If we make a comparison of what the Delhiites love more: food or Music; then Delhi can be officially declared as the city of foodies after 50,000 Delhiites turned up for the Food Festival Delhi in Nehru Park. ‘Palate Fest’ was held at the same venue a week after the ‘World Percussion Festival’, around 10,000 viewers came on the three days music fest. While announcement for the percussion fest was made with much fanfare, many days before the festival; there was only one news report of the food fest, in Times of India, on the second on the day of the event. Read about the unusual calmness on during morning walk, the day after diwali.
I went late in the evening on the second day of the food fest, and the mood was completely different. Previous week the park was filled with music lovers, men with ponytail, bandanas, beads and earrings; women in gowns and western wear entranced in the scintillating performance by world-class percussionists.
This week the park was filled with well-heeled, well-traveled Delhiites who were well aware of the cuisines and wines in a different part of the world. The park was systematically divided into various zones like the green zone (vegetarian food) and the red zone (nonvegetarian), and there was a corner for creative food items. That the visitors were true food lovers was obvious because no one worried about the calorie count; more queue was found in front of heavy calorie food in the Red Alert Zone.
By the time I reached I could hear the same reply from the stalls, which first sounded like marketing gimmick -“over”, “Khatam”, “khalas”, “Our most sought after item is over”. However, someone, all the way, from Turkey would not say “the grilled lamp over” just to advertise his product when over 100 customers still lined up in the queue.
At the Habibi Lebanese Restaurant; the Lebanese chefs, the Arabic ambiance and the ‘hummus’ made one feel like you are in the Gulf countries.
The endless queue in front of the Turkish stall, displaying juicy meat slowly grilled on a skewer with the enticing smell, proved every gourmet desired to taste the authentic food, made by the originators. Gulf expatriates say shawarma is not marinated and grilled properly in India, so I paid four times more than in the roadside stalls to experience the authentic Shewarma, and the taste was awesome!
‘The Toddy Shop’ which served authentic Kerala cuisine was the only Indian cuisine stall I could locate. Again here, there was a long line of customers waiting to have a taste of Kerala food.
Some creative gastronomy endeavors like the sweet and savory waffle recipes got a huge fan following. By the time, I reached most of the best of waffle combinations were over.
Bakes on there’s (pushcart)
Cakes and bakes of entrepreneurs (mostly women) from in and around Delhi gave a tough competition to the aroma of the grilled and steamed food that filled the air, . The beautifully iced cakes and colorfully wrapped chocolates on decorated ‘thela’ (vegetable pushcart) was a feast to the eye. Cakes and bakes usually is a home-based business with a loyal customer who vouch by the taste, uniqueness and presentation of the products. One bakers brownies gained so much popularity that people were desperately asking for the delicacy. But the brownies were over in an hour so customers were asked to return the next day.
The Food Fest concluded on a high note with the encore more stalls; more cuisines next time. The Food Fest Delhi was a huge success, and the people were ready to shell out any amount of money for tasty and unique food; unlike the music fest where there was no need to spend money. I returned with a new resolution that I am going to buy a ‘waffles maker’ at the earliest.