Chinese Moon Cake ~ Tiretta Bazar, Old Chinatown Calcutta
Chinese Moon Cake
Tiretta Bazar, Old Chinatown, Calcutta
Also see: My blog post on Calcutta (Kolkata) Chinatown
Its early Sunday morning and sun is yet to come out, but the stoves are already fired up and the morning silence is broken by the sound of the knife hitting the chopping plate.
Night owls crawl out of their late night parties and call centre night shifts to rejuvenate themselves with bowls of hot fish ball soups from the road side vendors. Hungry soles huddle around makeshift stall, jostling with each other to grab the day’s first meal.
Both side of the thoroughfare, are lined with stacks of momo containers, containing steaming momos with pork, chicken and shrimp stuffing. Yes, its breakfast time, Chinatown Calcutta!!!!
Dimsums and momos are always the most sort after items. Spring rolls and pork sausages are not far behind. Pau, the ball shaped over sized dumpling, which comes with all sorts of pork, chicken, and fish filling is definitely on the must have list.
Come September disk like cakes are added to the menu. Measuring about 2.5 inches in diameter and about 1 cm thick these are the Chinese Moon Cake, an integral part of the Moon Festival (also known as the Mid Autumn Festival).
Basically a harvest festival the Chinese moon Festival is celebrate on the 15th day of the eight month and falls on a full moon day. The festival is for lunar worship and moon watching, when moon cakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Moon cakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival.
The Chinese Moon Festival roughly coincides with the autumn equinox (23 Sept.) and always falls on a new moon day. Also known as the Mid Autumn Festival it is among the four most important Chinese festival.
The moon cakes comes with a wide variety of rich filling, consisting of lotus seed and sweet bean paste. The exotic one contains a whole egg yolk, representing the moon while some contains two egg yolks signifying the two phases of the moon.
Some moon cakes even contain intricate Chinese calligraphy, mentioning the name of the bakery and the filling, engraved on its outer surface.
Celebrated by Chinese throughout the world and Calcutta (Kolkata), which houses one of the oldest Chinatown is no exception, but unlike the Chinese New Year and the Hungry Ghost Festival, this is a very closed door event.
The moon festival is mainly celebrated among family members. In Calcutta some cultural events are held at the Scared Heart School in Tiretta Bazar.
The moon cakes are available at the Tiretta Bazar Chinese Breakfast about a week before Chinese Moon Festival.
Sadly the moon cakes of Tiretta Bazar comes in with only one filling of cashew nuts, resins, dried cherries and pumpkin candies.
The moon cakes are available in two sizes they are priced at Rs. 80 and Rs. 75 (as on 2013). Sadly its a bit too sweet and dose not taste great.