Eats, snails and leaves

Gear up for an extreme adventure at this food festival, that’s on focused unusual dishes from India and the world

Updated - November 14, 2019 08:42 pm IST

Published - November 14, 2019 08:41 pm IST

If you, like us, go through serious FOMO after watching food and travel shows, a trip to the Turf Club this weekend will satiate you till your next vacation.

This weekend, four food curators, Kunal Vijayakar, Michael Swamy, Nicole Mody and Tara Deshpande have picked recipes from India and the world, which are rarely available in the city for the Isuzu XFood Festival.

In addition to Malwani, Parsi, Goan and Gujarati cuisines, the festival will present a total of 24 cuisines from 19 states featuring 31 unusual ingredients. There will also be American Spanish and Mexican dishes, a food market with indie food labels and workshops with top chefs. “We loved the idea of bringing the world’s most outrageous, exotic and truly different food to Mumbai, and serving it alongside the regional gems of India’s restaurant scene,” says CEO of 70 EMG and organiser of the event, Martin da Costa. Curators Mody and Swamy pick nine unique stalls you must try this weekend.

Kalkatta Shahi Mutton Biryani By Manzilat Fatima

An authentic Awadhi offering, Manzilat Fatimah takes pride in showcasing the food of her ancestors. “Food in Awadh was like a sport for the Nawabs and the kitchens like the fields with bawarchis and rakabdars as the players. There was healthy competition, and challenges were thrown at each other to exhibit better gastronomic skills. A lot of money was spent in maintaining the royal kitchens and for hiring the best experts available from the culinary field.

Gradually Matiaburj, the suburban area of Calcutta started to grow into a miniature of the Nawab’s beloved Lucknow, with influences of circumstances showing through,” says Mody.

Mok Mok (momos from Ladakh) and Gur Gur Chai (Ladakhi Butter Tea) By Alchi’s Kitchen

Entrepreneur Nilza Wangmo of Alchi Kitchen offers a mix of traditional Ladakhi foods with a modern twist. It’s a warm and welcoming open kitchen style family restaurant, named after the village that Nilza hails from. Wangmo is known to experiment with local spices and flavours to spice up the otherwise bland Ladakhi cuisine. “Ladakh’s mountainous ecosystem has led to the development of a unique agricultural economy and lifestyle. Meat - mutton, chicken and yak - are an important part of the cuisine, as are locally grown vegetables. The food is warming, with thick soups and broths prevailing, along with the use of spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom and saffron. Yak meat and milk are used to great effect in the winter,” adds Mody.

Vajri (Tripe) By Rekha’s Khanaval

Tired of working in kitchens at different homes, Rekha started serving her home-cooked food at a stall in Prabhadevi, which serves almost 150 people a day. But if you’ve got the guts for it, try her liver masala and Vajre (intestines) cooked in different ways. “Konkan food is well-flavoured and uses a lot of fresh ingredients and freshly ground masalas. Along the coast they use a lot of fresh coconut. A bit into the interiors, they use dry and desiccated coconut,” says Mody.

Rabbit Fry By Kerala Toddy Shop

“We visited four iconic toddy shops (Kaavalam, Manthoppu, Mullapandhal, Karimpinkala), spoke to the family of the doyen of Kerala food, Mrs KM Mathew and visited some remote corners (Kothamangalam/ Muvattupuzha, Kochi, Kuttanad / Alleppey, Kottayam) to get a full representation of the Travancore region. [Of all the dishes] rabbit is not something one eats in Mumbai,” explains Mody.

Banana Flower Relish and Braised Pork with Roselle Leaf by Meghalaya Kitchen

The Garo Tribe is an indigenous Tibeto-Burman ethnic group from the Indian subcontinent. Lactcia S Momin, who belongs to the Garo tribe will present the traditional flavours of her community. “Pork, beef, snails, crab, dry fish, they cook everything with locally grown organic vegetables like yam, roselle, ginger, chilli, bamboo shoot, and tons of greens,” reveals Mody.

Silkworm Pupae with Roselle leaves - Gitika’s PakGhor

Gitika’s Pakghor offers food from different states of the North East and her food is based on family recipes, as well as contributions by local communities gathered during her home visits.

“Assamese cuisine is characterised by the use of an extremely wide variety of plant and animal products, and very little use of spices. Various indigenous groups also eat silkworm, water bugs, grasshoppers, and other insects. Insects are fried, cooked or roasted in leaves,” explains Mody.

Mutton Kastoori Naan Sandwich by Jilani Kebabs

Alam of Jilani Kebabs serves a blend of Mughlai food, Muslim street food and Tava food that is popular during the season of Ramzan. While a lot of them claim lineage from Lucknow and Delhi, the food is truly Bambaiya Bhendi Bazaar — and Swamy found him in a small corner of Bohri Mohalla.

“Jilani Kebabs was founded by Alam’s father in Bori Mohalla in 1986. Mughlai food has its origins in the Mughal rule in India and the flavours range from mild to spicy, and are associated with their distinct aroma and the use of whole and ground spices,” says Swamy.

Kadumbutt & Pandi Curry (Steamed rice balls + Pork curry) by Coorgi Stall

Coorgi food is subtle yet pungent and uses a lot of chilli. Kadampuli is a fruit from which a special vinegar called Kachampuli is made and is used as a souring agent and pork dishes and Pandi curry are the highlights in these parts.

“Many dishes are Kerala oriented in nature as the southern bit of Coorg touches the state. So appams, puttus and many rice-based dishes abound in the Coorg district,” says Swamy, while promising that this food stall will offer the real deal.

Eat street:  (Clockswise from left) Pork in mustard leaves; Lucknowi tundey kebabs; Nicole Mody; Michael Swamy; Tara Deshpande; and Kunal Vijaykar

Eat street: (Clockswise from left) Pork in mustard leaves; Lucknowi tundey kebabs; Nicole Mody; Michael Swamy; Tara Deshpande; and Kunal Vijaykar

Wai Wai Noodles and Fish Fry by Dolly Singh

Dolly Singh spent her younger years in different parts of the country and gained knowledge from all the local cultures. Her cookouts include delicacies from Bihar, where she hails from, as well as Bengali, Tibetan and other cuisines. “Her idea is to introduce people to the rustic flavours of the east. Bihari cuisine is similar to North Indian cuisine, but borrows influence from the East (for example Bengali),” says Swamy. And if you love noodles, especially the instant variety, try her version of Wai Wai and some fish fry.

Isuzu XFood Festival,Royal Western India Turf Club, Mahalaxmi Race Course on November 16, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m and November 17, 10 a.m to 10 p.m; see Insider

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