Tag Archives: chinese

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! ;)