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Happy New Year, the Chinese way

Celebrate Chinese New Year in New Delhi this week. Have a bite at Radisson's I'Ching restaurant or take part in Park Royal's Steamboat Festival. Either way, you will have fun, says SUMITRA SENAPATY... .



Steamboat at Empress of China.

DURING THE Chinese New Year, which kicks off this coming Saturday, one of the traditions that people observe year after year is eating! In addition, the Chinese believe that what you do and how you act during this period will determine what kind of year you have. Here in Delhi, a few restaurants will feature a special Chinese New Year menu, and leading the way is I'Ching, the Chinese restaurant at Radisson Hotel that promises to pull out all the stops for this occasion.

Along with red lanterns and golden dragons, get into the Chinese mood with Mei Kuei Luchien, the fiery rose flavoured Chinese wine or you could check out the dark, plum flavoured wine. Sip these slowly with restraint, as they are pretty potent. The Tsing Tao Beer cans are also popular with the guests. Besides it being auspicious to eat fish during the Chinese New Year, the crispy whole red snapper on fire with sichuan special Sauce is an I'Ching dish that is recommended. As the name indicates, the fish is deep fried whole, flambied at your table and doused with the rich Chinese sauce.

In case you are a vegetarian, the braised bean curd with dry chilli sauce is surprisingly interesting, as the Mainland imported bean curd is fresh and soft unlike the local tough and stringy varieties. An unusual sweet finale is the lemon jelly cubes with lychees. The Chinese New Year festival at I'Ching starts this Tuesday and runs through month end. If you're even slightly superstitious, tell the restaurant manager about your year of birth and see what it has in store for you. If you were born in the year of the goat, this is your year, but you should focus clearly on what you wish to achieve. Be ready to seize opportunities that can benefit you. Goat years are 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003.


For more celebrations, check out the steamboats at The Empress of China, the Chinese restaurant at Park Royal, Intercontinental. Apart from being suitable for the New Year, food in steamboats requires no oil, and retains nutrients and flavours. Similar to fondue, the steamboat sits at the centre of table and consists of a central funnel-like chimney surrounded by a moat where foods are cooked. It is generally made of brass or aluminium. Live charcoal or a flame is used to keep the stock hot during cooking. The steamboat holds the simmering stock.

Along with your family, you swirl thinly cut bits of meats, vegetables, tofu or seafood in the hot pot, and dip the cooked foods in a seasoned condiment before eating. It's akin to barbeque, without the smoke and charred meat. When the food is finished, the leftover stock is poured over bowls of noodles for a final course.

The Steamboat Festival is on offer from this Saturday till February end. The good thing about steamboat is that it's a highly un-selfish activity. Unlike buffets where you try to out-eat; you out-snatch your neighbour here. Steamboat is a communal affair, which brings out the friend and family spirit.

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