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Indian Chinese cuisine or Sino-Indian cuisine or Pakistani Chinese cuisine and also Chindian cuisine, is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to Indian tastes through a larger offering to also include vegetarian dishes. The Indian-style Chinese cuisine is said to have been developed by the small Chinese community that has lived in Kolkata for over a century. Today, Chinese food is an integral part of the Indian and Bangladeshi culinary scenes. It is also enjoyed by overseas Indian communities in North America and Great Britain.
The cuisine has originated from the Chinese of Kolkata and Chinese food is still popular there. At present, the Chinese population in Kolkata is approximately 2,000. Most of these people are of Hakka origin; however, many dishes of modern Indian Chinese cuisine bear little resemblance to traditional Chinese cuisine.
People of Chinese origin mostly live in India's only Chinatown located around Tiretta Bazaar and Bowbazar area, which has since been relocated to Tangra, Kolkata. Most of these immigrants were Hakka. Chinatown in Kolkata still boasts a number of Chinese restaurants specialising in Hakka cuisine and Indian Chinese variants.
Foods tend to be flavoured with spices such as cumin, coriander seeds, and turmeric, which with a few regional exceptions, such as Xinjiang, are traditionally not associated with much of Chinese cuisine. Hot chilli, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, dry red chilis, black pepper corns and yogurt are also frequently used in dishes. This makes Indian Chinese food similar in taste to many ethnic dishes in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, which have strong Chinese and Indian cultural influences.
Non-staple dishes are by default served with generous helpings of gravy, although they can also be ordered "dry" or "without gravy". Culinary styles often seen in Indian Chinese fare include "Chili" (implying batter-fried items cooked with pieces of chili pepper), "Manchurian" (implying a sweet and salty brown sauce), and "Schezwan" (sic - see below) (implying a spicy red sauce). These correspond only loosely, if at all, with cooking methods used in China.
Ubiquitous main course entrees include:
Often the nomenclature is such that the main ingredient is mentioned first, followed by the entree style such as "Chicken Chilli."
Staple base options for an Indian Chinese meal include chicken, shrimp or vegetable variants of "Hakka" or "Schezwan" noodles popularly referred to as chow mein; and regular or "Schezwan" fried rice. American chop suey and sweet and sour dishes can be found at many restaurants. Some South Indian restaurants have also come up with spring rolls and "Schezwan" dosas.
Indian Chinese food is readily available in major metropolitan areas of India such as Bhopal, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kochi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata and Bangalore. It is also available in a number of towns and at dhabas (roadside stalls), also popularly referred to as "Fast food", adjacent to major Indian roads and highways. Many restaurants have a Chinese section in their menus, and some are even dedicated to serving Indian Chinese food. It can also be found in mobile kitchen carts (lari or rekdi) that ply the streets of cities, prepared in woks over a portable gas burner. Manchurian sauce, Schezwan sauce, soy sauce and Hakka noodles are available in many stores in cities across the country.
Many overseas Indian restaurants in the West and the Middle East also cater to the overseas Indians' nostalgic taste for Indian Chinese food. The cuisine is also branching out into the mainstream in major cities of North America, such as New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Phoenix and Vancouver. Chinese food in Nairobi, Kenya, also tends to be of this style. It is also available in Australia, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. In many of these places, the restaurants are labelled as Hakka Chinese, when in fact the cuisine itself has very little resemblance to authentic Hakka cuisine. "Hakka" label in these restaurants are usually referring to the owner's origins, and many Chinese restaurant owners in India were of Hakka origin.
Hakka cuisine has since, rapidly been popularized in the west, especially in Ontario, Canada in restaurants like Super Hakka, or Indian-Chinese Hamilton Hakka .
As of 2007, Chinese cuisine ranks India's most favourite cuisine (after local food), growing at 9% annually. It is the most favoured option when young people go out to eat and the second favorite (after south Indian cuisine) when families dine out. Inchin's Bamboo Garden is the biggest Indian Chinese chain in America.
Indian Chinese cuisine is also gaining popularity in the Kansai region of Japan.