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Chinese Mushroom Fried Rice and Vegetable Manchurian, using minimal oil

Posted May 14 2009 5:01pm
In one of her cooking episodes, Kylie Kwong states that though Australia has its share of Chinese fried rice recipes, it isn't quite done properly; some odd bits of ingredients such as peas ('frozen, not even fresh,' she exclaims!) and corn and capsicum have found their way into the rice.

I guess we Indians are no different. I truly believe that our version of fried rice is not likely to be recognized by the Chinese. I've also heard tell that vegetable/cauliflower manchurian is a dish wholly alien in that vast country, though the name is quite Chinese.

Well, it doesn't matter because it is tasty enough and easy to prepare, and what's in a name, after all. I tried to stick true to Kylie Kwong's method in making the fried rice (she states that just two or three ingredients are used in the authentic version), but she used bacon and eggs which we do not consume in my home. I've not added peas or corn or babycorn or capsicum either. Instead, I've used two veggie ingredients to replace the meat in hers and also button mushrooms. The manchurian recipe is distinctly Indian, I suspect, and mentioned in various Indian blogs; nevertheless, I'm posting my version, and it is low-fat, keeping diabetes in mind.

This is how it went:

Making the fried rice:I used brown basmati rice for this particular recipe. I usually soak the rice overnight, as this reduces cooking time. In my case, it takes half an hour on sim. I then drained the water from this and kept it aside.

I prepared the following ingredients:
  • a cup of cabbage, coarsely grated (can be finely sliced too)
  • a cup of carrot, coarsely grated (can be cut into juliens for more crunch)
  • about five large button mushrooms, peeled and sliced
  • five to six cloves of garlic
  • one inch of ginger
  • one green chilli, finely sliced
  • a handful of spring onions
In a pan, I heated a spoon of oil. When hot enough, I fried the mushrooms separately; when golden brown, I put them aside.

Heating another spoon of oil in the same pan, I put in the ginger, garlic and green chilli, constantly stirring. I then added the onions and stirred some more. At this stage, you can add a bit of sugar, to caramelize the onions and render some sweetness; this is what Kylie Kwong usually does. Since I don't use sugar in my cooking, I skipped this and relied on the natural sweetness of the Indian onion.

I then added the cabbage and carrot and fried them for a few minutes. I then added a splash of dark soya sauce and fried some more.

I then added the chopped spring onions and stirred a bit. I never use ajinomoto, but it may be added by those who do. The rice went in next and requisite salt. I also sprinkled some pepper to adjust the heat of the dish. I then mixed in the mushroom and turned off the stove.

The essence of stir-fry cooking is the speed and the heat. All ingredients must be prepared beforehand and laid out within arm's reach for best results.

Making the vegetable manchurian: I soaked overnight a cup of Kabuli channa and cooked it the next morning in my pressure cooker. I keep leftover channa aside in the refrigerator and use that in some other dish.

I've found that I can use this as a binding material, a substitute to potatoes, in most curries such as koftas too. This is good for diabetics, who are restricted in their consumption of potatoes.

Chickpeas are great for health, rich in fiber and great for weight loss too. A delightful alternative to potatoes and white flour. I also used a slice of whole wheat bread too to supplement the chickpeas.

To make the manchurian balls, I prepared the following:
  • half a cup of finely chopped cabbage
  • half a cup of finely grated carrots
  • quarter cup of French beans, finely chopped
  • finely chopped ginger, half a teaspoon
  • finely chopped coriander leaves, a spoonful
In a bowl, I mashed up about half a cup of the chickpeas and added the above veggies to it. I added salt, paprika and pepper, adjusting the taste. I then added a slice of whole wheat bread to absorb excess moisture and aid in the binding. I prepared lime-sized balls.

I heated my ebelskiver/appemaker pan and fried each ball well using a drop or two of oil for each ball. This is instead of the usual deep-fry method. Remove the balls only when they've acquired a deep brown color; they tend to remain crispy longer when they cool.

For the manchurian seasoning, I prepared the following:
  • one inch of ginger, finely chopped
  • four or five cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • one green chilli, finely sliced
  • a handful of spring onions, finely chopped
  • one onion, sliced
  • capsicum, sliced
  • one tomato, chopped
In a pan, I heated two spoons of oil and fried the garlic, ginger, chillies first. Then I added the capsicum and onions, stirring till tender. I added the tomato pieces. To this I added salt and chilli powder as required, then the spring onions. I then added a splash of dark soya sauce. Once cooked, I stirred in the veggie balls, allowing the sauce to coat them all.

For those who add sugar to caramelize the onions, a splash of vinegar may be added for some sourness to balance the flavor. I skipped this as I don't add anything for additional sweetness when cooking.

I served this immediately with the rice.

This is my entry to the WYF: Cuisine event hosted by EC of Simple Indian Food.
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