This year was the first time I have had the chance to go along to Leeds Asian Festival in Roundhay Park. This happened at the start of September and was probably the last day of sunshine in the UK that 2012 is going to experience!
The Leeds Asian festival, as I am told, used to have a different name, as did the one in Bradford, but this year it was simply marketed as ‘Leeds Asian Festival’, which works for me. It took place in Roundhay Park, which is a huge and gorgeous park at the north of the city center and pays host to many different events throughout the year. In the areas surrounding Roundhay, there are a lot of Asian families residing – mostly of Indian and Pakistani origin. It is designed to celebrate everything that has to do with Asian culture and it is the biggest Asian event in Leeds. Now, anyone who knows me will know I bloody love bhangra dancing and could watch it all-day long, as well as the accompanying drumming. There was a lot of musical acts throughout the day, including belly dancing, bhangra, and the (sort of semi-famous) Apache Indian!
There is also an array of stalls at this event, with raffles for charity and other important stands, such as the NHS Give Blood campaign. There was also my favorite stall of the day – Hijablicious – which I think is such a fab name for a company who makes really beautiful and up-to-date clothing ranges. Check out their blog! There was also the usual festival stuff such as fairground rides, balloon sellers, and the all-important ice cream vans!
Of course, one of the main things about Asian culture which is much enjoyed and celebrated in England is the awesome food! This festival was no exception and we all enjoyed an array of items including samosas, mango lassi, daal, curry with naan, tikka kebabs, and paneer pakoras. The highlight of the food however was something I had never tried before, called Pani Puri and it came from a Birmingham-based stall specializing in vegetarian food. You can see in the photo below, the man making it for us and the sign detailing what it is made of but the funnest part is definitely eating it. We were given the little things on a plate with a glass of tamarind-type juice. We were told you should fill each open parcel with the juice stuff and then put the whole thing in your mouth at once (this was no easy feat given that some of the parcels were quite sizable!). Then at the end, you drank the leftover tamarind stuff, which was spicy hot hot!
The pani puri was a highlight for us, as we all enjoyed trying something new (and hey – who doesn’t love “fun food”?) but coupled with the sunshine, great atmosphere, and lovely dancing this was, all in all, a very enjoyable event.