The Manchester Malaysian Food Festival is returning for 2017 for another year of street food and home-cooked specialities.
The event is organised by the Malaysian Students’ Society of Manchester, and features a line-up including restaurant owners, students, and Malaysians who have settled in the UK.
The festival is certainly much awaited within the Malaysian community, and within Manchester as a whole. It offers the opportunity to sample traditional and authentic street food at affordable prices. Not only those with chef careers will be offering up their dishes, but also students and locals who have a background from the area.
"You can expect authentic Malaysian food - Malaysia itself is very diverse, in terms of its demographics, and so that is how diverse the food is. It's very unique and authentic,” says Delib Kathirtchelvan, the co-director of the event along with fellow student Kamalan Bharathi. "The signature Malaysian dish is nasi lemak, it's basically rice which is cooked with coconut milk and comes with a spicy sauce, it's very delicious."
This is the eighth year of the event being organised by the student society, he adds, but the first time that the wider community have shown such a great interest. "It was mostly attended by Malaysians, but this year there were so many people interested from the UK, we've never had it this big of a scale before." While it is still a small event, it is expected to grow through this year’s success and potentially do so again next year as a result of the increased attendance.
Malaysian food stalls
Some of the stalls will provide unique service and choices. Take, for example, Mommies Kitchen. Here you cannot browse the food before choosing it – it is all prepared fresh to order. You place an order through a text message, with choices including a rice-based nasi lemak sambal sotong or the spicy noodles of the mee goreng telur mata.
Last year there were only 6 stalls, but this year they have increased up to 15. This is a reflection of the increased interest and the footfall that they are expecting, which has been going up year on year.
"I would say that the most expensive item of food is about £5, while you can get snacks at £1," Delib says. "It's very affordable."
You will find the stalls inside the Trinity Sports Centre on Cambridge Street – the reason for which will soon become very clear.
Food and fitness
Another aspect of the event is the Malaysian Games, which will be run in a space adjoining the food fair. If you aren’t feeling up to any physical activity after eating your body weight in cheap Malaysian food, you can always head over to watch the competition in order to feel a little better.
Students from across the UK will be competing in the sports contest, which has events in a number of areas including netball, ultimate Frisbee, and basketball.
The event overall helps to bring the Malaysian community together and give them a chance to express themselves amongst fellow natives. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for the people of Manchester. If you are interested in food recruitment, it could also be a great place to spot the greatest potential in local talent who specialise in Malaysian cuisine.
The fact that it has all been organised by volunteers is very impressive, and speaks to the level of passion within the community for celebrating their culture and traditional food. If you live in Manchester and have not tried Malay food in the past, this is definitely a must-visit.
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