Anita Recommends, Eating Out, Featured, Food Festival, Restaurant Review, Wining & Dining
Leave a comment

Taste of Tangra: From the kitchen of Chef Edwin

Ever wondered about the origin of “Indian Chinese” cuisine?

Apparently, it all started in Kolkata – the place where the Hakka community from China settled down many decades ago. Interestingly, according to this link, “One of the earliest records of immigration from China can be found in a short treatise from 1820. This records hints that the first wave of immigration was of Hakkas but does not elaborate on the professions of these immigrants.” Over a period of time, they grew to a large flourishing community initially involved in the tannery business. Over a period of time, many families closed down their business while others were moved to an area outside of the city. The New Chinatown area, where the community resides came to be known as “Tangra“.

Over time, the cuisine of this community began to undergo modifications to suit the Indian palate. Coriander, chillis, cumin began to make it’s way into the dishes. What resulted was “Kolkata Chinese” or what is known today as Indian Chinese. This cuisine gained popularity rather quickly and you’ll probably find “Chinese food”, even in a remote part of the country.

My first encounter with Kolkata Chinese food began way back during my childhood days in Shillong. We had a Chinese restaurant at the bottom of the hill from our place (I think it was called Abba) and dad made sure he packed us a parcel of oily hakka noodles for us whenever he passed by the place, while coming home. My sister and I would eagerly look forward to his treat!

Chef Jolly of the JW Marriott introducing Chef Edwin and the Kolkata Chinese inspired "Tangra" cuisine

Chef Jolly of the JW Marriott introducing Chef Edwin and the Kolkata Chinese inspired “Tangra” cuisine

We are given a taste of this cuisine at a special cookout session at the JW Marriott, Bangalore through 3 dishes, demonstrated by Chef Edwin, who runs and owns the very popular “Golden Joy” restaurant in Tangra. Chef Jolly (follow him here) of the JW Marriott recounts the story when upon visiting Kolkata and this area, he settled on this particular restaurant due to the quality of the food and it’s popularity.
Special kitchen set up to whip up some Tangra delicacies

Special kitchen set up to whip up some Tangra delicacies

Chef Jolly didn’t waste any time and organised for Chef Edwin to come down to Bangalore, so we can get a taste of this unique cuisine.

Chef Edwin demonstrates threaded paneer – his creation and innovation – a good alternative for vegetarians. The other two dishes are the Hakka style chilli chicken and golden fried prawns. By adding a bit of seasoning, garnish, soy sauce and Chinese wine, he cooks up these delicious dishes. Served with Indian style sauces – flavoured with mint and coriander – they have their own unique taste.

For the special occasion, we also got to taste a big spread of delicacies like like momos (pork, chicken, vegetarian), egg hakka noodles and fried rice and fish in oyster sauce.

The delicious golden fried prawns

The delicious golden fried prawns – – we did try to get the recipe for the batter – but I doubt we can replicate it even if we tried!

After a good meal, which is topped off by Tangra inspired cocktails (we tried the Beijing Bellini), we had an interesting chat with Chef Edwin who tells us a bit more about the Hakka community and his style of cooking.
Tangra inspired cocktails to add to the spice!

Tangra inspired cocktails to add to the spice!

Interestingly, he was a resident of Bangalore around 1978, but can no longer recognise the city. (Well, neither can we!). After a few years, he left and rejoined his family in Kolkata, taking over the running of the restaurant. He attributes his love of food to his mother, who is a very good cook. A lot of things he learnt by hanging on to her apron strings. But along the way, he’s also had to improvise and be creative to keep his customers happy. He says he gets people from all over the country (and even the world). “For example, I get Sikhs who won’t eat meat on Tuesday, but still want to eat out and want exceptional food,” says Chef Edwin of the kind of demanding customers he gets. He seems to manage all his customers really well; the restaurant on busy nights does around 600 covers, Chef Jolly tells us. If you look at the reviews of the restaurant online, it’s not hard to believe either.
With Chef Edwin, who lived in Bangalore around 1978. He doesn't recognise the city anymore, he says. We're not surprised!

With Chef Edwin, who lived in Bangalore around 1978. It’s changed a lot since then, he observes

The Hakka community has managed in the meanwhile to keep their language and culture alive (Hakka) over the years. They don’t however know how to read their own language, since they are all 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese brought up in India. Even at home, Chef Edwin says he insists his son speaks in Chinese. It’s the only way to ensure that some aspects of their culture is preserved. From a large community of more than 20,000, then numbers have dwindled down to a few thousand with many immigrating and moving out.

About the food, says Chef Edwin, the idea is not to drown the dishes in soy or over cook/fry the ingredients, but to bring out the flavors in subtle ways. And his food is testimony to this principle.

So in case you’re tempted to check out a few Tangra delicacies from the expert hands of Chef Edwin (and don’t want to fly to Kolkota), hop across to the JW Marriott Bangalore which is hosting the Tangda seafood festival till November 9.

So this special is a part of the JW Kitchen buffet, along with other cuisines and mouthwatering choir of desserts for Rs 1599 + taxes.

Hakka, anyone?

(Note & Disclosure: Please excuse the not so good pictures as I dropped in after another hectic event of my own and had no time to grab my DSLR! This was on an invitation from the JW Marriott, Bangalore).

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.