Just like the one posted yesterday, this Needull is also an engaging travelogue about a birthplace. However in complete contrast to yesterday’s account, this article explores the origins of my favorite ‘Chindian’ dish – Chilli Chicken. For someone who absolutely loves the heavenly combo of Egg Fried Rice and Chilli Chicken and orders the same divine dish, be it in the swanky lounge at Taj Colaba or a alley-side hawker stall at Tangra, this is no less a ‘pilgrimage’ than the one you read about yesterday.
Before the Chinese arrived in Kolkata, the city’s restaurant culture was limited to Indian cuisine. Biryani and Kolkata rolls were the go-tos for fast food. It took nearly a century after the first Chinese immigrants arrived for Hakka food to become an intrinsic part of the city’s culinary landscape, thanks both to the mix of ingredients in Chinese kitchens and the marriage of Chinese men to Indian women. Like Schezwan sauce, other dishes were created exclusively for Indian tastes: potatoes were deep-fried and doused in chili, fried eggs and peppers were added to noodles, and the slow Indianisation of Chinese food began.