A funny look at Indo-Chinese diplomacy through Mumbai's street food

While Chinese Premier Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi forge Sino-Indian ties, India and China had collaborated on food a long time ago. Jinping should have tried some of this desi-Chinese food, so hot on Mumbai’s streets

Cartoons: Amit Bandre

Chinese dosa
The South and China come together perfectly, in this concoction available on many restaurant menus and on roadside dosa stalls, too. The dosa is slathered with a Chinese mix and has diced cabbage, carrots, fried noodles, giving it an Oriental flavour. The Chinese dosa is an Oriental version of the Masala dosa.

In this handout photograph received from the Gujarat Information Bureau, China’s President Xi Jinping (l) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) chat during a meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Ahmedabad. Pic/AFP
In this handout photograph received from the Gujarat Information Bureau, China’s President Xi Jinping (l) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) chat during a meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Ahmedabad. Pic/AFP

It takes Indo-Sino relations to its highest point. It is diplomacy that has been put into practice long before Xi and Modi came together. A dosa with the crunch of the Orient and the punch of India. What can Xi Jinping do? Munch.


Schezuan dhokla
The Gujarati love of food and the Chinese penchant for the fiery, synchronise like nothing else can. The dhokla, from Narendra Modi’s very own homeland has also trapped Schezuan flavours in its fluffy goodness. A red tinge, sauces captured between layers and you have a mix that is quite the pick with your cocktails. Occasionally, restaurants offer the Schezuan idli too, cousin to the Chinese dosa. Chinese aggression and Indian guile. Sigh. The stuff gastronomic and diplomatic dreams are made of. Hai na? Xi and Modi?


Chinese thaali
Deserves a taali. Admittedly, this is not a regular feature on every menu. A couple of restaurants had tried it with varying degrees of success, earlier. Little katoris with Chinese dishes, the main course as fried rice and American (again, a collaboration) chopsuey as gravy. There was also the ever popular Chinese Manchurian with gravy, to be had with the rice. All this, in a thaali with spoons, not chopsticks. Xi Jinping, order the Chinese thaali, like the Great Wall of China, it is a wonder of Mumbai enterprise. Aiga! Xi wants a thaali.


Chinese bhel
Just like that little Chinese man, Bruce Lee, flattened all comers in the seminal martial arts movie, Enter the Dragon, this bhel slays sev and kurmura, desi bhel staples and replaces it with fried noodles. Diced onions, coriander, fiery red sauce, (remember the dragonnnn) and some masala. This bhel is a chaat topper on our roads. We think Xi Jinping needa plate of Chinese bhel, as a perfect sign off to his visit. Talk about being bhel and hearty.


Chinese samosa
Chinese aggression is neatly trapped and contained by India in this Sino-desi mix. The Chinese samosa is a twist on its Indian version. A small, square shape deviating from the traditional triangle of the samosa, this fried hybrid offering works as a cocktail snack and is particularly inviting when the palate craves something hot and crunchy, like pakodas or bhajias. This samosa, is Chinese on the inside, but has some Indian masala too and is deep-fried. Goes well with date/imli or green chutney. One can have it with ketchup, too. Agression contained by India. A package which best exemplifies the future of Indo-China relations?

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