From Chowmein to Chilli Chicken, the Bengali Chinese cuisine is an amalgamation of diverse flavours
The intermingling of cultures has led to a variety of fusion cuisines being formed in the process. One such culinary gem is the ‘Indianised Chinese’ food. For those untouched by the phenomenon, the basis of popularity of Chinese cuisine in the country is the inclusion of Indian flavours in the foreign dishes. Given the historical traces of the cuisine, it is often directed towards eastern parts of the country like West Bengal. Kolkata is known to be one of the precursors for bringing Chinese fare to the Indian plate and interestingly, that’s what Chef Ram Bahadur Budhathoki believes too. The head chef at a popular restaurant chain in Kolkata, Chowman, Chef Budhathoki recalls the origins of this cuisine along with the vision behind the expansion of this chain of restaurants.
Driven by the Bengali-Chinese fare that is popular in Kolkata, Chef Budhathoki aims at introducing the unique flavours of this Chinese cuisine to other parts of the country. With two recently opened outlets of South Delhi and Noida, the chef presents the Chinese flavours from the land of its birth to Delhi-NCR. From mustard chilli prawns to schezwan prawns and chicken sui mai, the wide-ranging menu offers several delights. Chef Budhathoki throws some light on the cuisine and special delicacies like Kolkata-style chilli chicken, in an exclusive chat with Slurrp. Excerpts.
Q1. What makes Bengali Chinese different from regular Chinese food?
Chinese food in Bengal has a very interesting record because it directly relates to the political history of Bengal. And this deserves a mention of the Chinese community settlement in Bengal at a time period when Bangladesh was also a part of Bengal. It is the Chinese settlers that influenced the birth of Chinese food in Bengal. And later when Bangladesh and Bengal bifurcated, a slight demarcation was seen in the conception and appropriation of Chinese food. When it comes to Bengali Chinese, even 10 years back, it was more about spices to make it palatable for the Bengalis.
1. Take the chicken pieces and thoroughly clean them under cold water, then marinate them using cornflour, maida, and egg.
2. Heat a pan and add some refined oil. Once heated, add the pieces in the pan and fry them a little.
3. Now in the same pan, add more oil if necessary, add green chilli.
4. Now add dark and light soya, tomato ketchup, salt and black pepper, a little bit of sugar, and broth powder. Add in the fried pieces and toss them.
5. Once done, place them on a plate and garnish using spring onion and freshly chopped green chillies. Your Kolkata Style Chilli Chicken is ready to be savoured.