Chicken Manchow- Indo-Chinese soup that knows how to scream
If there is a soup which makes its presence felt on our toungue the first moment we sip in, this is it. Bursting with flavors this soup is such a favorite with kids, adults- everyone loves it when they go out for Indo-Chinese food, be it the street-food stalls or the high end restaurants. Interestingly everyone complains they can’t make it at home like they do in the eating houses. I say to them you know what! You can do better! N btw in the eating houses they use taste-enhancers like Azinamoto which is monosodium glutamate or similar things based on the similar composition, so that’s their secret which gives a savory flavor to the soups. Using MSG once in a while is okay, repeated consumption is to be avoided.
The soup is of Indo-Chinese origin, the cuisine that took shape in Kolkata over the years when the Chinese came n settled in the eastern part of India. The cuisine is a delicious burst of flavors, be it Manchurian balls in the dark brown gravy, chili chicken, hot garlic noodles, burnt garlic prawns, sweet n sour chicken. The same essence is captured in the chicken manchow soup. Deep brown in color, filled with flavors from the vegetables, the chicken, the stock, the soy sauce, chili sauce, tomato puree- the soup brings a smile to the soul, if you are having a bowl of the hot soup in the winter with a blocked nose you are gonna make a faithful friend with him once you finish the bowl .
Even though chicken Manchow soup is a dish that is made really fast, it has its beginnings in slow cooing. One of the main ingredients of the soup is the chicken/vegetable stock , a well made stock will lift up the final soup in multiple levels, so it is wise to make a good chicken/vegetable stock which takes an hour of slow cooking. We can also use stock cubes when we can’t wait that long.
A good chili sauce n a good tomato sauce or tomato concentrate are something this soup needs, so we can use a good readymade chili sauce or we can soak some dry red chilies in hot water for 10 minutes to soften, then make a paste of them, we can use this fresh chili paste for the soup. For the tomato sauce either we will make a fresh tomato sauce by first making the tomato puree, then reducing it or simply use a good readymade tomato sauce.
Interestingly what kids love the most when this soup comes are the crispy noodles…they crackle as they munch n gulp, such a simple pleasure. Noodles are deep fried until brown n crispy, then scattered over the soup, their crispy texture gives away joy as you gulp down the bold soup munching them.
Let's start making the soup then…let the fire lit up.
For The Soup: You will need
Chicken Breast or thigh (boneless)-100 gm, chopped into ½ inch cubes
Spring onions- 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Onion- 1 tbsp. finely chopped
Carrot-2 tbsp, finely chopped
Capsicum- 2tbsp, finely chopped
Cabbage- 2 tbsp, finely shredded
Ginger- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Garlic-1 tbsp, finely chopped
Green chili- 2 tbsp, finely sliced
Coriander leaves – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Black pepper powder- 1 tbsp
Red chili paste-1 tbsp/ Red chili sauce-2 tbsp
Soy sauce – 1 ½- 2 tbsp
Rice vinegar – 1 ½-2 tbsp
Sugar- 1 tbsp
Tomato sauce- 2 tbsp/ tomato concentrate-1 tbsp
Corn flour – 2-3 tbsp, mixed with equal amount of water
Chicken stock-3 cups
Water- 1 cup
Sesame oil- 2-3 drops
Vegetable oil- 2 tbsp
For The Chicken Stock
Chicken bones or thin chicken pieces with bones – 200 gm
Onion- 1 medium, quartered
Carrot-1 medium, chopped into 2 inch slices
Celery-1 stick, chopped into inch pieces/Radhuni seeds- 1 tsp
Capsicum- ½ of medium one, chopped into big pieces
Tomato-1 medium, quartered
Spring onion- 1 sprig, chopped into 2 inch cylinders
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Ginger- 1inch , sliced
Garlic- 2 cloves, roughly sliced
Water- 5/6 cups
Black peppercorn- 6-8
Pink rock salt- a pinch
Vegetable oil- 1 tbsp
For the Crispy noodles
Chowmein/ egg noodles – 1 packet, boiled n drained
Rice flour- ½ cup
Water- about ¾ cup
Freshly ground black pepper
Oil for deep frying
For the tomato Concentrate
Tomatoes-3 large, chopped
Garlic- 1 clove, minced
Freshly ground black pepper- ½ tsp
Pink rock salt – a pinch
Red chili powder-1/2 tsp
Sugar- some pinches
Coriander leaves- 1 tbsp
Vegetable oil-1 tsp
For the crispsy chicken
Chicken Breast- chopped into ½ inch cubes. 2 tbsp
Rice flour- 2 tbsp
Water to make batter
1. Let’s start with the chicken stock, if you are using stock cubes then you don’t need. So first in a deep vessel heat the vegetable oil on a medium heat, then add the chicken on bones, toss them, now give them about 2 minutes on each side and they will start to get brown. After that add everything except the salt n the soy sauce and pour the water over them, let the flame be on medium now, give it 2 minutes, then reduce the heat and leave the whole thing for an hour, the soup should barely be simmering, don’t let it come a boil n then leave it for an hour, keep it in the lowest heat. After an hour, add salt and the soy sauce and increase the heat to medium now n give it 15 minutes, then take it off the flame, this is a great chicken stock.
2. For the tomato concentrate put the chopped tomatoes in a pan over low heat, let the tomatoes get warm for1 min, then puree them with some water in a blender. In the same pan heat the oil, add the minced garlic, give it 1 minute, then add the puree, half of the coriander leaves, red chili powder, pinch of sugar, salt, pink rock salt, black pepper, ½ cup water on a low heat give this about 15 minutes, keep stirring in between, when all the water dries up n it is thick it is ready, take it off the pan, add the rest of the coriander leaves.
3. Now it is time for the soup, in a bowl mix the red chili paste/ red chili sauce, tomato sauce/concentrate, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, 2 tbsp of water, mix it well until the sugar dissolves, keep it aside. Mix the corn flour in water. In a deep wok or kadai heat the oil on a high flame, when the oil is really hot add the chopped garlic n ginger, stir continuously, make sure the garlic doesn’t go brown, stir them for about 15 seconds, then add the chopped carrot, chicken pieces, chopped green chilies, stir or shake the pan, give them 30 seconds, then add the chopped onion, capsicum, cabbage, stir n give them30 seconds, add spring onions, coriander leaves, stir fry for about 1 minute. After that add the warm strained chicken stock to the pan and the water, let it come to a boil, add black pepper powder, then add the prepared mixture of sauce to the pan, taste it, adjust the salt. Let it keep boiling for a minute, then add the corn flour mixture 1 tbsp at a time, the soup will begin to thicken, as the soup reaches a certain thickness that you want stop adding more corn flour, for me it was around 2 tbsp. Finish off with a drop of sesame oil, be careful here don’t add a lot, it will overpower everything, one drop is good, sprinkle some black pepper powder. Take the soup off the pan.
4. For the crispy noodles, prepare the noodles by boiling them, then drain them, while they are draining let the oil be hot in a deep pan, then take the rice flour , add salt n water, black pepper, mix until smooth. The batter should be light, not thick, the batter should be little runny so that it gives a light coating on then noodles, then add some noodles in the batter, with a fork make some of the noodles come together as you roll the fork. Now if the oil is moderately hot take some noodles in the fork and drop them carefully in the hot oil, they should begin to sizzle, drop some more. Keep the heat medium, as they start to get brown on one side, turn them over and wait for them to go crispy n brown, once that is achieved take them out with a slotted spoon. Fry all the noodles like this.
5. Make a thicker batter with the rice flour n water, coat the chopped chicken cubes in them, then deep fry in the same oil, give them about 2 minutes on a medium flame, as they just begin to change color they are ready, take them off.
Now it is time to serve the hot soup, pour the soup in deep bowls, add some freshly chopped spring onions n coriander leaves, scatter some crispy noodles on the soup n some crispy chicken cubes. Now dig in because by now you are salivating! Bon appétit.