Welcoming The Year Of The Rat With Prawns & Friends

If you like Chinese food, or if you just want a festive dinner with friends and family, then this Chinese New Year meal at OKO, The Lalit New Delhi, could be your treat

Words & photographs: Ambica Gulati

Soothing decor

Cosy ambience, soft lighting and warm smiles—OKO is where you can enjoy a good meal. This fine-dining restaurant offers the yummiest southeast Asian fare. Celebrating the Chinese New Year till January 25, the restaurant has mouthwatering delicacies that are bound to please those in search of low calorie cuisine. The Chinese New Year menu is priced at Rs 2,000 plus taxes. This has a vegetarian and non-vegetarian menu. I got the best of both the worlds as my friend is a vegetarian. The winter evening began on a warm note with soup, and ended on a sweet note with coconut cream dessert. So, I would say take a vegetarian with you for sure on this date.

Jasmine tea

In China, the new year is a spring festival. Based on the lunar calendar, the first day begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. In 2020, the first day is on Saturday, January 25, initiating the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Mauritius as well as in parts of North America and Europe. It is a time to honour deities and ancestors.

Soups are laden with fresh vegetables and prawn crackers go well with these. There are veg crackers too

For the Chinese, this is the time for a family reunion meal. It is often the first meal of the year either at midnight or as breakfast of the first day. It’s also the time to invite new energy at home. They clean their homes to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for good luck. They decorate windows and doors with red paper-cuts and couplets. Most celebrate by bursting firecrackers and money is given in red paper envelopes. Dumplings are an important part of the meal, so don’t forget to taste one.

I loved the pokchoy and black mushroom stuffing. The veg ones are even more delicious with their red and yellow colouring besides the yummiest stuffings.

Veg dumplings
Main course comprising tofu and celery chilli tiger prawns was perfect with herbed rice and veg noodles

Jump to Wkipedia to discover the origins or read a small bit here:

“According to legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian during the annual Spring Festival. The Nian would eat villagers, especially children in the middle of the night. One year, all the villagers decided to hide from the beast. An old man, Yanhuang, appeared before the villagers went into hiding and said that he would stay the night, and would get revenge on the Nian. All the villagers thought he was insane. The old man put red papers up and set off firecrackers. The day after, the villagers came back to their town and saw that nothing had been destroyed. They assumed that the old man was a deity who had saved them. Later the villagers understood that Yanhuang had discovered that the Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises. So the tradition grew that when New Year was approaching, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. After that, Nian retreated to a nearby mountain. The name of the mountain has been lost long back.”

Tub Tim Grob is tender coconut cream with water chestnuts, topped with crushed ice

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