Put your stash of Magic Masala seasoning packets away because these Vegetarian Hakka Noodles don’t need help in the flavour department.
Has anyone ever been out for Indo-Chinese food and not ordered Hakka Noodles? I could be mistaken, but I’m 83% sure it’s international law that you order at least one portion.
Indo-Chinese cuisine is a treasured part of India’s food culture. The Chinese immigrant community in India began centuries ago, and many settlers lay down new roots around the ports of Kolkata and Madras. The vibrant and flavoursome cooking of India’s Chinese communities has carved a place in all our appetites.
In Indo-Chinese cooking, the techniques of Chinese cooking meet Indian flavours (and vice versa), to create fresh, exciting dishes. The fiery heat of Chilli Paneer, offset by the tang of Gobi Manchurian or the mild, carby goodness of Burnt Garlic Fried Rice and Hakka Noodles. It’s flavour-rich comfort food that’s fast and filling. It’s not uncommon to spot Schezwan Dosas (that usually contain no Sichuan peppercorns), Manchow Soup, Honey-Chilli Potatoes and Chow Mein Samosas on Indian restaurant menus everywhere.
The world of Indo-Chinese food is vast, rich and may seem utterly inauthentic to many people. But really, who cares about “authenticity” when the food tastes this good?
While Indo-Chinese is an integral part of India’s culinary scene, it’s also made its way around the world and is loved among Indian communities outside of India too. It’s a popular street food choice, as well as a restaurant favourite. Many Indian restaurants today even have separate menus for their Indo-Chinese dishes. In the UK, Chilli Mogo (or Indo-Chinese chilli cassava) is a very popular dish. It has come to be loved by many and is a product of those who have roots in both India and East Africa (where cassava is a staple carbohydrate).
It is the beautiful evolution of cuisine through physical migration and cultural shifts; Food without borders. How to serve Hakka Noodles Hakka Noodles are an any time, any place noodle affair. This vegetarian version makes for a delicious lunch or dinner. Serve them with other Indo-Chinese favourites such as Chilli Paneer or Gobi Manchurian, or simply as they are.
These Vegetarian Hakka Noodles are the ultimate quick meal. I often serve Vegetarian Hakka Noodles alongside some pan-fried tofu for added protein. However, you could always throw in some soy mince, seitan or tempeh.
My recipe for Vegetarian Hakka Noodles is has remained the same for years. It’s one of those timeless dishes you can count on when the contents of the fridge looks sparse and you’re short of time. Have it on the table in under 30 minutes and use whatever veggies you have to hand. I usually have carrots, cabbage, peppers and spring onions. Indeed, you can mix it up and throw in peas, corn, green beans, mange tout or baby corn. It’s a very forgiving recipe.
Thin, wheat flour noodles are the most common choice but this recipe works well with any type of noodle. Try it with rice noodles or mung bean noodles for a lighter, gluten-free version. Note that you’ll also need to use gluten-free soy sauce or GF tamari if gluten free.
Cook them according to package instructions but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes. I like to add turmeric to the water for colour but you don’t have to. I do not add salt to the water in this case as I wash the noodles later. The noodles should be about 80% cooked and a little firm to the bite. Once boiled, quickly drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them well under cold water. This washes away excess starch that causes noodles to stick together as they cool. Toss the washed noodles in oil so they do not dry out. They will be seasoned in the wok.
I like to julienne the veggies for this dish, so they are long and thin, just like the noodles. Ensure they are all cut to a similar size so that everything cooks together, time wise.
A wok is the best pan for this dish (cast iron, to be specific) but you can use any type of pan. Ensure it is smoking hot and all your ingredients are ready before you start cooking. This dish will come together in around 5 minutes (wok time, noodle cooking is separate). It’s the high heat over a well-seasoned cast iron wok that gives Chinese dishes their signature smoky flavour/aroma. This is called “wok hei” which translates to “breath of the wok”.
Sometimes, if I’m craving something deeply savoury. I won’t go into the health or political debates around using MSG except to say that it’s a personal decision. Do your own research and make your own choices. This recipe is delicious both with and without MSG. David Chang has some interesting thoughts on the subject of MSG.
2 as a main or 4 as part of a larger meal.
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