Hakka Noodles belongs to the Indo-Chinese cuisine; an immensely popular and widespread cuisine in India tho’ it bears no resemblance to actual traditional Hakka or to any Chinese dishes. Noodles here are quickly stir fried with a spicy “Indian Chinese” flavored sauce and crunchy vegetables.
There is a bit of history involved with the origin of this unique blend of cuisines; I have given some details at the end of this post regarding the origins of this tantalizing fusion. If you are curious, go ahead and read it all.
The ever popular Indian Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning/spices and cooking techniques to Indian tastes: tamarind combines with soy sauce, sugar with vinegar, Chinese spices are blended with cumin and coriander. Even the main ingredient in a dish is rarely of Chinese origin. The Indian cheese – Paneer takes over the meaty dishes. Soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame, Asian sesame oil, scallions and fresh coriander are used in plenty. Deep fried, stir fried, dry or with gravy, fiery, sweet and sour, hot and sour, you name it and you will find a dish to suit your taste.Chili Paneer, Chili Chicken, Chicken Lollipop, Manchurians, Sweet and Sour Prawns, Chow Mein are to name a few of the hundreds of dishes that could be called the “Stars” of the Indian Chinese cuisine. They are as popular as Pakoras, Chaat, Tikka and Butter Chicken. To categorize the dishes by region they would be the Manchurian dishes (Chicken Manchurian, Veg Manchurian, Gobi Manchurian), Schezuan or Sichuan origin (Schezuan Fried Rice or Noodles) and some of Hakka origin too. These are only a few to speak of.
I grew up in and around the city of Kolkata/Calcutta – the city in India where the Chinese were known to first migrate. For me going out and eating “Chinese” (Indian Chinese in reality) was as common an event as going to buy a pair of shoes from the Chinese shoe store (The Chinese are know to make some pretty cool shoes in the city) or walking into a Chinese owned Salon to get a hair cut or even to get my tooth fixed to a Chinese dentist. Quite a bizarre series of food, shoe, hair and tooth, right? The Chinese had come and became a very prominent part of the economy and culture. I did have friends who owned some shoe stores, but unfortunately none that owned restaurants. But the good Chinese restaurants are plenty around the city. The Indian Chinese food is so well accepted and admired that even the Indian street vendor will fork up some Hakka Noodles on to your plate from a big pile of the make shift griddle, and have you come back for more. The unforgettable taste of the hot, smoky, steamy food and a fusion of flavors from back home lingers strong in our memory. They are incredibly tasty, a gluttonous winning combination of both the worlds.
Being a favorite kind of cuisine in our home, we cook and appreciate a lot of Indian Chinese and I will be posting the recipes over time. For now it is the Hakka Noodles: a simple stir fried noodles with a whole lot of flavors.
Updated: This recipe does use a sauce but the end result is a completely dry dish. There will not be any sauce left over in the noodles after it is cooked. So make sure cook the sauce at high heat and reduce it to almost fried before you add the veggies and the noodles.
Ingredients: (Serves about 4-5 as a meal)
- 400 grams Hakka Noodles (I used Ching’s wheat 100% vegetarian noodles ) – The egg noodles work as well.
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 bell pepper/capsicum, juliened
- 1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
- 3 cups or about 12 oz beans, cut diagonally or use the frozen french style cut beans
- 1 medium onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 1 bunch green onions/scallions, chopped (green and white parts)
- 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes
- 1/4 cup Asian Sesame Oil
- 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce (See Note below)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
Note: The soy sauce that I usually use is the kind we get from Kolkata/Calcutta ;(yes I stock up when I visit:-D ); this dark soy sauce is thicker and darker and has a slightly different flavor than the usual kind we get here. The kind I use is NOT available in the Indian Groceries here. I have tried the Chings Secret soy sauce from the Indian groceries and was not too happy about it. If you are trying to make this, just use the regular dark soy sauce available in the groceries stores here, like the Kikkoman or La Choy brand. If you feel you might need more than I have mentioned here, go ahead and use it.
For the Sauce:
- about 6-8 cloves of garlic (when processed it should be about 1/6 cup)
- 3/4 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons hot/chili sauce, like Sriracha or the Green Chili Sauce that we usually use in India
- a little less than 1/4 cup ketchup or tomato paste
- 3 teaspoons white sesame seeds
Note: feel free to incorporate eggs, seafood, meat or tofu to this dish. Make sure to cook these first before combining them in the stir fry.
To make the Sauce:
Combine all ingredients of the “Sauce” in a food processor till it is almost like paste; if it gets too dry, add a few teaspoons of water, but do not make it too runny. Keep aside.
Cooking the noodles:
Heat about 20 cups of water (or enough for the noodles to be submerged under water). Bring it to a boil, add some salt and a splash of oil and cook for not more than 3 minutes. The noodles should be al dente; drain quickly and spread the noodles on a flat surface and splash some more oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Putting it all together:
Heat the sesame oil in a large wok. Add the chili flakes. and after half a minute add the sliced onions. Cook at high heat till the onions are just about clear. a Immediately add the processed ingredients for the “sauce” and the salt. Cook at high heat for about 3-5 minutes or till the raw taste of the garlic disappears. Lower the heat; add the vinegar and the soy sauce. Stir everything together till well combined.
Increase the heat to high, add the bell pepper, carrots, and beans and cook for only a couple of minutes. The vegetables should retain their color and crunch. Switch off the heat.
Add the noodles to the wok and stir them in carefully till all the cooked ingredients in the pan and the noodles are very well combined. Add the shredded cabbage.
Switch on the heat and cook the noodles on very high heat while flipping them every frequently, so the sauce, veggies and the noodles are combined uniformly while making sure the noodles do not stick at the bottom of the wok; cook for about 3-4 minutes. Switch off the heat.
Combine the chopped green onions and serve immediately with some Hot Oil.
While the Chinese have been visiting India for millennia in search of Buddhist teachings, Yang Tai Chow was the first recorded Chinese to migrate to India for better material prospects. In 1778 he put down roots in Kolkata, or Calcutta, the then capital of British India and the easiest accessible metropolitan area from China by land.
Over the years, many like him came, mostly Hakkas, and by the early part of the 20th century a Chinatown had developed in Kolkata and it thrived and buzzed with enterprise. Chinese served with distinction as dentists, tannery owners, sauce manufacturers, beauticians and shoe shop owners but it was as restaurateurs that the Chinese found their fame and glory in India. ..
…About 85 years ago, the Indian culinary world was affected by a new cuisine. The first Indo Chinese restaurant Eau Chew opened in Kolkata. (Source)
People of Chinese origin mostly live in India’s only Chinatown located around Tereti Bazar and Bowbazar area which has since been relocated to Tangra, Calcutta. Most of these immigrants were Cantonese and Hakka. Chinatown in India still boasts a number of Chinese restaurants specializing in Hakka cuisine and Indian Chinese variants. (WIKI)
The Indian form of “Hakka Cuisine” originates from the fact that the a lot of Chinese restaurants in India are owned by the people of the Hakka origin. Both the Indian and the Chinese cultures combined, accepted and fused happily in terms of food giving birth to an entirely new kind called the Indo-Chinese or the Indian Chinese; with the taste and flavors very different from both Indian and Chinese cuisine, it is a genre by itself. It is bold, varied, spicy – overall an experience by itself. The Indian Chinese flavors are also enjoyed by Indian and Chinese communities in Malaysia, and Singapore.
Read More about the Indo-Chinese Cuisine here.
Sending the noodles to the -