Kahalam: A Kerala In Bangalore
Kahalam, which means the sound of a bugle, is a two-day Kerala Food and Music Festival that solely aims to raise funds for the children of St. Mary’s school sponsored by the St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Jalahalli, held at Manpho Convention Centre at Nagawara, on July 16th and 17th from 10 am to 10 pm.
The hall was followed by an open-space with stalls that had soda, Mercedes-Benz test-drive cars, and another something as strange as Malayalam matrimonial site stall. But what would grab ones attention is definitely the food!!
With a hustle bustle of people, it felt like I had been transported to a complete different state where even the air screamed Kerala and the live music playing to set a certain mood. To differentiate, the crew was dressed up in white T-shirts and orange P-Caps that read Kahalam. Apart from their clothes, they all had something in common – A smile and the willingness to help. They also had perfect knowledge about the State they were representing and its language.
The event that expected at least 15,000 people functioned completely on coupons. The hall had in it, 10 food stalls and more than 100 types of food from Kerala cooked by a team called the Kappa Chakka Kandhari who have not only travelled the length and breadth of Kerala to pick up different foods, but have also picked up people who are merely passionate about cooking to come and participate for this event. The event also had various renowned chefs from cities like Chennai participating in this fund-raising event.
And so with the help of the menu given to me, I ventured out to experiment the different kinds of food that they had to offer, beginning with the Prawn Ularthiyath (prawns roasted with garlic and spices). Another recommended food item was Meen Vatiichathu (sea fish cooked in an earthen ware) accompanied with Puttu (rice and coconut dumplings). While these spices caused me tears, I needed something sweet to calm my taste buds. And so I had two scoops of the unusual flavor of Jackfruit ice-cream, Unniappam (deep-fried dumplings filled with coconut and jaggery) and Unnaikai (deep-fried bananas stuffed with coconut and jiggery). I went on to finishing my coupons by eating some Kappa Vevichathu (Tapioca with grated coconut), Pazham Pori (ripe Banana fritters) and wrapped it up with Chakka Ada (rice pancakes filled with jackfruit and coconut) and Chukku Kaappi (dry ginger and palm jiggery black coffee).
I could go on and on and on with different spices and sweets that played around in my mouth just when I ran into Mr. Abraham Marrett, the man behind the idea of Kahalam. Mr Marrett took me on a tour of his journey as to why this seemed like an important idea to execute. Being the 50th years of celebration of the church, he didn’t want to do what all churches do when they complete a silver jubilee or a golden jubilee. He didn’t believe that God wanted fresh paint on churches. Instead, he believed that human beings have been sent to this planet for a reason. For this reason, he wanted to do something where people from everywhere would come together to participate in an event like this.
He quoted in Malayalam, “Before religion came into being, this earth was heaven.”
While believing that we must move on with time, Mr. Marrett and a few friends set out to do something different this time in order to create a corpus for the following generation. “We’ve to move with time,” he said. “We can’t be stuck at 3rd gear. Need to move to the 4th.” This is also another reason why he organized the inter-church band competition wherein about 50 bands from different cities came together to compete with each other. This event was also judged by Ouesepachhen, an Indian music composer. Marrett also believes that as much as he enjoys choirs, children of this age must be able to put their talents to use. Which is why, though the food is the highlight of the event; it is also a musical celebration.
With this, the evening was wrapped up with a concert by M.G Sreekumar (two-time National Award-winning Indian playback singer), Ranjini Jose and Tinu Tellence. It was, indeed, a musical and memorable “neo-stalgic” gastronomic journey!!