Schezwan And Tadka : How India Adopted Chinese Cuisine As It’s Own!

What is Indian Chinese anyway?

We’ve all eaten Schezwan Noodles or Chicken Manchurian or Chinese Bhel at some points in our live. We are a country that thrives on Chinese food without quite knowing how profoundly this brand of Chinese is from the actual traditional Chinese. The story as to how we came about this peculiar branding is quite interesting.
It begins in 19th century Kolkata, where a bunch of families migrated to and settled. Most of them being from the Hakka region, it’s no surprise that Hakka noodles are so famous across the country! The Chinatown area in Kolkata is the hub of India-Chinese cuisine. But how did this cuisine  come about?

Well, the Chinese population which settled here started mixing Indian spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, etc. with Chinese food which gave a distinct Indian touch. But contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the first time that we’re watching a synthesis like this happen.

Fact : Countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, etc. have been influenced by Indian and Chinese cultures in the past. So their food tastes a lot like Indo-Chinese cuisine (just healthier)!

So this trend spread out from Kolkata like a wildfire and more and more people started to experiment, and now we have this huge culture with a variety of dishes, most of which are, unsurprisingly, vegetarian. Again, a huge contrast with traditional Chinese cuisine. Most of Indian Chinese is now served as street food/ fast food and serves a minimal nutritional value. But that doesn’t make it any less tasty!
Originally, Sichuan sauce is supposed to be very flavorful and a perfect blend between sweet and spicy, but us Indians being connoisseurs of spice, we decided to make it red hot sizzling spicy!
Also, did you know that Manchurian is not even a food item in China? It is something that was created in Kolkata and popularized as a dish hailing from the Manchuria region of China!. Talk about some jugaad,huh?


Here are some food items that we’ve made our own. If you’re in the mood for some Indian Chinese, you should definitely be trying these ubiquitous items out :

1 . Chilli Chicken:
This one is literally found everywhere!  Chicken coated in spicy chili sauce, garlic and ginger and sautéed with onions and green chilies. This one will make you smile and cry.

2 . Veg/Chicken Manchurian :
Cauliflower/ Chicken/ Fish in a brown sauce made of garlic, chili, ginger and soya. Served dry as well.

3 . Spring Rolls :
Go to any restaurant worth their salt and they will definitely have amazing spring rolls. Called Ch?n Ju?n in Chinese, this dumpling is now served fried and golden in restaurants and parties.

4 . Schezwan Fried Rice/ Noodles : 
The Indian version of Schezwan is profoundly different from the actual Sichuan cuisine. Red hot and fiery and full of red chili flakes, tears will be running down your cheeks while munching on these. But that won’t stop you!

WRITTEN BY  - Aditya Mohanan adityamohanan@gmail.com

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