This unique trip to Charoti and Agashi involves eating exotic dish and horse riding

Apr 13, 2018, 19:18 IST | Shunashir Sen

Sign up for a unique trip that involves travelling to Charoti and Agashi villages, and trying out an exotic dish, horse riding and camping around a bonfire

A plate of bhujing, a dish made of chicken and poha that’s indigenous to Agashi village
A plate of bhujing, a dish made of chicken and poha that's indigenous to Agashi village

We must confess that we had never heard of bhujing before we came across a food-themed travel being hosting every alternate weekend till the monsoon starts. “Bhujing is basically poha chicken, which is indigenous to Agashi village next to Virar. The locals have their own masala, which they marinate the meat with before piercing it with skewers and cooking it with potatoes over a charcoal fire. The barbecued chicken and potatoes are then mixed with the poha. So it’s like a chicken biryani. Except that poha replaces rice here, and the masala is also different,” says Anurag Rane, co-partner, The Bhookha Beirdo, which is co-hosting the event along with Wanderknots and The Spunk Society.

Staff members barbecue chicken at Agashi Bhujing Centre
Staff members barbecue chicken at Agashi Bhujing Centre

He adds that the very purpose behind Food Tripping, the travel event in question, is to make people aware of certain dishes that are exclusive to parts of Maharashtra, like bhujing is to Agashi. "Our restaurant was started with the idea of shining a light on dishes that people in Mumbai hadn't tasted or even heard of. So, we initially had only an exotic menu inspired by my travels around the world. Then, we made it a balance of mainstream and rare food items. But eventually, I realised that there are some places in Maharashtra that have their own delicacies. These might not be popular in the city. But they can be sublime in their own right," Rane tells us, adding that they thus decided to curate a travel experience based around the source of these dishes.

One of the horses at the halt in Charoti
One of the horses at the halt in Charoti

But while food remains the central focus, it is not the be-all and end-all of the entire experience. The journey begins from The Bhookha Beirdo, where people can pick one dish from the menu to start them off. Participants then head for Charoti village, about 100 km from Mumbai. They stop at Hotel Atithi, which belongs to some of Rane's family connections. And this place has a backyard that houses cattle, about 30 dogs and 300 horses, who the visitors are free to befriend.

Anurag Rane
Anurag Rane

Next, they head to a highway dhaba that, curiously, serves Parsi cuisine. "If you travel down the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway, there is a strong Parsi community out there after a certain point, right from Charoti to Dahanu to Thalasari. And the restaurants in these places serve totally authentic Parsi dishes. Now, we just did some market research among Mumbaikars. And what we found out was that only about 39 per cent of the city's populace aged above 40 has tried Parsi cuisine. So I thought, 'Why don't we revive these cultures that are based in the interiors of Maharshtra?'" Rane says.

He adds that the first night ends with a bonfire around tents that are pitched in a vast open space behind the hotel, with people barbecuing marshmallows, paneer, sausages and salami. The next morning begins early, at 6 am. And the first thing on the itinerary is riding the same horses that the participants had warmed up to the previous day. "Most visitors are amazed that a place so close to Mumbai has 300 horses, and they can learn the basics of riding here, such as the right posture for sitting on a horse," Rane shares, before revealing that the trip ends with the pièce de résistance - lunching on bhujing on Arnala beach in Agashi, sitting under the shade of a line of palm trees, before finally heading back to Mumbai once again to embrace its chaos.

On: April to June, various dates starting point The Bhookha Beirdo, Pali Mala Road, Bandra West
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Cost: Rs 3,200

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