Ethnic Twang for Your Taste Buds

June 25, 2016 , by Anura Shrestha, Leave your thoughts

 IN MY CITY : Food Festival at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu

My expectations this afternoon for the food festival at Bhrikutimandap was pretty strong. You see, food has that profound effect on me. Hypnotizing. Magnetizing. It has on most people anyways. The entrance was sparsely populated while the speakers blasted away a popular local song. I could notice a throng of visitors crowding about the front-desk and impatiently waiting to get their names signed in the register. The sweat laden faces soon broke into involuntary awkward smiles in turns as one visitor remarked “Eh, bhitra jane paisa lagdaina rahecha!” (There are no cover fees). Well, I may have smiled a little too.

My first observation saw the front few rows lined with sample domestic products inside symmetrical jars and packets. I did a double take as my mind raced with the imminent question-“Where are all the ginormous cook-wares and delicacies filled bohatas?” Confused that I had somehow mistakenly entered the wrong tent, I found myself in the front-desk section again. Turns out that the venue was right, but my pre-information on the event had been limited.

Upon further questioning, I was informed that among the 78 stalls being showcased at the exhibition, 18 stalls were displaying traditional dishes of various ethnic groups, 24 were disseminating information on nutritional values and the remaining 24 were marketing plus selling products of various domestic factories. The main objective behind this fair is to relay information to the general public on the significance of proper nutrition as well as to market domestically produced goods, according to the organizer.

I ushered myself back inside and tried to navigate the best way possible to the stalls while avoiding personal space clashes with the other visitors. The front stalls looked similar to the ones I had recently visited at a women’s trade expo few months back in Tripureshwor. Locally cultivated-produced honey, cheese, churpis, potato chips, pickle varieties, dried meat, sarvottam pitho, Lapsi, milk sweets and mustard oil were on display. I could even spot a few familiar companies like Kitchen Recipe and DDC. In addition, companies dealing in chemicals and equipment also maintained their own stalls.

One very interesting stall belonged to the students of B. Tech (Food) who showcased sample products like Chuthro wine, Carrot wine, Saurkrant and marmalade. I recalled the organizer mentioning how the exhibition also expected to help potential students of food technology find out about available courses as colleges and hotels imparting education in food technology and hotel management. Similarly, another institution had put up a food stall with a unique display of food items by tweaking the traditional recipe with an alternative ingredient. Kodo ko Haluwa, Phapar ko Pancake and Sisnu-Flour mix Chicken Momo were a few dishes on their plates.


Meanwhile, a few organizations took things up by a notch by creatively demonstrating food tree diagrams to stress on nutritional values. Raised paper cardboards were adjusted inside makeshift temple outlines and the spaces were filled with sample bags complementing the levels of food division. I can assure that their bid to attract more visitors to their stall did not go to waste.The other section of the tent found me face-to-face with rows of food stalls and prettily clad hosts in traditional attires animatedly chatting away with the visitor from behind their tables. Paper sheets were tucked under each bowls and pots that had the names of the food items written down in blocks for the convenience of visitors. The participating communities included Newars, Kirat Rai, Sunuwars and Gurung to name a few. I can assure that their bid to attract more visitors to their stall did not go to waste.


Fascinated by the variety of food displayed and their bizarre sounding names and equally unique compositions, I decided to experiment with my taste buds. The stall owners were kind enough to provide free taste tests beforehand. Some winners for me includes Khadiya (a fried snack made out of lentils), Babli Pirsir (Mohi Drink) and Balsho Reabi (a snack of Potato wedges dipped in spices) , Kimma Tebba, Sel Roti and of course local Mo:Mo cha.


However, on the downside, it was disappointing to witness only limited ethnic stalls at the fair. The ones that were present were definitely interesting but having grown up among such diversity within the valley itself, it failed to reach my prior expectations in terms of ethnic outreach. Finally, I ended my visit with a swig of a much-needed ‘local’ mango drink. I wished it was a bit cooler though.
The food exhibition is being organized by The Department of Food Technology and Quality Control in coordination with the Agriculture Entrepreneur Association and the Nepal Food Scientists and Technologists Association. This two-day event is set to go on till 24th of June, Saturday until 6 pm at Bhrikutimandap, Kathmandu.
Words & Photos by Anura Shrestha.
Read more from Anura here.
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