One of the most anticipated annual cultural and culinary experiences in Richmond, Va. Is the Festival of India held this weekend, September 20-21, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
A bit of Mumbai can be seen, tasted and purchased for two days only, every year, at the corner of Marshall St and 3rd St. in Richmond.
Jewelry, Silk clothing, sandals, dancing, Henna Tattoos, and the best, most authentic Indian cuisine you can find is all lovingly prepared, displayed, and offered at one of the best, most fun and energetic festivals of the year.
A enormous variety of cuisine from Butter Chicken and Chicken Biryani to Vegetable Kati and Kulfi (Indian Ice cream), await your palate and soon to be dancing taste buds… and sweat glands if you love the fiery side of this magnificent cuisine.
Choosing what to eat among the myriad of selections was difficult as everything looked delicious and was prepared fresh on the spot, not pre-made months in advance as has been the case at other food festivals this past summer.
I and my companion ordered Masala Dosa, a huge lentil/rice batter crepe filled with potato, chilies, and onion, and seasoned with ginger, turmeric, cumin and other Indian spices. It was fantastic, although paints your fingers yellow with turmeric - small price to pay for this treat. Green and Ginger Chutneys accompanied this dish and were themselves flavorful and delightful.
Also ordered was Samosa Chaat, a spicy fried vegetable filled pastry, broken up and covered in seasoned Chick Peas, Red Onions, Tamarind Chutney, Mint cilantro Chutney and a drizzle of plain yogurt. The flavor explosions were phenomenal, especially when sprinkled with a little red pepper and salt they suggest as a final step before consuming.
With bellies full we could not resist the Chicken Kati Roll, with grilled chunks of chicken breast, ginger, garlic, green chilies, onions, carrot, cumin and Chaat Masala, wrapped in a flour roti, all blending together beautifully, like Hindi musicians in Bollywood, to create my favorite dish of the day. The chicken was perfectly grilled and seasoned al a minute for a savory and juicy wrap of delight.
Although the Kati pushed the bounds of belly expansion we could not pass up the Mango Cupcakes. Words pale to describe how satisfyingly rich, fruity, moist and creamy these cupcakes tasted, even if not being the most authentic dish.
Needless to say Mango Lassi (rich and tangy fruit and yogurt smoothie) was the beverage of the day and perfect for cooling you down and quenching your thirst.
If you love Indian cuisine, or have never tried it, please attend this event, if not for the food then for the expression filled dancing, colorful costumes and clothing, jewelry, footwear and atmosphere that will assuredly give you a taste of India
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