WHEN it comes to food festivals and new menus, last month has been a rather insipid one for the food lovers in Chandigarh. Therefore, the news of a visiting Chinese chef rolling out a theme-based food festival came as a delight for the gastronomics.
Hung Fong, who hails from Hong Kong and is presently working at Taj Hyderabad, is in the city for the festival that is being held at Black Lotus, the Chinese fine-diner at Taj Chandigarh.
The fact that the world is shrinking (glocal is the buzzword) is evident when people of a country celebrate the harvest season of a neighbouring country. The mid-autumn festival or August Moon festival is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and by ethnic Chinese the world over.
In Chandigarh, the celebrations are being spearheaded by Fong. “Back home, August Moon Day is a holiday and we look forward to eating moon cakes that are a speciality of this festival,” he said. The festival which celebrates the harvest season is held according to the Chinese calendar, said the chef.
The festivities include hanging out lanterns, but the most important facet is making of moon cakes. “It is a sweet pastry and unlike a cake. It is made using flour, but has a filling inside that can be sweet or savoury. We make moon cakes using different moulds and it is a tradition to gift it to friends and family,” said Fong, who has a curated a special menu for the food festival in Chandigarh.
“Apart from moon cakes, we are highlighting a variety of dimsums, including kothe and baozi, which is a steamed bun with a filling,” said the chef, who can roll out as many as 60 dimsums in an hour.
“The glass dimsums that are delicate and you can see the filling from the outside take a bit longer to make. They are almost transparent and hence they are named so,” said Fong, who is not very conversant in English. The baozi (also known as bao) is lesser spotted on menus in the city and that’s what makes them a novelty here.
The baos are plump with fillings like chives and eggs, barbecue chicken, cottage cheese, ginger and soya, sea salt and Szechuan pepper, to list a few. The kothe, or open dimsums, have got special attention in the menu as well.
One can choose from black mushroom and pok choy filled ones to those with zucchini, green beans and light soya. While dimsums are more popular as streetside momos in India, in the hands of chef Hung Fong, they have gone gourmet. The festival will be on till September 18.
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