The fifth edition of Ahare Bangla, the annual food festival, kicked off today at Bidhannagar Central Park ground. Officially launching the ‘pantua’ made by Mother Dairy at the inaugural ceremony, state animal resources development minister Swapan Debnath said, “This festival is in its fifth year. Apart from the various food items from across Bengal, the food-lovers will be able to savour exotic foods from China, Japan and Russia this year. It is a unique platform not only to promote culinary art but also to bring people associated with food industry together under a single roof. It provides employment opportunities to the chefs, caterers and food vendors.”

Speaking at the event, state food and supplies minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said, “This unique food festival is the brainchild of our chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Festivals mean union among people and that union reaches a new height when food becomes the unifying factor.” He also stated that the West Bengal government will deliver digital ration cards to all the 9.5 crore citizens of the state and the process is in full swing. Krishna Chakraborty, mayor of Biddhannagar Municipal Corporation, said that prices of various food items being sold here have been kept affordable for the food-lovers.

“Food-makers from all corners of the state have come here. Cooking is an art but praising good food is no less an art. This festival is a unique opportunity to savour various dishes,” she said. “Bengali culture and food are synonymous. The relationship between good food and the Bengalis is deeprooted. But apart from cooking, presenting food is also an art and training is being imparted on how to make good quality and hygienic food items,” said minister of technical education Purnendu Basu who was present at the event. There are nine zones at the venue including six foodcourts.

As many as 152 stalls have been set up to cater to the food-lovers with wideranging mouth-watering delicacies. Apart from the food counters, there will be retail outlets of various cooking products, appliances and vegetable and non-vegetable raw ingredients. Stalls selling handicrafts, jams, vegetables, mustard oil, pulses and rice which are free from post harvest chemicals and added colours have been put up at the venue. Various non-conventional meat and meat products of koel. turkey, duck, pork, lamb, octopus, prawns, among others, are major attractions of this food festival.

The sweet section has wide range of sweets and deserts ranging from sweet curd, mihidana, rosogolla, langcha, sitabhog, gulab jamun to shahi kulfi, khir malpoa, malai paturi, baked kalakand, butter scotch sandesh. To add flavour, the festival will host ethnic and cultural programmes with folk songs and modern Bengali songs which will enable the visitors to enjoy the cultural programme while savouring gourmet food. Organised by the Animal Resources Development Department of Government of West Bengal in association with other concerned departments, the six-day long festival will continue till 24 Novemeber. The timings are 12 to 9 p.m.