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Avarekai Mela

Tuesday, January 15, 2013Me! In words

There are so many food festivals that happen in the city each year. While many of them happen in the five stars, there are so many that happen closer to home (in the case of this festival, quite literally). I hope to make it to all of these festivals this year - no matter what the crowd is like, the parking situation and all the other excuses I have been giving myself till now. I started with the Avarekai festival or the festival of the flat beans. It is the culmination of a enterprising woman's efforts - Mrs Geetha Sivakumar of Vasavi Condiments at Sajjan Rao Circle. Recognizing the love the city had for this bean and the number of organic farmers who needed an outlet to sell their wares, she brought the two together, along with several people who could cook a variety of dishes out of these beans and you have the Avarekai mela as we know it today. 

Around 40 cooks man this mela with around 13-15 dishes being prepared with avarekai as its core ingredient. We decided to head there for lunch on Sankranthi and thankfully the crowds were manageable. Here is a look at the festival and our experience. 

A very festive pandal set up outside Vasavi Condiments

The menu for the festival

The Avarekai

Hordes waiting for their turn

We started with the Avarekai akki roti (above) and Hithkebele saaru and Avarekai dosa (below). Hithkebele saaru is basically soaking the beans in water for a while and then pinching the skins of. The process is a bit tedious but the result brilliant. The saaru was really spicy and was heavy on the coconut and sambar onions. Nevertheless, both dishes were great. The cook here told us that close to 2500 people come there in the evenings.

Large woks boiling away with oil and having a lot of goodies put into them

We then moved on to the Masala Avarekai idli - slightly chewy because of the beans added, but when had steaming hot with the spicy saaru, this was really nice.

Avarekai Paddu in the making (above)
And in all their glory (below). A favorite with Anoushka, this was her lunch.

Curd onion Avarekai rings in the making

And in the tray, into our tummies

Honey jalebis in the making, not sure of the Avarekai element in here though

By far the highlight of the day for us was the Avarekai payasam with coconut and khus khus. Brilliant was an understatement and we had to hold ourselves back because there was also the obattu to taste. 

The assembly line like set-up for the obattu

On the tava. While this was frying away, the man mentioned that
he makes close to 3000 of these a day...

And then parceled and brought home for us

We spent close to an hour at the mela, yet could not get through all the dishes. We also brought home some Avarekai chitranna, which I forgot to take a picture of. It was a tad dry and needed the saaru to go with it. For all that we ate and parceled we spent not more than Rs 500 which was a brilliant price for a unique experience.

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