CHINA… Just the thought of travelling to China brings in many apprehensions. Challenges of food habits, language barrier and of course ban on integral parts of lives of millennial Indians like Google, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube etc dominate the mind at the time of planning travel and thus the urge to avoid travelling there. Many a times, we tend to prefer travelling to our favourite tourist destinations other than China. Despite the bad omen of getting my mobile stolen on the eve of departure at Mumbai airport lounge, the experience of travelling to China delighted me. I even look forward to revisit China soon on long holiday. Thanks to the Google contacts on my iPad I could keep in touch with my family and friends back home. The trip transformed my perception of China, from an unfair image to an impressively fresh, friendly and incredible country.
Though it was a short trip to Shanghai, Wuhan, Hongzhou and Beijing, it was fully packed with visits and interactions with locals.
Healthy colourful Chinese food
Like Indians, even the Chinese are known for their diversified food habits inspired by their unique culture. The different regions of China have different varieties of cuisine and are known for unique flavours. The dining place is not just an eating place, but an avenue for interacting with family, friends and colleagues. Usually in India we tend to simplify Chinese food down to Chow mien, fried rice, noodles, but surprisingly China has the most varied cuisine in the world . Although in such a short stay, it was not possible to taste all varieties, the hot Hunan, spicy Sichuan and crispy Guangzhou cuisine with famous hotpot were the most palatable. I must say I was lucky enough to have been hosted by local Chinese friends who introduced me to all possible varieties of Chinese food. The trendy hotpot dinning style is a must to experience when in China, especially in cold season.
With the help of Indian assistant and friends staying in China, I binged upon some street food and tried munching vegetarian options. Although I am not a street food lover, I must admit that those flavours fully satisfied my taste buds.
1.Baozi, steamed buns stuffed with meat and vegetables, though a traditional breakfast dish, actually calmed my hunger pangs on several days. Malatang, a famous Chinese street food dish, originating in Sichuan province, enjoys high popularity in Beijing.
2.Jian Bing, counter part of the Indian dosa, prepared with flour and eggs with different fillings and sauces was most popular and inexpensive street snack that often satisfied my hunger on day long tours. The best part is that it would be prepared quickly and served fresh. Interestingly, there was an option to add spices of your choice.
3.Any Indian visiting China is apprehensive of the food as it mostly comprises of different kinds of non-vegetarian dishes. My local Indian contact, introduced me to a rich, spicy vegetable dish named, “Malathan”. It is a superb street food, prepared dry as well as soupy. It essentially is a variety of self-picked fresh vegetables from the open counters and priced as per the weight. The selected items get steam cooked by adding stock and spices. Choice of non vegetarian items too can be added in the preparation.