Malabar Food Maroli

Malabari Food Festival at Maroli

Now that the cold has settled upon us, I'm always looking for a hot, spicy meal to warm up my weekends. This Saturday and Sunday, things will really heat up in Koreatown for the inaugural Malabari Food Festival at Maroli.

Owner Naveen Polapady and his team of chefs will serve up a full day of delicious food from the Malabar, India. And for only $20, hungry patrons can experience a celebration of food preparation and presentation from Malabar's unique culinary region.

Maroli Indian

Being familiar with Maroli's delicious Indian fare, I was pleasantly surprised by the dishes associated with the Malabar region - even thought I was hesitant to try the bull's testicles, everything else is beyond delicious and so I will safely assume they are too.

Malabari food, as in other regions in India, relies heavily on curry, tamarind and masala spices. However the offerings at this Saturday's food festival certainly demonstrate Malabar's surprising cultural and culinary variety.

Boasting a unique Indian cuisine, Malabari food has clearly been influenced by French, Portuguese, Italian and Arab culinary arts as they came to the region. The strong spices are balanced with the heavy use of seafood and of coconut milk - present in nearly every dish, but with a host of different flavours and preparations. Shrimp Malabari, the equivalent to a staple like butter chicken but with poached shrimp in a tamarind sauce, is to die for.

All of the dishes are much heartier than typical Indian fare, featuring oysters, mussels and several different red meats. Buffalo and moose meat are also used on the menu, which is quite rare in other areas of India. Coconut oil, used in almost all preparations, adds an underlying sweetness to the meat dishes, and allowed me to pile on the spicy Kappa/Casava. For vegetarians, Pappadoms, vegetable stew, and mixed rice dishes (sort of like paella) will easily make a tasty vegetarian meal.

Maroli fruit

Being the only Malabari restaurant in the city, Maroli's expert chefs are excited to introduce Toronto to a new variety of fine Indian cuisine. This weekend's Food Festival will offer preparation demos and tasting of over 20 items unique to Malabari cuisine, as well as dessert and wine tasting.

Owner Naveen and his wife Snigdha are thrilled to host the inaugural event, taking place from noon to 10pm, and promise to offer an intimate and delectable experience - even for those too timid for testicles.

Photos courtesy of Pete Forde

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