A once-in-a-year occurrence, due to the labour-intensive difficulty involved in achieving the complex flavours, Asma Khan’s (you may remember our earlier piece on her) Indo-Chinese supperclub has just been announced. If you’re familiar with Indo-Chinese cuisine then you’ll know why this is lip-smackingly special. If not, take this chance to experience some really delicious food, as a well as a taste of Calcutta’s multicultural culinary history.
Asma will be serving dishes found on the menus of Calcutta’s Chinese restaurants, almost all of which are run by the Chinese Hakka community, whose ancestors settled in Bengal as early as the 18th century. The first Chinese emigrant to arrive in Calcutta was a Mr Yang Tai Chow who set up a sugar factory (or cheeni mill) near Calcutta. The factory’s need for Mandarin- or Hakka-speaking labour attracted more immigrants, who brought with them porcelain (chinamati as the Bengalis called it, the “Soil of China”) and of course Hakka food! The culinary fruits of the cultural intermingling that followed can be found thriving in Calcutta’s Chinatown – in Tangra – a densely inhabited area where a multitude of tiny Hakka cafes exist alongside airport traffic, and hundreds of tanneries.
The flavours of Calcutta Chinese food is dominated by red chillies (fresh and dried) and garlic. The lemon chicken of Tangra is one of Asma’s favourites and features prominently on her supperclub menu. Thukpa and momos also feature – a nod to the influence on Calcutta’s street food of more recently arrived Tibetan migrants to Bengal.
Hurry and book, you don’t want to miss this one!
When: Friday 10 February 2017
Where: Green Rooms Hotel, 13-27 Station Road, London N22 6UW
More info: Darjeeling Express
By Rida Bilgrami.
Posted on 24 January 2017