|With chef Ranveer Brar at Line Clear, Penang, October, 2018|
Back in Penang for a Nasi Kandar meal at Line Clear
|The Voyager of the Seas docks at Penang|
I shot from the balcony of my room when we docked
A few of us, led by chef Ranveer Brar who was on the ship too, went into the city and Line Clear was were I suggested that we first go to eat.
|That's Mr Anil talking to Ranveer and me|
The proof of the popularity of the restaurant lies in its name. Legend goes that old Mr Sikandar would keep saying, 'line clear,' when customers would queue up for food, to ensure prompt service.
This stuck on as the name of the place!
I tried out a plate of biryani rice with ayam negara (black chicken, where soya sauce is added to Indian spices in the curry) and a chicken korma curry gravy. I also tried some white rice with squid roe and a snapper belly fry with mixed nasi kandar curry. This was the first time that I had squid roe in my life. I found it to be quite taste and flavour neutral and the texture to be soft. The cut of the fish reminded me of the kaatla peti fry of Bengal. The chicken was bit overdone and was livened up with the curries whose chilli heat and tangy flavour palate took me back to my recent trip to Mangalore and to the food I had there.
|Ayam negara and biryani rice with cabbage on top|
Squid roe with snapper fry below it
Teh tarik on the side. The tea was so refreshing!
At the chef's table on the seas with Chef Ranveer Brar
I was invited to come on board to see that they were up to. I jumped at the opportunity. I have known Ranveer for a while and admire for his knowledge of food and the thought that he puts into it. We both moved out of our respective corporate careers at the same time and I marvelled at what he as achieved since then. Plus I had never been on a cruise before and was quite excited at the prospect of it.
|As we were about set sail from Singapore. With chef Ranveer|
and chef Harshmani (in orange) who was assisting him and
Varun Chadha of Tirun Travels (in green)
Not a foreign land for sure.
|An Indian grocery shop at Penang|
As someone who loves to eat and is fascinated by the world of chefs and the creation of food, it was great to be able to be a fly on the wall and to listen to the discussions between Ranveer and chef Anil George of the Voyager of the Seas and his team. Chef Anil is a Pune boy and is the executive chef of the Voyager of the Seas. He is responsible for catering to the food requirements of passengers from across the world who come on the cruise. His team consists of people from all over the world too and it felt good to see a fellow Indian at the helm of this multinational kitchen crew.
|Chefs Anil George and Ranveer Brar in the galleys of the Voyager of the Seas|
Ranveer himself has worked in and managed kitchens of all scales of before course…hotels, chain restaurants, standalone ones…in Indian and in abroad. The kitchens of a cruise liner though were a new playing field for him and that’s where the seasoned expertise of chef Anil came into place.
|All chefs on the deck. Ranveer Brar with Anil George and his team on|
the Voyager of the Seas
A crucial task at hand was to create a largely vegetarian menu for the Indian travellers seeking it and to understand the technicalities of what constitutes regular vegetarian and 'Jain' food. The ship's chefs were used to cooking with meats and fish as this had a longer shelf life than vegetables. Moreover the vegetables used for the western and Asian (far eastern) stations were different from what was required in Indian dishes and required a level of proficiency and adeptness in handling them.
Adding to the challenge, was the fact that there were limited stations available for Indian food as the cruise had to cater to people of all communities and the fact that most of the chefs were not well versed with cooking Indian food. I learnt from Ranveer that even the chefs who come out from Indian hotel management schools are more likely to be formally trained in French or Italian cooking than in their native Indian food!
|From the kitchen to the table with chef Anil George and Ranveer Brar|
This was the start of a journey and I am sure that good things lie ahead for Indian food lovers on board as the chefs work on creating a winning formula.
|With Ranveer Brar at Line Clear, Penang|
Behind the scenes:
Here's a video of us at Line Clear:
This was the first time that I was on a cruise. I had never thought of going on a cruise before and used to think that that I would be bored if I did so. Or, on the extreme side, get panic attacks on being in the middle of the sea. I thought that the rooms would be cramped and uncomfortable. My mother thought that I would get seasick, and made me call my doctor friend and get a prescription for pills from her the day before I set sail. I did so. For once in my life thinking that her worries had substance.
Turned out that none of the above happened. The pictures below will tell you why.
|I love the sea and could not get enough of looking at it. Panic attacks?|
Far from it. This was inner peace. This is the view from the pool area
If bored of your own company, which I rarely am, then the various shows and activities going on such as the Broadway shows, Dreamworks Parade and live jazz and song performances, the many restaurants and dining rooms, gyms, library, casino, duty free shops and so on on board the Voyager of the Seas, would keep you occupied.
|Inner peace poh style. The Dreamworks parade at the promenade|
|In the dinner hall|
|Cappuccino at the Promenade|
|Izumi, the Japanese restaurant|
|Part of the activities on board was a biryani making class|
|I missed my mother in law, who enjoyed a cruise|
herself earlier, during the synchronised dance events
at night. I was busy treating myself to a Ben& Jerry
ice cream in the middle of the dancers who I am sure
she would have joined
|That's Mr Sikandar|
|With the Line Clear boys and Anil|
We later went to the Chinese street food stalls of Penang of which both Ranveer and I had fond memories of from our earlier visits. He had come here more recently than I last had and took us around to a soya chicken cart where we had chicken legs and where I tried out chicken feet once again, and which I had quite enjoyed at Hong Kong earlier. It is like having chicken wings with just the skin and the fat.
We tried some ducks soup too and some lovely pork sausage skewers. I struck me that Georgetown seemed to have more malls and modern buildings and cafes now compared to when I was here in 2010.
|A Chinese grocery shop|
|The street food shop lane parallel to Line Clear|
|Steamed sausage skewers with fish sauce|
|It's chicken feet time|
|Kaya toast, runny eggs and kopi at Toast Box|
|With Priya and Aniruddha at Lei Garden, Singapore|
|Chicken rice at Changi|
|Laksa at Changi|
|Where I had the laksa from|
|And the chicken rice from|