Crunchy stir-fried noodles with colorful vegetables, all sautéed in a perfect savory umami-like sauce. Quick and easy, this Indian street-food style Vegetable Chow Mein is a favorite in our home. The trick is to make sure that the noodles are neither dry nor mushy and as a result will give the perfect al-dente texture. The amount of sauce that you add should be enough to coat the noodle strands so there is no extra watery sauce at the bottom of the pan. Vegetable Chow Mein makes a great after-school snack or even a full meal. You could add chicken or tofu or egg to make it more filling and protein-packed.
Growing up, we had a very standard Sunday ritual. Our breakfast was mostly this Vegetable Chow Mein that Ma would make followed by meat or chicken for lunch that my Dad would make. The homemade version of the noodle was always more mildly spiced as compared to the street style version. And as a result we friends would hog on occasionally after the school. I could never pick a favorite in between the two versions.
When I moved to US several years back, one of the street foods that I missed the most was this Vegetable Chow Mein. While this dish is often referred to as Chinese Noodle however it’s not even remotely close to the authentic Chinese noodles. This Indian street-food style Veg Chow Mein is more of an Indo-Chinese version, which was passed on to our cuisine. With the settlement of Chinese people in Kolkata in the early part of 20th century, China Town came into existence and as a result the Indo-Chinese food culture began. And every Indian that I know loves it.
What variety of noodles to use for Chow Mein?
The best noodle would be the dried ones. Look for thin stranded, wheat egg noodles.
KEY POINT: Most importantly, do not boil the noodles for more than 3 to 4 minutes. Boil it to al-dente like pasta.
Choose crunchy vegetables that won’t go soggy or release too much water on cooking.
Apart from garlic, ginger and onion, few common vegetable choices are:
- Green Beans
- Green Bell Peppers
- Green Onion
KEY NOTE: If you are adding chicken, tofu or eggs, stir-fry the tofu/chicken separately or scramble the egg separately and toss it in the end with the Chow Mein.
Key flavoring Ingredients for the Vegetable Chow Mein:
It’s a simple uncomplicated sauce that includes:
- Dark Soya Sauce
- Ketchup (adds a mild sweetness)
- Green Chili Sauce (if you prefer spicy)
- White Vinegar
- Black Pepper
- Lots of Garlic and Ginger
Ajinomoto (optional): It’s a famous Chinese flavor enhancer. It looks like flaky salt and gives a perfect umami mouth-feel.
One very important point to remember is to allow the boiled noodle to cool down a bit before you stir fry it. This will make sure that the end result will not turn into a soggy mess.
If you enjoy noodles and like a flavor punch for your palate, you definitely need to try this Indian street-food style Vegetable Chow Mein. I like to spread a little bit of pickled onion on top for punchy tangy taste.
Here are couple ways you could pair this noodle dish:
- 10 oz dried egg noodles
- 1 medium red onion
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 big carrot, julienned
- 12 green beans, thinly sliced
- 2 cups finely sliced cabbage
- 4 green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 and ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon ajinomoto salt, optional
- 1 tablespoon dark soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 teaspoon green chili sauce, optional
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Boil the noodles as per the package instruction and rinse with cold water to cool it down. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and using your hands, gently mix it around. Then, layer the noodles on a tray or a big plate.
- Place a wok at medium heat and pour the oil, followed by garlic and ginger. As the oil heats up, the garlic and ginger will start to sizzle and flavor the oil.
- Add the onion, salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute. Add the carrot, beans and sauté for 4 minutes (the veggies should be softened but not turn mushy).
- Pour soya sauce, ketchup, chili sauce (if using), white vinegar and ajinomoto salt (if using). Stir around. Add the cabbage and cook for 1 minute.
- Finally, add the cooled boiled noodles little bit at a time so that it’s easy to toss around and mix with the sauce. Switch off the heat, add half of the sliced green onion and toss. Check for salt and add more, if needed, as per your taste.
- Garnish the Chow Mein with freshly cracked black pepper and remaining green onions.
The cooked noodles can be stored at room temperature and it will not turn soggy if kept inside the fridge or outside.