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Chinese food at Indian wedding

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eateat22 Nov 25, 2012 06:53 PM

Guys

We are having a multiethnic wedding (indian and chinese (cantonese if it matters) and hosting this at an indian venue. Getting 2 caterers in would have been too costly. However, the chef as this venue has agreed to playing around the menu as well as preparing 1-2 chinese dishes

I'm looking for asians or anybody with the knowledge of to understand the best dishes to serve which are palatable to asians in general. We have appetizers covered as most people like kababs, chicken tikka, etc. We will also be doing a jelly fish platter with pickled radish/cucumber. Red bean desert soup is a sure thing. Where we are lost is the main course. I can't ask my fiancee since's she loves all indian food having spent so much time with me. Supposedly, chinese are fonder of drier dishes vs curries so tandoori chicken for the main course could be one dish. Any other ideas on other indian dishes or even chinese dishes that are easy to prepare? Things like duck, lobster or not doable

Thanks!

  1. klyeoh Nov 28, 2012 06:06 PM

    I have a cousin (Chinese) in Singapore who married a fellow Singaporean who's Punjabi-Sikh a few years ago. They had a Sikh luncheon, then a Chinese 10-course dinner in the evening. The groom's Singaporean-born Sikh, but he had quite a few family members who flew in from Punjab for the wedding.

    During the Chinese dinner, you can see dozens of turbanned Sikhs: but you can *tell* who the Singaporean-Sikhs are - they are the ones enjoying the roast meats & sharksfin soup & braised abalone, whilst the Sikh guests from Punjab looked a bit non-plussed at some of the dishes. Cross-cultural exposure is a factor in determining what one's guests will eat, besides their ethnic background.

    8 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh
      huiray Nov 28, 2012 06:15 PM

      What was served at the Punjabi luncheon and how did the Chinese guests take to it? (Any from "traditional" Chinese backgrounds or from "the old country"?)

      1. re: huiray
        klyeoh Nov 28, 2012 06:58 PM

        The Punjabi luncheon was wholly vegetarian, served in the 'langar' (foodhall), following the traditional Anand Karaj wedding ceremony in the Gurdwara (Sikh temple). - I think there were about 150 guests who attended the temple ceremony.

        Chinese-Singaporeans are generally well-exposed to Indian cuisine (especially South Indian/Tamilian food), and the Sikh vegetarian meal certainly bore close resemblance to the South Indian Thali, so no problems for many ethnic Chinese guests (who probably constituted a third of the guests). Elderly Chinese-Singaporean women who're Buddhists often adopt a vegetarian diet these days, so serving a Sikh vegetarian meal was certainly a plus for them.

        That said, the wedding couple didn't have any Chinese guests from HK, China, Taiwan or elsewhere - that would have posed a problem as they'd not have been exposed to Indian cuisine as much. Generally, Chinese from Singapore & Malaysia are very familiar with Indian cuisine compared to the Chinese from elsewhere.

        1. re: klyeoh
          e
          eateat22 Nov 29, 2012 12:27 AM

          great post. Most of our guests (both chinese and indian) are locally from the US. However, indians in the US don't tend to really eat too much pork. They are probably exposed to pulled pork but not much of roast pork the way cantonese prepare it. However, I think I'm leaning towards having 3 authentic chinese dishes brought in from a restaurant instead of having the indian caterer prepare something that may or may not turn out great. So it's going to be jellyfish platter with pickled radish & cucumber, roast pork and red bean soup. All together, I've been told that getting the whole pig in to the venue to be cut fresh just before dinner time would maintain its freshness - hoping the caterer would be ok and do a good job of slicing it up. Also is there another dish worth pairing the roast pork with or just rice would be fine?

          1. re: eateat22
            klyeoh Nov 29, 2012 12:45 AM

            Nothing goes better with Cantonese roast pork than rice - besides, the presence of rice is significant in both Indian & Chinese cultures, as the grains signify fertility, and a bountiful life ahead.

            1. re: eateat22
              huiray Nov 29, 2012 05:38 AM

              Have you asked the caterer if he (or the chef) would be OK with physically handling and cutting up that whole pig? ;-) If yes, then remind him/her that the usual way is to chop the roast pork up into smallish pieces with crackling intact etc. I'm sure you know what I mean.

              Here's a video that has both back-of-house and table-side scenes at a well-regarded Chicago Chinese BBQ (and other stuff) place called Sun Wah on Broadway north of Argyle. A whole roast pork is cut up table-side, starting at about 3:43 into the video.
              (p.s. a whole bunch of other stuff is also shown, including prepping their version of "Peking Duck" (more a Cantonese version of Peking Duck) and also table-side carving of that.)
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhx-VJGB4x4

              A video of a smallish sucking pig being split by a professional:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc7dwzFiieg

              For your entertainment here's a video of Chinese roast pigs/pork being prepared in a commercial/professional kitchen:
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B39J...

              1. re: huiray
                raytamsgv Nov 29, 2012 09:56 AM

                The Chinese restaurant should be able to cut up the roast pork. That's the easiest way of doing it.

                1. re: raytamsgv
                  e
                  eateat22 Dec 8, 2012 11:05 AM

                  Guys

                  After researching the 1-day catering license that any restaurant would have to take and complications with it, we may do a simpler take-out menu for this summer wedding. Since it's going to be hot, this is what I'm thinking of

                  Taiwanese platter of Wood ear, cucumber, sweet and sour radish, seaweed, duck tongue, pork ears, etc

                  Desert - I have to choose one amongst these - Taro Coconut Tapioca Dessert, red bean (served cold or hot??), taiwanese fruits with shaved ice and syrup

                  Japanese melon icecream bars picked up from H-Mart for the kids - http://www.mymilkglassheart.com/wp-co...

                  What are your thoughts on the above. Which desert should I go with and any other simple additions that can be simply picked up in platters?

                  Thanks!

                  1. re: eateat22
                    DarthEater Dec 10, 2012 05:57 AM

                    Love the shaved ice idea! If you have a shaved ice maker you can have a shaved ice station set up with all the condiments so people can walk up and concoct their own combinations! You would need lots of ice so a freezer chest set up by the table is necessary. You can also serve indian style/flavor ice cream with a fresh toppings bar along with it! Some guests might even want some rose scented ice cream on top of their shaved ice, a perfect marriage! You would need a couple of waiters shaving the ice and scooping out the ice cream. The guests can fill their own toppings.

      2. e
        eateat22 Nov 27, 2012 05:57 PM

        Thanks for all the advice guys - very helpful. There aren't any muslims on my side so pork should be okay. I know chinese are all about freshness and wondering how roast pork prepared 1-2 hours in advance and then re-heated would taste. Same thing for fried rice

        3 Replies
        1. re: eateat22
          raytamsgv Nov 28, 2012 01:36 PM

          Roast pork reheats pretty well in standard oven. Just don't microwave it.

          1. re: eateat22
            luckyfatima Nov 28, 2012 01:45 PM

            Lots of more traditional non-veg Sikhs and Hindus avoid both pork and beef, the pork more for cultural that religious reasons, but if your family is cool with it, then I am glad you found something that might work.

            I actually don't eat pork, but from what I understand, at the Chinese BBQ place, the pig or smaller portion of roast pork would have been made on the same day, probably a few hours earlier anyway, so it is not something that would be served absolutely fresh unless you arrived in the restaurant right as their first round of roast pork was ready. It would be picked up from the resto by someone, and brought fresh and still warm or at worst room temperature.

            As for the rice, I think you will just have to deal with it not being piping hot out of the wok, but that should be OK. Fried rice suffers less than many other things if it sits around for a while out of the wok.

            1. re: luckyfatima
              huiray Nov 28, 2012 04:42 PM

              Would these Sikhs and Hindus eat poultry?

              Cantonese roast duck is a popular item amongst many non-Chinese folks, I've noticed.

              But both roast pork and roast duck, if "store bought", would not be items "prepared by the caterer/chef" [unless he/she knew how to do it properly]. If that is an issue (e.g. the caterer would not allow "3rd-party food") then we are back to making suggestions for food that the presumably predominantly-Indian-cuisine chef could prepare.

          2. dave_c Nov 26, 2012 05:16 PM

            When I've been invited to Chinese/Cantonese wedding banquets, there's often symbolic foods served. What the food are... I only remember the whole fish with it's eyeballs staring back at me.

            You might want to consider adding a few "symbolic" food dishes. That's if the Chinese side cares.

            1. K K Nov 26, 2012 04:50 PM

              I think the first question is whether your fiancee's relatives and friends who are attending the wedding, are from Hong Kong or Southern China, and where they are flying from, and it might help if you could tell us which city/state the wedding will be, in case there's a Chinese Cantonese restaurant in your area that could possibly prepare some dishes just to satisfy the entree requirement, and/oor if there's a Chinese supermarket nearby where the chef could possibly buy something even if attempting to cook some Chinese food.

              1. raytamsgv Nov 26, 2012 02:29 PM

                The challenge is that classic Cantonese cuisine emphasizes subtle, fresh flavors. The flavors come from the freshness of the ingredients. Spices and sauces emphasize but do not hide the natural flavor of the food.

                Many types of Indian cuisines work off an interaction between strong spices and flavorings. A Cantonese person may find these aromas and flavors to be unbalanced and too strong.

                For the Cantonese people, perhaps you could try to get some roast pork and some fried rice brought in from a Cantonese restaurant.

                1 Reply
                1. re: raytamsgv
                  huiray Nov 26, 2012 03:06 PM

                  Indeed, regarding the "fresh, subtle" flavors. Especially with seafood. Great Cantonese dishes with extremely fresh select fishes might be simply steamed with perfect timing and with minimal additional ingredients that are "just so" in balance - and I don't doubt that some folks accustomed to heavily spiced dishes would think such a dish to be really, really bland.

                  About the roast pork - there may be folks on the groom's side who may be Muslims and who would be nauseated by the presence of pork, especially roast pork with its aroma drifting across the tables... Maybe Cantonese roast duck instead, or Scallion-Ginger Chicken - plus that fried rice [but maybe not Yang Chow fried rice, with the BBQ pork bits in it :-) ]

                  To the OP: Are there folks on your side who WOULD object to the presence of pork? You have not mentioned that meat in your short-list of possible dishes in your post...

                2. e
                  escondido123 Nov 26, 2012 08:56 AM

                  I regularly have pot luck lunch with a group of Chinese-American women who consider Cantonese cooking the best in the world. Their opinion is that Szechuan, Hunan etc use their sauces to cover up the flavor of the ingredients (implying they aren't the best) while good Cantonese chefs use only the best/freshest ingredients that are treated delicately to allow their true flavor to be revealed.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: escondido123
                    huiray Nov 26, 2012 09:07 AM

                    That is indeed a widespread view. (but not amongst non-Chinese folks in NYC especially ;-) )

                    1. re: huiray
                      e
                      escondido123 Nov 26, 2012 09:42 AM

                      Hot and spicy are my favorites too, but these are all older women born in either China or Hong Kong--I find Cantonese to be fairly pallid.

                      1. re: escondido123
                        huiray Nov 26, 2012 09:58 AM

                        Hot and Spicy are not my favorites, although I certainly eat those too. Malaysian-Chinese-Nyonya food can be pretty spicy too, apart from the usual suspects like Szechuanese/Hunanese etc. ;-) Cantonese - pallid? Not in my view (and clearly not in the view of those women friends of yours).

                        I guess you fall into the group who desire Wham! Kapow! Bam! tastes in their food? ;-P

                        1. re: huiray
                          e
                          escondido123 Nov 26, 2012 11:42 AM

                          Hot and spicy to me means lots of flavor but I'm not at all the Wham Kapow Bam group. Don't even have Sriracha in my frig. I like sweet, a bit of heat--Hoisin, Sesame, Garlic/Black Bean Paste and Ginger are my go-to flavors if I'm cooking my version of Chinese food, which is rarely.

                        2. re: escondido123
                          linguafood Nov 26, 2012 10:33 AM

                          Having grown up with predominantly Cantonese food, I find it pretty uninteresting myself.

                          Shanghainese or Sichuan is much more down my alley.

                          1. re: linguafood
                            huiray Nov 26, 2012 10:49 AM

                            Was that in Berlin or elsewhere? (I think you are ethnically German, yes?)

                            1. re: huiray
                              linguafood Nov 26, 2012 10:54 AM

                              Bonn, Cologne, Berlin, you name it. Cantonese were the first to immigrate to Germany, so it's the predominant cuisine (still).

                              In recent years, however, there's been more variety.

                              1. re: linguafood
                                huiray Nov 26, 2012 11:17 AM

                                Ah. Hmm, I'm not entirely sure the Cantonese food you had in Germany at the time was just like the Cantonese food one might get in Hong Kong or Guangzhou, though?

                                1. re: huiray
                                  linguafood Nov 26, 2012 11:37 AM

                                  I wouldn't know.

                                  1. re: linguafood
                                    raytamsgv Nov 26, 2012 02:38 PM

                                    I actually have an old menu (early 1990's) from a Chinese restaurant near Rothenburg odT . The menu closely resembled American-Cantonese cooking that was prevalent in Southern California prior to the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 1980s. I would not have called such items "authentic" Cantonese. But it was only one restaurant.

                                    1. re: raytamsgv
                                      linguafood Nov 26, 2012 02:45 PM

                                      I'd like to avoid the authenticity debate because >yawn<.

                                      That said, there is no doubt in my mind that German-Cantonese is about as "authentic" as American-Cantonese, in that it has been modified to serve a new clientel /ethnicity.

                                      I've had delicious Cantonese roast pork and duck in the city (good rec below, I'd eat that any day!!), but still prefer other Chinese cuisines over Cantonese.

                        3. re: huiray
                          scoopG Nov 26, 2012 05:12 PM

                          A widespread belief held only among Cantonese people!

                          1. re: scoopG
                            huiray Nov 26, 2012 06:25 PM

                            So sez you!

                            1. re: huiray
                              scoopG Nov 27, 2012 04:34 AM

                              So say the many Shanghainese, Shandongnese, Fujianese etc...

                      2. huiray Nov 26, 2012 06:32 AM

                        "Supposedly, chinese are fonder of drier dishes vs curries..."
                        -------
                        Um, it depends. Cantonese cuisine [of Guangdong and environs, in Southern China] tends to be saucy, not dry. "Curries" is a vague term, do you mean a "saucy dish" or a "spicy/hot dish with gravy in the Indian style"? It's Northern Chinese cuisines that tend to be drier.

                        --------------------------------

                        "...the best dishes to serve which are palatable to asians in general..."
                        --------
                        Could you elaborate what you mean by "asians" in this case? Do you really mean Cantonese-Chinese and Indians (what regionality?) ?

                        -------------------------------

                        That the Chinese side is Cantonese IS significant. In general Cantonese cuisine is not hot or spicy, and you should really look into what your fiancée's side of the family actually eat. So far I see suggestions that are largely spicy or hot/fiery in some way. Indo-Chinese is generally pretty hot, isn't it? Szechuanese is usually fiery w/ some non-hot options, though. Thai curries can be iffy with a Cantonese family unless they have acquired the taste for it - again, you really should look into what your fiancée's family actually eats. I am assuming you are both in the US; perhaps both familial sides have adapted to USAmerican modes of eating? Or are there "traditional" members who would only eat "traditional" Cantonese or Indian (of whatever regionality you and they come from)?

                        Another note of caution: Indian food similar to Thai curry has been made as a suggestion. My understanding is that many Thais themselves (including those of Chinese heritage) "cannot stand" Indian curries. It seems they don't like the "smell", amongst other things. OTOH, perhaps everyone on your fiancée's side does (which would be an exception) so again you might need to probe into what they do eat.

                        Would it be an option to have some purely traditional Cantonese dishes made? But perhaps that is beyond the capabilities of the chef. Maybe some non-spicy American-Chinese dishes, then. That orange peel chicken suggested above might be an option. What you need to find out IMO is whether everyone on your fiancée's side can eat any spicy food or not. Even though your fiancée loves Indian (presumably fiery) food, surely she can set aside her preferences and think about what her grandmother or that great-grand uncle from the "old country" eats; ditto on your side whether someone cannot stand to eat "bland" food that does not have chillies in it - the info would be useful in arriving at compromise dishes &etc.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: huiray
                          luckyfatima Nov 26, 2012 06:40 AM

                          I was guessing he meant the Chinese guests would prefer the dry Indian meats rather than those served in curry gravies.

                          Truthfully, I recall hearing friend's parents (Chinese and Vietnamese) saying things about Indian foods like "This smells like arm pit" and feeling disgusted by Indian flavors. These were very traditional people who were not very worldly and only ever ate their own regional foods...we can of course find Indians and people of every other background who only stick to their own foods.

                          It is very touchy, but hopefully most guests will be open. And yes, good advice, tell the caterers to make most food American-spicy or not at all spicy.

                        2. luckyfatima Nov 26, 2012 06:24 AM

                          You are having Indian caterers prepare the Chinese dishes? You could definitely go for some Indian-Chinese dishes like the ones mentioned by Boogiebaby. (Noodles are liked by all.) Truthfully, this will not impress less adventurous Cantonese palates because the flavors will still be very exotic, but the good-sport eaters will be happy. And even if you went for a Cantonese caterer, ideally these types of foods are served fresh out of the kitchen, so something brought on site would still not impress the guests. I don't think jelly fish will go over to well with the desi diners.

                          But...you say no duck or lobster. I know you said only one caterer, but do you guys have a decent Cantonese owned Chinese BBQ place nearby? I have been to Chinese engagement and wedding parties where the hosts had a whole roasted pig catered from a Cantonese BBQ place. Some of your more traditional desi guests won't eat pork, I am sure, but it is a Chinese wedding food and will keep the Chinese guests happy. If having a giant pig will freak out the desi guests, what about Cantonese BBQ chicken catered from the Chinese BBQ place? It wouldn't matter to have chicken tikka AND Chinese BBQ chicken since the flavor profiles are so very different. The Chinese BBQ will be sold by the pound and you can bargain (send in your girl friend's mom if you can) for the price since it will be a large amount...it really isn't that costly compared to some other wedding catering.

                          I agree about your assessment of wet gravies being potentially less popular than dry items like tandoori meats and kababs. What about some kind of desi fried fish? Fish amritsari, whole fried pomfret, or something like that? That should go well with both Chinese and desi guests.

                          Also, why not keep kababs and chicken tikka as main courses, but for appetizers go for something like eggrolls, money bags (Indian caterers will know how to make this, it is a small baked or deep fried pastry stuffed with veg or protein and looks like a sack of money, which is lucky for Chinese, too) and some kind of shami kabab or veg cutlet, baked samosa/pattice, all made in desi-Chinese style.

                          For desi dessert, I think kheer is hard to beat and will be a hit with all.

                          Good luck and congrats on your wedding!

                          1. fmed Nov 25, 2012 09:11 PM

                            Maybe pakora, samosa, biryani representing the Indian side. And along with Indian-Chinese, westernized "Szechuan" dishes (orange peel chicken, etc.) representing the Chinese side. (There is a Szechuan restaurant here in my city whose customers are predominantly Indian. Many of the dishes are reminiscent of Kolkata style Chinese). Balti style Indian stir fries might work too.

                            1. boogiebaby Nov 25, 2012 08:19 PM

                              You could do Indo-Chinese. It's Chinese food, as served in india, catering to the Indian palate. Chilli Chicken, Chilli Paneer, Gobi Manchurian, Hakka Noodles, spring rolls, etc. Very popular and very good. We go to many weddings here in So. CA that often have Indo-Chinese for the appetizers. (I'm Indian).

                              1. j
                                jaykayen Nov 25, 2012 07:35 PM

                                Whatever Indian food is similar to Thai will work. Think stir fries. Or maybe sushi.

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