Hello friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali. We reached Kaziranga late at night yesterday. The first thing I did this morning was to hire this bike for half a day It cost me Rs. 300. I went biking for two hours this morning. Now I’m back. We’ve planned our day today and fixed the jeep too for our jeep safari. Let me tell you about the tariff. The place where we are staying is a Tourism deptt. lodge. We paid a tariff of Rs. 600 for our room. They also have a larger room but that was occupied. Its tariff is Rs. 800 per day. The breakfast is not included in both types of rooms. Now, let us go for some breakfast. It is 11 am now. After that, you will see how our day progresses further. By the way, the vehicle that we hired from Guwahati to here….. …it will leave before us and we will follow slowly on our bikes. After travelling for 4kms, we’ve reached Orchid. There are street food sellers right outside Orchid. So, here we talked to them and got them to make us the Ketli Pitha (Pitha in a kettle). This is rice powder that you see here. To this, they’ve added sugar and shredded coconut. Now she is going to make ketli pitha. The water in the kettle has reached boiling point and on top of that, you have placed….. …this covered in muslin. Like this! What will we eat it with? With tea! With tea! Very good! While the ketli pitha is getting ready, they showed us another recipe. What you are seeing here is black rice. It is very popular in North east, especially in Manipur? Yes, it is popular. Yes, absolutely right. What they’ve done is they’ve soaked this rice overnight. The soaked rice was added to warm milk. What else? To this we’ve added cashew, coconut and bay leaf. Wow! We’ve had kheer, made with white rice, at many places. But kheer made with black rice, it is the first time for me. There is bay leaf in it too. The way we eat kheer made with the normal rice…. ….one doesn’t need to chew it too much. That takes minimal chewing effort but eating this gives a fibrous feeling while chewing. So, you can feel a lot of fibre in it. You will find a lot of health properties of black rice, once you Google it. You will get to read a lot about it. The black rice tastes nice with the coconut and the milk. So, is it your favorite? Yes, it is! Very nice! We eat frequently at home! Okay! And others too! Okay! I liked it very much as well! Ohh wow! Thank you! This place showcases a lot of innovations with regard to rice. First, let me break it apart. The rice is not fine, but coarse. It is coarsely grounded. She told me the rice is grounded in a machine at their home. The machine is manually operated to ground rice. The taste is good. To enjoy it better, one needs to have it with tea. I had eaten similar pitha in Guwahati, where it was cooked over a flat griddle. What they have done here is…. …ingredients are more or less same…. …but this has been steamed over a kettle. The way idli is steamed, this has been steamed and, therefore, it has puffed up a bit. The concept is more or less the same. Its taste is enjoyable. It can work as anytime snack/edible breakfast. Do you have anything else to eat? Yes! Please tell me! Here have it Sir! This is coconut laddoo. And this is gur pitha (jaggery pitha). Gur ka pitha! I will have one of each! First of all, I’ll eat this small and cute til (sesame seed) laddoo. For your information, if you consume til on a regular basis,…. ….once, twice or four times a week,… ….in any form, it has a lot of health properties. You can Google about it and read. Really delicious!! Too good! At my home, we tried once…. ….to make laddoos of black sesame seeds. To be frank,… ….I was not able to eat even one of those laddoos. I felt like I would vomit if I ate those laddoos. I think our process of cooking was not correct. Madam, how do you make these til laddoos. Til and gur were cooked in a pan, then mixed together and shaped like laddoos. Til is fried in a pan? Yes! Without any oil? No, no oil used. Just sauteed without oil. Then added gur (jaggery) to that. Yes, and then make laddoos like this. Was gur added in liquid form? Yes, gur was melted and then added. Heated and melted gur! With water? A little bit of water! And you made this. So, this laddoo has gur and til, and nothing else? Yes! Nothing else! While making laddoos at home, we had added khoya too. I just recalled. So, khoya is not added to this? No, not at all. Our recipe, which I didn’t like at all, had khoya in it. You’ve made it delicious! The technique to enjoy this best is that….. ….eat til laddoo…. …bite into it…. ….hold that in your mouth for 20 seconds. The juices will flow…. ….and you will be able to relish its true taste. Coconut laddoo is good in taste. The concept is really delicious! This concept is similar to that of coconut barfi. Taste-wise, I am liking it a lot. But I also feel that…. ….they could’ve improvised it a bit. But still, delicious! The oil that you see on my fingers…. …this is mustard oil…. ….that is what I was told. Ohhhooo! Too good! You’ve cooked a real delicacy! You liked it? Really liked it! This is an amazing dish. Imagine, I find it so tasty as the til laddoo. I liked this item better than the til laddoo, in fact. Really awesome! It can be anytime snack or breakfast! I am really enjoying eating it. I really want to eat two or three more of it but…. ….I won’t be able to eat anything else after this. It will be heavy on stomach! You’ve cooked really well. It is very tasty! Delicious! So, now please make us a cup of tea! This is driver-cum-guide of our jeep and this is our jeep. Now the charges for this jeep are Rs. 1750 for a journey of two to two and a half hours. There are different charges for different ranges in the park. We are going into the Central Range, which is more famous and popular than the rest. It is called Kohora Range. We will have to pay Rs. 300 for road taxes, Rs. 100 for staff welfare and…. ….Rs, 100 per person for entry ticket…. …Rs. 100 for still photography and Rs. 1000 for videography. This was all about the charges. Now, we will leave here. Hey buddy, tell us your name? Tauqeeb! Very good! So, come one, let us go! The big-five animals you’ll see in Kaziranga are – Rhino, Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo, Wild Elephant,…. …Swamp deer and Tiger. We are inside Kaziranga right now. Our journey is really beautiful & amazing. Just now, Tauqeeb told us…. ….this is rhino poop. Rhino roams alone, not in a group. To mark his territory, he deposits his poop for 2-3 months at a single spot, as you can see. We will get to see such heaps at many places. After a gap of 3 months, the rhino shifts his place. Wow! Look at the Water Monitor Lizard right there! In the water, on top of the tree trunk. Hardly 20 metres from us. For the past 8 days, I had been looking for the tree of Elephant Apple. Finally, we got to see one in this jungle. So many elephant apples on its branches. These apples are a favorite food item of elephants. In Assam, I’ve been seeing this apple being used in a lot of dishes. Here, the locals call id O Tenga. There are two Sambar Deer right there. And right in the background, Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo. A lot of Bar-Headed Goose in front of us. These birds fly from Siberia to India. Specifically to this park, Kaziranga. At every few kilometres in the Park, you will find such anti-poaching camps. These are meant to ensure animal safety. We are waiting here to see if we can watch some animals. We have been waiting here for the past 15-20 minutes. At least four elephants! one, two, three, four, five! Hardly at a distance of 30 meters from us. Really fun to watch wild elephants so closely! Where! Ohhh wow!!! Ohhh! It is crossing the road! Wow!!! What a moment! Wow!!! What a moment!!!! Two elephants, just 20 metres from us. Right in the middle of the road. Magnificent! And there are 8-10 more elephants in the grassland around us. We can hear them. These are moving towards us. Please drive the jeep. It is coming! Super! We are here in Kaziranga for the past 3 hours! We were hoping to see elephants or other wild animals somewhere & finally…. …we managed to watch elephants so closely. Finally, we were able to watch the Wild Water Buffalo so closely! I am satisfied after watching elephants at such close quarters. Finally, our Kaziranga trip was a success! It is 5 pm and we are moving towards the exit from this Park. Wow!!! Just 10 meters from us….. ….single-horned rhino. What an amazing view!!! It is a herbivorous animal. Along with it, we can also see two elephants at some distance. Ohh! Coming closer! So beautiful! Now, look at its size! So huge! These are domestic elephants. In the Central part of Kaziranga, in the Kohora Range, if you want to do elephant safari,…. ….this is the starting point for the safari. The point where we are standing right now. We have finished our Kaziranga jeep safari. We are at the exit gate now. They are feeding a domestic elephant here. Let us go a little close to see what the elephant is eating. What are you feeding this elephant? We are feeding him chana! Wow! How nice! You can go there! Touch it! Come on, show some courage! Kaziranga – World Heritage Site! Thank you Tauqeeb Bhai! Finally, you managed to take us closer to both elephant and rhino. Our Kaziranga trip was a success!!! It is 5.20 pm now! No watch but I know it is 5.20 pm now. Now, we are going to watch a cultural programme at Orchid. That is about 6-7 kms away from here. We’ve reached Orchid. We’ve purchased tickets at the rate of Rs. 200 per person. This is the entry gate. Here you go Sir! (Announcement!!!) (Announcer) (Announcement) It was an wonderful experience to watch this 90-minute long cultural programme. A lot of Assamese tribes showcased their cultural items. A totally new experience for us. We enjoyed a lot! I saw, among the audience too, people were fully engaged with the programme. And as for the performers, it seemed like they had put their heart & soul into their performances. Excellent! I enjoyed it!!! Now, we are leaving here to have our dinner. We have come for dinner to the Maihang restaurant. First of all, what you see here is Lai Shak. It is the larger variety of mustard greens. The leaf-size is larger than normal mustard. Boroli Fish – steamed inside banana leaf. Eri fish. The texture of this gravy is as a result of the use of til (sesame seeds) in it. And this is mustard oil! Till they serve rice, let us begin with Lai Shak. When I ask in the restaurants here, about the variety of rice served to me…. ….mostly reply that it is Joha rice. Now, within Joha rice, there are so many varieties that…. ….it becomes difficult for someone like me to distinguish between these varieties… …and determine which variety I am eating. Good preparation! A little too much oil! Juicy leaf! I was thinking while eating it that…. …why does it taste a little bitter? It shouldn’t be like that but unable to understand why it is so. In this dish, I think, because of excess use of oil,…. …the preparation has gone wrong. From what I’ve seen so far, in Assam, til is widely used in cooking. And til has immense health benefits. You can Google about it and read. Beautiful taste! The gravy that I ate is very well made. And it is only in Assam, that I’ve eaten til-based gravy. I haven’t eaten such a gravy ever in my life. Other than til laddoo, I had never eaten any food item made with til. Very good taste! And it tastes even beautiful after being mixed with rice. It is difficult for me to define…. …the taste of til in this dish. I was aware that such a curry might taste a little bitter. But, it is not bitter at all. And I feel that this rice and curry are made for each other. Yeah, in the first instance, I felt that it has too much oil. But, somehow, while eating this recipe, that fact doesn’t pinch me that much, however,…. …if you look carefully, this dish is loaded with oil. Maybe, if they use less oil in this preparation, it would be better. See, this is Eri fish. The Eri fish has been fried first. Before being added to the gravy with least amount of marination. Otherwise also, I told you the gravy tastes good. I liked this fish very much. In today’s meal…. …among these 3 dishes, the one dish that I liked the best is this Boroli fish. The fish has its own awesome taste. The second thing is that…. …since it is steamed inside the banana leaf, the flavors are richly felt in its taste. Apart from salt, ginger and garlic, this fish has nothing else in it. Salt, ginger, garlic and the taste of fish! Amazing! Delicious!!! It is slightly sweet in taste! And, very tasty! Now, I am going to enjoy it slowly and finish it. In the night, at 11 pm, we finished our dinner and returned to the lodge. I am feeling like sitting outside and feel the weather and environment. But we have to get up early tomorrow and….. …go for an early morning elephant safari, at a range 10kms from here. You will watch that in the next episode. We really enjoyed our whole day today. I had gone biking for two hours in the morning and I am still having a hangover of that. Tell me your views about this episode. As always, I shall look forward to your comments. Tomorrow, we are going to go to Majuli. We haven’t decided yet where we will do the night stay but….. …that would depend on what time we leave Kaziranga. We will meet soon. Till then bye-bye! See you soon!