Chinese food is probably the most common take-out, order in, eat out food in India. Call it indo-Chinese, Punjabi-Chinese or (my favorite term) dhaba Chinese – it is fusion food at its best.
The dhaba Chinese that I grew up on had vegetarian chowmein and some sort of Manchurian as its central dishes. Chowmein is, of course, some noodles with vegetables. And its spicy - very Indianized spicy.
Manchurian is a story in itself. You will never find Manchurian in any Chinese menu outside India, for the obvious reason that it’s an Indian invention. Legend has it that a Chinese chef, who lived in India all his life, wanted to pep up the menu of his newly opened restaurant in Bombay with something customized to Indian palate. So he combined two Indian favorites – deep fried and spicy food to create something that’s symbolized Chinese food to generations of Indians ever since. Its essentially some batter fried vegetable/meat (close to but not exactly a ‘pakora’) dunked in a basic spicy sauce.
Then there are stir fried veggies. Dunk any vegetable in a mixture of soy sauce, tomato sauce, some chilli, corn flour and you are there. I've never been able to replicate this dhaba chinese flavor at home, but decided to give it one last try for this month's AWED.
Before we get to our recipe for Beans and Tofu Stir Fry, some good news. Swati from Chatkhor has passed on Bombay Foodie's first ever award. Thanks a ton, Swati - you truly made my day.
I would like to pass on "you make my day award" to:
Bhags of Crazy Curry, the book lover foodie I love to chat with
Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, who was the first one to write a comment on my blog
Sunshinemom, my fellow Bombay blogger
And now back to the dish for AWED. This isn't true Indo-Chinese (if there is such a thing). My biggest problem with cooking Chinese at home is the over-salty overbearing flavor of soy sauce. The recipe I learnt many years back called for vinegar to balance that and some sugar, but I replaced the two with naturally sweet balsamic vinegar.
To make beans and tofu stir fry, cut 100 gms tofu into squares. Cut 100 gms beans into small pieces and parboil until half cooked. Peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in a non-stick pan. Add beans and stir for a minute. Then add tofu and stir fry for 2-3 minutes on high heat. Mix 1/2 tbsp each of dark soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Add to the pan and reduce heat to a simmer. In a bowl, mix 1/2 tsp cornflour and 2 tbsp water. After a couple of minutes, add cornflour to the pan and cook on high for 1-2 minutes. I didn't add any salt, but do add some now if you like. Done!
Beans and Tofu Stir Fry goes to DK for this month's AWED.