Like me, I know many, many people who love Chinese food, but have probably never tasted authentic Chinese food. What we know as ‘Chinese’ in India, is a very Indianized version, often called ‘desi Chinese’, Punjabi-Chinese or ‘Chinjabi’. The origins of ‘desi’ Chinese version can be traced back to Old Calcutta (now Kolkata), some 100 years back. The Chinese community having settled down in Calcutta (what is now known as China Town), developed a style of cooking that was an adaptation of the authentic Chinese cooking style, using very Indian flavours. And thus was born the ‘Fried Rice’, ‘Chowmein’, ‘Manchurian’, ‘Szechwan’, ‘Hunan’ and ‘Chili’, etc.
My favourite though, is the simple Fried Rice. Whether vegetarian or with a smattering of non veg, I can eat a biiiig bowl of fragrant Fried Rice, and be immensely satisfied. I remember this Biryani place in Navi Mumbai that used to make this really delish, mildly spiced Chicken Fried Rice. When the Biryani got too spicy for me, it was this Fried Rice that I’d eat.
The Chinese population of Kolkata is still one of the country’s largest, and is a hub of delicious food, ranging from the mundane to delicately spiced and authentic Chinese-style delicacies. People line outside areas like Terreti Bazaar and Bowbazaar, popular Chinese-dominated places, for sampling the food. In fact, so popular is the food here that most of it gets over by 8.30 or 9 in the morning, even in summers. The best time to visit these places is before 7 am on a winters’ morning, armed with an empty stomach and large bag to take home some goodies.
I’ve unfortunately not had the chance to sample any myself, so I have satiated my cravings with this humble bowl of rice, that I had with some Veg Manchurian 😉
The technique for adding eggs in the fried rice is something I’ve learnt from Kylie Kwong; she uses fluffy scrambled eggs, having tosses them in a hot wok, and that’s what I did. They added a lovely airiness to the dish 🙂
Note: Spring onion is neither available here, nor could I manage to find it anywhere, so I’ve done without the greens.
Egg Fried Rice
- Rice – 3 cups, pre-cooked, long-grain Basmati or any other
- Scallions/Onions – 2, chopped fine
- Garlic – 4 tbsp, chopped
- Green beans – 1 cup, diced fine
- Carrots – 1 cup, diced fine
- Green bell pepper – 1 cup, diced fine
- Cabbage – 1 cup, sliced fine
- Green chilies – 5 to 6, sliced finely
- White or black pepper – 2 tsp
- Star anise – 1/2
- Mace – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Light soya sauce – 1 tsp
- White vinegar – 1/2 tsp
- Eggs – 6
- Veg oil or any refined oil – 3 tbsp
- Heat a wok and add 1 tbsp of oil, letting it smoke.
- Add the eggs in, using the back of a spoon to pop the yolks and let them run over.
- Season with salt and pepper and gently, with a fork, scramble them, keeping them light and fluffy.
- Take the eggs out and keep aside, and add the remaining oil in the same wok.
- Add the crushed mace and star anise (skip if you don’t have any)
- Add the garlic and chilies and toss well to fry golden brown.
- Add the diced veggies, and again, toss well until wilted but still retaining their crunch.
- Add the light soya, vinegar and sugar.
- Now place a cover on the wok, for about a minute or so. Don’t keep it covered for more than 2 mins or the veggies will become soggy.
- Add the cold rice, and season well. Add the eggs and toss everything together, until mixed completely.
- Serve hot with choice of sides.
Tip: The fried rice is best made on a hot wok/kadhai/pan, and on high heat.