Hrudananda Behera, Executive Chef at Taj Banjara, Hyderabad, on the art of making dim sums.

Confucius, in his infinite wisdom, spoke of the essentials for good eating: flavour, texture and colour. Add succulence and aroma to it and you get the dim sum. Today one finds dim sum carts in supermarkets making it the new ‘fast food’.

The dish originated from Canton province, a business hub frequented by traders who preferred quick food on the go. The dim sum is essentially made with minced meat, seafood and or vegetables wrapped in glutinous rice and steamed. It is preferred as a sweet bao as well. Today dim sum is pan fried or even grilled.

The filling is important. Typically water chestnut, bean curd and crunchy lotus stem are used as is mushroom. Meat is hand-pounded to retain moisture and flavoured with finely chopped celery and a few spices. When filled with seafood, shrimps and oysters are used.

Usually bamboo baskets are used for steaming, but the idli steamer can be used as well. It can be made crisp, pan fried in olive oil.

Dim sum doesn’t require exotic spices. You can infuse it with whatever is available: green peas and paneer. Chopped spring vegetables mildly flavoured with coriander is not very different from the burnt garlic and five spices filling. It’s the way you cook it that is important. Use dry fruits, raisins, cashew or mixed fresh fruits, fresh coconut and dry fruits to make the sweet dim sums or ‘bao’.

The only ingredient necessary is glutinous rice, which is rice flour rich in gluten. This is imported or made using freshly pounded rice that is cooked a little. Alternately it can be made with lotus stem flour.

Dim sums have perfect balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Not much oil is used so it makes a light meal. One portion of six pieces is equal to 240 calories. There is minimal loss of nutrition since it is steamed and fat is trimmed down. Indulge in this aromatic and healthy fare.

Five-spiced mushroom dim sum

Ingredients

400 gm Fresh mushroom

20 gm Celery chopped

15gm Garlic chopped

A pinch of five spice powder

3/4 cup Carrots

1 tsp White pepper

1 tsp Salt

2 tbsp Sesame oil

Sugar to taste

Method: Clean, wash and chop mushrooms and steam for five minutes. Take all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Then add the sesame oil to it and mix again.

Take a ball of dim sum dough and fill it with a spoon of the mixture and close it from all sides. Steam for 8-10 minutes and serve hot with a hot sauce.

Burnt garlic fish dim sum

Ingredients

1 tsp Chopped green scallions

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

400gm fresh fish (bone less)

1/4 cup Soy sauce

2 tbsp Chilli sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

1 tsp Salt

2 tsp Garlic fried

20gm Sugar

Method: Clean the fish and mince it. Add all seasoning to it and then cool in a freezer.

Take a ball of dim sum dough and fill it with a spoon of the mixture and close it from all sides. Steam for 8-10 minutes and serve with a hot sauce.

Chicken dim sum

Ingredients

1 tsp Chopped green scallions

2 tsp Toasted sesame seeds

400gm Chicken

1/4 cup Soy sauce

2 tbsp Chilli sauce

1/4 cup Toasted sesame oil

1 tsp Salt

2 tsp Minced garlic

20 gm Sugar

Method: Clean the chicken and mince it. Add all seasoning in to it and cool in a freezer.

Take a ball of dim sum dough and fill it with a spoon of the mixture and close it from all sides. Steam for 8-10 minutes and serve with a hot sauce.

Baby spinach-spring vegetables dim sum

Ingredients

500gm Spinach

100gm Broccoli

100gm Cabbage

100gm Mushrooms

50gm Carrots

1 tsp White pepper

1 tsp Salt

2 tbsp Sesame oil

Sugar to taste

Method: Wash all the vegetables well. Finely chop and steam for five minutes. Take all other ingredients in a bowl and mix well then. Add the steamed vegetables and mix well.

Take a ball of dim sum dough and fill it with a spoon of the mixture and close it from all sides. Steam for 8-10 minutes and serve hot with hot garlic sauce.

To make dim sum dough

Boil water in a pan.

Put the dim sum flour in a bowl and slowly pour the boiling water into the flour little by little.

Mix till it forms thick dough. Knead and keep covered with a wet cloth.

Divide the dough into 15 gm size balls and roll them.

As told to Syeda Farida