This culinary style stems from a small Chinese community that had lived in Kolkata for over a century until their return to the mainland. It is in essence an adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking style made suitable to the Indian palate.
There is still a small population of Chinese living in Kolkata, numbering about 20,000 individuals. Most Chinese in India are of Hakka origin, thus much of the cuisine resembles modern Indian Chinese culinary style but with very little resemblance to the traditional Chinese preparations.
One of the truly integrative items used in Indian Chinese Fusion cuisine is the use of cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric. These are not used in authentic Chinese preparations. Also, there is liberal use of hot chili, ginger, garlic and yogurt, making Indian Chinese food similar in taste to other Southeast Asian cuisines, such as Singaporean and Malaysian techniques.
There are major inclusions in this specialized cuisine. For non-stapled dishes, gravy is included into the meal, but there is an option to have the same order without the gravy. The major tastes are chili, meaning hot and batter-fried, Manchurian or sweet with salty gravy sauce, Szechwan or use of spicy red sauce and the dry non-gravy orders.
A typical Indian Chinese meal is as follows:
a.For appetizers, soup is served, typically either Manchow soup or sweet corn soup. There is vegetarian option for this soup. Other appetizers include chicken lollipops, spring rolls and wantons.
b.The main course is often rice with noodles which includes either chicken, shrimp or vegetables using Hakka or Szechwan noodles, known as chow mien. Instead of noodles, fried rice can be ordered together with chop suey and sweet and sour dishes. Some restaurants have come up with spring rolls and dosas.
c.For entrees, there are many options. The basic ingredients are the same, either chicken, prawn, fish, mutton, beef, vegetables and paneer. What differentiates them is the sauce preparation, be it chili or hot, garlic, Szechwan or ginger preparations. One of the most popular ones is Manchurian Chicken, which is chicken with vegetables in a spicy prepared sauce and is truly an Indian Chinese fusion delight.
d.For dessert, the options include ice cream on honey-fried noodles or date pancakes.
Because India has made Chinese cuisine its second choice after local food when dining out, then there is a growing taste for Indian Chinese fusion cuisine in the future. The increasing disposable income of Indians together with a need to dine elsewhere would usher in greater delight and discovery in creating Chinese cuisine to the Indian palate.