Appetizers/Snacks · Brunch

Vegetable Hakka Noodles

Vegetable Hakka Noodles02, SInfullySpicy

‘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.

Vegetable Hakka Noodles04, SInfullySpicy

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.

Ingredients, Vegetable Hakka Noodles, SInfullySpicy

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?

Vegetable Hakka Noodles01, SInfullySpicy

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!

Vegetable Hakka Noodles04, SInfullySpicy

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 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded(if you want)
  • 1 cup sliced onions
  • 1/4 cup scallions, white parts
  • 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

  • 1/2 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)
  • 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder1
  • 1 tsp pure sesame oil ( optional but recomended for authentic taste)

Update : 01/14/2014 – I added about 1/4 tsp of black pepper powder ( reduced chili flakes to 1/4 tsp & few other changes) to hakka noodles yesterday & they tasted awesome! Maybe you want to try it if you make them. I m updating the recipe for these reasons because it was better.

Method

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. Using your mortar & pestle, mince garlic, and green chillies together. Add 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 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.

Serve warm with gobi manchurian or chilli chicken/manchurian.

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.

Enjoy!

Indian Curry/Stew

Punjabi Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea flour Fritters in a Spicy Yogurt Gravy (Glutenfree)

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully SpicyOn those summer evenings, while we laid our folding beds in the veranda to prepare for a  sleepover under the starry sky, in the kitchen, potfuls of kadhi simmered on one of the stove tops, rice to go along with it on the other. After filling up the water koolers to the brink and in anticipation that maybe light (electricity) will come back later in the night, we waited for supper as the whole house smelled of  daintily spiced, turmeric loaded yogurt broth.

Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Depending on who cooked it, it would be sweet & tangy, thick or thin, spiced up or muted. My grandmother always divided the kadhi pot into two and added loads of sugar to one. Like many things, she was particular about the pakoras done right. Standing beside the sandstone countertop, her cotton saree tucked to the waist,she rigorously fluffed up cups of besan with water, stopping every few minutes to drop the batter into a katori filled with water, if  the batter drop rose to the surface, it was ready to fry up in the pungent smelling, hot mustard oil else more toil was needed. The pakoras came out perfect each time – gooey in the centre but retaining their shape in the warm broth. In those times, there were no stand mixers, hand beaters or french whisks but she had an out of the world devotion  to make delicious food for her family – fresh and filled with love.

Spices, Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Summers in northern parts of India are harsh, unlike the western parts, monsoon are mostly a cycle of few days of rain followed by dry spells for weeks. There were long power outages and at least once in a while the area transformers conked off, overworked. Kitchen was the last place anyone wanted to be in on such evenings. When nobody in the house was in a mood to cook, kadhi was made.It was a quick and easy dinner rescue.

Making Kadhi Pakora - Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Kadhi is basically a slightly sour, gluten-free yogurt based gravy which is thickened with chickpea flour. Fritters (pakoras) can be added to the broth or cut up vegetables (okra, spinach, aubergines) or sometimes it can served as it is.

These days, with a fussy, demanding little one around, I make kadhi quite more than often. It is an immensely satisfying meal. I like mine brothy, loaded with lots of cumin flavored ghee but this is optional. You can skip the garnish part from the recipe. Using pure mustard oil gives kadhi an authentic flavor, however any kind of oil can be used.

Kadhi Pakora – Chickpea fritters in yogurt gravy , (glutenfree) Sinfully Spicy

Note :- This recipe yields a soupy kadhi, if you like yours thick, just add extra 1-2 tbsp of besan.

Ingredients(Serves 2-3)

For the Pakoras 

  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/4 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Enough water to make the batter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Mustard Oil for frying (or vegetable/canola oil)

For the Kadhi 

  • 1.5 cup plain whole milk yogurt, slightly sour
  • 6 tbsp besan (chickpea flour)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1 tsp crushed kasuri methi, dried fenugreek leaves (give a great flavor but can be skipped if not available)
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • 3 tbsp pure mustard oil (or ghee)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Generous pinch of hing powder
  • 1/4 tso ajwain seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds (coarsely crushed)
  • 2 whole dried red chillies
  • Salt to taste

Note :- It is very important that the yogurt is sour when you make kadhi, else t will not taste good. You can leave the yogurt overnight at room temperature or inside the oven to let it sour. Garnish

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • pinch of hing
  • 2-3 thai green chillies , slit open, seeded if you want (optional, adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Method

Making the Pakoras

In a medium bowl, mix up besan, hing and turmeric powder.Slowly start adding water and with the help of a handheld beater or whisk, whip up to make a thick batter. Once properly whipped the batter will be fluffy and pale yellow. Add more or less water as needed to make a batter similar to how thick you would make for dipping hot dogs when making corn dogs.

Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil in a wok or deep fryer.When you see ripples on the oil surface,mix the salt with the batter and drop small portions (about 1/2 tbsp or so) of it into the fryer, either with a spoon or help of your fingers.Deep fry in small batches on medium heat till pakoras are golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

Note :- You can make pakoras as big or small as you like. Just note that these expand a little once added to the warm broth. Chopped onions, par boiled potatoes or any kind of herbs can be added to the batter for extra flavor.

Making the Kadhi

In a bowl, combine besan, yogurt,turmeric & red chilli  powder, kasuri methi (if using) salt to taste and water to make a lump free smooth mix. Let stand.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat mustard oil to smoking point.Remove from heat and let cool for around 1-2 minutes else spices will burn. Add cumin, ajwain, fenugreek and coriander seeds along with hing & whole red chillies. Return to stove top. When spices begin to splutter and you smell the aroma, add minced ginger. Let cook for 10-15 seconds.

Next,remove the pot from stove again and slowly add the besan-yogurt mixture and mix thoroughly. Return to medium heat and let the kadhi come to a boil. Dont be tempted to rush this else kadhi will curdle. Once you see the kadhi starting to bubble, turn the heat to low, add the garam masala and let the kadhi simmer for 10-15 minutes till it thickens and is rich yellow in color.Let sit till ready to serve.

When ready to serve, warm up the kadhi on medium till you see bubbles on the sides of the pot. Add the pakoras and let simmer (not boil) for about 5-8 minutes.

For Tempering

In a small saucepan, warm up the ghee and add cumin seeds to it, when they splutter, take away from the heat and add sliced green chillies.

Top up the kadhi- pakora with this cumin ghee just before serving along side rotis (flatbread) or steamed basmati rice.