Last week we went to “Pataya” for dinner. No Nooo, not the Bangkok Pataya (how I wish). Pataya is a restaurant here that serves “Authentic Thai and Chinese” food.
I like Chinese food and the Manchuria is my favourite…chicken, veg, dry or wet…I could finish my meal with just that. So when the waiter (a Filipino) appeared at our table we ordered, in a flow for, a Saudi Champaigne (it’s a fruit based drink with a light appleey and strong orangeey flavour. Quite nice.), some noodles, spring rolls and chicken manchuria-wet…and then…
Waiter: Please repeat the last one.
Me: Chicken manchuria-wet.
Waiter: What’s that?
Waiter: What is manchuria wet?
Me: What is manchuria???
Waiter: Can you show on the menu?
Vinay: Sure. Hmmmmmm(going through the menu). Not in the menu.
Waiter: Sorry! But what is Manchuria?
I shot a glaring look at Vinay and said, “What is manchuria???? Did he just say that? And they don’t have it in the menu?”
Vinay with a smirk: “Yup.”
Me: Is this a Chinese restaurant?
Vinay: Apparently. And he is still waiting to take the order.
Me: Tell him something. Anything. I don’t care.
Vinay asked for some dish from the menu and the waiter left, still wondering what I asked for. You don’t have to look into the menu before asking for a Manchuria or even noodles when you go to a Chinese restaurant. They have it.
I was confused. How come he did not know what ‘manchuria’ is? I always ate it with Chinese food. Every Chinese Food stall fellow in India makes it and he makes it best. And why was Vinay smiling?? He was smiling at my reaction. A combination of shock, disappointment, disapproval, confusion, wonder, pity…all at the same time. What a horrible sight that would have been to witness and he still managed to smile (a strange sense of humor he’s got.) I cribbed all through out the dinner and on our way back. Vinay also wondered how they were clueless about even the term Manchuria. Not serving it is one thing and not having heard of it is another. It is Manchuria god dammit!
The first thing we did after reaching home was look up for manchuria in Wikipedia. The search talked about China but there was no mention of food. Hmmmmmm???!!!??? Next search – ‘Chicken Manchuria’….and there it is… “Indian Chinese Cuisine”. An adaptation of Chinese seasoning & cooking techniques to Indian taste. This cuisine is believed to have developed by the Chinese migrants in Calcutta.
Wow!!! What I really liked all these years was Indian Chinese (alias Chinese Fast food)?!? What I really enjoy is the deep orange/red coloured chicken Manchuria dry with roasted curry leaves sprinkled all over. The really thick gravy of garlic chicken with more garlic than chicken. Chilly chicken with lots of slit green chillies and dry red chillies poured over it. And the really really greasy noodles (with a slight burned flavour). And even in a place where we get ‘Andhra meals’ we can get chilli chicken. And don’t we love it!?!
How much we Indian’s love our masala’s and tadka’s. We even have our pizzas with masala’s. We have kadhai paneer pizza, chicken tikka pizza, tandoori, kheema do pyaaza.
I have heard someone once say ‘less cheese and more chillies please.’
Indian Chinese-what a contribution to the world of food! And anybody who loves street food will agree with me. I personally, am a big fan of the Chinese, tadka marke!!!
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