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    Indian Chinese food, catching on in Singapore?

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | February 7, 2008

    Reuter’s Gillian Murdoch seems fascinated by the emergence of Indian Chinese food in Singapore, writing a fairly substantive review of a restaurant there. Singapore, remember, has substantial ethnic Chinese (East Asian) and Indian (South Asian) populations — and the food in the region often reflects that. But Indian Chinese food is not the same as Southeast Asian food. It is its own hybrid. But one that New York City too has long been able to experience in Indian culinary concentrations like in Murray (Curry?) Hill and Jackson Heights. Chinese Mirch is the one that pops most immediately to mind.

    Indian Chinese food in India is almost as Indian as Indian food itself. It’s all over the place even in Indian restaurants, where their menus will often have two pages of Chinese specialties like Hakka noodles, Chicken Manchurian, and American chop suey. Full text of her article after the jump.

    Singapore warms to fiery Indian Chinese cuisine
    By Gillian Murdoch
    SINGAPORE, Jan 29 (Reuters Life!) — Stir-fried naan, or a Peking-style
    To purists, and the uninitiated, the idea of Indian Chinese cuisine can
    sound suspiciously like the sushi taco — a fusion step too far, that
    risks ruining two of the world’s best-loved cuisines in one fell swoop.
    But as restaurants dedicated to mixing the two neighbours’ recipes take
    hold even in fussy foodie haven Singapore, “Chindian” cuisine is winning
    over sceptics and carving its own niche.
    First cooked up in India’s only Chinatown in Kolkata about 100 years
    ago, Indianised Chinese food was created by Hakka and Cantonese Chinese
    immigrants who worked in tanneries on the city’s east side.
    They added Indian spices such as turmeric, cumin and coriander to
    traditional Chinese dishes, and then whacked in some chili, to satisfy
    Indian palates which still found them too bland otherwise.
    In doing so they created a cuisine that has become popular in its own
    right in Indian metropolises from Mumbai to Delhi.
    The genre’s new classics include Manchurian chicken, marinated in soy
    sauce and vinegar and stir-fried with spring onions, honey, and sesame
    seeds, and crispy noodles topped with “American Chop Suey” — sauteed
    vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms and carrots.
    Now the concept, as Chindia-watching geopolitical analysts would have
    it, is making a bid for world domination and going global.
    Catching on from San Francisco to Singapore, it can now be found in half
    a dozen hybrid restaurants in the melting pot city-state’s Little India
    One of the longest-established of Singapore’s Indian Chinese
    restaurants, Indian Wok, out on the east coast, is a good place to start
    exploring the experiment.
    Paneer, India’s unique cottage cheese, usually paired with spinach to
    make palak paneer, or peas to make mutter paneer, gets a Chindian
    makeover as chilli paneer, where the white cubes are cooked with green
    peppers, green chilli, onion and garlic.
    Another old stalwart, cauliflower, typically served with potatoes as
    aloo ghobi in Indian resturants, is transformed into dry Gobi
    Manchurian, a dish of spicy, sour fried cauliflower tossed with chilli,
    onion, garlic and spring onion.
    Flat Hakka noodles and Indo-Chinese fried rices accompany, rather than
    breads such as naan or roti.
    Here again Chindian cooks, unsurprisingly, seem to have scoured China’s
    many variants looking for the most fiery.
    The southwest’s red-chili-studded Szechuan fried rice, fried with
    chili-infused oil, ginger and garlic, and the Yangtze delta’s Yangchow
    fried rice, which fries grains with egg and shrimp or ham, are the
    winners that made it onto Indian Wok’s menu. No serious nouveau cuisine
    is complete without its own sweets, of course, and Indian Chinese
    doesn’t disappoint.
    In what must be a chef’s pun on jalebi, the sticky syrupy orange swirls
    of fried flour that grace Indian sweet shop windows around the world,
    Indian Chinese serves up darsaan — flat, crispy honey-glazed noodles,
    served with vanilla ice cream.
    Another fusion classic is the “sizzling brownie”, a walnut and cashew
    encrusted chocolate brownie served on a small, super-hot Indian-style
    skillet, which waiters ceremonially top with chocolate fudge and vanilla
    ice cream.
    While the technique of dropping the toppings onto the hotplate from
    various heights may be improvised by the individual waiter, rest assured
    that the rest is a bona fide Indian Chinese standard.
    Scraping the left-over chocolate off the hot-plate, our waiter told us,
    is the best, and most authentic way to end what can be a sometimes
    surreal, sometimes magical, but always interesting, meal.
    Indian Wok
    699 East Coast Road, Singapore
    Tel: 65 6448-2003
    Web: http:

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