The Dragon Boat festival is a traditional holiday that has its origins in China 2000 years ago. As with most festivals, the focus inadvertently shifts from the original purpose to the rituals of food and drink associated with it. So in present day India at Yauatcha, we are celebrating this festival by eating Zongzi and drinking some cocktails. The festival menu is available a la carte till the 30th of June, so let the celebrations begin!
Once upon a time (I just HAD to say it), there was a passionate poet and minister of the ancient kingdom of Chu – Qu Yuan. Qu was a well respected member of the community and everyone held him in high regard. However, when the King of the Chu dynasty decided to forge an alliance with the enemy state Qin, Qu opposed the alliance and was thrown in prison for treason. Twenty eight years later, when the Qin people captured the Chu capital – Qu committed suicide by drowning in the river. The people of the kingdom were in despair and rushed out on boats to rescue him (hence the Dragon Boats). They also threw balls of rice into the river so that the fish would eat that and spare Chu’s body. Hence the Zongzi or Sticky rice parcels for a huge part of the celebrations. This is just one story and there are many to commemorate this day that generally falls during the Summer Solstice prompting interpretation that it could also be a harvest festival where relatives came to visit on boats and carried the harvest of rice with them.
Zongzi is a parcel made of sticky rice and stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. The shape of a Zongzi can range from an eleongated cone in northern China to a pyramid shaped parcel in southern China. Different leaves can be substituted for the wrapper and they each offer a unique flavor to the rice.
Yauatcha offers six different zongzi with fillings ranging from Edamame and Vegetarian Duck, Asparagus, Lamb and Pine nuts, Pork Belly and Shitake Mushrooms and Chicken among others. The Zongzi are definitely an acquired taste and for most of us on the table it reminded us of the SriLankan Lamprais (or Lump Rice). It is quite a rustic preparation so don’t be surprised when you find a moreish package of rice and meat clubbed together. The fillings are what sets each package apart and my favourite of the lot was the Edamame and Vegetarian Duck and the Lamb with Pine nuts.
My recommendation is to order your regular favorites from the Yauatcha menu and complement it with some Zongzi. Considering that this is a unique offering for the Dragonboat festival, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. They also have a specially created cocktail for the festival which is a Citrus Spritz cocktail, made with vodka, dry vermouth, lime and white wine. The elegant dessert definitely grabs some eyeballs. The wine-soaked Water Chestnut with Mango Cake, served alongside a Sauvignon sorbet is a pleasant finish to the meal.
The Dragon Boat Festival menu is available to order from an a la carte menu from till 30th June, for all day dining.
Picture Courtesy: Yauatcha
1 MG Road Mall, MG Road, Bangalore 5600001
Cost : INR 2000++ for a meal for two.
Valet Parking available.