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From dragon land

Traditional lanterns, dragon dance and gourmet fare —Mainland China is celebrating the Chinese New Year in style with a food festival till February 21. “After the feisty Year of the Tiger, this is the peace-loving Year of the Rabbit. So it’s all about sitting together and eating as a family,” says Debashish Ghosh, director, food production, Speciality Restaurants Pvt Ltd.

The theme is authentic Chinese food served with flair and panache. And to get that right, chef Rajesh Dubey travelled across Yunan, Beijing and Guangzhou, braving the chill while tasting and learning about food. “Mainland China is in its 11th year. So we went a step ahead and added new tastes to the Chinese New Year menu,” says Dubey.

The new menu shows off classic dishes like North Beijing’s Beggar’s Chicken, Barbecued Prawn Kunming Style (finished with flambéed brandy) and Pan Grilled Basa Fillet — just as the vendors serve it on the streets of Beijing. Melt-in-the-mouth dishes like Chicken Hot Pot from Canton are being served, but this delicacy comes with a warning. “It’s not for those with gentle tastebuds,” smiles the chef.

And there’s more to the feast than just traditional dishes. The chefs are also ladling out fusion food influenced by world cuisine: Fried Zuchini and Mushroom with Dry Red Chillies, Wok Tossed Prawn with Caramelised Walnut, Roast Duck with Pineapple and Chilli, and Tuna and Eggwhite Fried Rice. For that sweet aftertaste, there’s always Darsan.

Lunch and dinner are being served à la carte, with a meal for two coming to Rs 800 (taxes extra).

WHAT: Chinese New Year Festival

WHERE: Charcoal Grill

WHEN: On till February 20.

ON THE MENU: The focus of the festival is on Cantonese cuisine, though delicacies from other provinces feature on the menu too. The non-veg section offers Chicken Ching Kao, Barbecue Chinese Greens, Squid in Garlic Sauce, Wine Marinated Duck and other treats. The vegetarian dishes include Wotif Vegetable in Five Spice Sauce and Okra with Potato Malaoil.

POCKET PINCH: Rs 600 for two.

Chef Rajesh Dubey shares some trivia

Beijing Duck is the signature dish of the Chinese capital. There are many restaurants in Beijing that serve only duck — skin, meat, web, liver, tongue... almost all body parts.

Tamarind and mustard are used liberally in modern Chinese cooking.

The Chinese savour their monkey-head mushroom and sea cucumber.

If a traditional restaurant in Beijing has been serving Imperial Cuisine for over a century, it gets a government certificate.

Presentation is so important in Chinese cuisine that a steamed fish dumpling will be shaped like a goldfish with vegetable colour to complete the look. The winter melon soup will be served in a hollowed-out winter melon.

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