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From the Chinese hearth

The ongoing Chinese food festival at Chef's Court brings uncommon vegetarian dishes along with the popular ones

THINK CHINESE food and you think of corn soups, followed by spring rolls, Manchuria and a rice or noodle for the main course. Here is a festival that not only has the regular menu listings but also rare authentic Chinese vegetarian dishes, Heartland of China at Chef's Court, the in house restaurant at the Indian Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition (IHMCT&AN). Students in traditional brocade and costumes with fitting headgear usher you into a warm ambience done up with Chinese lanterns, scrolls, dragons and the yin and yang symbols not forgetting the red lights .

About the fare, "there are several vegetarian dishes in Chinese cuisine. Through the festival we are also trying to popularise uncommon dishes that you don't find on the regular menu in the restaurants and which you can probably see in the five-star hotels," says K.A.Madhava, principal, IHMCT&AN. Thus, along with the Gobi Manchurian, Hot `n' Sour and Crisp Noodle soups, Mixed Vegetables with Hot Garlic Sauce and Szechwan Fried Rice, one finds a generous helping of authentic Chinese offerings namely Crisp Fried Spinach and Crisp Chilly Potatoes for starters as also tangy Spinach Clear Soup and Lemon Coriander Soup respectively.

The menu includes some Chinese salads as well. "Chinese style of pickling is distinct where the sweetness of sugar is balanced with a tangy vinegar," explains Shandilya, faculty, IHMCT&AN. Choose from Kim Chi or the Chef's Special Noodle Salad. Moving on to the rice and noodles segment of the menu, Baby Corn Fried Noodles, Chef's Special Flat Noodles and Mushroom Fried Rice have been well received by guests.

The food festival also introduces new sauce variations along with the conventional soya and chilly sauces for the main course preparations. Thus you have Stir Fried Okra (ladies finger) in Dry Chilly Sauce, Fried Tofu (bean curd) in Chilly Soy Sauce and Asparagus and Bamboo Shoot in Garlic Wine Sauce. One of the popular dishes at the fest is the Diced Potatoes in Chilly Garlic Sauce.

Wrap up the fare with the dessert Darsan-- sweet noodles tossed in honey and flavoured with cinnamon. Other authentic Chinese desserts such as Apple Toffee, Date Pancakes with Honey Lemon Sauce, Iced Lychees with Vanilla Ice Cream and Fried Ice Creams can also be found at the fest. Wash down the courses with a hot cup of Jasmine tea. This Chinese tea is known to be a healthy drink. Apart from the a la carte fare, the festival also provides pre-designed multi course options, table d'hote, priced at Rs. 145 and Rs. 195, which include a starter, soup, rice/noodles and main course preparation and dessert.

Well if you are still undecided and would love to stick to the usual Chinese fare that you are comfortable with, go for the Vegetable Spring Rolls, Veg.Manchurian and Vegetable Corn Soup and wrap it up with ice cream, tea, coffee or milk.

The food festival is open for dinner (7.30 p.m. onwards) till December 7. For details you can reach Chef's Court, Indian Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, F-Row, D.D.Colony, Ahobilam Mutt Road, Vidyanagar, Tel: 27427569. While here check out the Traditional Tastes of Andhra and Hyderabad, an IHMCT&AN publication that includes popular dishes such as Bagara Baigan, Haleem, Birakaya Pachadi and Khubani ka Meetha, priced at Rs. 25. Bon apetit.


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