Spicy Vegetable Hakka Noodles
Monday Morning People and a Fantastic Diwali week to all of you!
I am sure the sweets and snacks are all done by now and waiting to be distributed amongst family and friends. With my last blog post, the sugar free Dates, Rose and Pista Ladoos, I am also finally done with the Diwali preps and eagerly waiting to relax and visit few friends, family etc to share goodies, eat and enjoy. Frankly, the last 2 months have been extremely hectic and next week my classes begin after the break, so I need the Diwali break badly.
Break calls for comfort food and it automatically means something related to your child hood experiences. Diwali for me definitely means remembering Ma way too much as she was as enthusiastic as I am about food, festivities and visiting friends. So when Amrita, who is not only a talented blogger but I call her my sister too, announced that the Foodie Blog Hop theme this week should be the dish that you first cooked i.e. Your Beginner Recipe. I knew that I had to make this delicious bowl of Hakka Noodles.
Hakka Noodles is a stir fry noodles dish from the Indo Chinese Cuisine. So, basically the noodles that we taste here at restaurants or at street side stalls in most places, is a dish that amalgamates both Indian spices and Chinese noodles, few sauces perfect to satisfy the Indian palate.
The original version of the Chinese style Hakka Noodles have very less sauces or spices used. They focus more on the vegetables and noodles. The cooking method has to be al dente or just cooked right to retain the texture of the noodles and vegetables. Stir fry is done in a huge wok and on high heat. They do add seafood, pork, chicken pieces to their version of the noodles too.
I have a chilli garlic noodles recipe on the blog which is made with basic ingredients and is so helpful on those days when you crave restaurant food or when you have very few vegetables in the refrigerator and yet are craving for a spicy bowl of noodles. Do check it out. The pictures don’t do justice but the recipe is a cracker!
Also, check out the recipe for the Spaghetti Stir Fry which ditches the noodles and fusions Italian spaghetti with Chinese flavours.
The recipe I am sharing today, Spicy Vegetable Hakka Noodles can be tried easily at home, very basic ingredients and sauces available in your refrigerator, loaded with loads of vegetables and ideal to be served for a get together, lunch or dinner parties or basically chilling at home. Frankly, the Hakka Noodles don’t need an elaborate side dish to go along but if you absolutely must, pair it with a paneer or tofu based mild gravy. Teenagers and youngsters would love enjoying this while watching their favourite movies or date with friends at home.
Since Indians love their Mirchi or chillies, we have gone ahead and worked beautifully in bringing out the colour and the taste of the dish by adding both fresh green chillies and red chillies too in our version of Spicy Hakka Noodles. My version is also in lines with the Indian Palate and is spicy, full of flavor, loaded with vegetables and some soba noodles that is made of buckwheat and wheat flour instead of the refined flour noodles with some basic sauces. I avoid adding vinegar to my cooking as much as I can, unless its absolutely necessary.
Curious, why a South Indian is not sharing her staples like idlis, dosas or upma that she might have tried in the kitchen for the first time. Well, frankly I started with desserts, which also happen to be my forte. Sadly, I don’t make them much anymore but the Rava Ladoos I make every year for Diwali has been a favourite with all my colleagues at work over the years, friends and relatives too. After all, I learnt from the best – Ma! She made exceptional desserts and I first learnt to roll the ladoos with her during Diwali during my teens.
I discovered my love for cooking and all things food, quite early on in life. Being a single mother with 2 daughters and a full time job, Ma needed help. I always volunteered to cut vegetables after school and thankfully when I started I was around 8 years old and now at 38, cutting vegetables for a feast at home or a party with friends, feels like a breeze. I was extremely good at housework, cleaning being one of my forte, still is. My mum never kept a maid in her entire life and did everything by herself with the help of us. Following her footsteps, till the age of 32, I did the same but a bad neck and shoulder pain kept me out of work for 2-3 months followed by another 4 months of slow recovery.
Except North Indian Food (few dishes), Mom never ate any other cuisine at a restaurant. Chinese food was out of question for her. So during my teens, I once requested her to make noodles as my friends in school got them in their tiffin boxes. Since she didn’t knew how to make them, she brought a pack of Maggi. She made it for the first time and didn’t like the aroma nor the taste. She also swore that she wont be making noodles at home ever! A very dejected me thought, I should really change her perspective and try cooking this at home. With my elder sister as partner in crime, we bought vegetables, noodles and some sauces to cook this dish. Having bought all the stuff and not having access to internet, we experimented with our version of what we had tasted in a restaurant. We had no idea of sauces that went into the dish nor had any idea what the cuisine is all about but we saw a lot of cooking shows on television so few basics were on our mind.
Determined, we began the process of making the dish, much to our surprise, the outcome was very delicious, with me and sister both digging our forks in to the hot kadhai! We were eagerly waiting for our mothers verdict that evening for tasting and passing us with flying colours. She tasted a spoon, went for another and then said, this is nothing like what I got that day. Ah! Finally, we were happy that Ma was satisfied with the outcome, the delicious Hakka Noodles. She obviously did not pig out on the Hakka Noodles like we did but always took few spoons and then quietly enjoyed her beloved Thayir Sadam or Curd rice with pickle.
While the 13 year old me would have used the normal maida noodles, the 38 year old wiser and slightly health conscious foodie opted for a Soba Noodles made with buckwheat and wheat instead.
To this very day, I prepare noodles at home for self and Narayan in the same manner. I have not forgotten those golden childhood years where means were limited but the spirits were quite high! Only wish, Ma was here to taste the Soba Noodles and be proud of how far her daughters have come, inspite of facing all the challenges. Love you Ma!
Taking this Spicy Vegetable Hakka Noodles to the #169FoodieMondayBlogHop where the theme is #MyBeginnerRecipe.
Recipe for Spicy Vegetable Hakka Noodles
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Serves 4 to 5 nos of people
- 200 gms of Japanese Soba Noodles (see the pic below)
- 6 tblsp of Sesame oil
- 5 cups of Mixed vegetables chopped into julienne (Cabbage, Mushroom, carrots, capsicum)
- 1 cup of spring onions sliced + few greens finely chopped for serving and garnish
- 1 tblsp of garlic finely chopped
- 4 tblsp of Red chilli sauce
- 1 tblsp of red chilli flakes
- 3 tblsp of tomato ketchup
- 1 tblsp of roasted sesame seeds (retain some for garnish)
- Salt as per taste
- Water as required to cook the noodles
- Slice, finely chop all the vegetables and keep aside.
- In a big kadhai or wok, add oil followed by garlic.
- Saute it for few minutes and then add the sliced spring onions.
- Let them turn translucent and then add, the mixed vegetables with some salt to taste.
- Allow the mixed vegetables to cook on medium heat for sometime and ensure they don’t turn too soggy.
- Add the red chilli flakes, red chilli sauce, ketchup and keep sauteing the veggies.
- In the meanwhile, heat some water in a vessel, allow it to boil and add salt.
- Now add the soba noodles in boiling and salted water. Allow it to cook al-dente (just right and no overcooking)
- Drain the noodles and keep aside.
- Once the vegetables are done (they should retain the crunch), add the noodles followed by some salt and mix well.
- Add finely chopped spring onion greens, some roasted sesame seeds and mix again.
- Serve piping hot with a side of your choice.
- The pack of noodles as shown in the pic is 300 gms in weight. Each of the bundle weighs 100 gms each and I have used 2 bundles which was good enough for 4-5 people medium portion size. They might look very thin but do swell up post cooking and doesnt turn mushy. Ideal to use 100 gms when cooking for 2 people.
- You can add APF noodles available in the market or wheat based ones too as you prefer. I love the texture of cooked Soba noodles and they stay firm inspite of reheating in the oven (leftovers) and don’t turn soggy, which is a huge plus when cooking for guests. Also, way healthier option!
- Add any amount of vegetables you like – corn, broccoli, yellow or red bell peppers, zucchini etc. I used the ones which were easily available at home.
- Sesame oil is best for Chinese or Asian Stir Fry Recipes. They bring out a really good flavor to the dish. In case you don’t have access to it, use veg oil.
- When making Chinese, add salt at regular intervals – Noodles, vegetables and when combining together. Adding the salt after the entire dish is cooked makes it difficult for mixing, especially in a huge wok and when preparing for guests visiting at home. Also, be wary of the quantity as most of the sauces used have salt in them.
- I have not added vinegar or soy sauce, you may add so.
- Leftovers of this can be tucked in a dosa, whole wheat rolls with some chopped onions and capsicum or spring rolls and deep fried, if you prefer.