Over the weekend, dozens of fancy restaurants in Delhi set out their stalls at this annual festival in Nehru Park. I was impressed with the variety and quality of the food. It was rather pricey compared to my local South Indian restaurant, where I can get a masala dosa with all the trimmings for 65 pence. This is a tenth of the price of some of the dishes from top quality, fashionable establishments at the Fest.
I was tempted by the genuine Japanese sushi/sashimi, which looked fresh and interesting. The Persian cuisine was even more exciting, with some great ingredients.
There were a few Mexican restaurants, such as Twisted Tacos, and a Turkish place, which weren’t doing a roaring trade when I passed by. But the dried fruit stall was busy.
The children were enjoying the pirate-themed “Captain Grub”, serving burgers and fries. I liked the Punjabi fast food outlet called “Burger Singh”.
Lots of shops selling gateaux, cup cakes, brownies, buns, banana bread and exotic desserts. I was assured that all the bits on this multi-tiered wonder were edible. Elsewhere, I have heard that the bottom bits are made of polystyrene, decorated with cream. This was the genuine article.
The Ethiopian restaurant didn’t seem to be selling much injeera, but I saw several people drinking their excellent coffee. The best stall selling Indian tea gave me a tasting of each of their speciality brews. They asked me if high quality tea would have a market in UK, so I talked to them about Waitrose. I am a bit of a philistine when it comes to tea; I prefer builders’.
Chai wallahs make Murabba, a concoction prepared by mixing water, milk, tea leaves, sugar, ginger and cardamom . This isn’t real tea as we’d know it in Britain, where tea leaves are brewed with boiling water in a teapot.
There are lots of television cookery programmes on Indian television so we were encouraged to find a celebrity chef, snap a selfie with them and upload the photo to the Fest website. The most wacky images would win a prize. Food probably. Jamie was not on the premises.
I watched a demonstration of a chef who managed to burn the olive tapenade and undercook the chick pea masala. We were being filmed as we shovelled the free food into our mouths. The chef said that those displaying the most ecstatic expressions might feature in an advertising campaign. But they didn’t ask me to sign the model release form.
The man making cotton candy/candy floss didn’t seem to know how to do it, and was applying additional wisps of floss with his hands. The Indian equivalent of Ronald McDonald, who looked more like Timmy Mallett, seemed rather sad as no children would go anywhere near him.
There was a competition – whoever could hold the most packets of popcorn would win a trip to Dubai. The queue to join in was rather long, so I gave it a miss.
Quite a few of the entrepreneurs promoting their new restaurants had been to UK, studying marketing at university. I chatted to a chap who did a degree in Lancaster. He gave me a fizzy mango drink which was flavoured with sugar and salt, in the Indian fashion. It tasted marvellous.
There were two music stages. One had Indian drummers performing, but spectators crowded in front of the old folks who were hoping to watch whilst sitting down. The other, larger stage had an Indian rock band doing sound level checks. Every five minutes the compere assured us that Virender Sehwag, the former opening batsman, was about to arrive. I waited for half an hour, but when the street theatre started, I gave up and went home, replete with food samples and gassy fruit drinks.