Familiar dishes and some new ones tempt the tastebuds at The Residency’s Schezwan festival

During the Chinese Moon Festival, the villagers in Schezwan will cook delicious moon fan fried rice. Chef S. Shanmugham, executive chef, The Residency, Chennai, shares this trivia as I tuck in spoonfuls of the rice.

Strains of melodious Chinese music and smiling bearers sporting traditional garments welcome you to the Schezwan food festival at Chin-Chin.

The course begins with a warm dose of steaming soup, filled with green broccoli. The starters arrive. Muskmelon dipped in black pepper sauce wins you with its sweet and spicy taste. All the Chinese dishes are spicy; that is why they suit our palates better, says Shanmugham. They use generous amounts of pepper, green chillies and ripe red chillies. “But each lends a distinct kind of spiciness,” he points out.

Bright red baby corn gravy is next on the menu. With the heavenly flavour of ripe chillies, this is a perfect accompaniment to the stir-fried rice.

Meat lovers have a lot of non-vegetarian starters to look forward to. There are juicy king prawns tossed in chilli plum sauce, pan-fried fish marinated in hoisin sauce and golden crab claws. Do not miss the baked stolen chicken that comes wrapped in a lotus leaf.

Then, Shanmugham asks the server to bring in a sample of something special. “Smell this,” he says. I oblige. A strong aroma of pungent fish hits me. “The Chinese use this dry shrimp paste in almost all their dishes. Here we use it only for the non-vegetarian dishes”, he says.

Infused with basil

The fragrance of fresh basil leaves hits you even before the plate of holy basil fried rice with vegetables is laid out. The fest also offers burnt garlic noodles and coconut noodles. An exotic vegetable gravy with different types of vegetables such as zucchini, baby corn, broccoli and beans, is a perfect accompaniment to the hakka noodles.

The non-vegetarian main course dish devilled chicken Schezwan style is prepared using tangy, spicy sauces. Also, bite into lamb strips, tossed with bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, fresh red chilli and light soya sauce.

Now, ignore that loud burp and go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth with crispy fried honey noodles served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or the trademark dates and coconut pan cake.