Bridging cultural divides, Bohra food festival tickles Karachi's taste buds
In a multicultural city like Karachi, such festivals convey a message that amid diversity, different communities are genially coexisting while keeping their identities, cultures, and lifestyles intact
Updated Sunday Feb 26 2023
The traditions, modus vivendi, history, and values of a community have a direct influence on the dynamics of its gastronomy. How they treat food from cooking to serving defines the culture of their cuisine.
Every community has its own twirl on the same food others consume and that's what makes one culinary culture unique from the other. The way "not all foods are cooked equal", "the taste is also in the mouth of the eater", according to some.
Arguably the best way to bridge the plethora of cultural divides is to work up our appetites to explore the foods celebrated by diverse communities, ethnicities, and belief systems around you. By the way, you don't have to go to Gujarat, India, to feast on the fantastic Gujarati food, so to speak.
With the aim to reach the hearts of the people of Karachi through their stomachs Karachi's Dawoodi Bohra Community organised a three-day food festival to highlight their culture and cuisine.
In a multicultural city like Karachi, such festivals convey a message that amid diversity, different communities are genially coexisting while keeping their identities, cultures, and lifestyles intact.
Arranged at the North Walk Mall in the city's Nazimabad neighbourhood, a large number of people attended the food festival and experienced different Bohra cuisines and their traditions. The festival commenced on February 24 and continued till February 26. The entry pass for the festival was Rs100.
The two-phased festival — arranged at two different venues — had nearly 100 mouth-watering food stalls offering Bohra chicken, Bohra biryani, cutlets, malai khaja, khaosay, gur papdi, bharta, sev puri, paani puri, dosa, pao bhaji, vada pao, and beverages.
The festival's highlight was the Bohra communal eating tradition in which eight people sit around one thaal ( a large round tray) and eat together. Diners start by tasting pinches of table salt, which is followed by partaking of sweet appetisers before the main course begins.
Mr Fazal, the event marketing supervisor, told Geo.tv the main idea of the festival was to promote Bohra cuisine, which a lot of people were not familiar with, and specifically offer 'one of its kind' thaal experience.
Fazal said apart from the food the festival also offered other activities such as children's cooking, playing, gaming, and a zip line.
Another organiser, who did not share his name, said they had been working for months to arrange the event. He said stalls selling food other than Bohra recipes were also allowed to take part in the festival.
He noted they had received positive feedback from the people of Karachi and lauded them for their effort in arranging the festival on such a scale. "The Bohra community hopes to increase the level of this festival and intends to make it a yearly event," he added.
The people attended the festival in large numbers and enjoyed the unique food while taking part in a wide range of recreational activities.
There also was a gaming station for the children where they could play while their parents enjoyed the food.
Munira Huzaifa, whose stall featured almost all famous Gujarati dishes at the festival, told Geo.tv she was surprised by the turnout and the praise she received for the distinguished flavours.
Fauzia, an attendee, said that she found the festival very enjoyable and was deeply impressed by the Bohra community's hygienic ways of preparing and cooking food.
"The food prices in the festival are relatively moderate compared to other food franchises out there which is commendable," she noted.
A woman selling homemade bakery items in one of the stalls said it was a very good experience for her as she was provided with an opportunity to present her community's food to people from different dietary cultures.
A Bohra community member said people at the food stalls were sharing recipes with each other.
She said some foods from other cultures contain only spices; however, "their food offers flavour alongside spices".
"Our community is passionately trying to perpetuate the legacy of foods and flavours our forefathers left to us with love and care," she shared.