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In her article "The Sour, Spicy Fusion Food That's Wildly Popular in India," Annada Rathi writes that Indian-Chinese (also known as Indo-Chinese) cuisine is a "uniquely South Asian phenomenon." The food — which finds its origins in the Hakka-speaking Chinese immigrants who traveled to India at the turn of the 20th century — encompasses a mouthwatering spectrum of flavors: umami, spicy, tangy, a little sweet, and highly aromatic (thanks to lots of ginger, and spices like white pepper). Popular dishes include fiery, saucy chilli panner, crispy Chicken or Gobi Manchurian, and, of course, Hakka noodles. Read more about the history of Indo-Chinese food here.
While the sauce for Hakka noodles can be as simple as a couple glugs of soy sauce, this recipe calls for a few extra ingredients — a splash of unseasoned rice wine vinegar for a sour note, ketchup to keep everything saucy and glossy, Sirārakhong Hāthei Chillies for both smokiness and heat, a few grinds of Aranya White Pepper for a delicate, yet fragrant zing, and a kiss of sugar balances everything out. These noodles are satisfyingly packed with veggies, like shredded green cabbage, carrots, peppers, and onions, but if you want to add a little more heft to the dish, you can incorporate a plant- or meat-based protein. Fry up some tofu prior to cooking the vegetables, or add in chopped chicken thighs, thinly sliced skirt steak, or peeled shrimp. I like things quite saucy, so if I'm adding a source of protein, I double the sauce to make sure every bite is well-seasoned.