I try to keep my ear to the ground about foodie events happening in the area. Nothing worse than only hearing about something after its happened. I was delighted to spot a piece about an Asian Food Festival on the STV Aberdeen App and got in touch with organiser Aakanksha to find a wee bit more about it. She explained that she was holding the festival to support her upcoming challenge of Tuk-Tuking her way around India fundraising for Alzheimers Society and Breast Cancer Care. I Googled the street foods of "Vada Pav" from the west and "Medhu-Vada" from the South both of which Aakanksha recommended and decided we'd definitely head along. Hopefully I also managed to encourage a few more folk to attend as I shared the details on my Facebook page and Twitter and with the Aberdeen Food & Drink Lovers Meetup Group.
We arrived just before 5pm and the Ferryhill Community Center was jam packed with people and there was an absolutely wonderful aroma. A wristband at the door meant you could come and go as you pleased and a food voucher system was in use so the stall holders weren't handling cash. We wandered round having a good look at all the stalls, taking in the buzzing atmosphere and meeting organiser Aakanksha before we had our first taste of Asia.
All the stalls had very clear details of what they were selling with a list of ingredients. Really useful when we didn't have a clue what many of the dishes were. The stallholders were so friendly and enthusiastic about their homecooked food and were more than happy to answer questions and advise what was a wee bit on the spicy side and what might blow your head off.
Idli, Medu Vada and Poha Vada were on our first plateful along with a chutney. The Idli were a plain steamed rice dumpling. Very dense in texture and not much flavour. They didn't really do it for me. The donut shaped Medu Vada were fantastic. I can see why this is a popular street food in the South. The Poha Vada were equally good. We returned for a second plateful of both.
Next another of Aakanksha's recommendations. There was a huge queue at this stall and their three dishes of Puran Poli, Paav Bhaji and Wada Pav were going like the proverbial hot cakes. Absolutely loved the Wada Pav. The Indian version of a burger. A battered spiced potato patty served in a bun. I was intrigued as to why the top of the bun was also spread with butter. I made the mistake of assuming that the Puran Poli was a savoury flatbread. Its sweeteness may have been why I was asked if I wanted it on a separate plate. It tasted amazing. Like a thin Peswari Nann.
Boy was very excited to spot Pani Puri. He duly explained that he'd watched Kirstie Allsopp make it on Jamie & Jimmy's Friday Night Feast. Needless to say he was desperate to try it. Deep fried puffed up pastry discs formed pouches for a variety of fillings including the spicy flavoured water or Puri. Pani=bread, Puri=Water. These were amazing. A real taste and texture explosion in the mouth.
Whilst queuing for our Pani Puri we got chatting to the adjacent stallholder and promised to come back and try their Misal Pav. Another amazingly good dish consisting of a curry of sprouted lentils topped with what I would describe as bombay mix. Fantastic texture and a real kick of flavour. We washed it down with a bright pink glass of super sweet Rooh Afza Lassi.
Whilst three of us were more than happy to tuck into the selection of Indian food on offer it wasn't exactly girl's thing. However she was delighted to track down some western food and thoroughly enjoyed her Macaroni Cheese, Mango Juice and Sticky Toffee Pudding.
A fantastically well organised festival bringing a real taste of Indian street food to Aberdeen. I really hope this will become a regular event. Over 500 people through the doors and £700 raised. Follow Aakanksha's crazy adventure through India on a glorified lawnmower on the Rickshaw Chronicles.