Chef Praveen Abraham Chef Instructor Culinary Academy Of India
Over recent times, we decided to support and encourage our local vendors by boycotting everything ‘MADE IN CHINA’ expect for 'Chinese food.' Isn't it ironic how you still crave a cup of hot and spicy by-two Indo-Chinese soup? In fact, according to google trend sources ‘homemade Chinese recipes’ was one of the most trending searches during the lockdown.
The popular Indo Chinese cuisine, heartily relished by foodies and non-foodies alike, traditionally does not belong to any particular region. Prepared as a fusion of Chinese ingredients and techniques with a touch of Indian flavors, this style of food is now present all over the country. Tracing its evolution, we discover it originated when refugees from the Hakka region in China, moved into parts of the northeast, Kolkata, and undivided East Pakistan (Bangladesh as of now) and brought along with them their food habits. Adapt their techniques to local ingredients gave birth to this sensational fusion style we commonly refer to as Indo Chinese cuisine. This new food culture spread like a wildfire throughout the country, evolving at every step, to an extent where you can see curry leaves being used in local Chinese in south India.
A few years ago, when I visited Kolkata for the first time, a lot of people suggested I visit China Town. What looked like an unorganized marketplace from the outside turned out to have one of the best Indo Chinese restaurants I have ever eaten at. And this was just the beginning of an amusing day. The nearby Khali Temple even serves noodles as Prashad! It is said that many visit this temple for sake of its mouth-watering Prashad.
Authentic Chinese food is not preferred by most of the Indian population because we are habituated to our spices and expect the same from all cuisines. That's when fusion comes into the picture, so much so, that we have Schezwan idli, Manchurian Dosa, Chili Chicken Samosa, Chinese Bhel, and so on, all contributing towards an endless list.
Let us understand the difference between authentic Chinese and Indo Chinese cuisine.
The Chinese have divided their cooking into 4 schools: Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western cooking which are further, classified into various regions, based upon the cooking styles, the ingredients used, customs, and traditions. Hunan, Sichuan, Beijing, Cantonese, Guangdong, Shandong, Shanghai, and Fujian are the 8 regional cuisines of China each having their own distinctive feature. For example, in Beijing, with its rapid growth and fast lifestyle, the food features more snacks, and street vendors often sell single-pot meals. Whereas the Sichuan province eats a lot of Sichuan peppers and red meat to keep themselves protected in the harsh climate.
It is said that Chinese food has the power to heal, and the cuisine is known for its interplay between balance and flavor. The traditional belief in the Ying Yang philosophy (where opposites attract for a positive impact) is applied to food too. What this means is that for every Ying there is corresponding Yang and vice versa. It’s no wonder the food is believed to have medicinal properties.
Coming back to our fusion cuisine, the application of authentic Chinese ingredients is difficult in an Indian restaurant. Although ingredients like soya sauce, green chili sauce, red chili sauce, vinegar, and red chili paste are commonly used, the usage of indigenous ingredients like dried noodles, tofu, chicken, seafood, eggs, mushrooms, spring onion, garlic, ginger is limited to diners and restaurants. At a street vendor level, other ingredients like paneer, potato, cauliflower, and other Indian staples, are used to satisfy the population.
Did you know that vegetable Manchurian and the Gobi 65 don't exist in China? It is also seen that most of our dishes are garnished with coriander and a squeeze of lemon is preferred, a total no-no in China. Even though most of the cooking methods remain the same as steaming, deep-frying, sautéing, tossing, etc. Indo Chinese does not follow the basic principles of Chinese cuisine. Instead, it is made to be much more spicy, oily, and has a high concentration of monosodium glutamate. Truth be told, there isn’t too much medicinal about this.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 BrandCai
Shiladityadutta on March 26, 2021:
Worth reading Chef
Srikanth on March 26, 2021:
Very nice... The article has well researched information.
Mahesh Kumar Bojja on March 26, 2021:
Eye opening artilce.........nice heading Indo Chinese .Now its all over the place in India and people are a bit bored of having the same food in all corners. Someone should try and do a Fusion between the nearest Indian Regional Cuisine and the Authentic Chinese Regional Cuisines. Example.....Andhra and Telangana Cuisines can be easily fused with Schezwan Regional Food as these two cuisines have the high quantity of Chilli usage in these foods.
If tastes patterns are the same then fusing of foods is easy provided the other parameters are also balanced.
I have seen lot of videos posted on Youtube by Culinary Academy of India ...quite interesting and there's lot of research which is gone into them.
B Mahesh Kumafr
Saibabaraju on March 26, 2021:
Very nice article and informative.
Ankit Mathur on March 25, 2021:
Very informative chef..
Akki on March 25, 2021:
The article makes one understand the difference between authentic Chinese cuisine and Indo Chinese cuisine. A myth unrevealed. A good read for the ones who say Ban Chinese food ...lol
Neelima A on March 25, 2021:
very well written.Good information .