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Indian Chinese


Monica Bhide
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Have any egulleters tried Indian Chinese? This is a wonderful combination, I think many of you had a taste of this thanks to Suvir at Diwan -- the garlic cauliflower

I would love to get some discussion going in this area... I would be happy to share some recipes here as well

Thoughts? Comments?

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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It is an incredible combination and I believe that something like 30% of the Indian population eat with chopsticks

The best Indian food I have ever had was in Calcutta. Noodles in a fiery sauce with the biggest shrimp in their shells all cooked in front of you on the street. The perfect fast food.

Please do share some recipes

S

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Actually, Simon, I think Calcutta is where it all started... am I right? It was a few hundred years ago the Hakka Chinese migrated from Canton Province, China to Calcutta, India. it is in India that the Hakka Chinese tasted and embraced traditional Indian cooking. I think this was the start of a wonderful new cuisine. … Some of the most popular dishes are : Fried prawns, chilli chicken or shrimp, hakka noodles, Manchurian veges, and American Chop Suey

Here is a simple recipe to try, ithas not been edited by a professional editor ..

Chilli Paneer

1 cup cubed Paneer/ Indian Cheese

2 tbsps.All purpose flour or Mochitko (sp?) flour -- this is a wonderful flour

1 tbsp.Cornstarch

A few green chillies, sliced (de seed them if you want to loose the heat)

2 tbsp.Soya Sauce

Pinch of white pepper powder

1 bunch of finely chopped Spring onions

1 clove of garlic crushed

To fry Oil

Salt to taste

Method

1. Make a paste with cornstarch and little water and keep aside

2. In a bowl coat the paneer with the flour. Deep fry in hot oil and keep aside.

3. For the sauce, heat some oil in a pan. Now on high heat, add the spring onions, garlic pieces, and the green chilies.. Add the soya sauce, pepper powder, and salt.

4. Add the cornstarch paste ( a bit of water, depending on how you like your sauce) and paneer pieces and cook for a few minutes.

5. Serve with steamed rice

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Wow!  Tell us more Simon and Monica.  My mouth is watering.. and my stomach gurgling. :sad:

You know Suvir, when my dad first travelled to Calcutta and ate the food there, he said of the food (something that is usually reserved for the beauty of Kashmir) -- if there heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. He ate at a lot of the road stalls and flavorings of the garam masala with red chillies to the softness of the corn starch and the mildness of the noodles is just a flavor to die for

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Wow!  Tell us more Simon and Monica.  My mouth is watering.. and my stomach gurgling. :sad:

You know Suvir, when my dad first travelled to Calcutta and ate the food there, he said of the food (something that is usually reserved for the beauty of Kashmir) -- if there heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. He ate at a lot of the road stalls and flavorings of the garam masala with red chillies to the softness of the corn starch and the mildness of the noodles is just a flavor to die for

What year may this have been?

I am wondering what kind of stuff he ate.

Interesting to see the usage of Garam Masala in the foods then. Makes me very curious. :smile:

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Gosh, it must have been over 30 years ago. Doubt that he remembers. But I have seen whole garam masala used in the Fried Rice dishes in some places. I will certainly ask him if he remembers any specific dishes,  he does remember the experience

Whole garam masala in the Indian-Chinese Fried Rice? :shock:

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Yes, rather different. I had the same reaction when I tasted it. It was actually at a friends home, she is from Calcutta, so I am assuming it was original. It was quite good actually. SHe added a bit since the spices are strong and did not want to over power the soya sauce it. I have not tried it at home with my recipes, but I have for sure had a good experience with it

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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In Kolkatta, the Chinese community used to have street food very similar to Hakka noodles and in the same manner one finds in SIN. Much of the Chinese Indians made dishes that had affinity for kind-of-garam masala in their fried rice etc.

On the other hand, outside of Kolkatta, Indian Chinese food is put together with too much of oil and not much regards to balance between the various ingredients. In my youth, there were very few Chinese restaurants in Mumbai or Delhi for that matter - Now, every restaurant in Mumbai has a whole slew of "chinese" dishes in the menu - Something I care not to even describe.

On my last trip I was told that the finer chinese restaurant in Mumbai were in Holiday Inn, Juhu Beach & Regents Hotel, Bandra - The one in Juhu was marginally OK, it is kind of a Juhu & JVPD filmy type hangout.

Edited by anil (log)

anil

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There's a whole chapter in Copeland Marks' Indian & Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim on Hakka Chinese cooking in Calcutta. Unfortunately, he prefers recipes that don't incorporate Indian seasoning, and so are much more straightforward Chinese.

He does mention that the Hakka enclave in Calcutta was called Tangra, and I'm wondering if this is why the Indian-Chinese restaurant in Queens that Nina went to is called Tangra Masala? (I think that's what it's called??)

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There's a whole chapter in Copeland Marks' Indian & Chinese Cooking from the Himalayan Rim on Hakka Chinese cooking in Calcutta.  Unfortunately, he prefers recipes that don't incorporate Indian seasoning, and so are much more straightforward Chinese.

I have spent some time chatting and watching Indian Chinese in India cook and speak about their food. They certainly use Indian spices. And actually have little if any love of more straightforward Chinese anymore. :shock:

Copeland Marks (may he continue finding great peace), may have had a limited experience or a biased one. After working and chatting with a very diverse grouping of Chinese in India, it would be false to assume what you credit to him. It is sad that he is not with us to debate this. I am sure he would have shared great reasons to have written what he did.

I was in Jackson Heights 6 years ago and saw a Chinese lady shopping in an Indian grocery store (the smaller old Patel Brothers). I told my companion that I wondered if the lady was an Indian Chinese and they quickly changed the topic (but only after telling me that I assume everything to be Indian. It was their way of teasing me a little). Later, through sheer coincidence we arrived at the check out together. And this lady was speaking in Bengali with the check out clerk. I spoke in my limited Bengali and asked her if she was Indian Chinese to which she replied in the affirmative and added 3rd generation.

We spent close to an hour afterwards chatting about Indian Chinese food, dress, culture and politics. And it was clear that my experiences in wanting to learn this cuisine with the people of this community in India were the same as what this lady, seas away, shared with me in Jackson Heights. She was at the store with her mother and Aunt. These were women in their 70s. It was wonderful speaking with her. She opened her bags to show me what she had bought. And actually she preferred Indian food to Indian Chinese. But very quickly told me about the recipes she did make from Indian Chinese. But there were no traditional Chinese recipes in their families repertoire anymore.

And again, Indian Chinese was not about my preference or even Copeland's, but interestingly enough, came from the need of a people to keep some of their ties with a culture they left behind. And as I spent time with many families from this segment of the Indian population, I realized how sad some of their stories were about their lives in China. It was thus quite easy to understand why they would preserve little if anything of their past in their happier present. I would be seated in a therapists chair (An American Luxury, not one available to the masses in India :shock:), if I were to try and keep semblance between my today and my Chinese past if I were trying to live as 3rd generation Chinese in India and still preserving my more straightforward Chinese cooking style. No wonder those from this group, have cleverly found a great balance between the two cuisines and found new utterance in losing a little of each.

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He does mention that the Hakka enclave in Calcutta was called Tangra, and I'm wondering if this is why the Indian-Chinese restaurant in Queens that Nina went to is called Tangra Masala?  (I think that's what it's called??)

No connection at all. Sorry!:shock:

Hindi and most Indian languages have a very rich alphabet. And many subtle and distinct variations between similar sounding words are lost in the process of translating these languages for the non-Indian ear.

It becomes even more difficult as you translate some of the Southern Indian languages. The sounds are very difficult for even most non-Southern Indians to pronounce. But at least their ears can understand and catch the differences.

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Toby,

Thanks for alerting me to your comment on Copeland Marks. I realize you had written that he PREFERS the more straightforward recipes.

It makes it easier for me... for I always thought Copeland Marks would have done his homework.

So, in either case, the post above can remain, for I share the experiences I have had with Chinese in India. And these people do not seem to worry about Copeland Marks or my preference. They are enjoying what has been created by their ancestors after moving to India. They only improvise each day what was shared by their elders. And that could be true for people from most any ethnic group.

If Madhur and I were just merely writing about Indian food from 3000 years ago, we would have nothing to write by now. But we each bring our unique take on that cuisine and also share our familial and cultural uniqueness in that context.

Indian-Chinese is very different from Chinese cooking. It is also very different from Indian cooking.

But it is wonderful and perhaps older than many countries cuisines and certainly rich in history and a sense of belonging and purpose. You have to meet these people, understand their lives, their heritage and why they choose to live in India, and then, it all falls into place.

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Actually, Simon, I think Calcutta is where it all started... am I right? It was a few hundred years ago the Hakka Chinese migrated from Canton Province, China to Calcutta, India. it is in India that the Hakka Chinese tasted and embraced traditional Indian cooking. I think this was the start of a wonderful new cuisine. … Some of the most popular dishes are : Fried prawns, chilli chicken or shrimp, hakka noodles, Manchurian veges, and American Chop Suey

The Hakka (meaning "guest people") were people who were driven from northern China by the Mongols, eventually settling in Guangdong province in southern China. They adopted elements from the cuisines of the regions they settled in; eventually their cooking most resembled Cantonese food, but they do have some distinctive dishes, such as stuffed bean curd, salt-baked chicken, 8 jewel stuffed duck, preserved vegetables with fresh bacon. Many of the Chinese who settled in Hawaii were Hakka, as were those who went to India, probably to work on tea plantations and gradually migrating to Calcutta. I was wondering if any of the Chinese-Indian restaurants in Calcutta still have dishes that in any way resemble these Hakka specialties?

Cuisines of India, by Smita Chandra, has a chapter on European influences on Indian Cuisine from the 16th to the 19th centuries; recipes are also included for many Hakka recipes showing Indian influence (I guess included in this chapter on the theory that it was the British who set up the tea plantations). Some of the recipes are sweet corn soup with green chiles pickled in vinegar; mushroom spring rolls; sweet and sour chile potatoes (with tamarind, ketchup, soy sauce, chili sauce); chili chicken; chicken Manchurian; and hot garlic shrimp.

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Anil,

What do you think of China Garden (in kemps corner). While hardely a hole in the wall, I have always thought of the place as one of the best restaurants in Mumbai (next to Khyber of course). Since I have never made it to the East of India, China Garden, and to a lesser extent a place called Kamling (near Churchgate) really are the gold standard when I think of Indian chinese. I agree with you that the 'chinese' selection in most indian restaurants is garbage.

Darn it! I meant to engage Ed Shoenfeld (sp?) on the question of Indian chinese and whether he had any particular insight but forgot. Oh well.

ps

the Indian chinese dish my family enjoys the most is almost certainley not authentic. It's called vegetable manchurian and it consists of fried balls of vegetable (not sure what it's composed of in the restaurant) but at home we make it out of potato cabage and carrot. the balls are then deep fried and placed in a gravy, but the problem is that we at home have never been able to replicate the flavor of the gravy (smokey and well spiced) that we enjoyed at CG, and so the overall dish has never been very successful. DO members have any insights?

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Darn it!  I meant to engage Ed Shoenfeld (sp?) on the question of Indian chinese and whether he had any particular insight but forgot.  Oh well.

ps

the Indian chinese dish my family enjoys the most is almost certainley not authentic.  It's called vegetable manchurian and it consists of fried balls of vegetable (not sure what it's composed of in the restaurant) but at home we make it out of potato cabage and carrot.  the balls are then deep fried and placed in a gravy, but the problem is that we at home have never been able to replicate the flavor of the gravy (smokey and well spiced) that we enjoyed at CG, and so the overall dish has never been very successful.  DO members have any insights?

Ed and I have eaten some Indian Chinese in NYC. It just happens to be that one of my friends who works in an Indian restaurant in NYC, also happens to be one of the best chefs making Indian Chinese in NYC. SO when we have parties within the Indian restaurant world community, he is called upon to make these dishes...

Ed and I recently were at a tasting done for us, at a restaurant. The chef had prepared the Vegetable Manchurian that your family enjoyed and I could see Ed very happy as he ate it. It also happens to be a favorite of my families. Same for the Manchurian cauliflower.

As for China Garden, it is one of my favorite restaurants in India. It is still very good. I have enjoyed some amazing meals at Lings Pavillion in Colaba, behind the Taj.

I am proud of our friends that own Khyber. It is amazing to see how even after a bad fire... they lost no hope and only made themsevles better. It is one of the prettiest restaurants in the world. I like their food, but it is their service, interiors and MOST AMAZING art collection that impress me and humble me.

Anil, I too am waiting to hear more from you. I have only lived in Bombay for 3 years. And the last time I lived there was 10 years ago. I do visit Bombay and spend several days there when I am in India. I would have it no other way.

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Thanks for all the interesting posts on this thread, which have inspired me to further investigate an interesting phenomonon that one finds in the United Arab Emirates: namely the fact that many, many Indian restaurants here also serve Chinese food. The majority of the population here is Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan (about 60-70% of the total, with locals making up 15% or so), so it is not surprising that most restaurants focus on subcontinental food, but I have always been curious as to why Chinese food was so often also featured on menus. I should add that some places offer a triple whammy of Indian, Chinese and Arab (Lebanese/Syrian) dishes, but I think I now need to establish whether the interesting kinds of cross-pollination discussed earlier in this thread are taking place in these restaurants. One reason that I have been so curious about this phenomenon is the fact that the Chinese/Indian mix is by no means confined to the weakest restaurants in the area. I hope to report back soon.

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Thanks for all the interesting posts on this thread, which have inspired me to further investigate an interesting phenomonon that one finds in the United Arab Emirates: namely the fact that many, many Indian restaurants here also serve Chinese food. The majority of the population here is Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan (about 60-70% of the total, with locals making up 15% or so), so it is not surprising that most restaurants focus on subcontinental food, but I have always been curious as to why Chinese food was so often also featured on menus. I should add that some places offer a triple whammy of Indian, Chinese and Arab (Lebanese/Syrian) dishes, but I think I now need to establish whether the interesting kinds of cross-pollination discussed earlier in this thread are taking place in these restaurants. One reason that I have been so curious about this phenomenon is the fact that the Chinese/Indian mix is by no means confined to the weakest restaurants in the area. I hope to report back soon.

And I promise to be waiting anxiously. And if possible, take pictures.. and please post them. This is fascinating....

Thanks for sharing the population statistics. I knew there were a lot of people from the Sub Continent, and your statistics has made it crystal clear. :smile:

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Anil,

What do you think of China Garden (in kemps corner).  While hardely a hole in the wall, I have always thought of the place as one of the best restaurants in Mumbai (next to Khyber of course).  Since I have never made it to the East of India, China Garden, and to a lesser extent a place called Kamling (near Churchgate) really are the gold standard when I think of Indian chinese.  I agree with you that the 'chinese' selection in most indian restaurants is garbage.

Darn it!  I meant to engage Ed Shoenfeld (sp?) on the question of Indian chinese and whether he had any particular insight but forgot.  Oh well.

ps

the Indian chinese dish my family enjoys the most is almost certainley not authentic.  It's called vegetable manchurian and it consists of fried balls of vegetable (not sure what it's composed of in the restaurant) but at home we make it out of potato cabage and carrot.  the balls are then deep fried and placed in a gravy, but the problem is that we at home have never been able to replicate the flavor of the gravy (smokey and well spiced) that we enjoyed at CG, and so the overall dish has never been very successful.  DO members have any insights?

Ajay,thanks for the suggestions. I will try them out when I am there

Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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      Yet, every day I still come across utter nonsense on YouTube videos and Facebook about the "real" Chinese cuisine, even from ethnically Chinese people (who have often never been in China). Sorry YouTube "influencers", but sprinkling soy sauce or 5-spice powder on your cornflakes does not make them Chinese!
       
      So what is the "authentic" Chinese food? Well, like any question about China, there are several answers. It is not surprising that a country larger than western Europe should have more than one typical culinary style. Then, we must distinguish between what you may be served in a large hotel dining room, a small local restaurant, a street market stall or in a Chinese family's home.

      That said, in this topic, I want to attempt to debunk some of the more prevalent myths. Not trying to start World War III.

      When I moved to China from the UK 25 years ago, I had my preconceptions. They were all wrong. Sweet and sour pork with egg fried rice was reported to be the second favourite dish in Britain, and had, of course, to be preceded by a plate of prawn/shrimp crackers. All washed down with a lager or three.

      Yet, in that quarter of a century, I've seldom seen a prawn cracker. And egg fried rice is usually eaten as a quick dish on its own, not usually as an accompaniment to main courses. Every menu featured a starter of prawn/shrimp toast which I have never seen in mainland China - just once in Hong Kong.

      But first, one myth needs to be dispelled. The starving Chinese! When I was a child I was encouraged to eat the particularly nasty bits on the plate by being told that the starving Chinese would lap them up. My suggestion that we could post it to them never went down too well. At that time (the late fifties) there was indeed a terrible famine in China (almost entirely manmade (Maomade)).

      When I first arrived in China, it was after having lived in Soviet Russia and I expected to see the same long lines of people queuing up to buy nothing very much in particular. Instead, on my first visit to a market (in Hunan Province), I was confronted with a wider range of vegetables, seafood, meat and assorted unidentified frying objects than I have ever seen anywhere else. And it was so cheap I couldn't convert to UK pounds or any other useful currency.
       
      I'm going to start with some of the simpler issues - later it may get ugly!

      1. Chinese people eat everything with chopsticks.
       

       
      No, they don't! Most things, yes, but spoons are also commonly used in informal situations. I recently had lunch in a university canteen. It has various stations selling different items. I found myself by the fried rice stall and ordered some Yangzhou fried rice. Nearly all the students and faculty sitting near me were having the same.

      I was using my chopsticks to shovel the food in, when I noticed that I was the only one doing so. Everyone else was using spoons. On investigating, I was told that the lunch break is so short at only two-and-a-half hours that everyone wants to eat quickly and rush off for their compulsory siesta.
       
      I've also seen claims that people eat soup with chopsticks. Nonsense. While people use chopsticks to pick out choice morsels from the broth, they will drink the soup by lifting their bowl to their mouths like cups. They ain't dumb!

      Anyway, with that very mild beginning, I'll head off and think which on my long list will be next.

      Thanks to @KennethT for advice re American-Chinese food.
       
       
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