About this dish
What's so Indian about stir-fried noodles you may ask. Chowmein aka. Hakka noodles is a very popular street food dish in Delhi and across India. It's cheap, quick to prepare and easily available both at street vendors stalls and in restaurants. After Indian food, Chinese food used to be the second most popular cuisine to eat out when I was growing up in India. However, Chinese food in India has taken a life of its own and is probably nothing like Chinese food you'll find in China. That's why many people now call it Chindian, Chin-jabi (China+Punjabi) cuisine or Indo-Chinese food. With dishes like Gobi Manchurian, Chicken Lollipop, Chilli Paneer and Honey Chilli Potatoes, the cuisine consists of dishes probably unheard of in Chinese restaurants outside of India. Not to forget, everyone's favourite Schezwan sauce, which as you can guess takes its name from the Sichuan Provence in China but has little to do with Sichuan cuisine apart from the spice factor.
Without a doubt, one of the most popular Indo-Chinese dishes is Chowmein. It's no secret that Indian's love noodles. Maggi noodles are one of the most popular instant foods in India, loved by kids and the older generation, student cooks or gourmands alike. Noodles are so popular that in Delhi, you can often buy fresh egg noodles at your local vegetable seller for Rs. 35 (that's less than 50 cents); something I still struggle to find here in Germany. When I was in university, a plate of Chowmein at a street vendor used to cost Rs. 35 and was often more than enough for a meal for two.
Chowmein is great eaten by itself with some chilli garlic sauce or Schezwan sauce if you like to spice things up. However, in Indo-Chinese restaurants, it's often ordered as a side dish to be eaten with dishes like Veg. Manchurian, Chilli Chicken or Chilli Paneer. However, you choose to enjoy this dish, it's easy to make and comes together very quickly once you have all your ingredients chopped up.
- 125g egg noodles
- 70g cabbage
- 70g red onion
- 50g green capsicum (bell pepper)
- 50g carrot
- 8g or 3 cloves garlic
- 8g ginger
- 1-2 green chillies (optional)
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp Neutral flavoured oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp green chilli sauce*
- 1 tsp red chilli sauce (such as sriracha)
- 1 tsp neutral table vinegar or rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp msg** (optional)
- 1/4 tsp white or black pepper
- pinch garam masala
This dish comes together extremely quickly and the cooking time itself is only a few minutes. As a result, before you start cooking, you must prepare all the ingredients in advance. You must make sure that the noodles are cooked, vegetables and aromatics are chopped and the sauce is mixed in before you start cooking.
1. Cook the noodles as instructed on the package. We boiled our egg noodles for 5 minutes in salted water. They shouldn't be too soft and still be firm and have some bite to them. Once cooked, drain the noodles and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process and remove the excess starch from the surface of the noodles and prevents them from sticking. Toss the noodles in 1 tsp of oil to prevent further clumping and set aside.
2. Finely chop aromatics - the ginger, garlic and green chillies (if using).
3. Slice the cabbage, capsicum, and onions. Peel and chop the carrots into matchsticks.
4. In a small bowl, mix together all the stir-fry sauce ingredients.
5. Heat a wok on high heat and add the oil. Fry the aromatics (ginger, garlic and chillies) in the oil for around 30 seconds or till the garlic starts to brown around the edges. Then add all the vegetables in at once and stir fry on high heat for another minute or two. The vegetables should turn glossy and the cabbage will start to take some colour around the edges. Then add in the noodles immediately followed by the stir-fry sauce. Stir-fry for another minute or so and you’re ready to serve!
* Green Chilli Sauce: Green chilli sauce is a typical Indo-Chinese ingredient so you might not find it in your local Asian store. If you cannot find green chilli sauce, feel free to omit it or replace it with any Asian style red chilli sauce you like.
** MSG: MSG (when consumed in moderation), isn't actually bad for you. There have been many scientific studies de-bunking the modern myth that MSG is harmful to people's health. If you're curious to learn more about glutamate here's a great video about it.