Mumbai Food: Weekend binge in Chembur Food Festival
Sample local cuisine, participate in a pani puri-eating competition and end your day with sugary desserts at a no-frills Chembur food festival
The second edition of the Chembur Food Festival is back and banners claiming the weekend as #nocookingday can be spotted across the eastern suburb. The feast looks promising, with an array of stalls serving Kolhapuri-style seafood, Koli fare, Mexican cuisine and melt-in-your-mouth desserts.
What's more, it's for a good cause. Proceeds from the festival sales will go to the Earthangels Welfare Foundation, a Mumbai-based NGO that takes care of 650 orphans, also organiser of the event. There will be 80 food stalls, live performances, a shopping zone and activities for kids, along with a panipuri-eating competition on Saturday, for which 500 people have already registered.
Amit Nariani, organiser and founder, EarthAngels Welfare Foundation, says, "The seafood stall by the Kolis is not to be missed. And though we have brands, we also have a lot of local chefs." Foodies can choose from stalls selling desi fare like thalipeeth to experiments like dahi fantasy.
For 38-year-old Maria George, working in the corporate industry for six years made her yearn for her one true passion - baking. And so, a year ago, she started making ready-to-eat cake and brownie mixes and selling them from home.
The Chembur resident picked up baking at the age of 10 from her mother when they were living in Kerala. "Over there, baking cakes at home for occasions like Christmas and birthdays was tradition," she says. Using the experience from her own family over the years, she now creates gourmet desserts. George doesn't use any additives or preservatives in her baked goodies.
"We use imported cocoa, which enhances the flavours and texture. The remaining ingredients are locally sourced," she adds. All you have to do is add eggs and butter or just water to these dry mixes and pop it in the microwave for a maximum of three minutes. This stall should be on the list of everyone with a sweet tooth with chocolate cake, pound cake, choco chunk cookies, granola bars, eclair and cake jars on offer.
A veggie good affair
After working as a marketing executive, getting married and raising a child, Shweta Shah turned a stay-at-home mom. Now, at 35, she's taken up her passion - cooking - and has been whipping up a storm for the last two years.
"I was occupied with motherhood and before I knew it, I had been at home for 10 years," she says. At the food festival, Shah will be serving signature vegetarian dishes like aloo roti with thecha. "It's a super spicy chutney made using garlic and chilli that I usually serve with curd or buttermilk," she says.
Also on offer is the pav sandwich - a spicy mix of bhaji type masalas, with oodles of butter, stuffed in pav with potato and tomato. Those who love cheese can try the cheese garlic roll and melting cheese rolls.
Eat like a Koli
The Koli community is known for its lip-smacking fare that celebrates a lifelong connect with the sea. Fifty-year-old Sadhna Manoj Vindhi from Koli Mahim Fisherman Colony is bringing these unique flavours to the food festival with Koli-style crab curry, prawn curry, surmai curry, pomfret and bombil preparations.
The recipes have been passed down over generations through the women of the community. "We sun dry red chilli for two days, and then add cumin, black mustard seeds and clove to make the garam masala used in most dishes.
Also, we don't use tamarind but thin strips of dry mango, seasoned with salt for a year, to give the dish a sour tinge. This also reduces the typical fish stench," shares Vindhi, who's been helming stalls and cooking bulk orders for eight years. "I have four kids and one of them knows the recipes inside out," she says, proudly.
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