KOCHI: The Anglo-Indians once had a favourite dish nicknamed the bad-word curry. As hilarious as it may sound, it was another name for the meatball curry. Apparently, the community forefathers considered the word ‘ball’ derogatory which is how the bad-word curry found its place into their food vocabulary. “The Anglo-Indians in Kozhikode still have a hearty laugh when they talk about this traditional cuisine. They have hoards of similar stories -- of their food and their culture that they wish to share.
The Ofir Food Fest, which was organised in Kozhikode provided them with the right platform,” said food enthusiast Aysha Mahmood, who along with her six friends-Naseeb, Nana Muhammed, Shafee Ahmed, Sajeev Kumar and Vikram Chandrasekhar, hosted the fest that concluded on Sunday.The fest, according to Aysha, celebrated the various cuisines of the 30-odd communities in Kozhikode. These included the Bhatkally, Bohra, Thiyya, Gujarathi, Moplah, Konkani Gouda Saraswat Brahmin, Iyers, Syrian Christian, Anglo Indian, and the Goan Mangalorean Konkani communities.
“The Gujarati street in Kozhikode is a hub of various businesses.
Next to it, is the Bohra Masjid in Kuttichira, which is considered the Moppila centre in Kozhikode.
This peaceful co-existence of several communities, inspired us to organise Ofir,” says Aysha.
Love for food and culture
It was her love for food which inspired the food enthusiast in Aysha to organise this event. “I live in Taiwan with my family. I have always been passionate about food and learning more about its culture. Last Eid, I had prepared food videos for 30 days at a stretch, which were uploaded on social media where I explored various menus,” she said. Her brother was the one behind the revival of the Gujarati street in Kozhikode and so Ayesha was well aware of the pulse of the people there. “As we started holding talks among the communities, we realised that they were extremely interested in showcasing their culture,” she said. However, there were apprehensions whether vegetarian dishes would sell as well considering the affinity that the people had towards non-vegetarian dishes.
“However, it was interesting to observe how each community organised their stalls. In fact, everyone was encouraging and it was beautiful,” she said. Several community meetings were held prior to the fest. “We roped in prominent chefs from various hotels to prepare the dishes. Several menus, some of the oldest and most traditional, were written down and given to the chefs to prepare. We cross-checked with each community to find out if we got everything right. At the end, the Ofir food fest was a celebration,” said Aysha. The organisers say they hope to make it a yearly event where they hope to rope in more communities from across Kerala.
Ofir Food Fest
The Ofir Food Fest derives its name from name Ophir which is a mystical port mentioned in the Bible as a vibrant, opulent place where huge vessels docked every three years to carry spices, peacocks, ivory, gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls and monkeys for King Solomon. One of the many theories is that Ophir is Beypore, according to Aysha.