ICM's Food Festival Draws Diverse Crowd

Community News

120922 ICM Food Festival 112


A vendor cooks up and sells food representing her south asian culture at the ICM International Food Festival. Photo by Muslim Link staff.

It is fall and the fall food festival season is in full swing all over the North East. The Islamic Community of Maryland hosted their annual International Food Festival and Bazaar on Saturday, September 22, 2012. Hundreds of people from around the DMV Area attended.

This unique outdoor festival brings local Muslim cooks, food connoisseurs and a variety of vendors together with everyday folks for a great time. It provides an opportunity to sample, savor and learn about food from around the Muslim world.

Free food, savory and sweet was set up on tables, under large white signs stating the country of origin, accompanied by displays of artifacts, flags, dolls, and jewelry. 

With aunties, khalas and amus cooking, everyone enjoyed authentic flavors straight out of local kitchens. This year there were several new stalls including, one from Switzerland and from Argentina.

The Turkish stall had a live demonstration on how to make Filiz Cayi (Turkish tea).

Canjeero and Sabayad (Somali flatbread), Chicken and Beef stuffed sambusas and Somali flavored spaghetti were loaded on the table hosted by Sr. Sadia, Sr. Hawa and Sr. Amina of Gaithersburg, MD. “Every year [the festival] is getting bigger and better, more people, more food,” said Sr. Sadia. “Our community is growing,” said Sr. Hawa.  The women recommended the Somali food Youtube channel for authentic recipes.

Dunya and her husband, with their two young ones in strollers, had come all the way from Fairfax, VA to attend the event. She is originally from Morocco and her husband is of German-Polish heritage.

“Given how international our family is, we try to attend events like this, that represent the diversity in Islam,” she said, “Maybe next year, I can gather a few of my friends and set up a stall from Morocco.”

The Malaysian stall had Cucur Udang (shrimp and coconut fritters) and Kuih Kodok (banana fritters) being cooked on site, deep-fried in a vat of oil; they were serving them fresh and piping hot along with stir-fried noodles.

The atmosphere was of friendly competition and embodied the true Muslim spirit of hospitality. Sr. Haseena was the leader and her team was offering a taste of Malaysia. ”Alhamdullilah, there are lots of participants,” she said.

Ahsun Dasti of Gaithersburg, MD was one of the organizers. “The aim is to invite as many people as possible; it is an inter/intra community and charitable event.
We reached out to other Muslim organizations, for example the Mustafa Center in Lanham and some government officials. We try to create an inclusive atmosphere within our community, where diversity is appreciated,“ he said.

“Another reason for hosting this event is reach out to our neighbors and share our food and clothing.  This is our 8th year and organizing it has gotten easier as the stalls are self-run by volunteers,” Dasti told the Muslim Link.

“The turn out was a little low. We try to schedule way ahead of time but it is inevitable that there will be 5-6 other events going on in the area,” reflected Dasti as he supervised the youth cleaning up after the event.

Rashida was attending from Bethesda, MD. “Many in the Indonesian community are attending Hajj workshops at our community center and were not able to attend,” This thought was echoed by other attendees, in fact there was a Hajj seminar being broadcast by Shaykh Abu Zaid from ICM at the same time as the festival.

Ismat, a vendor of South Asian clothes and jewelry had come from Laurel and was a little disappointed with the turnout. “Usually I do really well, but today I didn’t make my gas money, I guess I do better where the desi crowd is bigger,” she said.

The event was also a canned food drive. The canned food will be delivered to the local food bank, Manna Food Center in Montgomery County.  Manna feeds about 3,300 families each month at 14 locations throughout the county.

Even the vendors took part in the canned goods drive, donating cans in lieu of 50 percent of the booth fee. The booth fee was $50.

Abdul Rahman was regular at ICM, looked longingly at the ongoing construction. He was attending the event with his wife, Syeda and daughter LuAnn. “Maybe next year, we can have the event in the new lot.” ICM has an ongoing expansion project and hopes to physically expand by building a gym, cafeteria and classrooms.

George Leventhal, a local county councilman had been invited but Dasti wasn’t sure if he had attended.

Recipe: Cucur Udang (Shrimp/Prawn Fritters)

200 grams plain flour (or self raising flour)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon chili paste (optional, but makes the color nicer)
1/2 of a large green onion, chopped to small pieces
1 red chili, thinly sliced
3 small chives, cut to 1-inch strips
1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
80 grams small fresh shrimps, beheaded
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.     Mix flour, chili paste, salt & water and combine until the texture is smooth. The texture should be thick but not too watery.
2. Throw in the chopped onions, chives, sliced chili, corns, prawns and combine.
3. Heat a large pot with cooking oil (a deep fryer would be perfect). When the oil is heated properly, it’s time to cook the cucur udang.
4. Scoop a spoonful of the cucur udang mixture and drop it into the oil for frying. Don’t cramp too many pieces at one time as they need room to fry around until they reach a golden brown color, about 3-5 minutes.
5. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with remaining mixture.

This recipe makes about 20 cucur udang, enough for 4 persons.

Recipe via rasamalaysia.com