Back in 2006 I had made my first visit to India. My first visit was Agra, the city that is known for the glorious Moghul monument, the Taj Mahal. When arriving to Agra I was shocked by the culture and busy street life. The small round about before the Taj Mahal’s South Gate was where I collected my first impressions of India.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t a pretty sight with the street dogs, beggars, dirt and stink. The energy around this place was strange and ominous and in a way oriental mysterious but one thing stood out which balanced my point of view towards the whole environment. It was an Indo Chinese Food Cart, emitting the most wonderful food smell ever.
People were gathering around the Cart and of course I had to check out what this was all about. Two younger thin boys were making and selling Vegetable Chow Mein and Fried Rice. Of course I was petrified to even think of eating this street food, I knew from school time colleagues who had visited India before that a foreigner could easily pick up food poisoning.
However, after passing the cart 3 days in a row with a desire to enjoy the wonderful aroma that I was taking in, of course in a complete hungry state of mind, I gave in and had a plate of Vegetable Chow Mein while watching barefoot cycle Rickshaw carriers hitting on some foreigners to increase their meager business. A plate of Chow Mein was at the time under 20 INR (about 0.25 €) a Rickshaw drive was less then 10 INR for a short distance ride. Of course all this has changed but that’s another story.
Vegetable Chow Mein Chinese noodles was the first dish that I ate and enjoyed in India. For days I had been confused trying to find out what on earth I could eat in this country. Obviously I hadn’t contemplated the food situation in India before my visit, so I was shocked by the food choice I had to go through. I did not understand the spices and I refused to eat a Rice Thali plate. Also the few eating joints that apparently served “pasta” and “sandwiches” were just big disappointments.
Well, I should have stuck to the Chow Mein on the road because I never got sick of it. Days later I got sick from the place opposite of the round about that pretends to prepare continental food and I got sick form that water bottle that I got from the Hotel manager because he had filled it with diseased water so that he could send me to a doctor who would pay him his commission. Yeah, I learned a lot in my first week!
Anyway since that I have embraced a good plate of Indo style Vegetable Chow Mein every once in a while. Chow mein is a very quick dish to make and it won’t take you more than 15 minutes cooking time all together. There are countless Chow Mein versions in this world, this is my easy Vegetable Chow Mein take on this dish and it has some Indian notes such as the incorporation of Chilli sauce.
We have Chinese restaurants back in Europe, but of course the food is Europeanized, meaning that most probably it doesn’t come close to the real Chinese food deal. In a way it’s the same thing in India. Chinese food is popular in this country, yet I feel it includes some Indian flavors. Chinese food is very popular in India and a much favored street food.
This Vegetable Chow Mein recipe will come handy when you don’t know what to cook and when you need something quick without much effort.
- 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
- 2 Teaspoon Chili Sauce
- ½ Teaspoon Sugar
- 1 Packet Hakka Noodles a 200 grams (you can also use egg-less noodles)
- 3 Tablespoon Oil
- 40 gram shredded Cabbage
- 30 gram thinly sliced sticks Carrot
- 1 Tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoon Water
- 3-4 Green stalks sliced Spring Onion
- At first prepare all the ingredients. Chow Mein is a fast preparation dish that means you need to add all ingredients very quickly to the stir fry wok.
- In a bowl add the ingredients for the Sauce, the Soy Sauce, The vinegar, chili sauce and sugar. Mix all well and keep aside.
- Grab a pot and fill it with water to cook the noodles. Let it boil and then add all the noodles. Get a timer and time it at 2½ minutes (or prepare according to packet instructions). We need to cook the noodles half way or they will get mushy while stir frying. Strain the noodles in a colander after cooking and place them back into the empty pot. Add 1 Tablespoon of the oil into the noodles and mix well so that they don’t stick together.
- Place your wok over low fire and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil (at that point you could add more oil as do the street vendors) and sir fry your 1 tablespoon of Ginger Garlic paste first.
- Then add the shredded cabbage and carrot and stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until the ingredients start to get soft.
- Now add in the cooked noodles and mix and stir fry quickly.
- Then add the Soy sauce preparation and 2 Tablespoon of water, some salt and pepper for flavoring. Stir fry and mix the whole content for 3 minutes or until all the ingredients are soft. The content should not stick to the wok.
- Finish by topping the noodles with the sliced spring onions and serve hot directly.
Do you like Chow Mein and if you have cooked it before, what ingredients are included in your version?
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