Ethnic food

Food fete A scene from 'Naadan Kushinee'  

The Naadan Kushinee 2011 added variety- and spice- to the habitual diet of Kochiites and provided them a food fest with a difference.

Organized by the departments of French and Botany and the Women's Guidance Cell of Cochin College, the 2-day food fest held on 12th and 13th March 2011 at the Cochin Club in Fort Kochi showcased the ethnic cuisine of the different communities that call Kochi home.

Veggie delight

“We had organized a Kushinee last year and its success prompted us to have another one. There are approximately 20-25 ethnic communities and sub sects here and each community has its own culture and cuisine. We thought an event like this would be way to present the vegetarian cuisines of these groups,” says R. Somadha, Professor, Department of French who spearheaded the event.

With Konkani, Gujarati, Vaniya, Punjabi, Bohra Muslim, Kutchi, Jewish as well as traditional Kerala cuisine on offer the fest was well represented with the tastes of multi-ethnic Kochi. “The cuisine of Kerala has been influenced by the Dutch, Portuguese, Sri Lankans and others. For instance, stew and puttu has its origin in Portuguese fare while appam in Dutch and nool puttu is of Srilankan influence,” adds Somadha.

While the Kerala stall offered delicious and familiar fare, the others were a foodie's delight and a gastronomic adventure. From the Kappa puzhukku, puttu, pathiri, unnakaya, ada of the Kerala-Portuguese stall to the Brudher, peera ada, sharkara vada, kozhukatta and more of the Kerala-Dutch stall, the ‘traditional' dishes were well-represented.

The Bohra Muslim stall boasted Thali meals (with veg fried rice, bohra roti, navaratna kurma) while the Kutchi Muslims' space manned by Iqbal Sait, Aslam Dawood and their families offered the traditional cooling badam sarbath (perfect for the hot day!), nutritious goonda ladoo, tempting nankhatai and gudupapadi.

Luxy Johnson and Alice Joseph who are members of the Kudumbasree project had delicious, fresh naadan items like achapam, avalose podi and unda, jackfruit ada and vellappam.

Around 11-12 women and a few kids held the fort at the Konkani stall. The oldest of the lot, Rajam G. Pai and Anasuya Manohar were in their element. “What we have here are things made on an everyday basis. Our food is nutritious and economical with no part of a plant or vegetable being wasted,” they said. With five to six varieties of dosas, uzhunnu appam, bajjis and a variety of chutneys and powders to add to the taste, there was a lot to savour.

The Vaniyan cuisine was brought to the fest by the Vasya Mahila Samaj of Kochi and they tempted the audience with laddos, burfis, pappada vada, pickles etc. Palak parotta and subji, khaman (coconut) dhokla, corn patties, pudina chutney and typical Gujarati pickles were the highlights at the Gujarati stall put up by Meena H. Pandya and Yogish H. Vyas. The Tamil Brahmins had come equipped with a stove to make piping hot dosas to be had with tomato paste and chutney, along with tea or coffee for the parched.

Popular Punjabi

Particularly popular was the Punjabi stall where everything from rajma-chawal to parathas, lassi and chaats cost just Rs. 20. Manned by Happy Singh, from Punjab, the food and the prices delighted the fest-goers.

Extraordinarily enough West Asian (Jewish) dishes like falafel (fried balls made from boiled chickpeas seasoned with garlic, jeera, coriander), humus (chickpeas puree containing parsley, garlic, sesame oil and pepper), tahini (sesame paste) and latkes were available. Monique Fontana represented the Jewish community and had this to say “I was part of the event last year and felt that I must represent not only the Jewish community but the expatriate communities as well. We have typical Jewish dishes here today. Latkes are a traditional food for the Jewish Festival of Lights.”

The ganamela by singer Afsal and troupe on the evening of the first day was an unexpected bonus and added to the fun at the fest. Crooning Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam songs, he added to the magic of the evening.

If the response of the locals and the foreigners who thronged to the event was anything to go by, ‘Naadan Kushinee' was an unexpected delight.

Unbelievably it was a foreigner who tried the first dish on the morning of the 12th and come evening he was to be found streaking from stall to stall trying out every different and eye-catching dish.

Looks like the taste for the ethnic is catching!

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 11:19:49 PM |

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