New Place to Eat in Mussoorie – Cafe Ivy at Char Dukan!

There’s a new place to eat at Char Dukan! Cafe Ivy is big news for the famous snack stands in Landour. It’s quickly become one of the best places to eat in Mussoorie.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eat in Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

Our favorite place to eat in Char Dukan proper is Tip Top Tea Shop. But Cafe Ivy is something different entirely. While the regular Char Dukan eateries offer classic Indian snacks in a humble outdoor setting, Cafe Ivy is a real, indoor, sit down, full menu restaurant.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

If you’ve been in India long you know it’s easy to get tired of street food. You can only eat so many noodles, pakoras, and paranthas. And while there are a lot of good places to eat in Mussoorie, they’re mostly located on Mall Road, far from Landour Cantonment. This makes Cafe Ivy an unprecedented edition to Char Dukan.

 

Oh, and did I mention the view?

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

There is a gorgeous outdoor sitting area with a view of the Himalayan foothills that you can’t beat. It’s really beautiful.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

TIP: Do NOT eat outside. While the view is gorgeous, it’s not a safe place to dine because of the local monkeys.

 

We went straight to the balcony because who wouldn’t? We started with lattes and sat relaxing and drinking in the scenery.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

Unfortunately, not long after our food arrived, so did an aggressive monkey. I literally ended up holding my plate in one hand while kicking at the monkey with another, while my daughter stood by and did the classic fake-out throw to scare it off. A staff member came out pretty quickly to help us but it was clear that our outdoor dining experience was over and we finished our meal inside.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

Mischievous Monkeys at Char Dukan

 

Monkeys are a particular nuisance at Char Dukan because it’s such a hot tourist spot and there’s always food lying around. But at Char Dukan proper there are also crowds, dogs, and enough activity to keep them relatively at bay. Not the case on this isolated balcony. Be warned. Take a coffee outside, but not a burger.

 

Thankfully, the ambiance inside is nearly as good as the one outside, maybe better actually. The decor is really fantastic, straight from someone’s unattainable Pinterest board.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

Truly the loveliest restaurant I’ve visited in all of India.

 

Just look at those floors! It makes you want to come in and never leave. There are all manners of places to sit. Couches, long tables with benches, arm chairs, high stools; something for everyone.

 

There’s also a bookshelf with a random collection of books to curl up with. And they were playing classic rock the whole time we were there. This American was quite comfortable and happy. :)

 

The food was good, nothing too fancy but excellent quality. My daughter went straight for the nachos because that’s something she misses dearly from the states. They weren’t a bad representation, for India. A bed of Cornitos (Indian Doritos) topped with grilled chicken, baked beans, and cheese.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

I went for the chicken burger because, as stereotypical as it sounds, hamburgers are one of the things I miss most from America. The chicken burger had a good flavor but the patty was a bit small and didn’t appear to be hand made, but possibly frozen. Also, there was way too much mayonnaise for my taste. But again, it had a good flavor, the bun was nice, and it was an overall enjoyable meal.

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eatin Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

We topped our experience off with a little dessert, because why not. There were both ice cream, and brownies on the menu so I asked if they could be combined. The message didn’t get conveyed clearly so they were brought separately but I used my American wiles to concoct the dish I wanted. Voila!

 

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eat in Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

 

Good Service, Good Prices at Cafe Ivy in Mussoorie

 

I was surprised to find the menu very reasonably priced. With the quality of the food and restaurant I expected it to be more expensive. For only 725 rupees (approximately 11 US dollars) we enjoyed:

 

  • 1 nacho appetizer
  • 1 latte
  • 1 cappuccino
  • 2 sodas
  • 1 burger entree with fries
  • 1 brownie
  • and 1 scoop of ice cream

Cafe Ivy - A new place to eat in Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

Best Place to Eat in Landour

 

I highly recommend visiting Cafe Ivy at Char Dukan. It has proven itself as one of the best places to eat in Mussoorie. I was sad that they were opening their doors just as we were leaving town. I would have visited over and over!

 

Heading to the hills soon and looking for cheap hotels in Mussoorie? Click here to find the latest prices for places to stay in Mussoorie.

 

Have you ever visited Mussoorie or one of India’s other hill stations?

 

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Cafe Ivy - A new place to eat in Mussoorie at Char Dukan.  Cafe Ivy - A new place to eat in Mussoorie at Char Dukan.

My Favorite Indian Soda

I’m no junk food connoisseur. But I feel like I need to tell you about two things today. My favorite Indian soda and the magic that is fresh lime soda.

 

Junk food around the world

 

Whenever you travel to another part of the world you’re always in store for some huge cultural differences. But sometimes it’s the little things that are the most fun. Namely – different varieties of snacks and junk food.

 

For example, in America we have Doritos and in India they have Cornitos.

 

cornitos

 

Many people travel all over the globe for new food experiences. From the disgusting to the divine, people seek out foreign food encounters. Well, I’m here to say – don’t skip the snack aisle! A country’s snacks are a part of its culture, make sure you experience it. :)

 

TIP: pretty much all Indian snack foods are veg. Which is the hip Asian way of saying vegetarian.

 

You can find many Indian snack foods online. If you’re not heading abroad soon but are curious, check out Indian veg snacks on Amazon.

 

Indian Soda

 

Now, there are several kinds of soda in India that you won’t find on the aisles of an American grocery store. But my favorite is …NIMBOOZ!

 

 

Nimbooz - My favorite Indian Soda

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking – Oh … another lemon soda. I get it. Most lemon-lime sodas are pretty interchangeable. But not this one.

 

What makes Nimbooz different is, in addition to fresh lemon juice, it has just the tiniest tang of salt.

 

Sounds, weird, I know. But salt is a flavor enhancer and there’s something magical about the balance of salty and sweet. Trust me.

 

TIP: There are actually two varieties of Nimbooz. 7Up Nimbooz and 7Up Nimbooz Masala Soda.

 

The masala soda is carbonated and the regular Nimbooz is not. Believe me, it’s an important distinction. The first time I tried Nimbooz I bought the carbonated one and I fell in love with it. The next several times I purchased regular Nimbooz and I kept thinking they had gone flat. There’s not a great difference between the packaging so make sure it says “masala soda” on the bottle.

 

And if you’re in a restaurant, scan the menu for Nimboozes fancier cousin, the delight that is fresh lime soda.

 

Fresh Lime Soda in India

 

Fresh lime soda - a popular Indian drink.

 

We have found fresh lime soda available all over India and we pretty much always order it if we get the chance. It’s a combination of fresh lime juice and carbonated water. It comes in three varieties – sweet, salty, and mixed. Get it mixed!

 

The first time my husband ordered a salty and sweet mixed lime soda I had very big doubts. I really thought it would be gross. But after sampling his, that’s how I’ve ordered mine ever since.

 

Have you ever had Nimbooz or fresh lime soda? What’s your favorite foreign junk food?

 

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Fresh lime soda - a treat not to miss while in India. My favorite Indian soda - and why you should try junkfood from around the world.

 

Planning a trip to India soon? Check out booking.com for affordable places to stay.

 



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Jessica

Visiting India as told by Friends

If you’re an expat who has spent some time in India, you should be able to relate to at least a few of these.

 

Hilarious Friends gifs about what it's like to visit India.

 

 

1. When you try to learn Hindi .

 

When-Phoebe-Teaches-Joey-How-Speak-French

 

2. When you don’t like the food but you don’t want to offend your Indian host.

 

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3. The first time you see a squatty potty.

 

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4. When someone has sprayed the entire toilet and floor with water.

 

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5. When the power keeps going out.

 

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6. When Indians meet your children.

 

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7. When men urinate in public.

 

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8. When you try to hang at a Hindu wedding.

 

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9. When you ride an overnight train for the first time.

 

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10. When you don’t understand Indian sense of humor.

 

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11. When you catch a whiff of someone standing next to you on the bus.

 

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12. When you sit down to any Indian meal ever.

 

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13. When you find real cheese.

 

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14. When you don’t understand local idioms.

 

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15. When you see an empty seat on the bus.

 

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16. When you actually understand what someone says in Hindi.

 

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17. When you take a taxi.

 

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18. When the food was a little spicier than anticipated.

 

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19. When someone visits from home with goodies.

 

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20. When you master the squatty potty.

 

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21. When you’re in a crowded bazaar.

 

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22. When you buy a pound of jalebi and it’s gone in 24 hours.

 

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23. Whenever there’s a Hindu holiday or festival.

 

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24. When you surprise yourself by really liking a dish.

 

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25. When you return home after your time abroad.

 

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I love India and all of her enchanting, controlled chaos. But it’s a lot to process the first time you visit!

 

Planning a trip to India? Check out booking.com.



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Jessica

Cultural Differences between the US and India

There are many cultural differences between the US and India. Countless, really. And let me tell you, culture clash is a very real thing.

 

And usually I like to think I’m pretty level headed about cultural differences. Normally I arrive pretty quickly at “this isn’t wrong, it’s just different”.

 

Culture clash - An example from India.

For example, in East Indian Culture

 

  • -They use sprayers instead of toilet paper.
  • -Often times toilets are the “squat” variety.
  • -They eat with their hands.
  • -There are cows in the street.
  • -Men often pee in public (though turned away from the crowd).
  • -Married women wear gold jewelry.
  • -Shoes are taken off when entering a home.
  • -Driving is on the left side of the road and done aggressively.
  • -Tea time is strictly followed.
  • -Most food is veg.

 

And the list could go on and on. I’m totally okay with all of the above. I like to think I’m an adaptable person.

 

And of course, there is a lot of diversity in India and I’m painting with some broad strokes. You would have to write and read many books to cover all the many customs in India. In fact, if you’re heading to India I highly recommend buying the book Culture Shock! India. It’s available in paperback and kindle versions.

 

 

Gift Giving Etiquette

 

Only one thing has bothered me about Indian culture so far. This past Christmas I realized how much I prize my American customs involving gifts.

 

We had stayed in one place for several months and had a house helper and a watchman. I love to crochet, btw. In particular, I love to crochet beautiful, colorful, intricate doilies (because I’m an old lady at heart).

 

Doily

 

So for Christmas I put a lot of time and effort to make a doily for my house helper and our watchman’s wife.

 

Culture Clash 1:

Indians do not open gifts in front of you. If you present them with a wrapped gift, they will say thank you and put it away for later. This squashes the American love of watching someone open a gift and see their reaction to it.
I truly expected them to open the gift when I gave it to them!

 

Culture Clash 2:

Not only will they not open a gift in front of you, they will not mention it later. In America, if the gift-giver was not present for the gift-opening the giftee will make a big deal out of it the next time they see the gifter.

 

Thank you so much! It was beautiful! I love it!

 

So when they didn’t open the gift I assumed they’d bring it up later. I was wrong.

 

I don’t pretend to understand the reasons for this in Indian culture and I tried very hard to be rational about it but at the end of the day my American heart took over and I was confused and disappointed.

 

It’s just one of those culture clashes. I’ll never know if they loved the thing that I put so much work into. I can assume they did. I asked an Indian friend about it later and she laughed and said yes, they would never mention it but they would cherish it in their hearts. I hope so!

 

Have you ever run into a cultural difference that you had a hard time with?

 

Planning a trip to India? Check out booking.com for great accommodations.



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Jessica

Tip Top Tea Shop at Char Dukan in Mussoorie

Char Dukan in Landour, Mussoorie has been around since nearly the beginning of this former British summer retreat town. The name “Char Dukan” literally means “four shops” in Hindi. Although in the last 100 years an extra shop or two has sprung up.

 

There are many resorts in Mussoorie and it’s a popular destination with Indian tourists partly due to the lovely Mussoorie weather. When the rest of the country is roasting it’s nice and cool in this old British hill station. Click the Agoda ad below to find hotels in Mussoorie for as low as 12 US dollars.

 


 

Char Dukan, then and now.

 

Char Dukan in Mussorie, India

 

 

 

Char Dukan, Mussorie, India.

 

Naturally, Mussoorie tourism is booming in the summer months and Char Dukan is practically crawling with visitors on any Saturday of the year. Serving up typical Indian snack foods like parantha (<-click for recipe), maggi noodles, and paneer pakora, these old shops keep the masses fed before they venture out for a hike in the Himalayan foothills.

 

Char Dukan, Mussorie, India.

 

Tip Top Tea Shop

 

Tip Top Tea Shop at Char Dukan

 

There are many places to eat in Mussoorie but our favorite shop at Char Dukan, by far, is Tip Top Tea Shop. When facing the shops, Tip Top is on the far right. It serves up much the same menu as the rest of the shops, including the staple bun omelet (an omelet served in a sweet bun).

 

Indian Snack foods at Char Dukan, Mussorie.

 

But what kept us coming back week after week, were the pancakes. These are not your mama’s pancakes. No stacks of thin, flavorless flap jacks, here. When you order pancakes at Tip Top what you get is one, literal, pan-cake.

 

The best pancakes in Mussorie, India at Tip Top Tea Shop in Char Dukan.

 

Thick, sweet, and delicious, you really don’t even need the syrup. They come in a variety of custom flavors including banana, apple cinnamon, and chocolate.

 

Apple cinnamon pancake at Tip Top Tea Shop at Char Dukan in Mussorie, India.

Hot and crispy apple cinnamon pancake.

 

You can guess which flavor our boys preferred.

 

Choclate pancake at Tip Top Tea shop at Char Dukan in Mussorie, India.

 

This is India so be patient, your food will not come quickly or at the same time. Our boys loved to watch the cook work his magic.

 

Top Top Tea Shop at Char Dukan in Mussorie, India.

 

Ginger Lemon Tea

 

Before leaving make sure you don’t miss out on another Mussoorie specialty – Hot Honey Lemon Ginger Tea. It’s a nice alternative to the classic Indian milk chai.

 

Hot honey lemon ginger tea at Char Dukan in Mussoorie, India.

 

I preferred the bun omelet (I’m a salty, not a sweet kinda gal) but the rest of my family never left Tip Top without a scrumptious, fried pancake.

 

Have you ever been to Char Dukan or seen a pancake cooked this way?

 

Jessica

Potassium Permanganate – The Magic Pink Crystal

Today we’re going to learn about potassium permanganate. And how that helps us stay healthy overseas.

 

Mundane Mondays – A new series where I chronicle a very mundane part of daily living that’s slightly (or widely) off center from the American paradigm.

 

One of the bigger adjustments to daily life overseas is washing fruits and vegetables. Now, maybe some of you are vigilant about washing your produce in the first world, but I was never one of those people. I like to think I’m the perfect amount of lazy and realistic. I am just not afraid of something on the outside of my food in America.

 

But on this side of the world it’s a necessary precaution. We wash/soak most produce. There are a few options for washing your fresh foods.

 

How To Wash Vegetables

 

  • Good old soap and water

  • Soaking in Iodine

  • Commercial “Vegetable wash”

  • Potassium Permanganate

 

We’ve dabbled in all of the above and all four options do get used on occasion in our kitchen. However, by and large, the one I rely on the most is the magical pink chemical called potassium permanganate.

 

potassium permanganate

 

Potassium Permanganate

 

Say that 5 times fast.

 

It’s a handy little survival tool and a tiny bit of it will last you for-stinkin-ever. Just a couple of itty crystals in a big bowl of water will do the trick. Just enough to turn the water pink.

 

potassium permanganate

 

What to Soak in Potassium Permanganate

 

We soak most produce with the exception of things that we peel like bananas, onions, oranges, and potatoes. Most everything else gets a good soak.

 

washing fruits and vegetables

 

Now, other than using a chemical crystal with a fancy name, I am not very scientific about this. Honestly, I usually throw things in to soak and then forget about them until the next time I walk into the kitchen. So I’m not sure the minimum amount of time things are actually supposed to soak for.

 

Potassium Permanganate - the magic crystal for your kitchen abroad.

 

But we’ve not been sick from food once since we arrived in South Asia 6 months ago so I guess we’re doing something right.

 

Do you wash your fruits and veg?

 

 

Jessica

 

Riding the Delhi Metro During Crush Hour

The Delhi Metro.

 

Holy Moly, you guys.

 

A bit of advice for expats braving the Delhi Metro.

 

Hands down, riding the Delhi metro is the most chaotic traveling situation I’ve ever been in.

 

Important Travel Tip:

 

If you ask directions, ask a minimum of three people for the same bit of advice.

 

Never forget that your culture travels with you only in your heart. You may very well find that while traveling in Asia you’ll never hear the words “I don’t know”. If you ask a question, you will be given an answer. Regardless of if the person knew the answer.

 

Aaaaand, that’s how we find ourselves a little lost on the Delhi Metro on a recent day trip. Thankfully it didn’t cause a problem for our schedule but we did waste a good hour.

 

Delhi Metro Sign

Also, it comes in handy to know how to read Hindi. I realize most tourists won’t have that skill at their disposal. I read Hindi like a kindergartner but it was encouraging to be able to read “You are here” once or twice. Of course, after painstakingly reading this Hindi metro sign, I found a sign in English at the other end of the platform.

 

I was feeling pretty hard core for riding the metro in Delhi, in standing room only, until we switched lines. Nothing can prepare you for the Blue Line during rush hour. Or as it’s affectionately called, crush hour. It looks a lot like this.

 

delhi metro rush hour

People clawing their way out. People pushing their way in. Intense is an understatement.

 

Once you’re in the crowd to get on, you couldn’t not board if you tried. Everyone behind you pushes in a collective effort to cram as many sardines people as possible onto to train. I never could have imagined that so many bodies could fit in one compartment. “Standing room only” doesn’t properly describe it. You’re packed in so tightly, if someone passed out, they’d continue to stand upright.

 

Also, fair warning – there may be groping. My fifteen year experienced some wandering hands.

 

But that’s not the hard part. The truly scary bit is trying to get back off. After you’ve been squished into the train, at every stop after that you continue to somehow get forced further and further away from the door. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Seriously zip.

 

So you’d better be good and ready when your stop comes. Elbows out, people. You yell and push to get to the door because you only get one chance. We barely got all six of us off, with my husband pulling up the rear and kicking the doors back open.

 

riding the metro

In hindsight, not a great way to travel with kids. There’s a very real chance of getting separated, I would think. Jeremy and I both clung desperately to our youngest two so they wouldn’t get trampled or left behind.

 

The picture to the right is my daughter when we only thought we were crowded. Soon after that the Blue Line put us in our place.

 

Whew.

 

Have you ever ridden the metro anywhere?

 



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Jessica

Dear Monkeys

Oh Monkeys, how I loath/ve thee.

Let me count the ways.

 

1. Could you BE any cuter? Those ears. That face. I just want to eat you with a spoon. Or fend you off with one. Oh, wait. OH WAIT. You CAN get cuter. In teeny tiny baby bunder form, which is LITRALLY the cutest thing on the planet. As my 14 year old says, you’re like human kittens with the combined adorableness powers of a baby cat AND a baby person.

 

2. Leggo my eggo. And bread. And towels. And garbage. Seriously, you pint-sized little pirates. I paid for that. And I don’t appreciate your five finger discount. You are why we can’t have nice things.

 

bundar

It’s cool. I was done with that bread. That was IN MY HAND.

 

3. Listen, I know you see my eye contact as a sign of aggression. But can you just not? Between the thievery and the cutery, I’ve got to keep at least a side-eye on you.

 

4. One or two of you make me the appropriate amount of nervous; there’s not always rhyme or reason to your attitude problem. But did you really have to get 30 of your best buds together for a ooh-ooh ahh-ahh pow-wow during the small window of time when I need to walk home from class? Get a room.

 

monkeys

Can you find a different monkey highway, please?

 

5. I know we have a love/hate thing going, but I have to admit, you are the most entertaining thing on the hillside. It’d be boring without your hijinks and primate piracy. And from behind the safety of my kitchen window, I don’t mind all the Nat Geo.



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Love,
Jessica

The Foothills of the Himalayas

We ran into a fantastic bit of luck being able to nestle into the foothills of the Himalayas for the first leg of our South Asian adventure.

Himalayan foothills

                      The view from our yard. No really.

First of all, we drove 30 kilometers and the temperature dropped 30 degrees. In August. Yes please.

Second of all, hellooooo. That view.

Being from a place that’s sea level, flat, with zero visibility, these hills are amazeballs. (Do people still say amazeballs? Sigh. I’m streets behind.) Also, “hills”, my shrinking backside.  Not owning wheels, plus either going up or down no matter where you need to be, it’s almost impossible not to lose weight. Between hiking to run errands and all of my processed, American vices being taken from me in one fell swoop, I’ve lost 25 lbs in just under three months.

Himalayan foothills

This fantastic photo was taken by a friend.

 

I still see (white) people out running occasionally. And I’ve even heard there’s a cross-fit gym not far from us. No thank you, crazy white people. I get enough exercise walking to and from language school every day.

 



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Jessica