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by Misbah Saba Malik

ISLAMABAD, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan has a rich variety of cuisines ranging from various types of barbeques (BBQ) to different styles of curry, from plain white rice with lentils to spicy fried rice with meat, dry fruits and vegetable.

To celebrate the country's traditional and fusion cuisine, a private company organized the "Islamabad Eat," a food festival, in the convention center of the capital.

The three-day festival, which concluded on Sunday, provided a platform to home-based caterers to present their culinary delights to a large crowd of people flocking to the festival venue on the weekend.

Erum Gurnani, a home-based caterer of "desi" food in the capital installed a stall in the festival to seek new customers, coming from the city and its adjoining areas.

"The food festival is a new idea to people of capital, and home-based caterers like me have a huge potential in it. I have been delivering home made food to different places for a long time, but this is the first time I am selling food at such a platform. I got a very good response here, and if my sales increased, I will open a restaurant somewhere in Islamabad," Gurnani told Xinhua.

The organizers claimed that it was the most successful food festival held in the capital in recent years as more than 45,000 people including a large number of women and kids attended it.

"A few hours after the festival started on Friday, two bomb blasts rocked the country. We were afraid that people may lose interest in going to a crowded place, but to our surprise, the turnout was much more than our expectations," Omar Omari, the organizer, told Xinhua.

He said that 1000 percent of stalls at the festival were given to home-based caterers. "We are providing an opportunity to young people and house wives, who have culinary talent, but somehow couldn't tap it. This festival will give such people an access to their potential customers, and may help them establish their business in the future," Omari said.

He said that it is their second time to organize the festival in Islamabad, but they have been doing it in the country's southern port city of Karachi since 2014, and many home-based caterers who started from the festival are now running successful business in the metropolis.

Mohsin Abbas, a home-based caterer selling famous local cuisine Sajji, a kind of BBQ, under brand name "Sexy Sajji," told Xinhua that he wants to open a restaurant and the "Islamabad Eat" has provided him good opportunity to introduce his "juicy, spicy and salty chicken" to foodies in the capital.

"I have received an overwhelming response. People kept on visiting the stall and eating Sajji whole day long. I am hopeful that they will be addicted to the taste of Sajji and visit my restaurant too."

The festival provided residents a healthy activity as there was also a music concert and fun-filled activities for children.

Nabeel Ijaz, an engineer working in a state-owned company, told Xinhua that it was his wife's birthday so he brought her at the festival for dinner as they will be able to enjoy a variety of local food at one place.

"Such kind of activities should continue as we had been deprived of them for a long time due to militancy in the country. Now peace has been restored and I hope that more festivals and carnivals will follow."