BENGALURU: As the Indo-China border issue came to a boil, the simmering tension has entered our kitchens too. Amid calls for boycott of Chinese food and restaurants in India, several people are calling out the authenticity of the ‘desi-Chinese’ cuisine that we relish regularly at the nearest noodle shop or a pan-Asian outlet.
City-based hospitality professional Aslam Gafoor says the Chinese cuisine available here is more suited for the tastebuds of Indians. "One can trace back their history when they started migrating to India and having their own settlements. The recipe might be the same but the ingredients they used were different. The chillis and other spices which they started using were grown in India and tasted different," says Gafoor, who jokes that if one tries to serve manchurian or fried rice to a person of Chinese origin even they would not be able to relate to the food.
However, getting rid of Gobi manchurian or Schezwan fried rice from the menu might not prove to be as easy as breaking a TV set made by a Chinese brand. "After Indian food, it’s the most popular cuisine among people," adds Gafoor.
Busting various myths about Chinese food, Vivek Salunke, co-partner of Dofu in Indiranagar, says in its home country, the flavour varies according to regions and topography. "We have a limited knowledge about the ingredients that go into making their dish. How many of us know that curry leaves are widely used in Chinese kitchen? They also use a mix of mustard oil, sesame oil and groundnut oil," says Salunke, adding that enjoying authentic Chinese flavours is an acquired taste. However, chefs are trying to educate themselves to make the dishes as authentic as possible.
He also explains that just like the Indianised version, the Chuka recipes (Japanese way of making Chinese food) are also gaining popularity in Bengaluru. Also, there’s no one particular kind of Chinese food available in India, says Amit Ahuja, who owns restaurants like Misu and Lucky Chan in the city.
"The dishes prepared here are heavy on the use of soya sauce and chilli sauce. They can be categorised into two kinds – the Indianised version and the international Chinese cuisine, which is also available in places like Dubai, Tokyo and New York," says Ahuja, pointing out that the one stark difference is in the usage of meat. "For example, Cantonese street food comprises a lot of meat, such as rabbit, snake or octopus. But we don’t use anything beyond chicken or seafood," he adds.