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Second-annual Indian Food Festival Brings Home-cooked Dishes to Boise

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Last year's Indian Food Festival was such a rousing success that the vendors—volunteers for the Boise chapter of Association for India's Development—ran out of their home-cooked dishes. For this year's edition in Julia Davis Park on Saturday, Aug. 25, AID Boise President Aparna Limaye said festival organizers have a plan to make sure they can feed all comers.

"We're encouraging people to buy tickets ahead of time so that we can estimate and prepare our food accordingly," she said, adding that although the event and its carnival atmosphere of Indian music, dancing and merchandise is free, the food costs $2-$7 per dish. Hungry guests can buy their food tokens online in increments of $10 before the event, which runs from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Julia Davis Park Agriculture Pavilion.

A team of volunteers from AID Boise cooked and passed out dishes at the 2017 Indian Food Festival. - SHASHANK BANGALORE LAKSHMAN
  • Shashank Bangalore Lakshman
  • A team of volunteers from AID Boise cooked and passed out dishes at the 2017 Indian Food Festival.
Limaye said though there are plenty of Indian restaurants in town, they offer just a narrow slice of the country's cuisine. The festival, which draws on family recipes from Boise's Indian community prepared at home by volunteers, will represent a larger geographical area, hopefully offering Boiseans lunch options they've never tasted before.

"Most people, even people who are of Indian origin, do not get to taste a lot of the cuisine that they grew up with [while they're] in the U.S. So we thought that we would bring out the diversity within the cuisine itself, within India, because from north to south, east to west, there's so much variation and diversity in the flavors and the spices, in the taste, aromas, the way it looks, how it's served," Limaye said.

The menu spans more than 20 dishes, all of which are listed on the website. They include pani puri (crisps filled with vegetables and spices), sabudana khichadi (tapioca pearl pilaf) and paav bhaji (vegetable curry served on dinner rolls), as well as more familiar options like chicken biryani and samosas. Drinks, including mango lassi, lavendar lemonade, chai tea and thandai, will also be available.



Limaye said roughly 500 people attended last year's festival, with about 50 percent hailing from Boise's Indian community. - SHASHANK BANGALORE LAKSHMAN
  • Shashank Bangalore Lakshman
  • Limaye said roughly 500 people attended last year's festival, with about 50 percent hailing from Boise's Indian community.
That range of flavors serves the festival's goal of celebrating the Indian community in Boise and sharing its culture with locals. But selling the dishes will also support its other mission: raising money for AID Boise, a volunteer organization established 18 years ago, which provides funds to empower women and children in India. Though the roughly 30 national chapters of AID touch on everything from health and education to agriculture and entrepreneurship, the money from Boise's Indian Food Festival will go toward one specific project, which AID Boise has been funding for the last six years.

"We're supporting rural kids in a hilly region in India, and they don't have access to high school because usually the roads are washed away during the monsoon season," said Limaye. "We're focusing on that project. We've supported a hostel for those rural children, who can come and stay closer to the high school."

When pre-ordering food tokens online, festival guests also have the option of donating additional funds to AID Boise to further its charitable mission.