Indien Fest Cologne, India in Germany (Consulate General of India, Frankfurt), Friends of India in Germany and Kölner Indienwoche Community joined forces to celebrate India Day in Cologne on 29th June 2019. I saw the event on Facebook, and decided to go in hopes of getting delicious Indian food.
Mother Nature decided to contribute with India-like weather as well. It was extremely hot, and the sun seemed much lower than his designated spot. I wanted to go in early but as it was an open air festival, I waited for sun to calm down a little and reached Neumarkt around 6:30pm as the event was to end at 7.
As I walked from parking towards the venue, I could hear Yo Yo Honey Singh’s Lungi Dance from two streets away. It felt great, and I could imagine people already dancing while shaking their imaginary lungi.
I was blinded by sun as soon as I reached the square. It was busy but not suffocatingly crowded. Weather must have kept more than a handful from braving the trip. There were food stalls on both sides of the square, followed by a few handicraft, heena and tourism booths. On one end, there was a massive stage, where performing groups had been showcasing Indian dancing forms – Kathak, Bopllywood, Bharatanatyam, Bengali and Marathi variations, and kids group dances.
I had expected food stalls to mainly carry street food but many had proper meals as well – biryani, lemon rice with coriander chutney, butter chicken, goan fish curry and kuttu roti. This was in addition to a wide range of snackable – vada pav, dahi wada, sago khichadi, bhel puri, nankathai, Bombay toast, samosa chaat, and more.
I started with gulab jamun and jal jeera. Dessert wasn’t too sweet (and that’s a good thing), and jal jeera would have been good if served cold. I went to check out the stalls after in the same lane but as I paused to read the menus, I could smell the food. It was definitely going off. We feared as much because most stalls had no refrigeration and the food must have been out in the heat for over seven hours. I turned away.
I got some more snacks from another stall across the funky smelling booth – lamb roll, vegetable samoosa, pakoras and mango lassi. Lamb roll was SO GOOD, and mango lassi refreshing.
The only person who ate wholeheartedly in my group of 3 was me. Others feared that the food must have gone off because of heat, and only nibbled like old English ladies. So, to feed their paapi pait, we went to Vapiano before calling it a night.
It was a good effort by Indian Consulate, and would have been a lot more enjoyable had it not been as hot as it was. Also, ending it all at 7 was a little premature, especially as days are a lot longer in summer and evenings are cooler. Also, it could have definitely used some more stalls, with accessories, fashion, yoga workshops, etc.
I would rate it 7/10, and would probably not go back the next year unless the number of stalls doubles.
P.S yes, I did have an upset stomach. I had cramps 15 minutes after we left Neumarkt, and two gloating faces looking at me. But in all fairness, this would have happened if I had street food in Karachi as well. My stomach is just not as strong as it used to be.