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Hakka Noodles With Sesame Seeds - Indian Chinese Style

Posted Aug 27 2012 12:00am

ndia is a country that has, through the ages, accepted and whole-heartedly embraced a lot of influences from outside the sub-continent, especially in its cuisines. Many communities in India today have their origins outside the country but are as Indian as the original “natives”. These communities have preserved many of their customs and culinary traditions while borrowing from those of their adopted country, and have acquired a cultural character that is richer yet unique .

One such classic example of this can be seen in what we in India call Chinese food. India has a sizeable Chinese community , largely of Hakka ancestry, that migrated to Calcutta in the early 1900s. As is wont among immigrant communities across the world, they moved and became skilled in work which was not popular among the locals like leather tanning and shoe making, hair-dressing, carpentry and running eateries/ restaurants serving Chinese food.  Much has changed in the Indian Chinese community but one legacy that we owe to them is the much loved Indian Chinese cuisine.
While no true Chinese person would probably even recognise this style of cooking as Chinese, we Indians love our version of Chinese food! So much so that, even most of the small eateries that dot the country would have at least a couple of noodle dishes, some form of Chinese fried rice and the very popular  Gobi Manchurian or its non-vegetarian brethren.
I’m not an expert on the matter, but I’m convinced that the version of Hakka Noodles that we find in India probably does not exist within the Hakka community in China, and if it does, it must bear little or no resemblance to its Indian cousin. In my book, that doesn’t matter because, though authenticity counts at times, at the end of the day it is about eating what you like.

Unfortunately, many of the restaurants where you can order this dish, just don’t get it right. The noodles are either over cooked/ under cooked, sometimes very oily, come overloaded with soya sauce or else don’t have enough of it or vegetables. Given that all the ingredients, seasonings and sauces are available in most stores, it’s not very difficult to cook Hakka noodles and other Indian Chinese dishes at home in very little time. Hakka Noodles with stir-fried vegetables makes a healthy and filling dish which is a meal on its own and needs no accompaniment. When you make this at home, you can go a bit further and experiment with spices, sauces and flavours to come up with whatever suits your palate. This is some fusion cooking at its best.

  This recipe is my version. If I have the All-In-One stir-fry sauce, then that’s what I prefer to use instead of soya sauce. Just keep in mind that most of these sauces are salty so be careful while adjusting for salt. While it is not usually dome with Hakka Noodles, you can add some protein in the form of tofu (or paneer if you prefer that). Just cut the tofu into small cubes and add it with the vegetables. And if you eat eggs, you can make a plain thin three egg omelette, cut it into thin strips and add it to the individual servings just before garnishing with spring onions.
 Noodles With Sesame Seeds - Indian Chinese Style  
1 packet plain or egg noodles (I use Ching’s Secret Egg Noodles)
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp  garlic paste
3/4 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced (diagonally) green beans
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrot
1/2 cup green bell pepper (capsicum) , finely sliced
1 tsp green chilli sauce
1 tsp sweet chilli sauce
2 to 3 tsp dark soya sauce
1/4 cup chopped spring onions
salt to taste
2 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
Cook the noodles in boiling water with some salt, till the noodles are cooked but still firm (al dente). Drain the water, add a tsp of oil, toss well and keep aside. Heat the sesame oil in wok, and add the garlic paste and stir fry a couple of times.  Add the cabbage, carrot, beans and bell pepper and stir fry on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the sauces and salt as needed. Continue to cook for another minute or two, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat. Add half the spring onions and mix. Transfer to serving bowls, garnish with remaining spring onions and toasted sesame seeds before serving.This recipe should serve 3 to 4.    

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