Spicy homemade curry and vegetables served at Camden Public Library on Feb. 14

Cheap Dates: Put some spice in your life on V Day

Posted:  Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 2:00pm

CAMDEN—Some like it hot. And some like it spicy. Camden resident Arif Shaikh plans to give Valentine’s Day it’s own unique flavor when he presents “Farms & Food: Kolkata to Camden” along with a vegetarian curry and chai tasting on Feb. 14 at the Camden Public Library from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Shaikh, who moved to Camden from Boston six months ago, loves to cook food that originates from his family’s region of Kolkata, India. “I really love food and that quickly forced me to learn to cook the kind of food I love to eat,” he said. “I also love the outdoors and hiking, and when I was in Boston, I’d organize these outdoor hikes and end up cooking for large crowds of people. It was just a fantastic way to get to know people. When I moved to Maine, I thought, ‘what’s a good way to make friends?’ and this is what I decided to do.”

Shaikh decided to introduce his Boston events in his new town of Camden, where he set up a closed Facebook page called Camden Top Secret Curry Club.

“It went from nothing about a month ago to about 450 people who joined,” he said. “I meet a lot of great people and trade my curry for other things such as bread, honey, maple syrup, and yoga lessons among other things,” he said.

He sources his spices from around the world, some from physical stores, some from online. The vegan meal he plans to prepare is sourced as much from Maine as winter produce allows and will include chickpeas, garbanzo beans, garlic, onions, ginger, red peppers, carrots, potatoes and cauliflower. “Curry is made with a lot of high heat and that unleashes a lot of flavor in the vegetables,” he said.

Part of Shaikh’s presentation will encompass his role as an entrepreneur as the founder of Foodslack.com, a platform that connects Midcoast farms to co-ops and restaurants as a way to provide an easy way to source local produce.

We at Cheap Dates Central always appreciate anything that involves food, but more importantly, it’s only $5 per person to try Shaikh’s curry and a hot cup of chai. Registration is required so please go to www.librarycamden.org to reserve a space.

If you miss it tonight, he’ll be doing another demonstration with his homemade curry at the Good Tern Co-op. Call for more information. 207-594-8822

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com