Makan and fun at Indian food festival

Culinary affair will run from Nov 27 to Dec 17 in Birch Road and Little India

ALI KASIM

If Deepavali wasn’t enough to satisfy your craving for Indian food delights, then the Great Indian Food Festival has come at the right time

Set to run from Nov 27 to Dec 17, the gourmet affair in Little India will showcase and promote Indian cuisine in all its diversity.

Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, the event will feature a Food Cart festival at Birch Road from Nov 27 to Dec 10, followed by a Food Trail in Little India Dec 11-17. 

There will be fringe events in the form of ayurvedic food and wellness workshops, ethnic dance performances, an international chef competition featuring Indian chefs from the region and Japan, as well as shows by a famed parrot fortune-teller and a snake charmer. 

There is an online competition for food and photography enthusiasts. Patrons simply have to visit a participating restaurant and submit their most enticing food photos for a chance to win daily prizes.

Organisers have also announced an attempt during the festival to enter the record books by flipping the largest roti prata – an activity open to the public. 

Under the unifying theme of “Every Spice Has a Story,” the festival not only seeks to celebrate the myriad flavours of India but also to remind the younger generation of various forgotten foods and activities prevalent in past decades but not so much today. 

The event will showcase food items such as kacang puteh and potong ice cream in a “vanishing food trail” segment. 

Mr S. Mahenthiran, honorary secretary of the Indian Restaurants Association (Singapore) and an organiser of the festival, said one of the key purposes of the festival was to create a nostalgic feeling among the older generation.

“We don’t get to see some of these things any more today; the parrot fortune-teller outside Komala Vilas in Serangoon Road or the kacang puteh seller in Selegie – we don’t see these any more,” said the 34-year-old.

“So we wanted to bring back this nostalgia and also educate the younger generation about how things were before in Singapore.”

Mr Mahenthiran spoke of some of the struggles that the food and beverage industry has experienced recently, most notably in the form of a labour crunch.

The issue has since been resolved by a new Ministry of Manpower policy that was rolled out in September, allowing more leeway in issuing work permits for certain jobs in the sector. 

“Many restaurants – especially the Indian eateries – were going through a labour issue. Before the new policy came into effect, it was difficult to carry out events,” he said. 

“I knew of caterers actually turning down wedding events because they were not able to keep up with orders (due to the lack of manpower). 

“So, in a way, this food festival is a dedication to the new policy – it allows us to continue to showcase, preserve and celebrate our heritage and authentic Indian cuisine.”

For more information, visit www.greatindianfoodfestival.com

Ali Kasim

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