The ABCs of making the Kolkata Hakka noodles

Chicken Hakka noodles for the soul

I whipped us a quick chicken Hakka noodles earlier this week before we took off on a flight to Kochi. K had had grilled chicken for dinner the previous night and I had grilled a chicken leg extra in salt and pepper with it for this.

This is my go to dish to make when I want comfort food and something that is easy to make at that. It is a dish that my mother used to make me when we were growing up. She learnt how to make it from my father and he had told me that he had learnt how to make it from a patient of his in the UK who owned a Chinese restaurant. I was a little child then and cannot vouch for the veracity of the story of what can be called a family recipe.

The term 'Hakka noodles' refers to the stir fried noodles that one gets in the Chinese restaurants of Kolkata. Ones which were originally started by Chinese immigrants belonging to the Hakka and the Cantonese communities. You also get a 'gravy noodles' in Kolkata which I assume is the more Cantonese version. I have no idea if anyone in China will recognise this dish, though I did find it to be similar to the Hokkien Mee of the Singaporean Chinese restaurants.

From my mother's FB page. She had made herself a veg Hakka noodles recently. She would always serve us Chinese in these plates which were bought in Iran I think. The noodles one gets in Kolkata are thinner than the Mumbai ones.

My cooking technique is based on what I remember my mother doing, what I observed the roll shop guys in Kolkata do and what I later observed in shows on TV by folks such as Kylie Kwong and the Chinese chefs at hawker markets in Singapore and in open five star kitchen markets. I have no idea if this is the exact recipe used by restaurants in Kolkata.

While I have shared a number of chicken Hakka noodles recipes in the past here, this is a quick refresh for those who are new to my blog. More the method in bullet points, than a recipe.

This is what I made before the flight

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a wok
  2. Add finely chopped ginger and garlic
  3. Add the protein. Chicken (boiled which is what my mother prefers or raw as I often do), bacon/ ham/ chopped sausages, prawns or just egg
  4. Add soya sauce 
  5. Add chopped vegetables (you can skip protein if you want to make a veg one)
  6. Add boiled noodles with the water strained out. You can boil some onion bulbs with the noodles too and add it. Add salt, pepper (white is nicer). Sauces: whatever is at home. I use chilli sauce, Thai chilli paste, black bean chilli oil in varying proportions. You can add a dash of honey too. Stir.
  7. Add a pre-scrambled egg
  8. Add a squeeze of lime at the end. You can add some toasted sesame seeds too. Do not forget to keep some finely chopped green chillies in soya sauce to add to it just as my mom does.
Eat hot if you can, though it works well as a tiffin too. I packed whatever we could not finish and had it on the flight at room temperature. Tasted million times better than whatever Air India served!


Some of my older Hakka noodles posts with proportions

'Oil free' bacon