in Dubai and Dubai Food Festival. Hear the podcast…

I talk about the trend of food walks in Dubai and across the world, specially the walks that have been featured in February Issue of Food e Mag dxb.

The Travel Show, 16th December 2014

Joining the travel team – Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, as I talk about Filipino food and Thai food and where it’s available in Dubai. The podcasts…

The Travel Show, 11 th November 2014

Joining the travel team – Lucy Taylor and Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, as I talk about Thai food and contemporary Indian food and where it’s available in Dubai. The podcast…

The Travel Show, 16th September 2014

Joining the travel team – Lucy Taylor and Mark Lloyd of The Travel Show in Dubai Eye 103.8 FM, as I talk about my passion for travel and the cuisines of Kolkata and Sri Lanka. The podcast…


Dubai Food Festival 2015 Food Trail

A few select bloggers put forward their top picks of the city’s restaurants across the four key themes of the 2015 edition, that included me. Read more here.

Shortlists & Nominations

BBC Good Food blogger 2016

• BBC GoodFood ME Awards 2016, Shortlisted for ‘Food Blogger’ category (voting still on)
• Ahlan! Awards 2016 The People’s Choice Awards, Shortlisted for ‘Best Blog’ category
• BBC GoodFood ME Awards 2015, Finalist for ‘Best Food Blogger’ category
• Masala! Awards 2015, Nominated for ‘Best Blogger’ category
• BBC GoodFood ME Awards 2014, Finalist under ‘Best Food Blogger’ category

On print

Dubai Week | 26 February 2015

Read the magazine by clicking here.

Ahlan Gourmet | Decmeber 2014

‘In the food world, Ishita B Saha is one of Dubai’s food blogging elite’… describes Ahlan! Gourmet. Oh, what an ego up-lifter! More on Rasgulla in my blog – the history, the recipe and how I made Rasgulla on Dubai One TV, and a very popular post of mine – a fusion recipe – Rasgulla Macapuno!

SIAL Middle East supplement | November 2014

SIAL Middle East

BBC GoodFood ME – Food Safari of Bengal | October 2014

My journey from childhood until now, a food safari of Bengal and recipes of Mustard Fish and Mishti Doi in the 7th Anniversary bumper issue of BBC GoodFood ME. Read more…

Ahlan Gourmet | February 2013

Luchi debuts in Ahlan! Gourmet, it’s name and dignity intact, along with Kosha Mangsho and Polao and I’m one happy Bong foodie! Read more…

BBC GoodFood ME  ‘Meet the Blogger’ | August 2012

Featured in the section ‘Meet the Blogger’ of BBC GoodFood Middle East. A few posts down the line, a few good blogger friends made down the way, a few inspiring bloggers to look up to, a few ups and downs and some moments of real high! Read more…

On TV and other online channels

Zee Connect Zee TV ME | December, 2015

I created a traditional Bengali menu in collaboration with Michelin famed Chef Atul Kochhar and his protege Chef Amrish Sood in the Rang Mahal kitchen.

Zee Connect Zee TV ME | June, 2014

I created a contemporary menu with all the nuances of traditional Bengali cuisine for the ‘Cook The Books’ in BookMunch, an unique monthly event where the host Chef talked about his/her cookbook or some recipes from their favourite cookbooks, followed by a dinner where the menu had been created by the host Chef. Read more…

Ramadan Special video for Dima Sharif | July 2014

Dima Sharif has created a video in which I have opened up my Bengali kitchen and lay my soul bare with the dilemmas of expat living. Read more…

UAE National Day Special for My Dubai My City | 2nd December, 2012

I host an episode of ‘This is my Kitchen’, a segment in My Dubai My City (@MyDubaiMyCity), the first video guide to the city of Dubai. BTW, I am not from ‘Bangladish’ and I come from Bengal in India. Read more…

Watch the video here.

Dubai One & Noor Dubai | August, 2012

Showcasing the most famous of Bengali Sweets – the Rôshogolla or Rasgulla on local TV channels – Noor Dubai TV and Dubai One as a part of Ramadan special episodes. If this doesn’t reflect the multi-cultural aspect of Dubai, what else will? Read more…

On the web

‘Adda with Kalyan’ in Indian Food Network | Nov 17, 2015

I chat with Kalyan Karmakar, IFN’s Editor-At-Large to explore the world of regional food blogging (starts at 6:15secs).

‘Middle Eastern Food Blogs To Check Out’ in Fine Dining Lovers | March 30, 2013

Featured in Fine Dining Lovers as one of the Middle Eastern Food Blogs To Check Out as part of the Best of the Blogs series. ‘These blogs are colorful, informative and give you a sense of the mosaic of influences that give birth to the cuisine of the region.’ It writes – ‘Writer, photographer and mother of two, Ishita travels with with family in tow. Her blog presents culinary adventures from Dubai, Kolkata and beyond’. Clearly from street-food to fine-dining – I’m eating well!

Beram & Tajine E-Magazine | 3rd December, 2012

Bejame

The December edition of Beram & Tajine E-Magazine, the first Egyptian/Moroccan e-magazine in the Middle East, features my traditional Bengali sweet recipes. Assia from Assia Kitchen (Moments Culinaires) presents this beautiful ‘International’ issue.

Gold Award Winner in 2014 Expat Star Awards by MyCurrencyTransfer.com

Gold Award winner in 2014 Expat Star Awards,

Expats Blog Awards | 3rd December, 2012

Living in United Arab EmiratesInterview in Expats Blog – From Kolkata to Dubai – Expat Interview With Ishita. Some of the comments left by the readers have made me go into an emotional topsy-turvy.

Expat Echo | 15th October, 2012

EED-logo

Interview in Expat Echo Dubai – Dubai expat Interview – Ishita Saha

Theme Showcase Blog in Inuit theme in WordPress | July, 2012

Chosen by WordPress as a Showcase blog for it’s Inuit theme since July, 2012 with WordPress declaringthe blog as one of the ‘Awesome blogs using Inuit Types’. However, the Inuit theme has become defunct recently, and I have adopted the Hermes theme since April 2015.Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 07.42.47

Elsewhere in the blogosphere

  • Noborotno, the Bengali menu collaboration with Michelin famed Atul Kochhar and his protege Chef Amrish Sood in the Rang Mahal Kitchen is talked about by: My Custard Pie ; Foodiva ; Mita Ray ; Rajul Matkar; Dubai Eye 103.8 FM Blog
  • Loving Dubai includes me in their delicious company: The Top 15 Foodies In Dubai You Need To Follow, October 2015. Read more.
  • Zahra Soar, of Dubai Eye 103.8FM writes a brilliant recount of our 10 day road trip to Ladakh. Read more.
  • Francine Spiering, good friend and author of Life in a Food Lane, Editor of Edible Houston, mentions me as she reminisces her Dubai life. September 2015. Read more.
  • Prachi Grover, author of Orange Kitchens, features the Z-Sisters and myself in her new series Kids in the Kitchen: IshitaUnblogged, June 2015. Read more.
  • Kalyan Karmakar, author of Finely Chopped, comes home on his Dubai visit and features me very generously in his blog post, February 2015. Read more.
  • Pankaj Adhikari catches me talking about my penchant for food, culture and my gastronomical journey in The Indian Diaspora and also in his blog, December 2014. Read more.
  • Featured in Dima Sharif’s Ramadan special series of blog posts, where I talk about Bengali cuisine and the dilemmas of expat living. July 2014. Read more.
  • An interview that I took of Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is published in his personal website. January 2013
  • Ultimately my blog is certified ‘Certified Yummly’! October 2012
  • Featured in FoodieBlogroll’s Featured Blogs, 22nd June, 2012. Read more.
  • Nominated for Food Stories’ Excellence in Storytelling Award, May, 2012. Read more.
  • Nominated for Food Stories’ Excellence in Storytelling Award, July, 2012. Read more.

Published Work

 

Published work - Ishita B Saha

To read more on what media has to say about the blog or to listen to my chats on Dubai Eye 103.8FM, click here. For media kit and project collaborations related to food and travel, do mail me here.

Hidden Gems | Property Weekly, Gulf News

More about Creekside Cafe in my blog.
More about The Farmers Market in The Terrace in my blog.
More about Majlis Dubai & Jumeirah Mosque in my blog.
More on a roundup on my pick of ‘Hidden Gem’ restaurants in my blog.

Read the original write ups on Gulf News PW website:
Friends Avenue – A place of refreshing candour
Boon Cafe – A boon for coffee lovers
25 Degrees North – What is the direction did you say?
Egg it on Yello Egg Cafe
A cup of culture at Coffee Museum
Arabic Calligraphy House – The written word
Hidden Gem: Irresistible street food
Spill the beans on a good coffee house
Tracing the past, brick by brick at Traditional Architecture Museum
All things Levantine in SimSim restaurant
Investment pieces in Falaknaaz The Warehouse
Barjeel by the Creek
A taste of Marta’s magic
Friday with the farmers
Majlis musings

BBC GoodFood ME

More about Prague in my blog.

Al Nawras, Air Arabia in-flight Magazine

More on Valencia in my blog.

THE WALK Magazine

On the web

Editor, FoodeMag dxb

I am also the Editor and Co-Founder of FoodeMag dxb, Dubai’s finest Food & Travel E-Magazine (unabashed plugging !). These are some of my write ups for FoodeMag dxd. More here.

GQ India

Read the article here.

Top 11 Unique Things About Living in Dubai | Expats Blog Dec 2013

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