Starting 4pm today, Karachi will be eating. And for good reason too as Karachi Eat 2016 is bringing together the city’s rich food diversity at Frere Hall until Sunday evening.
The three-day festival enters its third year with the addition of koyla karhai, Rajjo ice-cream, Sattar Buksh and Tempt Asian, along with the favourites, churros and khao suey.
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The 88 stalls will be hosted primarily by local businesses, offering face painting, shirt printing, photo booths as well as a stage for open mic night. Two artists, whose names the organisers did not reveal, are also scheduled to play at the venue on all evenings. The timings for Saturday and Sunday are from noon to 11pm.
The festival is getting bigger every year. “We had 50 stalls and around 7,000 people visited every day on average,” recalled the festival organiser, Cyra Anklesaria. In the second year, the festival had 75 stalls and around 12,000 people visited each day. “We are expecting a lot more this year.”
With their social media campaign, the festival has already made Karachi residents excited. “Last year’s festival was huge but their Facebook page is promising a lot more this year,” said an exciting foodie, Javeria Batool, who has attended the festival the last two times. It is the best place to spend the weekend with friends and family, she said.
Anklesaria shared how they had to turn away people from the main entrance as they ran out of space. “The venue was heavily crowded and there was no parking space left,” she said, adding that the stalls will be spread over a larger part of the Frere Hall gardens.
The organisers have also rented some empty plots near the venue for additional parking space, along with hiring two valet car services. Karachi Eat 2016 has also collaborated with Careem, an app through which you can book a taxi to pick you from your house and drop you at the venue.
These arrangements will surely be appreciated by visitors, many of whom were upset with the long wait for parking spots. Moiz Siddiqui, a regular visitor, complained how he spent an hour on the road just to find a decent place to park his car. “Being a food lover, I will go this year too. But it will be great if the organisers have made some arrangements for parking,” he said.
“The best thing about Karachi Eat is the food, food and food,” said Shanila Aslam, who claimed she enjoys everything from the bun kebabs to gol gappays, from pizzas to baked goods - food items rarely found under one roof.
Down memory lane
When you ask Anklesaria what inspired her to kick-start this festival, she pointed directly at her boss Omar Omari of CKO Events. “I work for Omar Omari and this specific event started with the thought of how Brits love the festival ‘Taste of London’ in England,” she said.
“Since I am a foodie, he approached me to start this event, which we are holding consecutively for the past two years in the winter season,” she added.
The organisers wanted to keep the prices affordable so each serving cannot be priced at above Rs200. There is, however, an entry fee of Rs250 to enter the Frere Hall gardens.
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Apart from food, the organisers also allow charities to place their stalls so people can contribute if they wish, explained Anklesaria.
After Karachi Eat, the festival will be making its way to Lahore in March. It will be held from March 4 to March 6 at Polo Ground, with 45 stall owners already confirmed.
Anklesaria has big plans for the festival and hopes to take it outside Pakistan. She plans to hold Pakistan’s All You Eat festival in Dubai, Turkey or New Delhi. “This will take some time to take off,” she confided.
Look out for the following stall at the festival:
Chapli Kebab House
Rajjo Ice Cream
Khyber Kayla Karahi
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2016.