An oriental platter replete with flavours from dragonland

If you haven’t had your fill celebrating Lohri, Makar Sankranti and Pongal, and wish to carry the festivities forward then here is a good reason to do so – the Spring festival or the Chinese New Year!

The Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the first day of the year of the Chinese calendar and the Spring Festival this year is falling on January 31. According to the Chinese zodiac, 2014 is the year of the Horse and hotels and restaurants across the City are all geared up to ensure that the New Year begins on a delicious note.

Foodies can look forward to the 15-day celebrations which is replete with sumptuous meals that are prepared to feed the whole family. The celebrations commence with the reunion dinner prepared on New Year’s Eve  and end with the Lantern Festival, celebrated on the 15th day with sweet glutinous rice balls brewed in soup.

It would not be wrong to say that Delhiites love Chinese cuisine and therefore, trying the traditional Chinese dishes is a must at this time of the year.

 Tangerines and Oranges. Though display and consumption of tangerine and oranges is said to bring wealth and luck, hand-pulled noodles are also a must as “The Chinese believe in keeping them as long as possible for long life. Pomelo, a large citrus fruit is also popular because it is believed to bring ‘continuous prosperity and status’. This can be used in the hot and sour soup,” suggests Chef Guanyew Tham from Yauatcha restaurant in Vasant Kunj.

Apart from the basic broiled chicken and fish, the Chinese also take delight in partaking of ‘Buddha’s Delight’, readily available in Chinese restaurants across the city. This dish prepared from vegetables boiled in stew, is a good alternative for vegetarians. Besides, the Chinese believe in serving beans and vegetables for the New Year since these are said to enhance the life of parents. A vegetarian can also relish stir-fried French beans in Szechuan sauce and stir-fried lotus root, asparagus and
water chestnuts with black
pepper.
 “Vegetarian pot stickers, loaded with vegetables such as carrots and water chestnuts and,vegetarian wanton can also be tried. While the pot stickers taste great alone or when served with a ginger and soy sauce, the wantons are made with mashed tofu. Vegetarians who do not prefer eggs can replace the beaten egg with a tablespoon of oil,” advises Ajay Mathur, executive chef, The Lalit.

 For the non-vegetarians, there is plenty in store with options such as Seafood Spicy Lung Fung Soup, Kung Pao Chicken, Pepper Shrimp, Jian Jing Chicken, Fish Butter Chilli Lemon Flavour, Shredded Chicken in Roasted Chilli Garlic, Pomfret in Chilli Mustard Sauce, 5 Spice Lamb and Wo Thib Prawns. But the most uncommon and tender are the Chinese Taro and Turnip cakes. Fried turnip cake with vegetables is a classical dim sum. The mixture is first steamed, cut into pieces and then deep fried. It is made with mashed turnips, carrots and mushrooms and garnished with fried onion, garlic and chillies.

Foodies must satiate their sweet tooth since the Chinese believe that serving desserts brings sweetness in life. The most common dessert served is, “Nian gao means ‘year cake’, but gao sounds the same as the word for tall or high. Hence the cakes symbolise achieving new heights in the coming year. The steamed sweets are made of glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, and oil. Some versions have white sesame seeds, red dates, or nuts in them. The dates are said to bring early prosperity, adds Chef Guanyew Tham. 

A Chinese Candy Box traditionally made of lacquerware can be tried for dessert too as one sips a modified Chinese tea. Modified, since it is available in unusual flavours such as coffee and apple along with the all-time favourite Chamomile, for a perfect ‘Chinese’ New Year!   

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