The Food of Dallas' Diwali Mela

We told you to go; I hope you listened. Diwali Mela festivities went off at the Cotton Bowl over the weekend during a beautifully crisp fall evening. Golf carts shuttled Mela-goers from the Fair Park DART station to the west side of the stadium, where the smell of curry powder and fried potatoes filled the air outside the gates.

As the sun set, people continued to file in, and by early evening the food stalls and vender tables were packed. Street performers entertained and heckled, kids rode elephants and played with sparkling plastic toy guns and swords, and everyone ate.

While it's almost impossible to pick favorites when surrounded by so much great food (check out shots of the grub here, and the people here) I had to commit to only a few dishes.

Lollipop chicken from a booth titled Hot and Spicy was decent, but the fried snacks from India Chaat Cafe got most of my tickets.

Aloo Tikki Chaat (spicy potato dumplings) were fried in a shallow pool of oil on a massive iron griddle. Behind the tent more workers fried puri and samosas in massive oil-filled cauldrons. All of the fried foods from that stall were served ladled with big heaps of chana masala and then topped with onions, yogurt and mint and tamarind chutney. I wrapped up with a Kulfi Popsicle that was so rich and dense I couldn't finish it.

Inside the stadium, parents grabbed their kids and abandoned hundreds of strollers, which lined the walls along booths selling nachos and fries. A large stage featured traditional dancers, Bollywood and Bhangra. There wasn't a drop of alcohol yet the tone was festive and upbeat. It was a great time.

I spoke to organizer Vigyan Gotewal before the event and confirmed that the Dallas-Fort Worth Indian Cultural Society puts on an event for the Indian celebration of Holi in the spring. You're a sucker if you don't go.

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