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  • That’s Correct, Chicken Manchurian isn’t Chinese! – Reading Room series

That’s Correct, Chicken Manchurian isn’t Chinese! – Reading Room series

By Team YourCoimbatore on 19th October 2021
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Episode – 1

The History of Chicken Manchurian 

It began in 1788, a trader, Yang Dazhoo is known as Atchew in English was a Chinese citizen to put down his roots in India, in Calcutta. He came with a lot of tea and Governor-General Warren Hastings, a big fan of tea, gave him a plot of land to build a settlement.

Atchew set up a sugar mill and did it very well. At the same time, political unrest in China grew. This was the time of the opium wars and the British taking over a country rife with the Civil war and addiction. A lot of Chinese left the country for India.

Cantonese migrants and people from Shiui country near Guangzhao migrated to Malaya and British India in the 19th century. Large numbers of migrants from Siyi and Hakka came to Calcutta.

chicken manchurian

These Chinese adapted to Indian culture, especially cuisine. One of the first dishes to turn to ‘Chindian’ was the Chow Mein. In China, it’s a simple stir-fried (Chow) noodle (mein) dish. In India, green chilies and hot sauce were added to the noodles and their flavor changed. Chinese soon migrated to the rest of the country, especially Bombay.

Nelson Wang, a third-generation Chinese chef born in Calcutta found his way to Bombay. He was working as a cook at the Cricket Club of India. In 1975, a customer who was bored of the menu asked him to create something new. Wang chopped up garlic, ginger, and green chilies.

Then instead of adding garam masala as he would to an Indian dish, Wang added soy sauce followed by cornstarch and chicken. Boom! The Chicken Manchurian was invented. Why Wang’s spicy, gravy-like brown sauce was named after Manchuria is a mystery.

Soon after the Manchurian, the Manchow soup came into being. The soup is essentially just water–down Manchurian. In 1983, Wang left his job at CCI to start his restaurant, China Garden. It was soon known as one of the country’s restaurants.

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