Indian Chinese cuisine
|This article is part of the series|
|This article is part of the series|
Indian Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. The Indian Chinese cuisine is said to have been developed by the small Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) for over a century. Today, Chinese food is an integral part of the Indian culinary scene. It is also enjoyed by Indian and Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore and North America.
The cuisine is believed to have originated from the Chinese of Calcutta and Chinese food is still popular there. At present, the Chinese population in Calcutta stands at approximately 2,000. Most of these people are of Hakka origin; however, the dishes of modern Indian Chinese cuisine, such as Chicken Manchurian, bear little resemblance to traditional Chinese cuisine.
People of Chinese origin mostly live in India's only Chinatown located around Tereti Bazar and Bowbazar area which has since been relocated to Tangra, Calcutta. Most of these immigrants were Hakka. Chinatown in India still boasts a number of Chinese restaurants specialising in Hakka cuisine and Indian Chinese variants.
Foods tend to be flavoured with spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric, which with a few regional exceptions, such as Xinjiang, are traditionally not associated with much of Chinese cuisine. Hot chilli, ginger, garlic and yogurt are also frequently used in dishes. This makes Indian Chinese food similar in taste to many ethnic dishes in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which have strong Chinese and Indian cultural influences.
Non-staple dishes are by default served with generous helpings of gravy, although they can also be ordered "dry" or "without gravy". Culinary styles often seen in Indian Chinese fare include chilli (implying hot and batter-fried), Manchurian (implying a sweet and salty brown sauce), and Szechwan (implying a spicy red sauce). These correspond only loosely, if at all, with authentic Chinese food preparation.
Rice and noodles
Staple base options for an Indian Chinese meal include chicken, shrimp or vegetable variants of Hakka or Szechwan noodles popularly referred to as chow mein; and regular or Szechwan fried rice. American chop suey and sweet and sour dishes can be found at many restaurants. Some South Indian restaurants have also come up with spring rolls and Szechwan dosas.
Ubiquitous main course entrees include:
- Chilli Chicken/Prawn/Fish/Mutton/Vegetables/Paneer
- Garlic Chicken/Prawn/Fish/Mutton/Vegetables/Paneer
- Szechwan Chicken/Prawn/Fish/Mutton/Vegetables/Paneer
- Ginger Chicken/Prawn/Fish/Mutton/Vegetables/Paneer
- Manchurian Chicken, consisting of chicken with vegetables in a spicy sauce. It is entirely a creation of Chinese restaurants in India, and bears little resemblance to traditional Chinese cuisine. It is said to have been invented in 1975 by Nelson Wang; Wang described his invention process as starting from the basic ingredients of an Indian dish, namely chopped garlic, ginger, and green chilis, but next, instead of adding garam masala, he put in soy sauce instead, followed by cornstarch and the chicken itself. A popular vegetarian variant replaces chicken with cauliflower, and is commonly known as gobi manchurian. Other possibilities include prawn, fish, mutton, or paneer.
- Chowmein A popular dish combining noodles, vegetables, scrambled egg, ginger and garlic, soy sauce, green chili sauce, red chili sauce and vinegar
- Hong Kong Chicken
- Lemon Chicken/Prawn/Fish
- Hunan Chicken
- Sweet and Sour Chicken (Different from the American Version of Sweet and Sour, but similar to General Tso's Chicken)
- Chop suey American style & Chinese Style (Crispy Noodles with a variety of vegetables, chicken or meat and sauces.)
Often the nomenclature is such that the main ingredient is mentioned first, followed by the entree style such as "Chicken Chilli" .
Indian Chinese food is readily available in major metropolitan areas of India such as Bhopal, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kochi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore. It is also available in a number of towns and at dhabas (roadside stalls), also popularly referred to as "Fast food", adjacent to major Indian roads and highways. Many restaurants have a Chinese section in their menus, and some are even dedicated to serving Indian Chinese food. It can also be found in mobile kitchen carts (lari or rekdi) that ply the streets of cities, prepared in woks over a portable gas burner. Manchurian sauce, Szechwan sauce, soy sauce and Hakka noodles are available in many stores in cities across the country.
Many overseas Indian restaurants in the West and the Middle East also cater to the overseas Indians' nostalgic taste for Indian Chinese food. The cuisine is also branching out into the mainstream in major cities of North America such as New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Toronto, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Vancouver. Chinese food in Nairobi, Kenya, also tends to be of this style. It is also available in Australia, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. In many of these places, the restaurants are labelled as Hakka Chinese, when in fact the cuisine itself has very little resemblance to authentic Hakka cuisine. "Hakka" label in these restaurants are usually referring to the owner's origins, and many Chinese restaurant owners in India were of Hakka origin.
As of 2007, Chinese cuisine ranks India's most favorite cuisine (after local food), growing at 9% annually. It is the most favoured option when young people go out to eat and the second favorite (after south Indian cuisine) when families dine out. Inchin's Bamboo Garden is the biggest Indian Chinese chain in America.
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