LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN AND CHINESE VEGETABLE DUMPLINGS
Drenched in splashes of yellow, orange, red, brown and chocolate brown, the trees stand tall against the vast canvas of a clear sparkling blue sky. The sprawling landscape is fresh with the shimmering colours of Autumn leaves still dribbling all over the ground like wet paint. Some trees seem to have gone into a long penance with their bare branches upraised like arms, as though pleading to be covered by the emerald foliage once again.The scenic pictures framed in by the windows of our car, flash by as we zoom past the nature’s beautiful art gallery called Portland.
We stop by a busy road in the middle of downtown and walk towards a high compound wall with latticed windows.
As we enter the four petaled or clover shaped door way, we are overwhelmed by the unexpected expanse of greenery that welcomes us.
|Beautiful blossoms everywhere|
The garden consists of hundreds of species of flower bearing and fruit bearing plants and trees, mini rocky mountains, gurgling water falls, bridges and a lily pond were the colourful fish swim peacefully.
The koi fish is known for its power and energy to swim upstream against the current. Hence it is symbolic of perseverance, courage and good fortune.
We walk on the rough pebbled pathways bordered with shrubs and blossoms, experiencing the acupressure effect on the soles of our feet. More and more door ways of different shapes open up into different breathtaking vistas and pavilions connected by wooden bridges.
|Pathway bordered with blossoms|
|One of the wooden bridges|
|Another pathway through a floral door.|
|Moon locking pavilion|
COURTYARD OF TRANQUILITY, HALL OF BROCADE CLOUDS, FLOWERS BATHING IN SPRING RAIN, MOON LOCKING PAVILION, PAINTED BOAT IN MISTY RAIN, ROCK MOUNTAIN AND WATER FALL – The poetic names of the vistas sound like healing music.
|Painted boat in misty rain|
Artifacts depicting the Chinese culture and Chinese paintings by renowned artists are displayed in the pavilions.
|A Chinese artifact on display|
|Intricately carved Gingko wood panel|
The architecture, the plants, the elements of nature are all used to convey a message for a peaceful and harmonious living.
The two Dragonfish on the roof of the Hall Of Brocade Clouds protect the entire garden from evil influence and fire.
|Dragonfish on the roof|
The bat shaped drip tiles running along the roof represent the five blessings – long life, fortune, health, a love of virtue, and a painless passing.
|Bat shaped tiles|
The plum tree which blooms in winter, the bamboo that bends and does not break in storms and the pine which is ever green – even in winter – are together called as the Three Friends Of Winter.They teach us the art of endurance as they rustle in the cool breeze.
|Window flanked by bamboo|
Under water rocks that are naturally eroded and turned into beautiful shapes have been used to create the Rock Mountain And Water Fall effect.
It is a known fact that, everything in the universe is connected by a cosmic life force. This life force called as Prana , Ki, or Chee in Chinese, is attracted by Mother Nature. The Chi flows unhindered in the garden though it is only a replica of nature aesthetically created by man. We experience its invigorating effect as we walk through the peaceful garden.
We enter THE TOWER OF COSMIC REFLECTIONS to enjoy our tea. The restaurant aptly named as THE TAO OF TEA offers a wide and varied selection of tea.
|THE TAO OF TEA|
|The tea menu book|
|One of the guardian lions|
We enjoy the Chinese Moon Cake and the Chinese Vegetable Dumplings to the accompaniment of a very pleasant musical recital by a Chinese girl. Waves after waves of pleasant music fills the atmosphere as her graceful and delicate hands gently fly over the Guqin, an ancient Chinese instrument. The musical sounds are similar to that of Jal Tarang and Sitar.
When we finally step out of the tranquil Paradise called LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN we feel as though we are woken up after a deep meditation. We are overwhelmed with a sense of peace, joy and bliss !
Here is a brief recipe for the Chinese Vegetable Dumpling which I tried out at home the next day.
CHINESE VEGETABLE DUMPLING
INGREDIENTS FOR THE STUFFING
Cabbage ( Finely chopped ) – 1 cup
Carrots ( grated ) – 1 cup
Onion ( finely chopped ) – 1/2 cup
Ginger and garlic ( grated ) – 1 tsp
Sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Sesame oil – 2 tsps
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Pepper ( powdered ) – 1/2 tsp
1. Heat oil, add sesame seeds and allow to splutter.
2. Add ginger, garlic and onion and saute till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
3. Stir in cabbage and carrots, sprinkle water, cover and cook on low flame.
4. When the vegetables are slightly mushy mix in salt and pepper.
TO PREPARE THE DOUGH
1.Add a pinch of salt to one cup of plain flour/ maida.
2. Add ice water little by little and knead the flour into a smooth non sticky dough.
3. Allow it to rest for one hour.
TO MAKE THE DUMPLINGS
4. Pinch out plum size balls from the dough and roll them into small circles.
5. Place a ball of of filling on one half of each circle.
6. Fold each circle in the middle over the filling, press the edges together using wet fingers and seal the filling tightly inside the dumpling. Mushy filling tightly stuffed will make the dumplings smooth and fat. I ended up with slim dumplings as my vegetables were al dente.
7. Steam the dumplings in a steamer for ten or twelve minutes.