By Kanda Yaemboonruang
The AIT International Food Fair is a fun-filled cultural occasion where the AIT community comes together to share their national cuisines and culinary skills. The theme for the 2020 event was “Food Is All Around”, with the aim to connect people through amazing authentic food from 7 countries: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Thailand, all made and cooked by the students who cook with love and serve from the heart.
This is one of the most popular multicultural events on campus as it not only offers people a great cultural experience, but it also encourages students to work together.
Mr. Sathsara Sumanasekara, a Sri Lankan master’s student and from the School of Engineering and Technology (SET) said that this event is more than just cooking and selling food for fun. It is an opportunity for Sri Lankan students to represent their authentic food. This year they made 7 menus, and one they most proudly present is the coconut roti. “It is one of the famous Sri Lankan dishes. To make the taste perfect, we need to pay attention to every detail. For example, mixing and threshing roti flour with coconut milk requires patience and we should not rush. Also, the ingredients should have a perfect balance.”
Even though the food is prepared on campus, students work hard to keep the original taste. All the Sri Lankan students brainstormed on the right recipes. Their aim is to make sure that everybody loves their food and can experience the taste of Sri Lanka.
“We never miss the Food Fair because this is not only the most fun activity but all of Sri Lankan students get together to work on the dishes. This year, over 50 of us together have created all the menus, cooked and set up the food stalls. Every detail came from everyone, not one person. It is a great group effort that keeps us closer and builds relationships,” Mr. Sathsara added.
Another item that was selling like hot cakes was momo, which are Nepali steamed dumplings with fillings. The Nepali students offered 2 versions of momo: one with chicken and the other with vegetables. This year, they sold more than ten-thousand pieces of momo. Apart from the taste, momos have an interesting history. One of Nepali student revealed that the dish originally came from Tibet and spread to Nepal, and through cuisine fusion, the dish has become a traditional delicacy in Nepal.
Myanmar students were also proud to present their food, offering delicious rakhine mote ti, a traditional dish from central Myanmar. Mr. Arkor Tian Win, a Myanmar student association coordinator and a master’s student from the School of Engineering and Technology (SET), explained that the ingredients in the dish are fish, rice vermicelli, lemongrass, pepper and fish paste, and it is cooked using a clay firepot. The dish is authentically spicy, but the Myanmar students offered different levels of spiciness for their customers to choose, so all could enjoy this unique menu.
“We have been preparing everything all night. We are tired but happy because we would like to introduce our food to people from different cultures. Today, at the Food Fair we can also try our friends’ food without any borders,” Mr. Arkor Tian Win said.
Event-goers also enjoyed two Indian stalls at the event offering local food from Southern India, such as pav bhaji and gulab jamun, and a combo of vegetarian Indian dishes. The Filipino students presented a variety of local dishes including the steamed rice cake puta kutsinta, the Filipino spring rolls ‘chicken lumpia’, the noodle dish pancit guisado and the best-selling dish of all time – chicken adobo. The Thai students were at their booth with popular Thai coconut ice cream sprinkled with plenty of special toppings, while the Bangladeshi students sold a lot of local dishes that were not easy to find, such as the bariyani, borhani, tikia kabab, semai, payesh and chola bhuna.