KARACHI: Little straw grass stools, low chokhi, charpoys, horse carts without the animal, tilted upwards and parked against pillars, matka or clay water carriers and oil lanterns … that’s Punjabi culture for you, and it was all there at the Frere Hall lawns on Saturday at the Punjab Eat Festival.
As for the food, well, the sarsoan saag, makai roti, lassi and home-made butter though all desi Punjabi delights could not be enjoyed so much by the connoisseurs of Punjabi food here due to being rather pricey. A deal of one little makai roti, with a spoon of mustard spinach and glob of white butter with a small glass of saltish lassi cost Rs200. So after one helping the customers with still some space left in their tummies moved away to another stall for chaat or something else to satisfy the palate. Alas a plate of chaat, too, cost Rs120.
Naqia Ali and Shazia Saifuddin said that their family was originally from Punjab so having visited there several times they were hoping to find special Multani chaat. “No, this tastes like regular Karachi chaat and gol gappay,” said Naqia.
“And where do we dispose of the plastic plates and spoons?” Shazia asked looking around. “Are the matkas for decoration or for collecting rubbish?” she asked.
Meanwhile, Najamuddin Saqib at the Super Chaat Corner stall said that he knew very well the difference between the chaat sold in Punjab and Karachi chaat. “Punjabi folk prefer to have their chaat with sweet chutney while we here want more spices,” he explained.
But Mahboob Elahi, making chicken tikka at Faiz-i-Mushtaq Catering stall said that people of Karachi don’t like much spices on their tikka like those in Punjab. “Here we complaint if anything is too hot or spicy so I am concentrating more on flavour than spices,” he said.
One visitor complained that the entry ticket at Rs250 each was too much and after paying that much to come to the festival she was not happy about the food being so expensive, too. But another visitor said that he was glad to be there despite the hole in his pocket. “It is fine if the food at the festival costs too much. It is still something lively where my family got an enjoyable outing. All these food festivals are good for lending moments of joy to Karachi,” he said.