By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai: Moonlight and good food are inseparable for mankind. The Chinese worship the moon celebrating their harvest festival, also called Moon Festival, says a senior chef at a star hotel here.
And there is nothing like hearing a heroic-cum-romantic story linked to the moon while having good food, Radi Prakash. S, sous chef at the Golden Dragon restaurant at the Taj Coromandel Hotel added serving the roasted pumpkin fish soup.
The yellowish soup in a big round bowl will certainly remind one about the moon.
“The Chinese consider fish to be lucky. It signifies bounty to them. The Chinese believe fish would bring them good things in abundance,” rationalised Prakash for the fish in the soup even though he can offer chicken or vegetable variants of the yummy appetiser.
He also suggested pairing of white tea in tiny Chinaware cups with the soup.
“A good Chinaware will be translucent. One can see the liquid mark inside the cup holding it to the light,” Prakash added.
Coming back to the romantic story behind the Moon festival, once upon a time there lived a couple, Houyi – a great archer – and his wife Chang’e.
One day ten suns rose in the sky bringing in disaster. Houyi shot down nine of them and left one. An immortal gave Houyi the immortality elixir. Houyi did not drink it as he did not want to leave his wife Chang’e.
Houyi’s disciple Feng Meng, who knew the secret, forced his entry into the former’s house and demanded Chang’e part with the elixir.
Chang’e, not wanting to share it with Feng Meng, drank the elixir and flew to the Moon. On his return Houyi learnt about the happening and offered the cakes and fruits that his wife liked the most. Soon the people started offering sacrifices and the cakes.
As for the soup, adding a dash of ginger sauce not only enhanced the taste but also made one feel light in the stomach.
Speaking about the industry trend, Prakash said Vietnamese and Peruvian cuisine will be coming to India in a major way and so will German breads.
By this time, the taster’s portions of appetisers arrived.
The soft smoked baked duck with ginger scallion sauce, stuffed lotus root with jasmine infused honey, chilly and vinegar, melon, smoked cheese and pomelo salad with sesame dressing should be tried out.
The crisp aromatic chicken with crepes and plum sauce, crispy kola cassia dumplings, cream and quinoa and chicken dim sum too tasted good.
“The other trend that would happen is degustation – serving various dishes in small portions. This way a chef can showcase his culinary expertise. Nowadays guests are interested in tasting different dishes than going for one big meal,” Prakash said while serving the main course.
Prakash said Golden Dragon would soon launch its new menu that would include novel items like mock shark fin – a vegetarian dish – Chinese herb soup and more.
The braised duck with sweet potato, Chinese wine served with sticky rice, charred pear and mushrooms in chilly bean sauce or wok fried potato with walnut and lotus stem are recommended. These can be accompanied by stir-fried jasmine rice with basil and soya or wok-tossed soya noodles.
The desserts – red bean moon cake and avocado and kaffir lime ice-cream with sweet sago pearls – are yummy.
The Moon Festival began Sep 12 and will run till Sunday.
A dinner for two would cost around Rs.3,500 (without alcohol).