Festival of Pakistani Food And Fashion Mesmerises Visitors

ABU DHABI - Traditional Pakistani cuisine is definitely not for the faint-hearted and delicate tongues, if one goes by the festival of Pakistani tastes and flavours currently being featured at Millennium Hotel in Abu Dhabi till Friday.

By Olivia Olarte

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Published: Fri 24 Jul 2009, 12:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 8:00 PM

The four-day festival, which started on Tuesday night, has seen dignitaries and mission representatives sample the Pakistani food which boasts not only of spices but enticingly rich flavour and aroma.

Pakistan Ambassador Khursheed Ahmed Junejo opened the “Taste and Flavour of Pakistan” festival at the Millennium Hotel in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.—KT photos by Iftikhar ShaheediPakistani Ambassador Khursheed Ahmned Junejo described his country’s cuisine as a “fusion from three Asian regions: Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia”.

“Pakistani cuisine is often spicy and is known for its richness and flavour,” he said.

“The cuisine we have selected are those particular culinary hot dishes that are not normally available in any of the hotels (in the UAE), so we have specially called chefs from Pakistan as well as chefs based in the UAE to come over here and prepare food for the next four days,” said Bilal Khan Pasha, commercial counsellor at the Pakistani Embassy who organises the festivities.

True to his word, the diners’ taste buds were treated to tangy entrées of palak gosht, pakodakarhi, sajji, chicken masala, kebabs, nihari, mango pickles and very hot chicken biryani.

To cool down the palate, there is a good variety of Pakistani sweets such as Rooh Afza drink and several mango treats including freshly made mango ice-cream, mango cake, mango lassi and mango shakes. According to Pasha, there are around 50 varieties of mangoes in Sindh province and more than 50 in Punjab province and each varies in taste, shape and texture. The best quality mangoes are available from May 28 to August 20.

A visitor takes a closer look at some of the glass creations at the festival.“There are eight varieties of mangoes being exported to the UAE and being sold at major supermarkets. The UAE is the third largest market for Pakistani mangoes with more than 20,000 tonnes being exported (per season),” said Pasha. With one million Pakistanis living in the UAE, over 300,000 in Abu Dhabi alone, Pasha lamented the lack of Pakistani food outlets that cater to them. At present, there are around eight to ten quality Pakistani restaurants spread across the UAE and only one in Abu Dhabi.

The embassy is embarking on bringing here more food chains from Pakistan. “In the future, we’ll be seeing opening of (more) Pakistani restaurants in the UAE, particularly in Abu Dhabi. Three food chain groups (Barbeque Delight, The Village and Haveli) in Pakistan are planning to open restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai by the end of the year,” he said.

Barbeque Delight, which already has two branches in Dubai, will be opening a branch in Abu Dhabi.

The festival also highlighted the Pakistani textiles and garments with a brief fashion show of creations by famous Pakistani designer Amir Adnan.

Spectators were enthralled as students from Preston University modelled their grand apparels inspired by the different ethnic designs of Pakistan. Men sashayed in couture shalwar kurtas and sherwani and women in kurtis and evening gowns.

Amir Adnan is Pakistan’s first international label and has the largest enterprise of designer clothing in the Asian country. The brand’s men’s sherwani starts from Dh2,500 while evening gowns cost between Dh5,000 and Dh10,000. The kurtis and kurtas cost Dh300 to Dh2,000.

Aishwarya Ajit, a spokesperson of Amir Adnan Trading, said the brand has been in Dubai for the last five years and has participated in Dubai Fashion Week last April.

“We are encouraging them to participate more and we will be encouraging more and more Pakistani fashion brands to come and participate in the local exhibition — Fashion Arabia and Abu Dhabi Fashion Week,” said Pasha.

The four-day affair is just the first of many festivals planned by the embassy in Abu Dhabi. “The next festival of Pakistani cuisine and fashion will be held after Eid and (similar festivals) will be (held every two or three months thereafter,” he added.


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