INDO-CHI­NESE FU­SION FOODS

An over­view of its sump­tu­ous past!

Woman's Era - - Contents - Sripriya Satish

Iam sure the very men­tion of yummy Indo-chi­nese fu­sion foods like Gobhi Manchurian, Hakka noo­dles, Chilli chicken, etc. would bring wa­ter to the mouth of any­one who would love to eat out. These dishes com­prise an in­te­gral part of to­day’s menu in any restau­rant and the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion is never bored of sink­ing its teeth into these sump­tu­ous dishes.

A quick peek into the his­tory of these fu­sion foods is equally splen­did and this ar­ti­cle deals with the same.

Come on, read­ers, let us get into the past to view how these eater­ies took their roots in In­dia and mes­merised the na­tives with their fiery taste. The birth of the fu­sion cui­sine

The Chi­nese started mi­grat­ing to In­dia many cen­turies ago to spread the teach­ings of Bud­dhism and it was be­lieved that the first per­son who ap­proached In­dia for ma­te­rial prospects was a Hakka (an eth­nic com­mu­nity in China) named Yang Tai Chow, way back in the year 1778. He had found Kolkata his con­ve­nient home as it was ac­ces­si­ble both by land and sea. Over the years many Chi­nese – mostly Hakkas – es­tab­lished their set­tle­ments in this metropoli­tan city of In­dia and slowly devel­oped a town of their own called Chi­na­town. They tried their hand at many skills like be­ing den­tists, car­pen­ters, beau­ti­cians, etc to mark their firm foothold in our coun­try and at last were suc­cess­ful in this re­gard only through their re­mark­able culi­nary skills. This was the ori­gin of the fiery Indo-chi­nese fu­sion food and then there was no turn­ing back. They ma­nip­u­lated and merged the Chi­nese in­gre­di­ents like Soya sauce, vine­gar, etc with the In­dian ones and were tri­umphant in sat­is­fy­ing the lo­cals.

Le­gendary Chi­nese cuisines that swept the In­di­ans off their feet

Eau Chew was the very first In­doChi­nese restau­rant that was very suc­cess­ful in ca­ter­ing to the In­dian tastes. It was set up in Cal­cutta some 85 years ago and was very pop­u­lar amongst the lo­cals. Later, many restau­rants of the same kind but that of­fered stun­ning food fu­sions sprouted in and around Kolkata. Fat Mama and Kim Fa are worth men­tion­ing and did a won­der­ful job in tick­ling the In­dian taste buds. Some win­ning Indo-chi­nese food fu­sions

Pa­neer, the In­dian cot­tage cheese, took the form of Sichuan

pa­neer, chicken curry took the form of chilli chicken and the most sought-af­ter In­dian dish, aloo

bhindi, took the form of Kung Pao pota­toes stuffed in okra. The In­di­ans were head over heels in love with these fu­sion foods.

Are we miss­ing out some­thing? Yes, of course, our beloved Manchurian va­ri­eties which have taken a sig­nif­i­cant place on our plat­ter for years! Now, let us ven­ture into some interesting facts be­hind this sig­na­ture dish.

Interesting facts about Manchurian

✿ Manchurian is not a Chi­nese dish, though in In­dia it is looked upon as one.

✿ Nel­son Wang, a Chi­nese chef at the Cricket Club in In­dia lo­cated in Mum­bai, was the cre­ator of this de­li­cious starter, at the re­quest of a cus­tomer to cook a dish which was out of the menu.

✿ This dish got in­stantly fa­mous just by word-of-mouth.

✿ The pub­lic­ity that this dish ac­quired made Nel­son Wang start his own restau­rant in Mum­bai called China Gar­den.

✿ China Gar­den is a well-known Mum­bai in­sti­tu­tion even to­day.

Indo-chi­nese fu­sion foods spread its wings out of Kolkata

Hav­ing made its mark in Kolkata, these fu­sion food cuisines started to ex­pand beyond the metro only in 1980s and were quick enough to gain im­mense pop­u­lar­ity. Ac­cord­ing to a 2007 sur­vey, they are In­dia’s favourite cuisines, se­cond only to the lo­cal food, es­pe­cially amongst the young­sters. They ex­ceed the Ital­ian and Thai foods in pop­u­lar­ity by a huge mar­gin.

Rea­sons why the In­di­ans wel­comed the Chi­nese fu­sion

✿ The spici­ness, greasi­ness and the Chi­nese taste were mixed to­gether in right pro­por­tions by the Hakka Chi­nese, ac­cord­ing to our peo­ple’s lik­ings and the fu­sion foods be­came a huge hit.

✿ The Hakkas were very care­ful in not ig­nor­ing the veg­e­tar­ian pop­u­la­tion of In­dia. They were smart enough to cater to the needs of the vege­tar­i­ans who con­sti­tuted about 31 per cent of the whole pop­u­la­tion. Thus, ev­ery meat dish had a cor­re­spond­ing veg­e­tar­ian dish in the Indo-chi­nese menu.

✿ Not only this, they also catered to the needs of the Jain pop­u­la­tion of In­dia by ex­clud­ing onions, gin­ger, gar­lic etc from their prepa­ra­tions.

Fu­sion cuisines around the globe

The whole world came to know of the Indo-chi­nese fu­sion foods when the In­di­ans be­gan to spread around the globe mak­ing coun­tries like Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore, Aus­tralia, etc their home. The Indo-chi­nese restau­rants sprouted around the globe in­clud­ing the USA, where the In­di­ans searched for bet­ter prospects dur­ing the IT boom in the 1990s. The fame of the fu­sion foods grew in USA’S cities like New York City, San Jose and the San Fran­cisco Bay area, where a size­able por­tion of the In­dian pop­u­la­tion had set­tled. The one ul­te­rior mo­tive of these restau­rants is to make the for­eign- set­tled In­di­ans feel at home.

To con­clude, one can never for­get to thank the Hakkas for bring­ing these fu­sion foods to In­dia. Long live the Chi­nese dragon and the In­dian tiger fu­sion!

THE HAKKAS WERE VERY CARE­FUL IN NOT IG­NOR­ING THE VEG­E­TAR­IAN POP­U­LA­TION OF IN­DIA. THEY WERE SMART ENOUGH TO CATER TO THE NEEDS OF THE VEGE­TAR­I­ANS WHO CON­STI­TUTED ABOUT 31 PER CENT OF THE WHOLE POP­U­LA­TION. THUS, EV­ERY MEAT DISH HAD A COR­RE­SPOND­ING VEG­E­TAR­IAN DISH IN THE INDO-CHI­NESE MENU.

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