I stepped into the famous ‘Food Street’ in VV Puram and I was at once flooded with smell of hot vadas, and roasted Averebele. “Food Street” as the local community calls it, had been transformed into a culinary Mela in honour of Averebele, or cow beans. Averebele is a staple in Kannadiga cuisine and is extremely popular in winter season. The Mela is on till January 17th.
This Mela is organised every year by Vasavi Condiments, a store selling sweets and savouries in VV Puram. They hire street vendors from the area to make food items centred around Averebele for a period of ten days, every year. Vageeshi, one of the organisers said that Geetha Shivkumar, founder of the mela, overcame many obstacles to start this festival. With just an SSLC pass background, she broke barriers to start this tradition which has continued for over two decades and said that education was not as important as “attitude, motivation and social service”.
The festival had everything from traditional Karnataka favourites such as Ragi Mudde and Husli to Averebele Pani Puri.Vadas were being fried fresh in sizzling hot oil and utthapams were made with an interesting assortment of vegetables (including Averebele of course) and topped with a large quantity of butter. Regular street food vendors came together during this festival, all making their regular specialities, except this time with an added ingredient – Averebele. Mahadev, a street vendor from the adjoining lane is an expert at making “Dosa” and “Sadam” and comes to cook at this festival every year.
Many of the customers were regulars at the Mela and said that they enjoyed the traditional Karnataka style food with a twist. While some craved the crisp Vadas and mouth-watering “Payasa”, others come for the thin Dosas and the more interesting Averebele creations like Averebele mixture, and “Chikki.” Geethi Maleshappa and Tejaswi Ashwathanarayana who have been frequenting this festival for the last two years said that they love everything that is made here. Akarsh GV brought three of his friends from PES College after seeing the crowd at the Mela the previous day. He says he plans to bring more of his friends the day after even though he did confess that “my mom prepares better food than this!”
If nothing else, this Mela is definitely worth visiting for great tasting, reasonably priced south Indian food. ⊕