While the two-day G20 Food Festival hosted by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on February 11 and 12 was branded as ‘Taste the World’, it had a good dose of popular Indian food.
The festival, described by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri as country’s food festival, was held at the Talkatora Stadium which is just a 10-minute ride from the Rama Krishna Ashram Marg metro station.
As one entered the stadium, the first thing that caught the attention was a board, adorned with flowers, reading “Welcome to the G20 Food Festival”.
Two artists – one dressed as a joker and another as Charlie Chaplin — greeted visitors warmly and affectionately. They played tricks and clicked pictures with children.
Although the first day received lukewarm response from the visitors, turnout increased on the afternoon of Sunday, the second and final day.
The event suited everyone and the turnout on the last day proved that as visitors from all age groups attended it.
The event had a stage for musical performances and a little chat session with the audience.
Kids were asked to come on stage and sing their favourite songs and recite poems. They were given unique rockstar names along with prizes for participation.
The food stalls from different countries attracted a large number of people. The Chinese stall saw a large crowd with their speciality being the Kung Pao chicken and double fried Pork.
The Japanese and Turkish food stalls also pulled a large crowd.
Hotel giants such as Taj Palace, Ashoka, Le Meridian and ITC Maurya also displayed their menu.
Seating arrangements were made in the centre of the venue and people in attendance appeared to be having a good time.
Prateek Gautam, 32, who attended the event with his wife, told Patriot, “The experience has been fantastic — the vibe, the arrangements and a variety of cuisines that you don’t get to sample very often. Although prices are slightly higher, they are acceptable. Overall, I believe we will remember this experience for a long time.”
Apart from international stalls, there were also a lot of stalls of Indian regional cuisine. There was Rajasthani cuisine, Delhi’s street food, Telangana’s famous brand Biryani Blues and south Indian cuisine.
However, despite the varieties of food available, Delhi’s chaat corner, which also included chhole bhature and pastries, was one of the most crowded stalls.
Vijay, who was making jalebis at the Delhi Prison stall, saw the G20 Food Festival as an opportunity to rebuild his life. The Delhi Prison has launched a project in which prisoners produce baked goods like cookies and spices to be sold at the festival along with jalebi, sarson ka saag and makke di roti.
Neetu Yadav, head matron, Tihar Jail, said, “It is an effort to provide work to those who have completed their tenure and are looking to build their lives again and also help them create a sense of belonging with the outer world, and help other people understand that they’re also human beings and should be given another chance in life.”
She further added that this initiative also tells that jail is not just for serving sentences, but it also helps in shaping people’s lives and providing them with a second beginning.
Asked about the response, Yadav said, “The response has been phenomenal, people have brought bakery products in large quantities which we didn’t expect. It shows that they also want to help these people regardless of their past and all the fund that we collect here will be used for the betterment of Tihar Jail prisoners.”
Harmeet Singh, a visitor, said, “No matter what options are available, we are going to have chaat for sure if it’s there. The other food stands are also fantastic. I am going to try the Turkish stall next, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be any better than Delhi’s chaat.”
Two musicians in traditional Rajasthani garb with their pagdis, one playing the sarangi and other the drums, played the melodies of the song mere rashq-e qamar. Their performance drew customers to the Rajasthani stall.
The queue for daal-baati-choorma (the traditional Rajasthani food) was very long, and young people posed for pictures while wearing the pagdi.
Apart from food, a Mother Dairy ice-cream stall was also present.