Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Annual Varli Food Festival: Much More Than Just Curry In A Hurry!

By: Anne M. Raso

Varli Magazine's recent First Annual Varli Food Festival in Chelsea's Altman building was a feast for the senses. Chefs who took part in this culinary (and general Indian cultural event, designed to bring the culture to mainstream New York partygoers) included Vikas Khanna (author of The Spice Story of India, Modern Indian Cooking and Flavors First), Jehangir Mehta (from the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef), Floyd Cardoz (formerly of Tabla Restaurant, author of One Spice, Two Spice) and Hemant Mathur (from PBS’ How To Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs and Travel Channel’s Epicurious TV). Guests were treated to a Spice Market full of Indian treats, or rather, they were handed a Varli Food Festival 2011 tote bag and got to pick ten products of their choice off a mini Indian culinary marketplace that featured wonderful epicurean products, such as Suhana Garam Masala, Indian Star Basmati Rice and Ruchi Mango Ginger Pickle.

While the food samplings, music, silent auction, celebrity chef photo ops and cooking demonstrations were going on upstairs at the loft-like Altman Building, the previously mentioned market and dessert action was downstairs. Everyone eyed the giant Indian wedding cake created by Parul Patel of The Cake Designer and sampled their mango cupcakes. Other vendors offered Indian spice-infused chocolates and more traditional Indian desserts like kulfi and mithai.
The strong and spicy scents permeating the air upstairs at the Varli Food Festival are not easily forgotten and one of our fondest memories came from sampling the Paneer Kathi Roll from Bukhara and Chicken Bhuna from Brick Lane Curry House in the famous Little Indian neighborhood of East 6th Street.
Will we be back at Varli Food Festival #2? You can bet your vindaloo on it! We're still kicking ourselves for being too full to try the offerings from such notable new York-based Indian eateries such as Tamarind, Devi, Pranna, Junoon, Tulso and Chola--but next year we will make up for it!

[Photos: Anne M. Raso]

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