The Year of the Monkey

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Bring in the Chinese New Year with this stylish Indo-Chinese dish

Indo-Chinese food.Indian Link

We Indians love fusion food; it is our way of embracing the food of another country and making it our own. Indo-Chinese cuisine, also known as ‘Chindian’ cuisine, is a great example.

During the times of the Sino-Indian war, a lot of migrants from China came across the border and settled in the North Eastern states including West Bengal. The community soon realised that food can be a source of livelihood but the traditional Chinese cooking would not work in India due to lack of certain ingredients and also preference for bolder flavours given the obsession with spices.

This was the beginning of the modern fusion cuisine which came to be known as Indo-Chinese or ‘Chindian’. The earliest Indo-Chinese restaurants opened in Calcutta and other parts of West Bengal and soon this cuisine spread like wildfire all across the country. Today, Indo-Chinese food is very popular and restaurants serving this cuisine can be found far and wide, Australia included.

The spicy, sweet and tangy chilli garlic sauce is an all-time Indo-Chinese favourite. Usually chicken or an assortment of vegetables is used in this dish, but here we are using oats to make delicious koftas to dunk in this sauce.

The crucial part of the dish is handling the koftas – some tender loving care is called for! Since there is no heavy coating, the koftas have to be shallow fried with care to avoid breakage. And like all other Indo-Chinese dishes, this one too has to be served warm immediately after preparation or the koftas will disintegrate in the sauce.

If you do eat egg, then you can coat the koftas in an egg wash, followed by breadcrumbs and then fry them instead of rolling in flour and shallow frying.

So come along and celebrate the Lunar New Year with this delicious preparation. May 2016 be a prosperous year for you with lots of happy tidings!

 

Oats Kofta in Chilli Garlic Sauce

Ingredients

For the koftas:

1 ½ cups raw oats
1 large potato
1 medium onion; finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped/grated
½ inch ginger, finely chopped/grated
2 green chilli; finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric powder
5 raw almonds; finely crushed
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
Salt, to season
¼ tsp red chilli powder
6 tbsp vegetable oil, to shallow fry the koftas

Indo-Chinese food.Indian Link

For the sauce:

12 medium garlic cloves; finely chopped
1 inch ginger; finely chopped
6 long dry red chilli
1 ½ tbsp red chilli paste
½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 large onion; cubed
1 yellow bell pepper; cubed
1 tbsp cornflour, dissolved in ½ cup cold water
Salt, to season
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 spring onion, both white and green part chopped

 

Method

To prepare the koftas:

Boil the potato, mash and keep aside.

In a flat pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and green chillies along with the turmeric powder till the onions are lightly browned.

Add the crushed almonds and oats; mix well and sauté on low heat for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add the cooled oats mixture to the mashed potato and mix well to combine.

Shape into small koftas; keep aside.

In a plate, mix the cornflour, all-purpose flour, chilli powder and season lightly with salt.

Coat the koftas lightly with the flour mixture (it should be a light dusting on the koftas; excess flour will affect the taste of the koftas making it doughy).

Heat the remaining oil in a flat pan and shallow fry the koftas; make sure you turn the koftas carefully to avoid breakage.

Drain on a kitchen towel.

Indo-Chinese food.Indian Link

To prepare the chilli garlic sauce:

Heat oil in a large wok and add the cubed onions. Stir fry on high heat for a minute and remove.

Next, add the cubed bell peppers to the wok and stir fry for 30 seconds; remove and keep aside.

In the same wok (add more oil if necessary), add the dry red chillies, garlic and ginger. Sauté on low heat till the garlic is just starting to brown. (Do this on low heat to infuse the oil with maximum flavour from the garlic).

Next, add the red chilli paste and Kashmiri chilli powder, sauté for about 30 seconds and then add all the sauces along with a pinch of sugar.

Mix well and taste. The measurements given for the sauces must only be a guidance as the taste can vary according to the brands used. So taste and adjust balance of flavours.

Next add 1 cup water and bring to boil; add the dissolved cornflour and stir in to thicken the sauce.

Add the onions and bell peppers and mix well.

Finally add the koftas and mix through without breaking. Season with salt if necessary.

Remove and garnish with spring onions.

Serve warm with fried rice or noodles.