DFW Diwali Mela Is Heaven on Earth

On Saturday the Cotton Bowl converted to the 2013 Diwali Mela festival, and food booths flowed out from the stadium to the shimmery dreamscape of the Chinese Lantern Festival nearby. I arrived on a mission.

Six years ago I went with two friends to Ahmedabad, in western India. For three weeks I ate and drank everything in arm's reach, and the fact that I didn't get sick really pissed off my friends, who were more judicious about what they put in their faces. Then on our last day, before heading to the airport, I ate paneer pakora from a hotel and by the time I got on the plane I was convinced I would die.

I haven't eaten the fried cheese since but I've always hated the idea of there being a food I can't or won't eat. So my goal at Diwali was to find and devour paneer pakora and prove to fate who was in charge of my gullet.

Well, fate shafted me this weekend. I found none of the pakora I needed but I ate my way through some amazing booths in the process. There were countless variations of dosas, the huge rice and lentil crepes from southern India. I had never heard of chole bhature, a dish made from spicy cooked chickpeas and fried bread, but now I require daily doses.

My failed mission is likely my own fault. Pakora is basically anything that's been frittered and I can't believe there was none at the festival. It's far more likely that my tracking skills, already subpar, were completely useless in the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. And the advice from the information booth, "You should try looking for it," was surprisingly unhelpful.

But I was too filled with spiced teas and jalebi for anything to get my down. So I couldn't find my pakora. I can always man up and make my own. No matter what I was doing better than the middle aged woman manning the booth for a tutoring company, steadfastly eating what looked like hours-old Chipotle as biryani and goat curry flowed only feet away.

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