Prepare your taste buds for a vacation of the senses at the Indian Food Festival, a three-day event taking place Oct. 24-26 at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. The event will feature live music, belly dancing, art, henna, hookah and the cuisine of Bharat.
“This is the first time we do it, but we plan on celebrating this every year,” said Ruben Holguin, event director.
Authentic dishes to be served include chicken curry, which is simmered in chile powder, onions, cumin and other spices; tandoori chicken, which is marinated in a blend of ginger, garam masala, paprika and other herbs and served with yoghurt, naan bread and sala; chole, which is chickpea and spinach simmered with curry, turmeric, coriander and other spices; Persian Kebab, which includes beef mixed with onions and spices skewered, grilled and topped with cilantro yoghurt; and samhar, a lentil-based vegetable stew simmered in a broth made of tamarind herbs and spices.
The festival will also have other options for children or those who cannot eat Indian food, including burgers and hot dogs.
Holguin and his stepfather, Alex Cooke, native of India and 35-year resident of El Paso, worked together to organize the festival.
“We’ve seen the Greek Festival in the past, but we’ve never really seen a festival for India, and the population in El Paso is pretty extensive when it comes to that culture,” Holguin said.
The festival will come alive with Bollywood music and dancing, he said.
“We know that belly dancing is traditionally Arabic, but at the same time it’s been embraced by the American culture and it parallels with the Indian community,” Holguin said.
Cooke said he hopes the festival teaches El Pasoans some facts about India that they may not have known.
“India was the first to start the spice trade — they were one of the biggest [producers] for spices in the world,” Cooke said. “That’s why we’ve got over 250 different spices.”
The festival is funded through several sponsors, including Rio Bravo Wholesale Fabrics, Kalamata’s Cusine, Rent-A-Chef and Time Warner Cable. Several vendors will be set up at the festival, offering food, trinkets, henna and eyebrow threading.
Holguin said he expects as many as 5,000 people to attend the festival.
“We’ve had a lot of responses,” he said.
“[The festival will] let the community come together and celebrate a culture that is dominant in El Paso, yet not really outspoken.”
Indian Food Festival
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church,
124 S. Festival Drive
Friday, Oct. 24, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 25, noon to 11 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 26, noon to 8 p.m.
Entrance fee of $2 for guests ages 13 and older
For list of events, visit epfoodfest.com.