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  • Jenny Pinto

Chinese food you will not find in China

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Even if you leave aside the outliers like Shezwan dosa and Chinese pav bhaji, today the Indian Chinese menu boasts dishes found nowhere else but in India. I did a random search on food blogs, and the 10 favourites that emerged, none of which you will find anywhere in China, are:

Manchurian (Chicken, Gobi, Paneer and even idli ). Deep fried pakoras drowned in a soya-chilli-corn flour gravy, garnished with fresh dhania. China Garden’s Nelson Wang has publicly claimed to being its inventor, but is discretely challenged by Chef Badal (now back in his hometown Oodlabari). Though it's pointless discussion because you find this dish being served in every large, pricy as well as every hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in the country.

Chilli Chicken: One of the “original” desi-Chinese dishes, it is boneless chicken spiced up in green chilli, the invention of which has many desi Chinese claimants. Arguably, the best Chilli Chicken was served in Nanking Bangalore, which shut shop in the 90s. Also now served in bar and every highway dhaba across the country.

Hakka Noodles: A spicy, wok fried noodle dish with vegetables or chicken that goes very well with all desi-Chinese dishes like Gobi manchurian, Chilli Paneer and Chicken Lollipop. Probably invented in Calcutta by the Hakka Chinese themselves.

Chicken Lollipop: These are "Frenched" chicken wings marinated in ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper and masala and deep fried with an egg and corn flour batter. With added Tandoori colour, it rivals Tandoori chicken as India's favourite starter with no resemblance to anything in China.

Crispy Honey Sesame Chilli Potatoes: Twice deep fried potato wedges coated in honey, chilli sauce, tomato ketchup and garnished with sesame seeds and fresh dhania or spring onion greens. Authentically desi-Chinese.

Hot Sour soup: The original hot-sour soup is from Sichuan and is meat based with day lily buds , ear cloud mushroom and bamboo shoot made sour with vinegar and hot with red pepper. The desi-Chinese version is a soy-based spicy thick soup with chilli, ginger and garlic, vegetables or meat and garnished liberally with fresh dhania.

Triple Shezwan: Totally desi by birth this is a layer of noodles, topped with a layer of fried rice, topped with a layer of vegetables and paneer in a Shezwan gravy garnished with crispy noodles. Indians have a love affair with anything Shezwan and will add Shezwan sauce to just about anything, from fried rice and noodles to bhel puri.

Darsaan: Another Nelson Wang creation, this is deep fried flat egg noodles, coated with honey, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served with vanilla ice cream.

American Chopsuey: Allegedly originated in the USA, when Chinese immigrants tried to make Chinese food appealing to the Americans, the desi version is spicier. Noodles are tossed with cabbage and capsicum, chicken or shrimp in a sweet spicy tomato-chilli-garlic sauce. Topped with crispy noodles and a fried egg.

Date pancakes: Another desi creation, fried pancakes are stuffed with dates and topped with vanilla ice cream.

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