Now in its 23rd year, India Fest will celebrate the prosperous exchange of Indian culture in our community with a free, full day of events at the Virginia Beach Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 10. Organized by the Asian Indians of Hampton Roads (AIHR), India Fest will showcase the finest foods from local Indian restaurants, mesmerizing dances, informative yoga demonstrations and an impressive collection of vendors.
Nawab Indian Cuisine, Saffron Indian Bistro, Tamarind and Monsoon Indian Bistro will be among the local restaurants providing exquisite servings of regional Indian cuisine. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to come together and try different types of food,” says Pradeep Patel, a member of the India Fest Food Committee. Visitors can also enjoy non-stop performances of Bollywood dances, fusion dances and traditional Indian dance competitions, all while browsing setups from exotic jewelry and designer clothes to spices and more.
AIHR’s NetCon, a local business-networking lounge, will also have its own designated space at India Fest that is accessible for professionals who purchase a separate admission ticket. “The proceeds from the event go to charity disaster relief and educational scholarships,” says President of AIHR Himangshu Dey.
Catering this year’s NetCon lounge is Nawab, a staple Indian eatery that has served the Coastal Virginia region since 1992. Nawab owner, Ashok Arora, has been a proud supporter of India Fest since the beginning, further explaining that Nawab was the festival’s sole culinary provider at the first event in fall 1995. Every year since, the cultural event has attracted thousands of patrons who demonstrate a growing interest in Indian culture and cuisine.
While a more extensive selection of food offerings will be served in the business lounge, Nawab will introduce two popular dishes to India Fest goers. The first plate, chicken tikka masala, is native to India’s northern region and appears colorful in both presentation and taste.
Arora explains that the creamy chicken entrée begins with an overnight marinade, followed by a slow bake in Nawab’s clay oven. The chicken is surprisingly tender and juicy and is perfectly balanced with the masala’s array of flavorful spices. Arora notes that when it comes to Indian cuisine, balance is paramount; just one dash too many can ruin a dish.
The masala is fragrant with garlic and tomato sauces and exudes a subtle layer of heat from the dish’s cayenne pepper. At the Norfolk restaurant, Arora serves his masala with housemade garlic naan.
Also coming from Nawab’s kitchen will be the highly sought-after masala dosa of India’s southern region. Described by Arora as an Indian crepe, masala dosa is a delicate, earthy and versatile wrap made with rice, lentil, potatoes, turmeric and onion. Due to the dosa’s lengthy fermentation process, the dish is not typically served at Nawab’s four locations, making it an extra special treat for India Fest attendees. Nawab’s Executive Chef Satnam Singh will prepare well over 1,000 servings of masala dosa for the event, each of which requires up to six hours of fermentation.
The dosa previewed at the Norfolk Nawab was prepared by fellow India Fest participant, Tamarind. Tamarind’s dosa is similar in both taste and appearance to Nawab’s and is served with sides of lentil soup and green coconut chutney. Dipping or stuffing the dosa with lentil soup brings warmth to the dish while the coconut chutney teases a pop of freshness and spice from the spread’s addition of green chiles.
A side of bhel also makes an appearance next to Tamarind’s dosa. Prepared with deep fried lentil, puffed rice, veggies and pomegranate seeds, bhel can be easily enjoyed on its own or as a complement to dosa’s various fillings.
Hinting at NetCon’s offerings, Arora also presents colorful platters of creamy chicken curry, vegetable curry, kabobs and vegetable korma.
Nawab and other local Indian restaurants will be serving regional, fusion and street foods at India Fest, Saturday, Nov. 10 from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Visit AIHR.org for more information.