August 12, 2021

My first taste of Chindian

Pin It

I have been a fan of The Bombay East Indian Girl ever since I tried her cooking at a pop-up last year. That meal gave me some good exposure to Indian dishes normally not found in typical "Indian (read: Punjabi)" restaurants here in Hong Kong. I've been trying to find opportunities to show up at more of her pop-ups, but timing didn't always work.

When she announced that she was doing an evening with Indo-Chinese cuisine I got so excited that I responded right away. Having worked for Indian bosses, I spent years hearing about dishes with unfamiliar names such as chicken Manchurian. Needless to say, I had zero interest in trying these out when I actually travelled to India. I was too pre-occupied with having "authentic" Indian food while in country - which resulted in two sleepless nights and a house call from a doctor, but that's another story. Sometime over the last few years, though, I became intrigued with the idea of trying Chindian food.

The pop-up is done at Le Chefeteria, with wine pairing for each course. I was happy to be supporting her efforts, but alas she was probably a little too busy to come and explain the dishes to us. So we had to do some guessing as well as some research...

Chinese chaat: prawn bhel - OK, so I've never had bhel before and didn't know what to expect. This didn't seem very Chinese to me, other than the presence of diced spring onions along with the prawns. It was more like a mix of coleslaw, ceviche, and creamy guacamole. Chilled and refreshing, with some acidity and a little bit of kick from chili. I did like the deep-fried prawn cracker on the side.

2012 Parés Baltà Blanca Cuisiné Brut Nature Gran Reserva - nice and toasty nose, with nutty notes that was pretty nice. Not as full on the palate and a little bitter with a short finish. More about the nose than the palate here.

Finger-licking food: chicken lollipop, Sichuan chicken salad, Schezwan chutney - now this I got immediately. The marinade of the fried chicken tasted of soy sauce. Not exactly buffalo wings, but actually tasted better to me without that sharp acidity. The Schezwan chutney on the side was nice with a fiery kick, but not so much that it would blow my head off... more like gochujang (고추장). Eating the fried chicken with my hands reminded me of my dinner at Bukhara in New Delhi.

The chicken salad tasted a lot more Chinese, with diced chicken mixed in with diced celtuce, celery, and spring onions. We were all surprised at the size of this, seeing that it was just the second dish.

2020 Kanonkop Pinotage Dry Rosé - a little strawberry with some flint.

Soup for the Soul: Vegetable Manchow soup, thinly sliced beef, crispy noodles - this... looked like a cross between Chinese hot and sour soup (酸辣湯) and Italian minestrone, and it's got diced onions, tofu, chili, and some crispy deep-fried noodles. Interesting that the flavors of ginger was fairly prominent here, and it also kinda tasted like beef consommé.

Wait! Did an Indian chef just serve me beef?! Yes, she did! Of course, I learned years ago when I wrote about an Indian restaurant that served up beef curry that there ARE restaurants in India which serve beef (like steakhouses!) and some Indians do eat beef.

2017 Milton 'Crazy by Nature' Cosmo Red - tons of sweet vanilla with forest pine, very fragrant potpourri. Kinda like Côte-Rôtie but somewhat different. Surprising that it wasn't too sweet on the palate in spite of the nose. A nice surprise.

Comfort food from the Himalayas: pork momo, achar - comfort food for sure, these dumplings tasted good. The wrappers were a little on the stiff side.

2018 Santa Maria di Gaetano Bertani Pràgal - definitely got that sweet, raisiny nose reminiscent of Amarone. Smoky, and actually smelled of acidity in the nose.

Keep calm and wok out: crab fried rice - while this was being cooked, the smell of fried garlic was so overpowering that I couldn't really smell the wines I was drinking. This was done with basmati rice, and besides the big chunks of crab meat we also had little bits of what seemed to be pancetta.

I thought this condiment on the side was some kind of salsa but it turned out to be Mauritian satini pomme d'amour.

2018 Hans Herzog Marlborough Viognier - couldn't smell the wine much... thanks to it being initially served too cold, then the smell of garlic in the air...

Cha biscuit: mummy's masala chai panna cotta, Little Hearts - we didn't get masala chai to drink tonight, but that has been incorporated into the panna cotta, which came with Britannia Little Hearts cookies, crushed pistachios, and edible flowers like edible apple blossoms.

2019 Xanadu Cane Cut Viognier - nice and sweet but still got that fruity acidity, along with pollen and botrytis.

This was a pretty fun and enlightening evening, and I was happy to have finally gotten an introduction to Chindian cuisine. Many thanks to Samaira and Ada... but where was that chicken Manchurian?!

1 comment:

Samaira Kavatkar said...

Thank you Peter, your feedback and support means a lot😘❤️
Chicken Manchurian…saving for next time (want you to come back)😉. In reality just wanted to bring some other dishes to the table which are even more popular than the Manchurian. Like the lollipop, hence the generous portion lah 😂🙏🏽. See you soon and many thanks once again🤗


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map