Indian Chinese cuisine is true diaspora food. Developed over a hundred years ago by the Chinese community in Kolkata, the spicy, Indianized version of Chinese sauces, noodles, soups, and rice is now popular in India and the India diaspora at large. My brother, Sameer, and I were blown away when we first tried it at Welcome Restaurant near my grandmother’s house in Baroda. And I have many fond memories of savoring it again at the now-defunct Tangra in Artesia, CA. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it, but since I learned I’m allergic to onions (don’t ask), I’ve had to rely on cooking it at home rather than eating it on Pioneer Blvd. The only catch is that many of the recipes use pretty much the same ingredients, and making a menu of Indian Chinese food can be difficult if you don’t want to repeat the same flavors over and over. Here is a menu I put together the other night as a special meal to send off my dad. I’ve adapted the Manchurian recipe to create non-veg meatballs (I used ground turkey meat), and made a few little adjustments to the other two dishes (the rice dish is not strictly Indo-Chinese but it tastes amazing with the Manchurian meatballs). The original recipes are linked below and my gratitude to their creators!
Indian Chinese Dinner Menu: Turkey Meatball Manchurian, Coconut Turmeric Rice, and Chinese Corn Soup
Turkey Meatball Manchurian:
The primary recipe comes from Tarla Dalal. Here are the changes:
For the meatballs, add 1 lb. ground turkey, cut down the amount of cabbage and carrot. Add 1/2 tsp. baking soda to the mixture. Also, I used green onions instead of onions.
For the sauce, add 1 tbs. ketchup to give a slightly sweet, tomato flavor to the sauce. Also, I would suggest grating the ginger unless you like the taste of chopped ginger in the sauce.
If you want to make a kid-friendly version of this meal, don’t add chilies to the meatball mixture and keep a few of the meatballs out of the sauce and serve with ketchup. They are totally delicious even without the Manchurian sauce. My daughter loved them!
Chinese Corn Soup: My mom used to make this soup when we were young. What I remember most is the taste of the sesame oil drizzled on top, and the green onion and chopped chilies marinated in vinegar that you add to the soup just before serving. The fabulous Aarti Sequiera has an amazing recipe for this soup. Here are few changes I made:
I used Trader Joe’s Low Sodium Chicken Broth instead of making my own. To add more flavor in that case, I added 1 chopped leek and 3 chopped carrots to the soup itself. Top the soup with a drizzle of sesame oil and soy sauce and chopped green onion and chilies that have been marinated in rice vinegar and a little salt. I find that this soups tastes even better the next day.
Garnish EVERYTHING with cilantro! Oh, and one more perk about making Indo-Chinese at home: you won’t need TUMS afterward :-p