Oh yes, there really is a cuisine called Indo-Chinese and it is big in India. No, I am not making it up. Being neighbors and all that, Indian and Chinese cuisines share a similar spice palate and a lot of Chinese dishes have been Indianized and cooked all over the country. Every multi-cuisine restaurant worth its salt has a column in its menu solely dedicated to Indo-Chinese food. Beauties like Gobi (Cauliflower) Manchurian, Schezwan Chicken, Egg Fried Rice and Spring Rolls are a few gems from the Indo-Chinese trove. We love it at home because the cuisine offers a lot of vegetarian options.
I have never made a mean Indo-Chinese curry and never thought I ever could. But today, when my culinary creativity was at its lowest and I had this desperate craving for something Indo-Chinese, I decided to make my own version of a family favorite during our Madras Race Club frequenting days: Veggie Balls in Garlic Sauce. The chef at the club restaurant rocked the gravy like no one ever can. And since we were a family full of garlic lovers, we would order it every time we visited MRC. I cannot claim that I made the dish exactly how I like it but the husband loved it and he claims this is the best chow I’ve made in the recent past. I took the compliment rather reluctantly.
So here is how I made it.
Veggie Balls in Garlic Sauce
For the balls-
One cup shredded cabbage
One cup shredded carrot
One cup chopped onion
(You can add any vegetable you want as long as all of them together make three cups)
Half a cup fresh bread crumbs
Two Tbsp Cornstarch
One large egg
Half tsp Ajino-moto (you can find this in any Asian store)
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
Pepper to taste
Oil for deep-frying (or you can make this in the oven. 400°F or 205°C for 30 minutes)
For the gravy-
Eight garlic pods finely chopped
1/4 onion finely chopped (to make it better, replace with a bunch of scallions. Chop and separate whites and greens)
Two Thai green chilies finely chopped
One Tbsp grated ginger
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
Two Tbsp soy sauce
One Tbsp cornstarch
Two tsp brown sugar
Two cups water
A dash pepper
A pinch red chili flakes
Slightly saute the vegetables with soy sauce, pepper and Ajino-moto. Switch off and let it cool. When cool enough to handle, mix the other ingredients. The mixture must be semi-solid which you must be able to mold into balls. Add more bread crumbs if it is a little loose. Make 12 medium-size balls. Deep fry in oil or bake in the oven.
Mix together ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, water and pepper. Heat oil in a wok. Add the chopped garlic, onions/scallion whites, chili and ginger. Saute for five minutes on medium-high heat. Add the gravy mixture and switch the heat to low. Let the sauce cook for a few minutes. Increase the heat back to medium-high and let the sauce thicken. When done, add the chili flakes and then turn off.
Add the balls to the pan and let it soak up the good gravy. If you used scallions, garnish the dish with the greens. I did not have scallions so I used normal onion and garnished with cilantro. Very Indian, no?
Ps: This gravy is traditionally eaten with white rice or fried rice but my mom loves it with Naan/Roti or any other Indian flatbread.
I went blog accessory shopping over the weekend. And now, I am in love with my black soup/serving bowl!