Regional food festivals are the best places to discover age-old recipes.
Sassy Fork is one of the first friends I made through blogging, and is one of the nicest people I know. I was really happy when she started her food blog as I am yet to come across someone who is as besotted by the world of food as she is.
Over time, her blog has taken a very distinctive shape of its own. It has chronicled stories of food from different regions in India with a focus on home cooks and regional food festivals that are organised in Mumbai.
I chatted with her recently about the various food festivals she has been to, how she discovers them and what excites her about them the most.
You have visited several regional food festivals in Mumbai. What attracts you to them?
What attracts me to regional food festivals are the age-old ingredients or recipes one discover at such events.
Tell us about some of the food festivals that you have been to.
I have been to the Koli Seafood Festivals in Versova, Mahim and Mahul, Mahalaxmi Saras Exhibition at Bandra, Global Konkan Festival at Bandra and East Indian Festival at Bandra.
How do you discover these food festivals?
I usually find them out by word of mouth and posters put up in the city.
Could you say a few words about these festivals in terms of what one can expect and why one should visit these?
- The Versova Koli Seafood Festival is phenomenal. You will find a line-up of stalls featuring cooked seafood in all its splendour. They are fresh and prepared in typical Koli style. Some of the star dishes are Stuffed Squid, Shrimp Pulao, Tandoori Rawas and more. There are even sit-down tables to eat and you can watch the Kolis dance to their music.
- The Mahalaxmi Saras exhibition has food from all over Maharashtra in its dining area. In Mumbai, we are exposed to coastal Malvani fare, but here, one also has food from interiors of Maharashtra such as Beed, Nashik, Aurangabad and Sinhagad.
- At the East Indian Festival, there are stalls to buy the fragrant Bottle Masala and dishes made with it.
- Global Konkan exhibition has rural products like Aamras, Jaggery, Poha Papads and Kokum Butter. These products were also available at Mahalaxmi Saras held in January.
- The Palamkote Hall Parsi Exhibition at Dadar has homemade Parsi fare and some amazing masalas like Dhansak masala, Cinnamon-Clove and Cumin-Coriander as well as Bombil Pickle.
Do you have any interesting anecdotes centered around food, culture and people from these festivals to share with us?
It was heartwarming to see people recognise their Kolins (fisherwomen) and dance with them at the Versova Koli Festival. This is one time the Kolins dress up in all their finery including 40 tolas of gold or so. I did dress up as a Kolin for one of them, though with artificial jewellery... Haha!
Tell us about some of the food festivals in Mumbai that you feel IFN readers should visit. Which is the next one coming up?
The next food festival that you could visit is being hosted by the Pathare Prabhu Mahila Samaj on May 3, Sunday.
Kalyan is a food and travel blogger, who is excited about Indian food and tries his best to bring it alive through his stories. He is happiest when he eats at small, family-run places. He blogs at <a href="http://www.finelychopped.net/"> Finely Chopped.</a>