Monday, 20 May 2013

BOISHAKI MELA – Victoria Park Sunday 12th May 2013

It’s popularity saw this colourful event moving to Victoria Park from it’s previous 14 year Weavers Field venue, near Brick Lane in 2013. There were an estimated 275,000 visitors coming together to sample all that is Bangladeshi at this New Year (Boishaki) celebration. Indeed it’s the biggest event of it’s kind outside of Bangladesh and only Notting Hill Carnival attracts more people in London.

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t truly understand and therefore appreciate Asian signing and dancing although a large very enthusiastic crowd certainly seemed to do so in front of the main event stage. What brought me here was the energy, vibrancy, colour and large choice of food available: If there was one food stall there was a hundred!

The food varied from the usual suspects to immature coconuts, know as Jelly nuts that you simply lop part the top off, insert a straw and drink. Apparently the “milk” is far more refreshing when they are young.

Jelly Nuts
I passed on the coconuts and settled on a more obvious choice; a chicken and a lamb samosa made and cooked on the stall by the vendor’s mother and a biryani. The samosas were hot, crisp and well spiced and the biryani filling if not a little mysterious. I went for the vaguely titled “meat” version as a contrast to the chicken one that my son chose. I say mysterious as I could clearly ascertain beef and lamb but couldn't identify the third meat present. I’d take a guess that it was goat? Either way if you don’t like your meat cooked on the bone this would not be the choice for you. It was however well cooked. It was a weekend for exotic meats having sampled both a kangaroo and a springbok burger on Saturday at the much loved Borough Food Market that has grown significantly since my last visit a few months ago. Kangaroo is certainly interesting and a little gamey, however my palate was hard pushed to detect much difference to beef when it came to the springbok.

Apart from the food there were many stalls full of bling; beautiful bright women’s clothing finished with a myriad of sequins and beads and an astounding choice of big, brash costume jewellery. We didn't buy anything but each of us came away with a selection of sweets, 2 cans of Rubicon and a kg of Tolly Boy Rice…all free. What’s not to like about this event?

On the subject of Mela’s don’t miss the local Swindon Mela on Saturday 24th August 2013. No doubt I’ll also be blogging about it here.

Further images may be found on the Revealing Light website.

All images and text copyright Andrew Hill 2013

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