Category Archives: China Town

Mushroom Fried-rice

Chinese food has always tickled my taste-buds, and always will. I can eat it everyday maybe. No, I haven’t tried, but there’s no doubt about it. I love it to bits! Regardless of the fact that the food at the restaurants is delicious, when we make it as home, it’s definitely healthier and we know what’s gone into the dish. Agreed? Come weekends and somehow, I get into the mood for Chinese food. Don’t ask me what’s the connection, cos I really don’t know. Give me some scrum-yumm food from China Town, a nice movie, and a comfortable couch – bliss! Oh wait, thrown in a goblet of wine too, will ya? ;) Double bliss! *hic!*

Before I get onto the recipe, I should tell you that Mushrooms are my new profound love, after I heard about their health benefits. If you don’t eat mushrooms yet, you totally should start right away. They’re really good for your cholesterol and people with diabetes benefit from it too. Now that I’ve told you this, you can guess that a lot of mushroom-based recipes are on their way no? Totally! :) I served my mushroom fried-rice with some Sesame Potatoes in a Manchurian Sauce. Recipe for that coming soon. OK, so go read your recipe now, make yourself some good food, and have a fun weekend!

Mushroom Fried-rice

Ingredients:

  • Jeerak Samba Rice/Jeera Rice (short-grained, fragrant rice used in Chinese cooking) – 3 cups
  • Onions – 2 nos (medium-sized; finely chopped)
  • Button Mushrooms – 250 gms (washed and sliced)
  • Ginger – 2″ long piece; finely chopped/minced
  • Garlic – 8-10 pods; minced/crushed (alter to suit your taste)
  • Green Chillies – 2-3 nos (or as much as you like; finely chopped)
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 15-20 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsps
  • Chilli-sauce (optional) – 1-2 tbsps (or as much to suit your taste)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ghee – 2 tbsps
  • Oil – 1 tbsp
Note: I do not use MSG or Ajinomoto in my cooking since it is believed to be very un-healthy and cancer-causing. If you are using it currently, I urge you to stop using it cos some of the things I’ve heard about it are not very pretty after all.
Procedure:

  • Set the rice to cook with rice:water in 1:2 ratio. Ensure you add about 1/2 tsp of salt to the water before you place in the cooker. I cooked my rice in my rice-cooker and got perfect, non-sticky and separate grains of rice once done (You could even use your normal, everyday rice. Only, it wouldn’t taste just the same, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
  • Once the rice is done, gently spread on a wide plate and let it cool, preferably under a fan whirring in full speed. Don’t stir too much, else you’ll end up with mashed rice. Just let it do its thing while you get the other things ready.
  • Now, heat oil in a wok. Add the finely chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute on a medium flame till the onions are cooked tender and the whole house starts to smell like a Chinese restaurant. My place sure did!
  • Add the spring onions and saute another 2 minutes till they wilt.
  • Next, throw in the sliced mushrooms and continue to saute till it is cooked. The water content in the mushrooms is sufficient to cook the mushrooms, so don’t add any additional water.
  • Add adequate salt (don’t forget the rice has salt added too, so be careful of how much you put in). Stir well.
  • Add the ghee, stir well and let the lovely aroma fill your nostrils. (This is my secret ingredient in place of MSG. Try it..it works wonders! All you need to do is walk a mile or two extra the next morning, and you’re not guilty anymore)
  • Simmer the flame and add the soy-sauce and chilli sauce (if using). Ensure you simmer before you add the soy-sauce, else you’ll end up with a funny, burnt taste in the fried rice…something I’m sure you wouldn’t relish. Stir well.
  • By now the rice would have cooled. Use a long, flat spoon/spatula and gently flatten out any lumps in the rice. Add the rice to the wok , stir well to incorporate and cook on a high flame for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Remove from flame, garnish with more chopped spring onions, and serve hot with some appetizing Manchurian or some Sweet-n-Sour Sauce, or any other Chinese gravy of choice. You could try the No-fry Cauliflower Manchurian Gravy, or better yet, just wait for the Sesame Potatoes in Manchurian Sauce recipe…it’s coming soon! I promise :)

No-fry Cauliflower Manchurian Gravy

If you have ever stopped yourself from making a Manchurian b’cos it entailed deep-frying the manjoos (‘Gopi Manchuri’, or ‘manjoorian’, or just plain ‘manchuri’ is what you’d hear it being said as, coming from the local ‘Gopis’ and ‘Manjus’ owning and selling ‘China-in-a-cart’ kinda food on the pavements!! If you’d like a more intent description of how these guys sell, you should totally read this), this no-fuss, no-fry, quick-fix, yet delicious recipe should have you running into your kitchen to fix it to go along with your dinner tonight. Throw in some Fried rice like this one, or some simple veg hakka noodles, and you have one of the best ‘made-in-heaven’ marriages in a gourmet’s perfect world. Now, now, I know you’re conjuring in your pretty head, images of a foodies’ heaven, with a multitude of tables, laden and shrieking from the weight of all the good food you are capable of conjuring at such short notice as well, but but but…let’s come back to where you’re seated now shall we? Yes, right there, stay rooted! You will thank me later on, cos if you’re making this for dinner tonight, you cannot afford to get distracted from the recipe, could you? ;) Read on, while I conjure up images of you seated at your dinner table later tonight, polishing off every morsel of the manjoo!

Ingredients:

  • Cauliflower – 1 no (medium-sized; cut into florets and soaked in hot salt water)
  • Ginger – 1″ long piece; finely chopped/minced
  • Garlic – 10-12 pods; finely chopped/minced
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 10-15 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Tomato ketchup – 1 tbsp
  • Red pepper sauce (optional) – 1-2 tbsps (as per your taste)
  • Hot Water – 1 1/2 cups (omit if making a dry, crispy version)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 2-3 tbsps for shallow-frying the florets + 1-2 tbsps for the manchurian

For the coating:

  • Maida/All-purpose flour – 5-6 tbsps
  • Cornstarch powder – 3-4 tbsps
  • Soy-sauce – 2-3 tsps
  • Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp (alter to suit your taste)
  • Salt – to taste

Procedure:

  • Drain the water from the cauliflower florets, and transfer to a clean, dry bowl.
  • Add all the ingredients mentioned for the coating – maida, cornstarch powder, soy sauce, red chilli powder, salt to taste, and toss the bowl so all the cauliflower florets are well-coated. Set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the florets to absorb some of that wonderful flavour. Since the florets are damp, the coating ingredients will stick on well, and easily.
  • In a non-stick wok, heat the oil.
  • Shallow-fry the marinated cauliflower florets till they turn golden brown on the edges and tips.
  • Transfer to a clean plate covered with a tissue to absorb any excess oil.
  • In the wok, heat some more oil.
  • Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for half a minute.
  • Throw in the cauliflower florets and spring onions, and fry for a minute.
  • Lower the flame and add the tomato ketchup, soya sauce, red pepper sauce, more salt to taste (if required).
  • Immediately pour in the hot water, and cook this gravy over a low flame for about 3-4 minutes. The cornstarch powder that you added to the florets initially helps thicken the gravy, so your gravy doesn’t really need any other agent to thicken up.
  • Bring the gravy to a boil on a low flame, about 3-5 minutes at the most.
  • Lastly, add the soya sauce and allow to boil another minute on a low flame, before you remove from flame.
  • Serve hot with noodles or rice. I served mine with vegetable hakka noodles, and like I said earlier, it was a marriage made in heaven! Will definitely be posting the veg hakka noodles soon, so watch this space.

The flavours and taste of this no-fry Manchurian are just the same as what it would be if you deep-fried your florets. So don’t you worry about the taste, even one bit. A dry street-food kind of ‘manjoooorian’ could also be made; whatever you fancy. If you wish to make a dry variant, just skip the hot water mentioned for the gravy, and you’re good! And If you wish to make the conventional manchurian, follow the procedure from here. Just replace the baby-corn with choice of vegetable. I’ll take a bet you’ll enjoy it either way you make it – dry or with gravy. Think of me when you’re gorging on your din-din tonight. And don’t forget to send a prayer for those Gopis and Manjus dishing up all that scrummy street-food either. Ask me why…they are thriving b’cos of foodies like you and me, and if we start making street-food right at home, what happens to them when you are giving them a run for their money? So like I said, PRAY. For them.

Baby-corn Manchurian

What used to be an exotic Chinese appetizer long back is now part of Indian street-food, what with the thela-wallas spewing out batch after batch of fiery-red coloured Manchurian from their mammoth-sized woks, while another guy churns out fried rice from an equally mammoth-sized wok, if not bigger. And 2-3 others, the assistants (sadly mostly child labourers), ensuring they put measured portions of the Fried-rice and Manchurian onto steel plates which have been topped with banana leaves (aaah, the South-Indian touch!) and hand them over, along with spoons and lopsided forks (if you could call them that, cos they’d be so disfigured you couldn’t tell they originally looked like forks!) to the ever-waiting deluge of customers…most of them, koochi-kooing couples passing-by to try and delay going home, or hungry people going back home after work, wanting to grab a quick bite, or some foodies generally hanging around the place cos the thela-walla is famous for his ‘Chenise’ food. Oh yes, I’ve seen atrocious versions for the way ‘Chinese’ is spelt on all these thelas! All this, believe me, will be happening in a kind of luggage auto, modified brilliantly (no, not a DC!) to accommodate everything – the mammoth-sized woks, 2 stoves, ladles, spoons, those lopsided forks, steel plates, big vessels to put in the readied food, oil cans and what not…you get the drift!

Though Baby-corn Manchurian is not so commonly prepared by the thela-wallas, its sibling, Gobi Manchurian out-does itself in each thela! Did you know they add curry leaves, coriander leaves and what not to Indian-ise it?!! They do their bit to prove that Indian cooking cannot happen without curry leaves and coriander leaves. I’ve even seen a tadka being used for Gobi Manchurian at some place! :D

Read on, for an authentic, healthier, non artificially-coloured version I made at home.

Ingredients:

  • Baby-corn – 15-20 nos
  • Ginger – 1″ long piece; finely chopped
  • Garlic – 10-12 pods; finely chopped
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 15-20 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Chilli sauce – 1-2 tbsps (or as much as you like)
  • Oil – 2 tbsps + more for deep-frying

For the coating batter:

  • Maida/All-purpose flour – 3/4th cup
  • Cornstarch powder – 1/4 cup
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 1 cup or more, to make a thin batter

Procedure:

  • Put together the dry ingredients mentioned for the batter. Stir well to ensure everything is mixed in uniformly. Now add 1 cup or more of water to make a thin batter (It shouldn’t be as thick as your pakoda/bajji/fritters batter, but slightly thinner than that. It should just coat the vegetable, not engulf!). Add the soy-sauce, stir well and set aside.
  • In the meanwhile, microwave the baby-corns (wholly) for 5-7 minutes on high, till they are near-cooked.
  • Take the baby-corns and slit each of them vertically into two, and cut each vertical into half, horizontally. This should give you 4 pieces of 2-3 inches each, from each baby-corn. I chose to cut them this way so they cook sooner. You could even cut rings of the baby-corn and use them. I find that too tedious though. (I hate standing in front of a frying pan, especially during summers. So the more baby-corn pieces there are, the longer I end up spending with the frying pan…not happening!).
  • Dip the baby-corn pieces, batch-by-batch in the readied batter, and deep-fry them in batches on a medium flame. Repeat with all the baby-corn pieces. Drain excess oil on a tissue and set aside. (In case the baby-corn pieces get stuck to each other while frying, don’t panic. You could separate them once they cool a little).
  • Now, in a wok, heat 2 tbsps oil. Add the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for a min or two.
  • Add the spring onions and saute till they wilt a little.
  • Now, simmer the flame and add the soy-sauce and chilli sauce. Stir well.
  • Immediately add the fried baby-corn pieces and stir-fry for a couple of minutes. Once the baby-corn pieces are well coated with the sauces and ginger, garlic and spring onions, remove from flame.
  • Garnish with more spring onion shoots if you wish and serve hot as an appetizer, or along with your choice of Chinese entrée.

Tip: While letting the deep-fried baby-corn coat with the sauces and season with the ginger-garlic-spring onion mixture, you could throw in just 1/2 a tsp of sugar (don’t over do the sugar, else it will taste like honeyed fritters!), to get that glazy, caramelized look. It also lends just a hint of sweetness to the Manchurian, which some people might enjoy. So go ahead and try it if you like.

Ginger-Capsicum Fried Rice

I’m a sucker for Chinese food and when we dine out, most often than not, I pick Chinese cuisine (you can guess the argument that ensues!). Nowadays, we aren’t eating out that much cos of two things…work’s keeping us busy so we just flop tired in front of the TV on weekends. And two, we are trying our best to eat healthy. Sure, eating out once in a while never did anyone any harm, but we’ve both turned into health freaks off-late.

I made us this simple rice entrée on the weekend cos I felt like some Chinese food and we didn’t feel like going out. If Abu doesn’t go to the mountain, the mountain comes to Abu yeah? Also made us some Baby-corn Manchurian to go with this and we enjoyed a relaxed meal as we caught a wonderful Romantic Comedy flick on our Home Theatre, and laughed hard…something we hadn’t done in a long time! As you may have already guessed, we had some wine to go along with our meal, and I’m not really sure what made us laugh so hard – the movie, the wine, or a combo of them both. I’ll leave that for you to figure. Hic! ;)

Ingredients:

  • Jeerak Samba Rice/Jeera Rice (short-grained, fragrant rice used in Chinese cooking) – 3 cups
  • Onions – 2 nos (medium-sized; finely chopped)
  • Capsicum/Bell-pepper – 2 nos (large-sized; finely chopped)
  • Ginger – 2″ long piece; finely chopped/minced
  • Garlic – 8-10 pods; minced/crushed (alter to suit your taste)
  • Green Chillies – 2-3 nos (or as much as you like; finely chopped)
  • Spring Onion Shoots – 15-20 nos (chopped to 1/2″ pieces)
  • Soy-sauce – 1 tbsps
  • Chilli-sauce (optional) – 1-2 tbsps (or as much to suit your taste)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ghee – 2 tbsps
  • Oil – 1 tbsp

Note: I do not use MSG or Ajinomoto in my cooking since it is believed to be very un-healthy and cancer-causing. If you are using it currently, I urge you to stop using it cos some of the things I’ve heard about it are not so pretty at all.

Procedure:

  • Set the rice to cook with rice:water in 1:2 ratio. Ensure you add about 1/2 tsp of salt to the water before you place in the cooker. I cooked my rice in my rice-cooker and got perfect, non-sticky and separate grains of rice once done (You could even use your normal, everyday rice. Only, it wouldn’t taste just the same, so don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
  • Once the rice is done, gently spread on a wide plate and let it cool, preferably under a fan whirring in full speed. Don’t stir too much, else you’ll end up with mashed rice. Just let it do its thing while you get the other things ready.
  • Now, heat oil in a wok. Add the finely chopped onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute on a medium flame till the onions are cooked tender and the whole house starts to smell like a Chinese restaurant.
  • Add the spring onions and saute another 2 minutes till they wilt.
  • Next, throw in the chopped capsicum/bell-pepper and continue to saute till the capsicum is cooked too.
  • Add adequate salt (don’t forget the rice has salt added too, so be careful of how much you put in). Stir well.
  • Add the ghee, stir well and let the lovely aroma fill your nostrils. (This is my secret ingredient in place of MSG. Try it..it works wonders! All you need to do is walk a mile or two extra the next morning, and you’re not guilty anymore)
  • Simmer the flame and add the soy-sauce and chilli sauce (if using). Ensure you simmer before you add the soy-sauce, else you’ll end up with a funny, burnt taste in the fried rice…something I’m sure you wouldn’t relish. Stir well.
  • By now the rice would have cooled. Use a long, flat spoon/spatula and gently flatten out any lumps in the rice. Add the rice to the wok , stir well to incorporate and cook on a high flame for 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Remove from flame and serve hot with some appetizing Manchurian or some Sweet-n-Sour Sauce, or any other Chinese gravy of choice. Bon-Appetit!

Psst, Happy All Fools’ Day to y’all! Have fun fooling around! ;)