Monday, 30th October 2017

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South Asia on platter & on ramp

Celebrating the cuisine of 8 south Asian nations — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India

  • Published 7.02.20, 12:30 AM
  • Updated 7.02.20, 12:30 AM
  • 3 mins read
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IAM students on the Wet-O-Wild stage, dressed in the national costumes of eight South Asian countries (Picture sourced by The Telegraph)

There were so many dishes from so many countries on offer that visitors got full just tasting them. Khaddyotsav 2019, organised by the Sector V hotel management institute IAM (Institute of Advanced Management) celebrated the food of eight south Asian nations — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and India. And visitors were spoilt for choice.

The sprawling venue — Wet-O-Wild — was divided into various sections — starters, main course, deserts… The live kebab counter was one of the busiest. There was Chicken Chapli Kebab (a Pashtu Afghanistan style shallow fried flattened kebab), Rawa Fish (crumbed fried Semolina fish cooked with Mangalorean spices) and the students serving them were as happening as the dishes. “We’re having fun at work,” laughed Avijit Bhowmick, after he and his friends broke into a jig when others danced to Gangnam Style on stage.

Over 1,000 guests had turned up that evening and the massive workload was divided roughly among four departments that the students study in. The decor was by house-keeping, stage shows by front office, service by food and beverages (F&B) and cooking by the food production department.

“Today is a busy day for us. We won’t eat before guests leave at about 11pm and it will be 2 or 3am before we leave the venue after wrapping up,” said Dipti Sharma of F&B, who was helping some guests choose the right dish to go with Dhakai Lachchha Paratha. “Try it with Indian Chicken Butter Masala, ma’am. Food is not limited by borders.”

The salad bar became a selfie zone of sorts thanks to the dexterous bread crafting. Students had carved Taj Mahal out on a flat bread to represent India, a tiger to pay tribute to Bangladesh, a desert with camels to show Afghanistan and beach to show the Maldives. “I have to keep a close watch as besides clicking, some people are trying to touch the bread,” said Pritam Ganguly.

A budding chef prepares Chicken Chapli Kebab
A budding chef prepares Chicken Chapli Kebab (Picture sourced by The Telegraph)
Students man the live kebab counter
Students man the live kebab counter (Picture sourced by The Telegraph)

Mawii Fanai, a student originally from Mizoram, guided guests on salads. “If you like spicy food, go for the Bangladeshi Angura salad, made of green grapes, else Pomelo salad of Nepal or Goen Hogay cucumber salad of Bhutan,” she pointed out.

Even besides the fashion show, where students displayed ethnic outfits of the eight nations, some students serving the dishes were dressed theme-wise too. Soumi Sikdar had worn her mother’s red Dhakai jamdani sari, Mrinmoyee Biswas draped a sari like a sarong along with hand-made jewellery by a Nepali senior Pooja Rai), Trisha Dutta learnt from YouTube to tie a hijab to represent Afghanistan and happy-go-lucky Debabrata Ghosh wore a beach shirt and hat to complete the Maldives look.

The chief guest was in fact the consul-designate of the honorary consulate of the Republic of Maldives, Ram Krishna Jaiswal. “Besides tourism, the Maldives is known for tuna, which is one of its chief exports,” said Jaiswal, who is not much of a foodie and hence turned the focus to water. “Ecology is very important to the island nation so please don’t waste water even from your drinking glass.”

Chef Shaun Kenworthy, who is a culinary director at IAM, was present to encourage students. “Every year the standard of this festival improves,” said the man who loves south Asian cuisine so much that he misses it within a few days of being back in the UK.

Industry of happiness

One of the happiest guests had to be Anushila Basu of BB Block. Not only was it her birthday but she was also the mother of one the students putting the show together. “Usually we go to a restaurant for birthdays but today we have so many restaurants at our service,” she smiled.

Her daughter Raya Basu was on front office duty. “This is a lovely job as I’m getting to see smiling faces full of expectations. Our industry is one where we find happiness in making others happy,” she said.

IAM group director Maitreyee Chaudhuri felt food and hospitality had the power to break barriers and unite people. “Today there is dissent among nations and the need of the hour is to unify. Food cuts across nationalities as we all feel hungry and we all love delicious food,” she said.