Indian cultural festival brings food and dance to Cairo

Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 9 May 2013

Indian embassy hosts night of food tasting and dance as part of month-long 'India by the Nile' festival in Cairo

A tabla-violin recital during the Indian Food Fiesta, Cairo, May 7, 2013 (Photo Ayat Al-Tawy)

Food lovers savoured a unique array of authentic dishes at the Indian embassy's Food Fiesta held on Tuesday in the heart of Cairo.

The outdoor event was held at Sonesta Hotel, Tower & Casino in Cairo's Heliopolis district and was charged with a genuine flavour of Indian culture.

The Food Fiesta offered participants traditional delicacies of the Mughlai cuisine, known for its appetising aroma and ground and whole spices. Dishes were prepared by a celebrated Indian duo: IFCA Smart Chef prize winner Chef Vikram Udaygiri and Chef and Food Architect T.S. Nanaiah.

However, the event was not only about food. Guests enjoyed a variety of traditional dance that kicked off with a great oriental-style Tabla-violin gig. Meanwhile, guests savoured a variety of starters, including Samosa and Aloo Chop (spiced breaded and deep-fried potato fritters).

Present at the event was the Indian ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri along with members of the local Indian community in Egypt.

A host of Cairo's glitterati were also in attendance, including actor Hani Ramzi and screenwriter Waheed Hamed.

"I have put all my experience with all the world's cuisines to introduce Indian food at an international level," said master chef Vikram Udaygiri, a globetrotter who took his culinary skills to 22 countries, including France and the US.

Indian food cuisine encompasses a diversity of flavours, including regional cuisines found in modern-day India, and is associated with the use of exotic spices. "Our food uses a lot of spices like cloves, cardamom, and cinnamon. We flavour it with a combination of sweetness, sourness as well as spices and chillies."

A Bollywood fusion of colourful Indian dancing and singing performances as well as a fashion show by women clad in vibrant Indian costume – the sari – followed as the first course was served. Guests enjoyed the Kofta and curry chicken pieces.

The main course comprised of dal makhani (lentil), butter chicken or murgh makhani with steamed rice.

Some of the guests raved about the "novelty" of the food served, while others thought it was spicy.

There is a common misconception in some countries that Indian food is highly spicy. "It's not always hot; we just flavour it with a lot of herbs and spices," said Udaygiri.

The Food Fiesta is part of the 'India by the Nile' festival, sponsored by the Indian embassy in Egypt. The month-long festival, which will end on 13 May, offers a fusion of Bollywood films, Indian music and dance performances, craft exhibitions, visual arts as well as literature events that bring together Indian and Egyptian authors. All events have been taking place in Cairo and Alexandria. 


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