India, over the centuries, has been playing host to all sorts of overseas visitors. Some were friendly, some not so much. Some came and stayed and made India their home. Others came, plundered what they could and went back to where they came from.
India, in its infinite wisdom though, has preserved a bit of each culture that passed through its borders. And very often assimilated it to such an extent that the end result is a mishmash, a mix of customs, traditions and flavors, sometimes quite unrecognizable from the original.
Such is also the case with Chinese food in India. While there are a few restaurants famous for ‘authentic’ Chinese food, most of the oriental fare has been transmogrified (Calvin & Hobbes fan!) into something the Chinese wouldn’t recognise 😀
One very popular sauce or condiment in this mash-up cuisine is this Schezwan sauce. The name is a corrupted form of ‘Sichuan’ or ‘Szechwan’, the province in China famous for its pepper, spicy food and chili hotpots. Piquant, garlicky and lip-smackingly delicious, as a dip or a condiment, as well as in stir-fries.
Unfortunately, most often, it is also full of ajinomoto or MSG. So easy, healthy, homemade Schezwan Sauce is such a great idea. You can control exactly what goes into it and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. Honestly, nothing beats the taste of homemade sauces and this one in particular, is highly addictive 😉
Here’s the recipe.
Schezwan Sauce (Spicy Indo-Chinese Condiment)
8-10 Dry Red Chilies
2 tablespoons Peanut Oil
5 large cloves Garlic, finely chopped
2 inch piece Ginger, finely chopped
4-5 Spring Onions/ Scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns, crushed to a coarse powder
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Rice Vinegar (or White Vinegar)
Salt to taste
Soak the dry red chilies in warm water for at least 30 minutes.
Grind them to a paste, in a food processor adding just a little bit of water.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan.
Add the ginger & garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1~2 minutes.
Next add the sliced scallions and cook till tender, about 2~3 minutes.
Next add the ground chili paste, crushed peppercorns and cook for 1~2 minutes or until the oil starts floating around the edges.
Add ½ cup of water and simmer for 1~2 minutes.
Stir in soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar. Check for seasoning and add salt, as per taste.
Simmer for another 4~5 minutes or until the mixture thickens a little bit.
Let cool and use as needed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.