Organizing a food festival that aims to introduce the average American Joe to the diversity of Indian cuisine in Manhattan, just a few blocks away from a neighborhood known as Curry Hill for its many Indian restaurants, may appear curious. Yet the inaugural Varli Food Festival, which will take place April 7, has attracted quite a lot of attention: Close to 600 people are set to attend the event, for which tickets have already sold out. Around 30 restaurants and 14 high-profile chefs, including celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor will be participating.
“The aim of the event was to attract people who don’t eat Indian food and to give them an opportunity to try samplers,” says Varli Singh, the event’s organizer. She said the pattern of ticket sales showed there is an equal interest among Indian expats living in New York. Ms. Singh, 33, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Varli Magazine, a monthly that is distributed across restaurants in the U.S.’s Northeast.
One of the aims of the festival is to showcase the diversity of Indian food, an aspect that has been overshadowed by cultural stereotypes, according to Mr. Kapoor. “Unfortunately for many foreigners Indian food is chicken tikka masala, naan, tandoori chicken or saag paneer,” he says. The festival advertises itself as a food, wine and dessert-tasting event, an odd combination since Indian cuisine is rarely matched with wine.
Calling all Indian Food Lovers in Manhattan!!