MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor graced the already extravagant Varli Food Festival on Sunday, Sept. 10 at Martinsville Gardens in Martinsville, New Jersey.
Most of the booths were already set up at 4 p.m., while others were in the midst of setting up.
Rajbhog Foods had their booth set up in the patio area with their famous sweets such as Gulab Jamun, Mango Shrikhand and Motichoor and Bundi Ladoos and right across from them was Mr. Paanwala who was not only making fresh Paan for the 1,000 foodies that were there (about double of what was expected) but was also offering Paan Shots.
The Varli Food Festival is known for its “spice and fire” and while the spice market was open at various times throughout the event, the fire wasn’t lit until about 8:30 p.m. so the guests could witness it in the dark.
Many Indian restaurants were serving fusion treats like Arora who was offering a sample tasting of Pumpkin Kachori Chaat and Gulab Jamun Donuts with either Mango or Chocolate and i2i, a restaurant that combines Indian and Italian cuisine, was giving everyone a taste of their ‘Naanchos.’
Chand Palace had an elegant display of their Chef’s special Pineapple pudding topped with fresh raspberry and pineapple called ‘Hawaiian Glory’ and the Chef’s special mousse topped with fresh guava called ‘Guava Thrill.’
Le Rouge by Aarti, a chocolatier from Connecticut also handed out samples of their ganaches which consisted of the following flavors: Grand Marnier, Paan Bahar, Kesar Pista and Peach Bellini.
This was the first time the Varli Food Festival was kept outside and due to the lack of space, many restaurants couldn’t be provided with a booth, yet their owners still came to the festival.
The restaurants who did have a booth however were; Old Monk, Godavari, Bukhara Grill, Kebob and Curry, Junoon, Moghul, 321Chillz, Bhog, Sahib and The Masalawala, along with others which were mentioned previously.
Cooking demos were given by Chef Prasad Chirnomula of Thali Restaurants in Connecticut, who made Konkon Malai Lobster; Chef Sunil Shrivastav from Texas, who made Chatpati Machi with Salmon and the one and only Sanjeev Kapoor, who made a rice and quinoa dish topped with prawns and a mango sauce on the side.
During his cooking demonstration, Kapoor told the audience that whatever dish you make “keep it simple” and make sure that it is “Khatha Meetha Theeka” and provided other cooking tips as well.
He also mentioned the fact that when one learns how to cook something, they usually go onto YouTube, but in contrary, don’t realize that they are technically copying that person’s recipe, so he told everyone to improvise it and make it a bit original.
“Take for example Kadhi,” he said. “There are different ways to make Kadhi. You have Gujarati Kadhi, you have Punjabi Kadhi,” he went on explaining how they are made differently and in the end said “there are 50 different ways to make Kadhi.”
The night ended with the Varli Cook Off, or the Varli Food Festival’s version of the cooking show Chopped on Food Network, which went on well into the night.
This was the fifth year that the Varli Food Festival was hosted by Varli Singh who, such a big foodie herself, wanted chefs, who take their art of cooking seriously, to be recognized by the community.
The festival was co-hosted by Ricky Singh and Roni Mazumdar and was also attended by Bigg Boss fame, Actor Aryan Vaid; Kapoor’s autographed cookbook was given out to three lucky raffle winners and each attendee of the festival was given a gift bag containing a wide variety of products along with gift certificates to participating restaurants, worth $300.