Some things grow better with age. Cabernet Sauvignon, Prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, and the insights of a certain Hummer. A most remarkable insight visited me a few weekends ago when I was huddled at a party with friends. It is this: winters have aged beautifully for us over the years. It is true that with the passage of time we’ve had to forgo some pleasures. Children, partners and courteous meals have replaced the companionable Old Monks, wild friends and the raucous combination. Today, the shared memories make for memorable evenings, especially when spent around a hotpot – a simmering receptacle of unmitigated goodness that traces its history to humble beginnings over a thousand years ago. 

The hotpot goes by many names and adaptations. Whether it’s Japan’s nabemono, Thailand’s suki, Vietnam’s lau or Singapore’s steamboat, this tradition is a part of community dining all over Asia. The Chinese line of hotpots is classified on the basis of regional editions – the Mongolian hotpot with its chunks of mutton, the spicy Sichuan hotpot and the milder Cantonese version with its generous sprinkling of seafood. In almost all preparations the embrace of a slow fire (and the proximity of friends) is essential to warming the cooking pot into which thin slices of meats/seafood/vegetables/mushrooms/wontons/noodles are lovingly placed for meaningful integration into the broth. 

Delicious and healthy, the hotpot meal is an experience that glorifies every other ingredient that goes into it. It also celebrates camaraderie in a wintry setting and makes you arrive at excellent insights like my own. Try it to believe it – at My Humble House, ITC Maurya from 7th to 16th December 2012. 

For more information, please visit the Gourmet Guide.