This past weekend, the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival’s celebrated its 9th year! This was my first time attending the festival and I must admit that I was blown away by the seminars, learning events, and tasting tents! Featuring chefs from all over the south, the festival made sure to highlight key influences on southern cooking styles, particularly South Asian cuisines.
Meherwan Irani is the founder of both Chai Pani and Botiwalla restaurants as well as his spice collection, Spicewalla. As a child, Meherwan’s mother forbid him from eating street food because of her fear of him getting sick. Meherwan shared stories about him digging for coins in his mother’s purse, skipping class, and sneaking out the house just to enjoy Indian street food with his buddies, which in turn was the inspiration behind his popular, Indian street food brands. I had the pleasure to try one of Meherwan’s street snack staples, Behl Puri, which is a combination of puffed rice, vegetables, and sweet n’ spicy chutney. The flavors of the sweet onions paired with savory chutney was so refreshing in the summer heat. Be sure to try it out at one of Meherwan’s restaurants!
Farhan, aka Farmo, is both a dentist and featured contestant on Master Chef. Famous for recreating southern dishes with a South Asian flare, Farhan showcased his Karee buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with pickled jalapeño, garlic curry leaf jalapeño sauce, in a sweet Hawaiian bun. I had the pleasure to try his delicious twist on a southern fried chicken sandwich. The chicken was so tender and had a kick of heat, complemented by the cooling yet spicy jalapeño sauce. I think Chick-fil-a might have found their next competition?
Samantha Fore is a Sri Lankan Kentucky native who finds home in traditional cooking. With very little Sri Lankan restaurants within the southern states, Samantha focuses on filling the void with her Sri Lankan twists on southern staples. Samantha whipped up her specialty shrimp and vegan grits. The shrimp was cooked with sweet tomatoes in an aromatic and savory curry sauce, poured over a bed of hot grits. Who knew Sri Lankan cuisine had such overlap with your average shrimp and grits?
What I enjoyed most about this festival was that attendees could interact with chefs outside of the restaurant. Both Farhan and Samantha took the liberty to discuss what their experience was like growing up South Asian in the South, and felt as though food was the bridge that connected the two cultures for them. As a South Asian food blogger, attending these particular seminars really resonated with me because I can also relate. South Asian and Southern cuisines have A LOT in common. Both cultures fry food, eat tons of meat, have a share of vegetables, and crank up the heat. The evolution of food is intertwined in so many cultures, and the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival did an outstanding job at selecting chefs who could truly capture the interconnectedness.
I hope you all enjoyed this post!
Until next time,
The Spicy Savor