Indian Food and Dance Festival in Phnom Penh!


the Taj Mahal


Here in Phnom Penh, the Capital City of the Kingdom of Cambodia, The Indian Food and Dance Festival was organized by The Embassy of India along with India Tourism and India Tourism Development Corporation, in coordination with one of the best Hotels in Cambodia, Naga World Hotel, at their Pangea Fusion Restaurant. The much awaited event was actively supported by the local Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Indian Association Cambodia (IAC). The festival was held from October 30-November 9, 2013. The Cambodian, Indian and the MNCs -(Multi-National Connoisseurs) of Exotic Food, got to relish the culinary talents of experienced Indian Chefs including Mr. Sanjay Dasari and Mr. M.C.Pal of Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi.


vilakku/lamp and pookkolam/flower arrangement



In India, Traditions vary from clan to clan – astonishingly they might vary from family to family too! Although,the overall festive nature can be the same. Here comes the importance of celebrating a festival, if not keeping track with the traditions. That is how, the celebration of Diwali with Indian Food and Indian Dance played a very significant part in rekindling the values and festive atmosphere at a home away from home!


vaazhai maram/banana tree at the entrance



The Chefs – Chef Pal and Chef Dasari from India and Chef Rana from Hotel Naga World

at work


Why call it a festival?

All festivals in India are marked by good music and very good food. The diverse nature of the nation, might be the result of the British, mapping the then different kingdoms, cultures, languages, cuisines and above all different races (Aryan, Dravidian and the Mongoloid) to one country! Not only did the 10 day program bring to true form the multi-ethnical cuisines from various parts of India, but also presented some enchanting classical dance performances from different regions of the country and the much adored Bollywood numbers by renowned dancers from Mumbai, India. Surely a memorable family event!


the main course -ready to be revealed!



 dosai from the chef


The Dancers specially arrived from India, solely for this event. The Madhurita Sarang School of Kathak is a renowned Arts school in Pune, Maharashtra. Under the able guidance of their Principal and Guru Ms. Archana Sunjay, a group of five of her students – wonderful, experienced artists gave one of the best ever Indian classical, Folk and Bollywood numbers that the city had ever seen.


the performers


The versatile performances made the event a huge success. Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Folk, Contemporary and Bollywood dances kept the spectators enthralled. The performances were not limited to the stage alone; the dancers also performed while the guests enjoyed variety Indian cuisine at the restaurant! While on stage it was a more classical affair…. at the restaurant the floor was open to folk and peppy bollywood beats.


A few clicks –


Kathak – (classical dance form of northern India)


the Guru



and her students




Bharata Natyam (classical dance form of Tamilnadu, southern state of India)










There are numerous festivals exclusive to individual states or some festivals celebrated with different names in most of the states. Diwali is one festival which is celebrated with different reasons in the same name throughout the country.


Diwali need not be the festival of lights throughout India (see In Tamilnadu, Karthigai Deepam is called the festival of lights. It is celebrated in the Tamil month of Karthigai which falls in November-December. Kaarthigai Deepam or Thirukkaarthigai is celebrated in all Shiva temples throughout Tamilnadu. But Thiruvannamalai temple holds a special place. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of fire – Agni Lingam in Thiruvannamalai.


The common feature of Diwali can be celebration of the victory of good over evil.

India is undoubtedly a country of Fusions – culture, cuisine, language and so on… Dance Performance without Fusion? There was some fusion dance too!



The essence of any festival depends on individual views – but none can deny the foremost -that’s Happiness. This year’s Diwali was certainly a true happy affair with the younger generation enjoying the fun loaded events and the older generation nurturing the festive emotion with the Indian touch of food, music and dance! The folk, contemporary and bollywood numbers brought in, the vigor of young India and true India.
Folk Dance – too fast for good clicks… I need to learn more on this (the clicks).








There was always an aura of freshness and unexpected turns in the numbers that were performed –


The Contemporary Dance sent everyone mesmerized –






The Food Festival


When it came to food – the chefs had brought most of India in their pockets. Chef Sanjay Dasari, a prominent chef in successfully leading various Indian Food Festivals around the world and Chef M.C.Pal, a specialist in authentic Indian desserts showcased Indian cuisine at its best.


Rasam and Soups; Appalams and Papads; Tandoori Rotis, Naans, Dosais, Aapams and Pulavs;  Plain Dal, Dal Makhani and a huge authentic variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian main courses; Grill corner – with prawns, chicken, fish and vegetables and a wide selection to Indian and Western desserts to choose from – I might have left out some more too that went uncounted yet digested well!


dosai, naan and potato dry curry…



dal and paneer..


photo courtesy (dal):keonila of


chicken and lamb..

DSC_4558_640pxIMG_3463photo courtesy (chicken):keonila of


the wide variety of desserts –



the unavoidable jilebi and gulab jamun…



Food Demonstration


The food festival was not restricted to the spread in the restaurant, it was an extended affair of learning from the chefs – a demonstration of easy yet authentic recipes was organized.



Three recipes –

1. kariveppilai era – marinated prawns with the flavour of curry leaves

2. meen moili – fish curry in coconut milk

3. sooji phirni set in glasses- semolina pudding

were demonstrated by Chefs Sanjay Dasari and Madhab Chandra Pal.


the chef –



and the platter – kariveppilai era and meen moili with pulav



the chef and the dessert – semolina pudding –



This was some mind blowing team effort transformed into a success story. The Indian Food and Dance Festival is over and the Chefs and Dancers have already left for India, yet the music and dance still lingers in the air and the taste of food is remembered during every meal. I think this would go on for a few days from now.. atleast till the next festivity steps in!


Recipes learnt – Kariveppilai Era, Meen Moili and Semolina Pudding in the next post.


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