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Food is the buzzword in Mumbai these days. There are a number of food festivals of varying scale and nature which celebrate the variety of food available in the city. Most of these happen in winter and spring when people are looking at enjoying the outdoors before the summer sun drives them in. Some of these festivals are organised by community organisations and some by media groups.
Here are five food festivals which have become pretty popular in Mumbai:
Vesava (Versova) Koli Food festival
This is the biggest and one of the oldest festivals celebrating the food of the local Koli fishing community. This is the best place to head to enjoy freshly caught seafood. Opportunities to enjoy Koli fare are pretty rare otherwise as there are hardly any Koli restaurants in Mumbai. You also get to see Kolis performing their traditional songs, dances and skits here while you eat.
Bandra Gym, Christmas Fair
This a great place to go to enjoy home-cooked Goan and East Indian dishes. Women from all over Mumbai set up stalls selling choriz (Goan sausage) pao, vindaloo and sorpotel. Christmas sweets such as marzipan, kulkul and guava cheese are on offer too. The mood is pretty festive and the dance floor on the Gymkhana grounds is quite busy.
Pathare Prabhu Festival
This festival organised by the Pathare Prabhu Mahila Samaj is held at the Pathare Prabhu hall in Khar. Like the Kolis, the Pathare Prabhus were one of the original inhabitants of Mumbai. Their food too is not available in restaurants. You can try dishes such as the unique prawn undhiyu, spicy keema, juicy garlicky prawn curry, freshly-fried bombil cutlets and prawn thali peeth at Bimba Nayak’s stall here. Soumitra Velkar has a counter where he sells tender mutton curry and zestful prawn pickles.
Upper Crust Food and Wine Show
This 11-year-old food festival presented by the Upper Crust magazine, has become quite the event to look forward to among the city’s food lovers. It has an array of exhibitors displaying various food and food related products and has chef demos too. The food court has representation from some heritage Mumbai eateries such as Noor Mohammadi, Shalimar and Bachelorr’s as well as relatively new entrants like Kakori House and Bong Bong. This makes it a good place to easily access food from some of the Mumbai’s local eating joints without travelling across the city.
The Great Food Show Mumbai
This festival organised by the BBC Good Food India magazine is into its second year now. It is an all-vegetarian affair. It drove excitement this year by bringing in some of the popular contestants from the last season of Masterchef Australia. An interesting introduction this year was the home-cook section put together by Meal Tango. It had home chefs offering innovative takes on Indian regional food which ranged from karela (bitter gourd) biryani to gajar ka halwa tarts.The 2015 edition is likely to be the last edition of the festival as it has been announced that the March 2015 issue is the last issue of the BBC Good Food India magazine before it shuts down.
Kalyan Karmakar authors the popular award winning blog, Finely Chopped and is an authority on the food of Mumbai. His extensive knowledge of the city's food scene has been featured in publications such as Femina, Mumbai Mirror and BCC Good Food. He was one of the founding critics of EazyDiner's Mumbai team.