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The concept of Farmers Markets have been popular in the western world for quite some time and more often than not, we see in movies that these markets somehow showcase the food as well as the culture of a certain place. It is usually a one day affair or recurs weekly or monthly, where organic food produce and homemade products, which may or may not be packaged, are sold directly by farmers or vendors with no access to proper distribution channels. In the recent years, this concept has caught on in India too and Kolkata is definitely not far behind.
Karen Anand, the food diva, brought this concept to the country about four years back. She started with the Pune Farmers Market and soon expanded in to various cities. Kolkata recently had its third edition of the Farmers Market at the terrace of Taj Bengal on the 4th of December. The market was nothing short of a carnival. This market is aimed towards family outings where the entire family can come and have a good time sampling various products, making happy purchases, drinking and eating from the restaurants and merry making in general.
There were more than 30 stalls including 6 restaurants and a Sula Wine and Kingfisher counter. The products showcased were very interesting. The organic mandi displayed their famous organic honey in 3 different flavours which are sourced from the Sundarbans. They also had bee wax lip balms, extra virgin coconut oil, organic fresh vegetables, to name a few. Living Free came up with artisanal cheeses, Pure Haus with cold pressed juices, Goody Box with homemade spices and healthy snacks, Kaos with their incredible gluten free brownies, cookies and plenty of jars of homemade dips. EazyDiner had a large counter with a bright display, giving out goody boxes and restaurant vouchers to happy customers. Typhoo had a variety of flavoured teas for sampling as well as for purchase and there was a tea stall from TE-A-ME Teas too.
The restaurants were no less interesting. There was Calcutta Stories and Tak Heng doing a medley of dishes from roast chilli pork baos, chilli oyster fish baos, spinach and beetroot dimsums, Anglo Indian pork vindaloo, Bandel cheese kababs, pork boti kabab and many more. The Grid on the other hand, were sampling a few of their hottest selling dishes like the berry pulao, Guptaji’s chocolate toast and chicken wings with blue cheese. Bodega Cantina Y Bar had a pop up counter with fun popsicles, wanton noodles, tacos and so on. Taj Bengal had a beautifully displayed counter showcasing Souk and their signature chicken and vegetarian shawarma. There were a couple of more stalls, from Hakuna Matata with vegetarian fare, to Cilanto. Mumbles Lab was perhaps one of the most popular stalls with nitrogen ice cream.
Karen Anand had her own stall showcasing her preserves, conserves, dips and sauces and just like each year, this year too there were people buzzing all around the stall to try them out before buying. Towards the end, three awards were distributed. The award for taste went to Calcutta Stories and Tak Heng. The award for best product went to Tea Trove for some really unique flavoured teas. The award for the best displayed stall went to Flavour Box for awesome culinary boxes.
Each year, Karen Anand holds her farmers market and soon, there is a flurry of such markets in Kolkata all through winter. One such market is going to be there on the 11th of December at The Vedic Village Resort. I guess one market is definitely not enough to truly showcase what Kolkata has to offer in terms of fresh and organic produce. So cheers to more of such events in the city.
For someone who's run two restaurants, being a baker and cook par excellence comes easily to Madhushree . When she's not eating out, she's organizing her own pop ups or experimenting with regional recipes. Her experiments with food and her recipes are part of Pikturenama , where she's a co founder.