My association with Chinese food, or rather what is popularly called the Indo-Chinese food can be best described by saying that I absolutely can not survive without it. And the one time that I was forced to live without it, was like a nightmare for me to say the least. But more about it later.
Authentic Chinese is no where close to what we get in Indian restaurants under the name of Chinese cuisine. The real Chinese food is a lot less spicier and even most of the vegetables etc used in the Indian restaurants never feature in Chinese food, examples being Cauliflower, Paneer (Cottage Cheese) etc. You even get to see peas, Jeera (Cumin seeds), Coriander leaves, Curry leaves etc in some of the restaurants! While I don't want to have curry leaves in my chinese food (!) I also don't prefer the actual blander version of chinese food.
Chinese food also features prominently in my memories whenever I think of my college days & my close friends, my best friend SS in particular. Both of us were crazily into Chinese food. We didn't have to think at all when placing an order in any restaurant. It would invariably be Chinese. Even after passing out of college whenever we met after work, most of the time it used to be Chinese for us.
But all this was put on hold when I developed an allergy to Chinese food, it might have been the soy sauce or one of the other ingredients actually. I never found out what it was but whenever I ate chinese food, I would get nauseated and spend that & the next day vomiting my lungs out! This proved be a very difficult time for both of us. I couldn't have chinese even though I wanted to and because of this even SS couldn't have it. We would reluctantly settle on Pav Bhaji and miss the Hakka Noodles & Manchurian terribly.
The day I discovered that my allergy was gone was one of the happiest days of my life. SS always asked me to see if the allergy was gone. 'If you wont try, how will you know', she would say. But I always put it off, thinking about the bad time I would have. But that day the craving was so bad that I decided to take a chance and was glad that I did!
As with so many other things, I miss the Indian style Chinese food here in London, and have to make it at home if we want it. Only recently I have discovered that 'Tulsi' restaurant in Wembley serves 'authentic' 'Indian style Chinese' ! Their Hakka Noodles is a must try!
Veg Fried Rice
2 cups rice, preferably the Basmati variety
2 tsps Garlic, chopped finely or minced
1 tsp Ginger, finely chopped
2 Green Chillies, slit (Optional)
2 tblsp Soy Sauce
1 tblsp White Vinegar
2 Cups sliced/shredded Vegetables (Capsicum, Carrot, Cabbage)
2 tblsp Oil
Cook the rice such that the grains are separated. To do this, I add a little less water than usual and 2 drops of oil while I pressure cook it. Once cooked, spread out the rice to cool down.
In a wok, heat the oil and fry the ginger & garlic. Add the Green Chillies and saute.
Throw in the vegetables and saute on high flame. I some times add Baby corn to the rice as well.
Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Now add the cooked rice and keep mixing on high heat. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot, with Baby Corn Manchurian.
Baby Corn Manchurian
For the dumplings
- 8-10 Baby Corns, cut into bite size pieces
- 4 tblsp Maida (Plain Flour)
- 2 tblsp Cornflour
- 1/2 tsp Ginger paste
- 1/2 tsp Garlic paste
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce
For the gravy
- 1/2 cup Sliced vegetables such as spring onion, capsicum (optional)
- 2 tsp minced Garlic
- 2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 tblsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tblsp White Vinegar
- 2/3 tblsp Cornflour
Oil for frying and for the gravy
Prepare a thick batter with the Maida, corn flour, ginger & garlic pastes, Soy sauce, salt, pepper powder and water.
Heat oil in kadai. Dip the baby corn pieces into the prepared batter and fry till crisp. Remove on kitchen towel and reserve.
Heat 1 tblsp oil in a wok. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for half a minute. Add the sliced vegetables if using and saute on high flame. Add the soy sauce & vinegar and cook on high flame.
Add 1/2 cup of water, salt & pepper and bring to boil. Dissolve 2/3 tblsp of corn flour in a little cold water and add this to the Manchurian.
Heat while continuously stirring as the gravy thickens. Cook till it reaches the desired consistency and then add the fried Baby Corn. Mix properly and switch off the heat. Garnish with Spring Onion greens and serve hot.
To make this into a dry Manchurian, reduce the quantity of water to around 2-3 tblsp and the corn flour to just 1 tblsp.