Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The CKP Food Festival, Thane

Stall owners dancing to the catchy music while serving customers

Food festivals are becoming increasingly common in Mumbai and the ones I look forward to the most are those that showcase the cuisine of a particular community. I've been to numerous Koli food fests and even a couple organised by the Pathare Prabhus (in fact I missed their last event because I was away, holidaying in north India). I heard of the CKP festival from my friend Manisha and made a mental note to attend this one for sure.

The Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhus are supposedly the descendants of a King Chandrasen of Kashmir. Commonly known as CKPs, the community is now concentrated mainly in Maharashtra and in parts of Gujarat and Central India. I have always known them to be a well entrenched Maharashtrian community and I was delighted to see their love for robust non vegetarian food at the CKP festival! 

The fest was at the CKP Hall in Thane and what I really loved was the welcome visitors received - a man in full costume blew a blast of his tutari as a ceremonial welcome. It just set the mood for the good time ahead!

Photo credit - Kurush Dalal

We had a quick browse through the business (non food) stalls where I chanced upon one selling the prettiest clutches, purses, and handbags covered in traditional Paithani saree fabric. Yes, I made the hubby buy me one.

We moved on to where the real action was - the two food courts spread across the entire first floor of the building. The blast of aromas that hit the nose as soon as we stepped out of the lift gave us an indication of the deliciousness that was to follow. We decided to move systematically from stall to stall instead of randomly roaming around and that was a great decision as we got to taste a whole lot of preparations without repeating stuff or missing out on anything. It also helped that we were four of us - we could taste that much more without feeling stuffed too soon! 

There was a mind boggling variety of food, most of which I had never eaten or even heard of before. Like the Kheemyache Modak - modaks stuffed with goat mince. And the Kaleji Dabeli - liver stuffed in pav - which I suspect was a smart innovation and not a traditional dish. It was delicious so it doesn't really matter! 

These are the mince stuffed modaks. The only modak I knew about was the traditional sweet filled one that's offered to Ganpati - not on my list of things I like to eat. But these! Oh yeah, bring them on!

The kaleji dabelis. These are prepped and ready to be toasted in a ton of butter on a hot griddle before serving. Lots of liver, crunchy onions and plenty of fresh coriander made these one of the best things we ate at the fest. As we waited for our dabelis to be toasted the music came on and the atmosphere in the hall changed completely - everyone around started to shake a leg and that included stall owners too. Our dabelis did taste so much better because the chefs had such a blast while making them :)

We moved on to the next stall where we had kolambi pattice and kolambi fry - Potato covered prawn patties, and masala fried prawns with a rawa coating. Both were simply superb. We resisted having seconds only because there was so much more food to explore as we went on.

See those tiny shrimp in there? Packed with flavour, perfectly cooked, these patties were great. The only fly in the ointment was a near absence of salt in the potato casing and in the filling. I could only imagine how awesome these would have been if they had been seasoned properly.

Prawns are tricky and if not properly fried they can turn into awful rubbery bullets. These were done to perfection and we wolfed them down in seconds. Finger licking good they were.

At the next stall we had some paya soup. It was a nice change from all the fried goodies and went down a treat.

Next up was some fried fish. We'd had a slice of Jitada fry earlier so now we opted for a slice of surmai, and another lot of prawns which looked quite different from the ones we'd had earlier. The surmai was lovely, soft, moist, and flaky - but once again there was a serious lack of salt and that did ruin the pleasure considerably. The prawns were seasoned better and were delicious.

Somewhere along the way we picked up a cup of dessert - Ninav Cheesecake. Ninav is a dessert made mainly with wheat and gram flour, jaggery, ghee, coconut milk, and some other ingredients. The ninav was made into a base topped with a cheesecake mix. Quite innovative, I thought, and the hubby liked it.

There was so much more to eat but we were already quite stuffed.

Assorted fried fish.

As we walked around the stalls I saw a sign advertising something called Shevala Kheema. It reminded me of a post Kurush had written about Raanachi Bhaji or forest greens that are popular in Maharashtra where he mentions shevaal, a seasonal plant that is relished in season. I tasted a tiny bit and immediately knew we had to pack some to enjoy later at home. Here was another dish I had never eaten before.

One of the last things we tried was this clam curry. It was the only thing we didn't like among all that we ate. It seemed bland and boring and appealed to none of us.

As we proceeded further among the stalls we packed a few things to take home and eat later. Unfortunately we had to also skip a lot of dishes - there was just so much! Here are a few photos of the other food on display.

Crab curry

Chicken. I just fell in love with this copper vessel! 

Bhakris and chapatis

Prawn Curry

 Mutton Sukke

Mutton Liver Masala
One of the few vegetarian dishes on offer - Vaalachi Khichadi

Prawn Bhajiyas

And that's us at the end of our eatathon at the CKP food fest! 


Kalyan Karmakar said...

This looks like a really well spread meal and such a variety of dishes. I wish some of this was available in restaurants. Everyone is in such a hurry to reinvent Indian food. But so much is still unexplored

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