While the Chinese migrated to the ports if Chennai and Kolkata, it was also a migration of flavours.
Going to any Chinese restaurant our first choice of noodle to order is mostly hakka, be it plain hakka or chilli, veg or non -veg that varies. Going back to history let’s understand that hakka is not just a dish but a whole cuisine type. On the other hand the hakka noodles that we are talking about is barely available in a handful of places in South East Asia. The flavourful concoction of noodles and minced meat make this noodle special. Hakka noodles are more or less lesser known. Hakka that we see is India happens to be that Chinese preparation where some boiled noodles that is are stir fried with sauces and then tossed with vegetables or meats. Once the noodles are boiled it needs to be tossed with a little oil so that it doesn’t stick. This simple dish is loaded with flavours and as you roam in the streets of Singapore, you should order a bowl at some real authentic Hakka, though finding this stall is a rarity.
The Hakka preparation might seem simple but it’s quiet an effort. Originally the Hakka cuisine was much rustic and was heavily seasoned. It was something that can’t be easily replicated. Interestingly there’s a particular variety of noodles that is available at seven Hakka districts, but the one with minced pork tops the list. The “last man standing” in Singapore who runs a Hakka restaurant and has saved the hakka culture happens to be Lai and he pledges to do that till sees few more Hakka places doing well in the city and then retires.
Coming to the fact how it came to India, it sees an interesting story. There hakka noodles that we eat in Indian is a mix of Chinese and Indian cuisine. Triggered by Mao Zedong’s and the 1st World War, the Hakka Chinese community migrated from China and came to the ports in Calcutta and Madras. They settled in Tangrain East-Kolkata, where they created their own little China Town and today almost after many many decades there are around, 2000 odd Chinese-Indians who still reside in Tangra. And hence the legacy of Indian version of Hakka noodles started from here. With only few restaurants that have stood the test of time are still functional. And those who have visited here can strongly vouch for the food that these restaurants serve, also the fact that it’s their food that till date draws many to these restaurants. Eau Chew being the oldest telling tales of a bygone era.
Though the Chinese came to Indian long back but the hakka here that we see today was only born 150 years ago. While they migrated to the ports if Chennai and Kolkata, it was also migration of flavours. And as expected Indian’s showed their keenness to this kinda cuisine and accepted it whole heartedly. It did not take long for India to make Chinese as one of its leading cuisines in the culinary graph. Though Hakka once was much kept secret of the Chinese culinary art form but today, the whole world vouches for it.