Indian Chinese by NIKITA AGRAWAL

Indian cuisine is made up of numerous regional native cuisines and the food specialities are varied and abundant. So while I could have picked a pail from this vast sea to write about, I am about to take a slightly different route today.

Let me introduce you to the Indian adaptation of Chinese cuisine, i.e. Indian Chinese! Most restaurants have a page dedicated to Chinese dishes in their menu and it’s eaten throughout the country. The top 3 favourites are:

Manchurian – cabbage or meatballs in spicy brown sauce

Paneer Chilly – Cottage cheese in a flavourful sauce

Schezwan fried rice/ noodles – Rice or noodles (or both) in a spicy Schezwan sauce

If you are a native Chinese visiting India and ordering Chinese dishes, do not expect any resemblance to the Cantonese dishes unless you are eating at a very high end restaurant, the kind where you need reservations. In an alternate situation while visiting Hong Kong, I was served a bowl of very white looking noodles swimming in broth which looked bland but was actually very spicy and flavourful, the magic ingredient being chives. The Indian adaption of Chinese is however made with more local spices and is quite heavy on sauce and garlic. This variant is so popular that it has a separate Wikipedia page! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Chinese_cuisine). It is also available in Jain variant (a vegetarian community in India that does not consume garlic, onion, potatoes or roots).

And while I do love the original Chinese dishes, every Indian finds comfort in the Indian Chinese, the kind that is enjoyed at 2 am at street stalls, when the restaurants and eateries have long shut their operations for the day, or the stalls in busy commercial areas with a few plastic stools laid out on the pavement deriving income largely from office orders.

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