Courtesy: Hu Feng, student of MJMC-I (The Shardans)
My first visit to the international restaurant here at Sharda University was amazing. I had expected to miss my favourite Chinese cuisine only to see striking similarities between Indian and Chinese meals; the chicken noodles, egg noodles and chilly potatoes were so excellent.
I realized that there are fifteen other Chinese students on Campus and they all share my views. Though we come from different cities in China, we share a common cultural bond of similar food preparation. We call the dishes of our ethnicity as Chinese Cuisines. Hence, we call the food here in Sharda Indian Chinese cuisine.
Indian Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques that are more prone to Indian taste buds. The Indian Chinese cuisine is believed to have been developed by the small Chinese community, the natives of which resided in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) for over a century. Today, the Chinese food has become an integral part of the Indian culinary scene. It is also enjoyed by Indian and Chinese communities in Malaysia, Singapore and North America.
The cuisines are believed to have been originated from the Chinese natives of Calcutta, thus making Chinese food, an object of popularity there. At present, the Chinese population in Calcutta stands for an approximate figure of two thousand individuals. Most of these people are of the Hakka origin. Sometimes however, the dishes of modern Indian Chinese cuisine, such as Chicken Manchurian, bear little semblance with traditional Chinese cuisine.
People of Chinese origin mostly reside in India’s only Chinatown that is located around Tereti Bazar and Bowbazar area, which has since been relocated to Tangra, Calcutta. Most of these immigrants were Hakka. Chinatown in India still boasts a number of Chinese restaurants specializing in Hakka cuisine and Indian Chinese variants.
Indian Chinese Cuisines tend to be flavoured with spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric, also bearing semblance with a few regional exceptions, such as Hunan and Xinjiang, which are traditionally not associated with the notion of Chinese cuisine. Hot chilli, ginger, garlic and yogurt are also frequently used in dishes. This makes Indian Chinese food similar in taste to many ethnic dishes in South-eastern Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which have strong Chinese and Indian cultural influences.
Non-staple dishes are by default served with generous helpings of gravy, although they can also be ordered “dry” or “without gravy”. Culinary styles often witnesses in Indian Chinese fare include chilli (implying hot and batter-fried), Manchurian (implying a sweet and salty brown sauce), and Szechwan (implying a spicy red sauce). These correspond only on a loose basis, if at all, with authentic Chinese food preparation.
Some typical Indian Chinese cuisine served on campus are: Soups like Manchow soup and sweet corn soup, both available in vegetarian and non-vegetarian forms, are commonly available.So are starters such as chicken lollipops, spring rolls and wontons (momos).
Staple base options for an Indian Chinese meal include chicken, shrimp or vegetable variants of Hakka or Szechwan/Sichuan noodles popularly referred to as chow mein; and regular or Szechwan/Sichuan fried rice.
Indian Chinese dessert options include ice cream crowned upon honey-fried noodles or date pancakes.
Other edibles that are available at the University campus are the Chilli Chicken, Prawn, Fish, Mutton, Vegetables, Paneer, Garlic Chicken, Szechwan Chicken andGinger Chicken.
Manchurian Chicken rounds up the delicacies that are composed of chicken. It consists of chicken with vegetables in a spicy sauce. It is entirely a creation of Chinese restaurants in India, and bears little resemblance with traditional Chinese cuisine. It is said to have been invented in 1975 by Nelson Wang who described his invention process as starting from the basic ingredients of an Indian dish, namely chopped garlic, ginger, and green chilies, but next, instead of adding the traditional Garam Masala, he put in soy sauce, followed by corn-starch and then the chicken itself. A popular vegetarian variant replaces chicken with cauliflower, and is commonly known as Gobi Manchurian. Other possibilities may include prawn, fish, mutton, or paneer.
Ultimately, Sharda University is successfully acting as bridge not only between two countries, but also between two cultures by way of making available the rhyming of food of the two countries. This portrays the firm relationship between both countries which keeps getting stronger. Sharda University is absolutely beyond boundaries.