Indo Chinese food – now, you just have to taste it once, JUST ONCE to fall head over heels in love with it and continue to love it until death do you apart! For a really large part of my life, I grew up thinking this was “Chinese” food that even now I find it very difficult to think and know that Vegetable Manchurian or Chilli Paneer is not Chinese. That’s how popular this fusion cuisine is in India. Seriously!! This is no laughing matter.
Indian Chinese cuisine is basically Chinese cuisine that is adapted to the Indian taste by using a lot of spices and other ingredients that are more common in Indian cuisine than traditional Chinese and its a lot spicier too. For eg, the use of paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), Cauliflower, cilantro, tamarind and even cumin and coriander sometimes. Ketchup is also a very common ingredient. I read up a little bit about the origin of this cuisine and it looks like it came from the Chinese who have settled in Calcutta (a North Eastern city in India) for probably a couple of centuries now.
Coming back to the post, a couple of weeks ago, I made some vegetable balls in hot garlic sauce inspired by a couple of recipes in Tarla Dalal’s Chinese Cooking and in memory of the restaurant All Spice in the small town of Kollam (Quilon) in Kerala (a Southern state in India) for about 7 years of my life including my undergrad. AJ and I used to sneak out and go there for our “dates”! Aah, good old days!
Recipe : Vegetable Balls in Hot Garlic Sauce
Adapted from 3 different recipes in Tarla Dalal’s Chinese Cooking
|For the Vegetable Balls:1/4 head of a cabbage, finely chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/2 red onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece ginger, minced
2 Thai green chillies, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
For Schezuan Sauce :
2 cloves garlic, minced
For the Schezuan sauce : Boil a cup of water and add the dry red chillies, Sichuan pepper corns and garlic to it. Simmer for 5-6 mins and let it cool. Drain the water and grind to a smooth paste. Now heat the oil in a pan and sauté the garlic, ginger, green chillies and onion. Add the celery to it. Add the chilli paste at this point and sauté for a few mins. Make sure to keep the vent fan on and the windows open. It can get quite irritating from all the chillie. Mix in the cornstarch paste and pour in the vegetable stock and vinegar. Add sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Keep aside.
To make the vegetable balls : Combine all the ingredients in a moxing bowl and add a little water to hold them all together. Make small lime sized balls out of the mixture and keep aside. Preheat oven to 350F. Lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place the balls on it. Spray the cooking spray over them and bake till they are a little golden brown on the outside.
For the sauce: Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and stir fry for a few mins. Add the veggie balls and fry for some more time. Now add the Schezuan sauce, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, vegetable stock, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve hot with some vegetable fried rice or hakka noodles.