‘Lets find some other place to eat ‘, I muttered, annoyingly flipping the waxy pages of the menu before I decided I did not want to eat there. Barely few days after I came to the States, eating at a chinese restaurant which did not serve chicken manchurian or hakka noodles made little sense to me. Hurriedly grabbing the handbag I got up, blatantly asking him to hunt down the Chinatown for a place which serves decent chinese food.
Four year since, as much as I enjoy american-chinese at restaurants out here, when it comes to cooking at home, we settle for indo – chinese. Growing up, I fondly ate noodles for sunday breakfast or evening snackage. My mom made them slightly greasy, soaking in sauce and tossed them with lots of colorful vegetables, sometimes she added shredded chicken, sometimes couple of runny eggs atop did the trick.
Hakka noodles or Veg Chowmein is an extremely popular (indo-chinese) street food in India.Cooke with Chinese condiments and Indian spices, it is an addictive treat.I can picture many of you scratching your heads right now. The way noodles are cooked has nothing to do with cuisine of Hakka in China. It just derives its name from there.Thin noodles are tossed in a spicy sauce and served on their own or as a side.
What is it about these? the sauce? spices? or is it the union of cuisines?
Again, like with most indian cooking, there are no set rules regarding how these have to be made. No two recipes will be the same, everyone makes them the way they like it.On my recent trip to Delhi, I was flabbergasted to see ‘chef’s special’ hakka noodles tossed with cashew nuts and sherry soaked cherries. Now beat that imaginative cooking!
After I posted Gobi Manchurian a few months back, many of you asked what I usually serve it with (if not as an appetizer). Mostly I make hakka noodles alongside.
You can add or skip any vegetables in this recipe. Just make sure that the vegetables have similar cooking time and they are cut in almost (similar) sizes.
Ingredients (serves 2 -4)
- 7 oz thin egg noodles (or any other of your choice)
- Water for boiling the noodles + 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp oil (for rubbing on boiled noodles, use any neutral oil)
- 5 tbsp oil (use any neutral oil)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/2 ” fresh ginger shoot,minced
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 1/4 cup scallions, white parts
- 1-2 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded(if you want)
- 1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 medium carrot, finely cut into spears
- 1/2 cup bell peppers (I have used a mix of colors)
- 1/4 cup scallions (green parts)
- Salt to taste
For the sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste (or puree)
- 1-1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce (depending on brand you can adjust the quantity, I use this brand)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
- 1 tsp honey (or brown sugar)
- 1 tsp pure sesame oil ( optional but recomended for authentic taste)
In a bowl, mix together the ingredients listed under the sauce and set aside for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the noodles in salted water as per package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water and rub with 1/2 tbsp oil.Set aside to cool down.
In a wok, heat up the oil on medium – high. Add the chopped garlic, minced ginger to the oil and let cook for 5-8 seconds till you smell the aroma. Add the sliced onions, scallions (white parts) and green chillies to the wok and continue cooking till onions start to turn light brown on the edges. Add the sauce mix prepared above to the wok and cook on high for 2-4 minutes till the mixture thickens and gets a shiny.
Next, add the cabbage, carrots, bell peppers to the wok and saute for 1-2 minutes(just so they get coated in the sauce but retain their crunch). Add boiled noodles to next along with green parts of the scallions. Toss everything together and check the seasoning,adjust salt if required.
Notes:- I highly recommend letting the noodles sit for 30-40 minutes before you serve them. Warm them up slightly and add fried eggs, tofu to them. If adding a protein (chicken, shrimp), preferably add them cooked at the point when you add vegetables so that they get coated in sauce too.