Joonbug was lucky enough to attend the festival, getting a chance to sample so much of what Indian cuisine has to offer without even leaving Manhattan. Here are five noteworthy dishes served by restaurants in, or close to, the city.
Junoon (27 West 24th Street) served festival attendees a beautifully presented lotus flower dish. The lotus was prepared three different ways; pickled, fried, and pureed. Next time you reach for popcorn, try a fried lotus flower instead, it’s a perfect balance of crunch and sweetness.
Brick Lane (306-308 East 6th Street) offered a sample of a popular street food called Paneer Tikka Rolls. The paneer (cottage cheese) is marinated in spices and sautéed before it is rolled into naan bread and garnished with a mint and cilantro chutney.
Copper Chimney (126 East 28th Street) handed out samples of freshly made Indian crepes. The fluffy crepes were made from rice and lentils and then topped with sautéed vegetables and assorted chutneys.
Chand Palace (269 Littletown Road, Parsippany NJ) took inspiration from Italian cuisine by filling flower-shaped raviolis with Indian delicacies. The Indian version of raviolis was filled with Murgh (chicken) Tikka Masala. Vegetarian guests were given the option of the Malai (tomato) Tikka Masala.
Khyber Grill (684 Oak Tree Avenue, South Plainfield NJ) made festival attendees a popular Indian snack food, Bhel Puri. This snack can be altered depending on taste to be either spicy or sweet. Bhel Puri is made from combining puffed rice, vegetables, spices, and various chutneys.
At the Varli Choice station, we had a chance to sample Varli Magazine founder, Varli Singh's, favorite dish showcased at last year's festival. One of her selected dishes this year was the Raj Kachori, a dish resembling a bread bowl filled with vegetables, potatoes, and a variety of spicy chutneys.
Festival attendees also sampled Alokozay Indian teas, Pink Himalayan Salt, countless Indian desserts, and so much more all while sipping on a Varlitini, a cocktail created exclusively for the event by Chef Prasad Chirnomula. The Varlitini was made from Wodka Vodka, fresh lemon and ginger juice, and garnished with a rim of chili pepper. On top of everything offered at the Varli Food Festival, those in attendance also received free gifts which include a celebrity cookbook, a coupon book with 500 dollars worth of offers to restaurants featured at the festival, and goodies such as Indian spices and Indian Star Basmati rice from the Varli Spice Market.