Skip to main content

Indo Chinese Kitsch...and my first award

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.


bhags said…
The Indian(dhaba) chinese remains my fav version of chinese.....come what may, those manchurians and chilli fry wud never let anyone down......:)

Congrats for your award, and I really appreciate you passing it to me.
Divya said…
Indo-chinese is my fave too..stir fried veggies and manchurians with yummy spicy fried rice is an ultimate combo..!!!your entry looks yummy!!and congrats for your award!!!
Sireesha said…
Indo-Chinese is my favorite too...Ultimate combination of stir fried veggies and manchuria....Looks yummy and delicious....Congrats for the award
Srivalli said…
thats one lovely dish simran..I am still thinking what to make!
Trupti said…
I alos love indo-chinese food..mostly manchurian.. nice entry
notyet100 said…
nice post nd recipe,,,indo chinese food always rocks...
Bharti Khemani said…
Oh..I love dhaba chinese. My chacha used to take my bro n me on his "luna" to the linking road stalls to eat yummy fried rice. I have never tasted fried rice that tasted so good again. Your entry looks fab. never thought of using balsamic vinegar for chinese. Congrats on your award!!
Bharti Khemani said…
...So I saw the Taste and Create event that Simran had participated in and found myself signing up for the June event at For the love of Food.....
Aparna said…
Looks good. Did it make the dhaba Chinese grade? Liked that term by the way.
I believe the guy who invented Manchurian is called Nelson. Saw him talk about it on TV sometime back.
Thank you, Simran, for the award. You certainly made my day!:)
I didn't know I was the first commentor on your blog.
Sunshinemom said…
It became just manchuri by the time it got to Bangalore! Indo, fusion or whatever, I love the look! Congrats on the award! I have not tried using balsamic vinegar as yet. Must try it out soon. Thanks for passing the award on to me - YOU MAKE MY DAY TOO:)
Simran said…
Thanks everyone!

Aparna - it tasted great, but not a patch on dhaba chinese. Guess there's extra thrill involved in ordering junk food

Sunshinemom - Balsamic vinegar added a nice, delicate touch. Try it sometime
skribles said…
unique recipe! - sounds delish ...
Congrats on ur award!
Bharti Khemani said…
yeah..I actually got paired up with engineerbaker. It just so happened that those cookies were what caught my eye and then jugalbandi did the post on them a few days later. Their pics are soo good!
My little guy's name is Sidhant and he is 3.
Sailaja said…
first time to your blog. Your blog looks great.

Nice entry for AWED
waah ... love dhaba style chinese.. nothing can beat it yaar...
and this one looks aaaaaaah
Bagdesh said…
Hey, this look like a nice Chinese dish. I wanted to share a great site with you about Chinese cooking. They have great how to video, tutorials, and instructions on how to prepare great tasting Chinese food. You can get some free recipes to try out. If you have problems making your food turn out right, they have easy to understand videos that will take you by the hand to make your food taste great. You really need to take a look at this, take a look at, or go to them directly at

Popular posts from this blog

Fruits of the Forest

I know there hasn't been a new recipe on these pages for a while. But worry not, I'm back with a real zinger. Earthy, creamy, crunchy - this is an appetizer that ticks all the right boxes. And if you happen to be a mushroom lover like me, this is the best way to eat mushrooms I've found so far. I present to you, for all your year end parties and appetizer cravings - creamy mushroom pate on toast.

Its mushroom pate two way - just on its own and panko-crumbed and fried. Both go on a crisp garlic baguette with watercress and some kewpie mayonnaise. Here's the recipe.

Crunchy garlic butter toasts (I buy them as is, but you can also slice and toast baguettes)
200 grams button mushrooms
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
kewpie mayonnaise (or regular mayonnaise)
watercress or micro herbs
salt and black pepper to taste
oil for deep frying

First, make mushroom pate. Y…

Farm to Fork in Chail

Back in 19th century, when Shimla was the summer capital of India, the Maharaja of Patiala got the British rulers riled over his dalliances and got banned from entering the city. Not the one to be put down so easily, he found a tiny little town about an hour from Shimla and made Chail his very own summer capital. Today, Chail still has the impressive Palace that the Maharaja built and the highest cricket ground in the world. There really isn't much more to the city apart from a small local market and a couple of hotels that get spillover crowd from Shimla in the summers. It's a pleasant little diversion but that's not why I went to Chail. I stopped nine kilometers short of the town to make Ekam my home for a weekend.

Sumeet Singal built this house on a cliff as his own weekend home. Today, even when Ekam is open as a luxury boutique resort, the cosy homely feeling remains intact. I asked Sumeet what there was to do during my three day holiday at Ekam. He told me that ther…

A Bowlful of Comfort

I have a friend who is quite the globetrotter. Lunches at her place, often right after her trips, are a treasure trove of global flavours. But the last time we met, she was just back from Tamil Nadu and out she brought a bowl of curd rice. I love curd rice and have eaten a lot of it over the years but my friend's version was so full of flavours and textures, it was a revelation. Obviously, I asked for the recipe.

The genius of this curd rice lies in adding the tempering or the tadka twice, once to mix in the rice so it absorbs all the flavours. Then you make a second batch to top the rice with just before you serve, so it adds crunch to the usually mushy dish. The recipe also has a few other elements added in for texture, freshness and flavour.

I over-ate at lunch at my friend's and I over-ate again when I made this for myself for lunch. Plus, all the ingredients you need are likely in your kitchen already so you may as well go make it now.

1/2 cup rice
1 cup plain…