Between the sheets: a delish dump of flavours - Hindustan Times
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Between the sheets: a delish dump of flavours

ByRuchika Garg, New Delhi
Jul 17, 2023 04:32 PM IST

Aromatic and appetising, dumplings are having a moment in the menu, with variants that cater to all dietary and taste preferences

Gyoza in Japan, Mandu in Korea, Pierogi in Poland, Momo in Nepal and parts of India — dumplings take various names and forms, but their flavours unite foodies world over. “Over time, dumplings have evolved from a cultural symbol to a popular snack, known for their versatility. With the emergence of international food trends and increased exposure to diverse culinary options, they have gained immense popularity in India, too, inspiring chefs to innovate and experiment,” says chef Vaibhav Bhargava from CHÔ - Vietnamese Kitchen & Bar, Delhi.

Dumplings have gained immense popularity in India, inspiring chefs to innovate and experiment.
Dumplings have gained immense popularity in India, inspiring chefs to innovate and experiment.

In terms of presentation, too, a lot has changed. Ditching the traditional pearl white covering for vibrant ones made of natural pigments — derived from beetroot, purple cabbage, spinach and so on — chefs are dipping into their creative best to bring out an array of aromatic wonders. Not just that, fillings used now range from meat to seasonal produce vegetables as well as vegan ingredients. We trace the revamp of dumplings.

Fried or Steamed: what’s your pick?

Dumplings are steamed, pan-fried or deep-fried, each with its own unique flavour and texture. However, at Delhi-based Spicy Duck, chefs have come up with innovative dishes such as steamed leavened buns, pan-fried guo-tie (steamed pork and cabbage dumplings), thousand layered puffs and more. “We deploy different cooking methods such as steaming and pan-searing, providing a contrast in textures. Our ingredients include Philadelphia cream cheese with bird’s eye chili and Peking duck with hoisin sauce to bring out an umami flavour,” says chef Parvez Khan from Wakai, Mumbai. The eatery uses flavoured wraps that are infused with vegetable juice. Another restaurant in Mumbai, Thai Naam, uses fragrant herbs such as makroot leaves, lemongrass and kha ginger to impart a unique aroma.

What’s in season?

In India, each season brings with it a set of ingredients that are unique to it. Thus, Nara Thai, a Mumbai-based restaurant, prefers seasonal produce to make dumplings, while keeping Thai flavours intact. “We use fresh ingredients with intrinsic Thai flavours. For monsoon, we have minced mock meat kra pao, wild coriander, etc. During summers, we use mango filings paired with a sweet and spicy selection of dips,” says Prem Pradhan, executive chef.

The varieties

Dumplings have evolved in recent years, not only in taste but also a culinary art form, with a keen eye on presentation, cooking and folding techniques as well as ingredients used. “We make crispy Cantonese taro, a deep-fried dumpling made with taro flour, in which the outermost layer of taro becomes like a puff. We also have lo mai gai — a steamed dumpling made of chicken and mushroom wrapped in glutinous rice and lotus leaf — and edamame smoked chilli dim sum,” says Arun Sundararaj from House of Ming, Taj Mahal, New Delhi. Qla, another eatery in the Capital, uses imported Belgium pork belly for its pork gyoza. It is braised at a low temperature for four hours to make it soft, give extra flavour and juiciness. And at The Lalit Ashok Bangalore, a variety of dumplings are made with charcoal.

 Dumplings Vs Dim Sums Vs Momo

Dumpling: It is the mother ship. A dim sum , a bao, a samosa, an empanada are all forms of dumplings . Every cuisine across the globe has some form of dumpling be it steamed, fried, baked or pan fried.

Dim sum - is a Chinese dumpling primarily made of potato, tapioca or rice starch is served for breakfast or with tea. Dim sum cab be served with multiple condiments and dipping sauces. Pork, chicken, seafood, mushrooms all can be the choice of filing.

Momo - A Tibetan native, and one of the most popular street foods of India , momos are traditionally served with thupka a nourishing broth. Made with refined and wheat flour a momo is primarily steamed but can be fried or pan fried. As per the new Indian standards momo needs to be served with garlic chili and mayonnaise

Inputs by chef Tarun Sibal

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