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The fascinating world of dumplings



Back in the third century in southern China, weary traveller along the Silk Route used to take a break from their long journeys, and stop at tea houses, which were established to offer refreshments to them. The custom of having tea with these refreshments in the form of steamed or fried dumplings was popularly called ‘Yum Cha’.

We asked Peter Tseng, Brand Chef of Soy Soi, who elaborates, “This custom evolved into established restaurants across China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries. Here, they served Cantonese fare on trolleys that was loaded with wooden baskets that had a variety of steaming dim sums. Ladies would shout out their offerings while stopping at tables for diners to pick up their selection.”

This was perhaps how dim sums originated, and slowly but steadily went on to become one of the most-loved snacks across the world. “This format is still popular in older restaurants in Hong Kong. Others have done away with these push trolleys and offer a more elaborate, fine dining fare with a dim sum menu as diners tick their selection, which is served onto the table,” adds Tseng.


Recently, the modern Asian bistro Pa Pa Ya in Select City Walk launched one of the largest dim sum menus in the country including more than 68 varieties. That is just one of the indicators of the popularity of this snack. Adds Tseng, “I would cite the example of the recently concluded dim sum festival in Soy Soi Chennai, wherein we had more than 45 varieties of dim sum on à la carte, and we sold more than 3,000 portions of dim sums in a matter of 20 days. That is 150 dim sums per day on an average.”


From the classic (and mostloved) cream cheese dumpling to Shao Mai (open-faced dumpling available in veg/chicken/prawns/lamb/fish/ pork), there’s no dearth of the innovations that chefs arecoming up with for discerning foodies. At CyberHub’s Pra Pra Prank, the dim sum variety includes everything from exotic veg dumpling with butter garlic sauce to chicken herbs dumpling. Says the restaurant’s Chef Harangad Singh, “The modern form of dim sum is believed to originate in Guangzhou and later transmitted southward to Hong Kong, whose people, over the centuries, transformed Yum Cha from a relaxing respite to a formal dining experience.” Similarly, at Plum by Bent Chair, there is a spicy mock duck dumpling, whichhas fresh corn, mock meat, carrots, garlic flakes, and spicy plum chili oil. Soy Soi’s options include Crispy Prawn Cheung Fung, Xiao Long Bao, Prawn and Crabmeat Dumpling and Char Sui Pork Bao.


Notwithstanding diet fads, Indians have finally started shying away from sinful deep-fried snacks. Perhaps, that is another reason for the popularity of dim sums, as these tiny steamed pockets pack a lot of punch in them. Says Pa Pa Ya’s Chef Sahil, “Dim sums are popular due to one major reason; there are a lot of healthy options and they are light in nature.” Tapping on the sheer versatility of the dish, chefs are innovating with healthier yet tasty dumplings. Take the example of the Quinoa Chicken and Cherry Bird Eye Chilly Chicken Dumpling at Plum by Bent Chair. Chef Sagar Bajaj of this restaurant says, “Quinoa that’s gluten-free and high in protein when paired with boiled chicken makes for a complete, rich and healthy meal. This dumpling boasts of both taste and significant nutrients.”

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