Tag Archives: Great Britain

Ever had Koshari? It’s flavor fusion nirvana!

By Lakshmi:

During multiple trips to London, we’ve walked by Koshari Street, this tiny, narrow restaurant in Covent Garden that serves up killer “make your own” Koshari.  Koshari (also known as Kushari or Koshary) is an Egyptian dish that originated in the 19th century.

Given we were never at Koshari Street around meal times, we always gave it a skip, promising to be back at a future date.  On this London eatathon, we headed to Koshari Street to get a taste of a dish that is rated incredibly high across TripAdvisor, TimeOut London, Yelp and more.

As we walked towards the restaurant, my two teenaged travel companions wanted to know more about this dish.  I tried to explain it to them rather unsuccessfully.

Think of it as a Chipotle bowl; it originated in Egypt and is eaten by the rich and poor.  You start with a base of rice, pasta and lentils, top it with a tomato sauce, and then layer on spices and toppings.  It left them both confused.  Rice, pasta and lentils in the same dish? That’s weird they chimed.  They did not have a choice.  I had made up my mind and they were going to not just walk in with me, but try the dish as well.

As soon as you open the door to Koshari Street, the smell of the spices draws you in.  The friendly staff patiently explain how the dish is layered and you are able to build it to suit your palate.  Out came the bowl, in went the rice, pasta and lentils.  Next a healthy dollop of tomato sauce was spooned over the carb combo.  On went the chick peas, dukkah (a spice blend), veggies and the fried onions.  Aah the amazing fried onions which added the perfect crunch to this flavor medley.  The best news?  This entire meal was under five pounds.

As I savored the first bite of crisp onions, I got a little bit of the dukkah and tomato sauce. It was a lovely melding of flavors.  Next I blended the sauce with the rice, pasta and tomatoes and dug in.  It was truly a flavor fusion nirvana worth every bit of the five hundred pence I had paid for this meal.

And what did the teenagers have to say?  While they did eat it all, they said the combination of flavors was a bit confusing to them and they would have loved it more minus the dill!

If your travels ever get you to London and you want to have a frugal meal or snack, do head down to Koshari Street.  It is a very easy, delicious way to get introduced to the world of Egyptian street food.



Snagging a Reasonable Hotel Room in London – An App Enables Success

By Lakshmi:

This year, I wanted to wake up in London on my birthday.  And since it was my birthday, I wanted to start the day some place nice.  There was only one obstacle to this beautiful dream.  Given my aversion to paying sky-high prices for hotels and my desire to be at the heart of the city, getting a lovely room appeared impossible.

We arrived at London Paddington at noon, the exact time that the Hotel Tonight app releases last-minute hotel deals.  Could Lady Luck favor us? There were indeed a few hotel rooms available in London that night.  Scanning through a list, the Montagu Place Hotel caught our eye.  It would cost us under $200.  The hotel was a lovingly restored townhouse conveniently located to four tube stops.  There was more….the hotel had fantastic reviews, had earned a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2013 and carried Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom.

My fingers worked quickly to snag the deal.  It was one of the easiest hotel bookings to make.  Within nanoseconds, I had my confirmation and we boarded the tube to Marylebone from where the hotel was a quick 5 minute walk.  Situated among beautiful homes in a leafy, upscale neighborhood, the Montagu Place was easy to miss.  The lobby was intimate and lovely, stocking some of the latest magazines and maps.  The staff was incredibly welcoming, acknowledging my upcoming event and even remembering to wish me the next morning.

The room was spacious and well-appointed; the bathroom huge by European standards.  We indulged in every ounce of the Molton Brown toiletries and were so so grateful to snag a beautiful room in the heart of London for a bargain.

If you are an impulsive traveler, do check out the HotelTonight app.  You can learn more about HotelTonight at


If the Montagu Place Hotel intrigues you, please do visit their website at


Five Ways In Which A Visit To Tate Modern Makes For A Memorable Birthday

By Lakshmi:

I made a birthday resolution several years ago…to always take the day off from work and fill “my” 24 hours  with the things that give me tremendous joy!  So, given our proximity to London this year, I decided that I wanted to make a pilgrimage to Tate Modern.  On a beautiful, crisp summer day, we disembarked off the tube at St. Paul’s to make our way across the Millenium Bridge to our destination.

It was simply an idyllic way to spend the morning and here are five reasons why the visit to Tate Modern will always hold a special place in my heart.

1. The bright blue color painted on the tree trunks en route from St. Paul’s to the Millenieum Bridge.

Ok, I did not expect artistic creations to greet me on my walk.  We had just visited St. Paul’s two months ago and did not notice the bright, playful blue of the tree trunks along the way.  That playful, fun, unexpected visual just put me in a happier mood.  I later realized that the blue trunks are the work of Konstantin Dimopoulos, an Australian artist who is using this medium to highlight deforestation in the World.

Blue tree trunks

The bright blue tree trunks
The bright blue tree trunks

2.  The beautiful views of St. Paul’s that you turn back to upon your walk across the Millenium Bridge.  St. Paul’s is beautiful and this walk provided an additional vantage point.

St. Paul's as seen from the Millenium Bridge
St. Paul’s as seen from the Millenium Bridge

3. The beautiful views of London that greet you on either side of the bridge.  The views are pretty spectacular and spread out into the distance.

A view from the Millenium  Bridge
A view from the Millenium Bridge

4. The spectacular building that houses Tate Modern and its amazing art collection.  You could get lost here for days and in a span of several hours we were exposed to a variety of art forms, some famous and some completely anew.

Views from the Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art
Views from the Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art
Yet another piece from the same collection
Yet another piece from the same collection
More from Meschac Gaba
More from Meschac Gaba
An interesting composition from recycled materials
An interesting composition from recycled materials

5. The views from Tate Modern across the Thames.  If you ever end up at Tate, do make it to the gallery to get some of the most spectacular views that London has to offer.

The view from the balcony at Tate Modern
The view from the balcony at Tate Modern