Chowmein: The Kolkata Street-side Version

Kolkata street style chowmein
Kolkata street style chowmein

I have always been a fussy eater. I did not like eating illish manch when I was younger. But my bangaal family had little tolerance for such odd behavior. As a result I was often coaxed, threatened and even mildly struck from time to time by my father. To spare me the trouble, my mother and grandmother often gave me 30 Rupees and sent me off to buy fast food to eat for dinner. They would also come up with unique excuses for why I was not present at the dinner table.

In those days, thirty Rupees could buy me a box of noodles or a moglai porota. I preferred the former. My little brother was my companion on my little escapades.

We would watch with eyes wide open and were wowed by certain actions of the chowmein wala. We marvelled at how the man would toss the noodles high up in the air with a long iron rod in one hand and a ladle in another. I swear, my brother idolized him.

Now let’s come to the actual chowmein recipe which is rather simple, shall we? All it takes to master the recipe is years of practice and patience.

You’ll need:

  • A packet of thin-stranded noodles
  • Julienned capsicum, beans and carrots
  • Thinly sliced onion, onion greens and cabbage
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Cooking oil
  • Soya sauce, tomato sauce, chili sauce
  • A big pinch of salt, MSG ( MSG is not bad if eaten in moderation) and chowmein masala
  • Thinly chopped onion,green chilies and cucumber for the salad
  • A little lemon juice and black pepper for seasoning

First, bring a cauldron of water to a boil and throw in the noodle brick without breaking it. Blanche the noodles for a few minutes with some salt and oil thrown into the boiling water. Take care that the noodles don’t become overcooked and sticky. There is no perfect recipe. It comes with practice.

Next, drain the hot water and take the blanched noodles out and lay them flat on a big plate preferably in an airy place. Let the noodles dry out a bit.

Meanwhile, saute the veggies and scramble the eggs in generous amounts of oil.

Next, add the noodles a little at a time and keep tossing and turning. After all the noodles have been added, add salt, MSG and soya sauce adjusted per your taste. Keep tossing for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are well coated with oil and soya sauce.

At last, turn off the heat and season with black pepper, tomato sauce, chili sauce and dash lemon juice. Top it off with chopped cucumber, onion and green chillies.

We, Bengalis have so many different variations of chowmein that even a Chinese will find it flustering. I have had chowmein cooked with turmeric powder and black seeds ( kalojeera ). Also mishti chowmein! And my mom used to add potol and pepe into the noodles just to feed me those unsavory things.

I would love to know what bizarre ingredients you are used to adding to chowmein/ Maggi noodles.

Check out my previous posts from the #bloggerbae #sweetnovemberchallenge and also the posts from my friends.

See you tomorrow.


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