New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) Have you wondered how heavenly a place can be which offers you foods from 25 of India’s 29 states spread across 120 stalls? Well, if you have been bored with the same old food and have been craving for variety in taste, then the ongoing National Street Food Festival is the place to head to.
Showcasing the unique diversity of India’s food culture, the seventh season of the three-day festival, organised by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI), began here on Friday.
“The main objective of organising this food festival every year is that we want to empower the street vendors as a service provider to the country,” Arvind Singh, national coordinator of NASVI, told IANS.
The event got off to a splendid start with celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor inaugurating the event. The food festival, which focuses on recognition and encouragement of street food vendors, saw thousands of food lovers thronging the event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to taste the diverse range of food.
“We have reduced the number of stalls this year. Rather, we are more focusing on the quantity and quality of the foods served. We are also giving importance on training the vendors,” Arvind Singh added.
The gastronomic delight, which appears no less than paradise, is pure bliss for food-lovers. From Tamil Nadu to Jammu and Kashmir, from Gujarat to West Bengal – the food festival leaves you spoilt for choice.
“Many cultural events have been too organised along with the festival like street performances, musical events, cultural events and others,” Arvind Singh said.
“It is high time that the street food vendors get their due recognition. Despite serving the society they are still neglected. The younger generation should try to help these street vendors in every way they can,” Chef Sanjeev Kapoor told IANS at the event.
The food festival acquaints one with many lesser known dishes while some others are familiar. The stalls are not arranged in geographical or chronological order. I started exploring the culinary excellence from the eastern and northeastern part of India.
Sesame chicken served with plain rice or sesame bun, an Assamese dish, was the first counter to grab the attention. The chicken was spicy with arich taste of sesame. Rajnandin bhekti, a fish dish from Bengal; chicken tash, which is fried in a ‘tawa’ (pan) to enhance the taste, from the Champaran district of Bihar and the state’s famous chicken and mutton litti chokha is worth trying.
The galoti kebab from Lucknow is another mouth-watering dish. The mutton pieces were soft and tender and full of Indian spices. The Varanasi stall served their speciality – tamatar (tomato) chaat, a unique combination of spicy and tangy.
From the north, the Ludhiana-style Chinese Manchurian, noodles and noodles burger
was a hot item. The Chinese dishes were presented with a pinch of Punjabi tadka in them, giving a very different taste.
Uttarakhand’s lumkum soup was a surprise dish. Made of vegetables, this soup was a
little spicy and had the taste of flavours of masalas from the hills.
Jammu and Kashmir, which was represented in the event for the first time, came up with its authentic traditional gastronomic delights. Chicken rogan josh, mutton yakni, vegetable pulao and kahwa – was quickly lapped up at the Kashmir counter.
The Delhi stalls offered a huge variety. From old Delhi’s kebab and korma to chhole kulche, name a dish and it was there at the Delhi counters.
After filling half my appetite with food from the north and the east, I headed toward the food stalls from west. The Goa counter was an interesting one with its array of dishes: prawns fry, sea fish fry, kombadi vada (fried chicken), sagoti vada (mutton), zunka bhakar (flour or gram powder mixed with onions, chillies, garlic ginger paste and then fried) , modak and puran poli.
The Andheri vada pao of Mumbai, mewa kachori from Rajasthan, dabeli from Gujarat are some dishes not be missed from west.
Then I headed towards the southern part of India. Telangana had many stalls focusing on traditional food items. There is a special mini Telangana thaali; a sweet dish named double ka meetha which is made of bread, milk and heavily garnished with dry fruits;
punugulu which is served as a snack, made of wheat flour mixed with curd spices and then deep fried. Not to forget the Hyderabadi biryani which was very popular among the crowd.
You can sip Irani and Pune tea at the Telangana stall.
Chicken 65 from Karnataka and fish fry from Tamil Nadu also falls in the category of must try.
I ended my culinary journey at a stall from Jabalpur with spicy kaka dabeli – poha first powdered, then made into a paste, mixed with unique spices, friend and then stuffed inside a bun.
For lovers of sweets, the festival offers ample choice. From halwas, jalebis, moong dal ki halwa to kheer, puli pitha and sandesh, almost all the states displayed their art of churning out multiple sweet dishes.