|Crowds outside Stall 38|
|Note: the Koli lady's mangalsutra in the foreground|
|Stuffed crab demolition in progress|
|Tiny shrimp in a delicious gravy|
On from January 24 to 26 this year, the annual festival is attracting bigger crowds. In an open ground, adjacent to the fish market and the Koli village located at the end of Yari Road. Go here to feast on seafood in a traditional “mela” type atmosphere.
Rawas, pomfret, surmai, bombil, squid and many other fish along with shellfish like tisri, shrimp, lobster and crab in every koli preparation possible from sukha masala, to curry and tandoori is available. Curries are semi prepared and served warm, the t frying and tandoori is done in front of you. Simply delicious. Roti made of rice flour is the popular accompaniment. Though many stalls have biryani. Lots of Koli style sweets including something stuffed into a banana and cooked abound.
There is something for everyone - Alcohol, alongwith soft drinks, sol kadi, candy floss and popcorn.
Dried fish and pickles (prawn pickle anyone?) are being sold.
The women are dressed up beautifully, decked up with lovely heavy gold mangalsutras, bangles and earrings. In some stalls, the women are uniformly dressed in matching saris and cholis, worn by all.
The women are helped by their sons and daughters. The girls, tees and jeans are lovely to look at, with luminous complexions. Sarika Foka Sathi (Stall 38) is the reason we went last year. She is a college graduate, manages a Domino’s pizza store and has travelled abroad as part of an incentive programme. She is also the mother of a 2 month old baby. I say this, so you know that today’s Kolis are no longer the simple fisher folk of yesteryear.
Variety entertainment, Koli folk style, plays out on the stage, while a temple in the centre of the field, is lit up gaily and dominates. Its bell is rung at regular intervals.
The mood is festive: mela-ish and good fun.
Cost:If you eat prudently and abstain from eating giant crab and lobster the cost per head for a filling and delicious meal could be as low as Rs 300/-. However partaking of lobster and giant crab would push up the cost.
We had stuffed giant crab, tandoori lobsters, whole tandoori rawas, stuffed squid, fried shrimp, and 2 different shrimp curries, tisri in sukha masala with roti. Our cost for 4 people was Rs 2200/- working out to Rs 550 per person for a feast! Well worth it! We ate at 3 stalls.
Though the stalls behind the temple (35-40) are very crowded due to aggressive marketing (which I truly admire), I believe you could do well to eat at the stalls directly in front of you, in a line on the left when you enter. The same cuisine is offered across the stalls – here the food is priced better and there is more space to sit, the service is better too. Feel free to ask for a discount, you may actually get one.
I noticed its better attended and better organised than last year with pay and parking at the market on the main road.