The X factor in food

Updated: Nov 10, 2019, 07:49 IST | Krutika Behrawala | Mumbai

From Ladakhi pasta and Kerala rabbit fry to nearly-extinct rice varieties and the bhut jolokia spice challenge, culinary adventures of the extreme kind await you at an action-packed festival

Nilza Wangmo of Alchi (Ladakhi) Kitchen
Nilza Wangmo of Alchi (Ladakhi) Kitchen

The most intense flavours in Kerala cuisine emanate from the toddy shops that dot the backwaters. Often hidden from public view, they not only serve the alcoholic brew but also spice-laden rabbit fry, duck roast, quail and beef fry.

Next weekend, you have the chance try these at the debut edition of Isuzu X Food Festival which brings rare and authentic fare from India and beyond. The team has roped in two cooks from Koothattukulam's toddy shops to rustle up the fare, fresh.

Produced and presented by 70 EMG, the two-day festival is being held in association with media partners Sunday mid-day. Curated by culinary experts Kunal Vijayakar, Michael Swamy, Nicole Mody and Tara Deshpande, it will pack in food stalls, a beer garden, a kids' zone, eating competitions, cooking workshops, music performances and a bazaar.

ChakChak hao poireiton rice

There are over 20 cuisines on offer, including Koli, Naga, Nepali, Spanish and Mexican fare. A highlight is the Ladakhi food by Alchi Kitchen, a restaurant in Alchi village, 66 km from Leh. Relish Pakthuk, a noodle soup with yak cheese from Nubra Valley; chutagi, a Ladakhi pasta dish with lamb; khambir, a local bread stuffed with meat and veggies; tain tain (crepes) and mok mok (momos) are yours to try. "I will be using foraged ingredients such as wild cumin, dried chives and nettles," says chef-founder Nilza Wangmo, who plans to open a branch of the eatery in Mumbai next year.

Mumbai-based home chef Esha Lepcha will offer Tibetan cuisine at a stall set up Authenticook. Her menu includes shogo khatsa (spicy potatoes), the salty-buttery suja tea and a pungent chilli oil with fermented black bean so that "visitors can experiment with their taste buds". Spot silkworms and snails at Gitika Saikia's Assamese food stall.

TeaSuja tea with tsampa

Discover 20 nearly-extinct rice varieties showcased by Chennai-based Spirit Of The Earth, an initiative by non-profit AIM for Seva. These include Odisha's acharmati; Manipur's chak hao poireiton, a black rice that turns deep purple when cooked; and mapillai champa, a fibrous rice given to the bridegroom (mapillai). "Some of these will be on sale. Till date, we've been able to collect 213 heritage rice seeds from farmers across the country. The seed conservation and cultivation happens at our farm in Manjakkudi village, Tamil Nadu," says team member Jayanthi Somasundaram.

At the workshops zone, you can learn about beekeeping and bush cooking. Or you could test your heat threshold with the Death Wings Challenge where you'll take on chicken wings generously doused in fiery sauces, including Naagin's bhut jolokia variety.

sauceNaagin hot sauce

After, take a break from all the eating and shopping at the Food Coma Zone – a green turf with bean bags, board games and copies of the day's Sunday mid-day to keep you company.

Don't miss

Sunday mid-day brings to the event on November 17, chef and restaurateur Amninder Sandhu, also winner of mid-day's The Guide Restaurant Awards 2019 for Best Culinary Entrepreneur, for a one-hour masterclass on the beauty of gas-less cooking. Learn to make smoked mutton kebab, dahi ki khamiri roti, tossed salad, and charred onion and tomato chutney – all assembled together like a taco.

Curator's corner

You should be here for the...

Michael Swamy: Range of foods with stories to tell, including East Indian cuisine displayed by Eastern Sunset restaurant.
Nicole Mody: Tripe bhajias, the authentic Awadhi kebabs, chocolate momos from Ladakh.
Kunal Vijayakar: Masoor ma jeeb, bheja na cutlet, aleti paleti, and dukkar nu dhansak.
Tara Deshpande: Undhiyu cooked under the ground and royal recipes from the descendants of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah.

Look forward to

Sip White Beer varieties Veere and Machaa (from 7Rivers Brewing Co.) featuring notes of orange-coriander and banana-cloves respectively.
There's music by Nair Aunty’s Curry and Ape Echoes.

On: November 16 (4 pm to 10 pm) and November 17 (11 am to 10 pm)
At: Royal Western India Turf Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course.
Entry: Rs 200 (insider.in); Rs 250 (walk in at venue)
Prices: Dishes start at Rs 50.

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