Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bright Courtyard - Dim Sum

Dim Sum is a form of Chinese cuisine where food is prepared in individual bite sized portions served in steamer baskets or plates in portions of 3 or 4. Traditionally, this was not supposed to form a meal, and was eaten along with tea.

In the early to mid 1980s until say the mid 1990s rich Indians [who at that time were almost always non vegetarian] used to flock to the Royal China Restaurant at either Queensway or St. Johns Wood in London and eat Dim Sum at lunch time. Not only were Rich Indians in the 1990s non vegetarian but their range of travel was mainly to England and the Continent. The Middle East, Far East and America were generally not visited. America had some visits from parents whose children were graduating from some US University. No restaurant in India served this, so eating these delicious morsels was a really exotic treat for us Indians. Soon, more and more restaurants in London started to serve Dim Sum, but Royal China remained the favourite. America, by and large, has no clue as to Dim Sum so eating it there was impossible.

Soon, like everything, the Dim Sum scene changed and so did the Rich Indian. Today a Rich Indian is vegetarian, travels to the Middle East, Bangkok, Singapore [especially if he has children as it’s a child friendly place] and the US is very much part of a Rich Indians itinerary. Royal China has opened in India and boasts 2 branches in Mumbai – Bandra and VT. Hakkasan and Yauatcha both the new Rich Indians hangouts, have also opened in Mumbai. Every Indian Chinese restaurant in Mumbai serves Dim Sum, obviously in 3 versions, chicken, fish and vegetarian, anything else is too threatening. Now, horror of horrors, Dim Sum is served in India even at dinner. However, to eat good Dim Sum you still have to go to London. Royal China still serves excellent Dim Sum though the St. Johns Wood branch has shut. The Royal China Club, the more upmarket restaurant serves top class Dim Sum. We had some Dim Sum at the Bright Courtyard which is fast gaining a reputation as an excellent Chinese Restaurant.

Dim Sum by and large can be classified by cooking in neat categories – steamed, fried and baked. Dumplings called `Gao’ are normally steamed. The outer covering is rice or wheat flour sheets. Common forms of `Gao’ are `Sui Mai’ with a bland shrimp or chicken or prawn filling. A Prawn and Chive dumpling is also very popular.  `Bao’ are made of wheat flour often with yeast. These are either steamed or baked and the skins are much more substantial therefore requiring the inside to be more robustly flavoured with fillings like Sweet Char Sui Pork or Sweet Bean Pastes. A Rice Noodle covering is another category of Dim Sum and is called `Cheung Fun’. Baked Dim Sum is one where the outside is Puff Pastry. There are also several other types, too numerous to bore you with.

At Bright Courtyard we ordered a fair selection of Dim Sum which we washed down with some Chinese Green Tea. The light was good and the photographs have come thru well, even if I say so myself. 

Baked BBQ Pork Puffs

Shanghai Dumplings

Beef Cheung Fun

BBQ Duck and Pumpkin Dumpling

Minced Chicken Sui Mai

Pan Fried Peking Gyozas

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