Last week Erin and I had the chance to attend the Varli Food Festival. The event was the first-of-its-kind Indian foodie event which showcased 35+ local restaurants promoting awareness for Indian food and culture. Participating restaurants included Tamarind, Devi, Junoon, Tulsi and Chola just to name a few. It was an amazing experience trying and comparing cuisine from different regions of India side by side as well as modern interpretations.
We arrived close to seven - just in time to spot the massive line growing outside and got a quick peek of Varli Singh (founder of the event and magazine Varli) on the red carpet before heading inside.
We were greeted at the entrance with a booth set up serving these fantabulous looking drinks - I was starving and decided to pass on the booze and grab some food! Ever since I moved to NY, I haven't had Indian food so I was uber excited to try out an wide assortment of food fromnrestaurants around the city.
Moghul which was ah-MAZING. There was a lengthy line to get to this vendor but man it was worth it. Erin's fave was a triple layered paneer while mine was a chicken tandori roulade which was to die for - it was amazingly moist and packed with flavor. Both were served with a trio of dipping sauces/chutneys which complimented the food without overpowering it. I ended up making three rounds at this station - it was so freakin good! I thought the chicken was especially interesting since roulades are typically French in origin - so while the cooking technique was European, the flavor was all Indian. Too bad this joint is in Edison, New Jersey =/
The venue was set up in a large room with different food vendor stations encircling the borders of the room. At first it was a bit overwhelming seeing everything so Erin and I did the most logical thing we could do and sequencially made our way around the room one station at a time. The first thing we came across was beet and spinach naan. The flavors were very subtle which makes sense since the naan is meant to be a vehicle for whatever you eat with it - much like pasta or rice.
Midway through our eating rampage, Tina Sugandh took center stage and performed some traditional music including drumming (scroll to the end to see video) and a few contemporary songs which was pretty neat.
After catching most of the show and perusing through the sea of food-goers, we made our way back to the food stands and grabbed some more grub.
A couple of the more unconventional things we tried included a cilantro flavored puffed rice salad and Indian style sushi. Personally I wasn't a big fan of either but the concepts were interesting.
This sprouted bean salad was one of the healthier choices we tasted (minus the accompanying fried potato puff!) and near the end, I grabbed a couple of these amazing crab cake/potato things with aioli and lotus root chips. I could have seriously eaten a plateful of just the lotus root chips on their own they were that good!
Tina Sugandh performance:
Before we took off, we grabbed a couple pics at the photo booth/red carpet that were set up to remember this amazingly tasty night!