Sum-thing for all

Updated: Apr 27 2008, 06:15am hrs
Dimsums literary mean touch the heart or order to your hearts content in Cantonese. Thats perhaps the most attractive way to describe snacks accompanying Chinese tea yum cha. And dimsum chef Nain Qing from Beijing represents arguably the most attractive part of the cuisine finger food, snacks etc all falling under the category of dimsums. Originally from the Canton area, dimsums have in the last century acquired local touches not just in China, but in many other parts of our planet too. Delhis Jaypee Vasant Continental hotel has flown in chef Qing to provide an authentic touch to the dimsums served in their oriental restaurant, Ano Tai. Suman Tarafdar found out through sign language and assistance from chef Le Ping (Qing speaks Chinese and no English) just about everything edible can go into the stuffing. Try them with the lovely varieties of green tea, and you will definitely feel happier!

In China, dimsums are nothing but all kinds of light snacks, consumed at any time of the day. Lunch is generally over by 1.30 in China, and tea time therefore has a special place for us.

With regard to dimsums, there are a few aspects to take note of taste, appearance and fragrance. I realise that Indians really like fillings, which for us in China are just one part of dimsums. I am trying to do the dimsums the way it is done in China, where the ingredients are slightly different. So not just the fillings, but even the flour for the dough skin is different. Getting the dough skin and shape is the difficult part, and it can take years to perfect! Dimsums are usually shaped according to the filling. In China the most popular ones are seafood, chicken, lamb, pork and mushroom.

I have been in India for a very short while, and my efforts are to get authentic Chinese food here. There is already a significant amount of Chinese cuisine present here, but generally it is not the way it is in China. However there are a lot of Chinese chefs coming to India who are trying to bring the cuisine in. In about two years, we should see Chinese cuisine available the way it is in China.

For dimsums, we are doing a lot more of vegetarian stuffings as well. While mushrooms are very popular in China, as are a lot of greens, in India we are doing a lot of other vegetables as well vegetable siu-mai, deep-fried onion pancake, conjee with garden vegetable leaves, fried vegetable wonton and many others. Fortunately as a lot more Indians are travelling to China, they are beginning to understand the Chinese palate as well. And that includes hundreds of varieties of delectable dimsums.