Cooking Time

45 minutes


  • 130 g noodles
  • 1 litre water
  • 15 g salt
  • 1 egg
  • 20 g vegetable oil
  • 60 g onions
  • 30 g capsicum (5-mm thick)
  • 30 g carrots (3-mm sticks)
  • 50 g cabbage
  • 2 pcs green chillies
  • 5 g garlic (minced)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 pinch gorom moshla
  • 20 g salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp MSG
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tsp vinegar
  • ½ tsp red chilli sauce
  • 1 tsp green chilly sauce

Chowmein is a ubiquitous street food found in every neighbourhood in Calcutta. It was quite possibly the cautious Bengali's first foray into Chinese food and originated from the Calcutta Chinatown. The flavours are quite Indianised, with street vendors often adding their own spice mixes to their creations. It is almost always garnished generously with chopped onions, cucumbers, ketchup and green chilli sauce (another Indian Chinese condiment that originated in Calcutta's Chinatown).

This should not be confused with the wok-fried Hakka chowmein that one would find in Tiretta Bazaar or Tangra restaurants.

Recipe Notes

  • The main cooking will happen very quickly, on high heat. Make sure your veggies are cut, sauces mixed, and other ingredients readily on hand.
  • Recent studies have shown that MSG (Mono-sodium Glutamate)—often referred to by its brand name Ajinamoto—is not a harmful substance. It is a naturally occurring salt of sodium (just like table salt) derived from seaweeds that quickly and cheaply lends your dish an umami flavour. Glutamate salts are present in everyday food including tomatoes, mushrooms, meat, milk, cheese, and even human breast milk. Some people may be allergic to MSG—just like people are allergic to eggs, gluten, etc. If you are one of those people, certainly stay away from food that contains MSG, including all packaged chips, soups, instant ramens, etc. But for the vast majority of us, MSG is safe to eat. You can read more about it here, here, and here. You can also watch David Chang's "Ugly Delicious" on Netflix, Season 1, Episode 7 on fried rice.


  1. Slice onions. Cut capsicum into 5-mm wide strips, and carrots into 3-mm sticks. Shred the cabbage but don’t make it too fine. Chop green chillies. Mince garlic.
  2. Before you start cooking, mix soy sauce, vinegar, red chilli sauce, and green chilli sauce in a small bowl.
  3. Put water on the boil and add 15 g salt to it. Let it come to a rolling boil. Boil the noodles until they are chewy and springy. Be careful not to overcook, or they might turn too soft and mushy. You can follow the packet instructions, if any.
  4. Once the noodles are cooked, but still springy and firm, drain immediately over a strainer. Shake off the excess water. Be quick to toss them with oil to prevent the starch from gelatinising. To let the steam evaporate, transfer them back to the strainer. This step is essential to stop the noodles from sticking together or clumping. Do not add oil to the water while boiling the noodles. It does not help the noodles in any way.
  5. Beat an egg with a pinch of salt. Heat 5 g vegetable oil and scramble the egg on medium heat. Do not overcook the egg. Break the scramble into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  6. Heat the wok on high flame. Pour 15 g vegetable oil into the wok. Fry half of the sliced onions on high heat for 1 minute. Then, add carrots and fry for 1 minute on high heat. Next, add the minced garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Finally, add capsicum, cabbage, and green chillies and fry those for 1 minute.
  7. Add the noodles and the seasonings: pepper, salt, sugar, gorom moshla, and MSG. Mix well. Finish by adding the remaining slices of raw onion and the scrambled egg.


  • Boiling pot/saucepan
  • Strainer
  • Wok
  • Stirring spoon

Victorinox 7 inch santoku chef's knife

Victorinox 7 inch santoku chef's knife

Flat steel spatula (Khunti)


Flat steel spatula (Khunti)

31.5 cm

Mesh strainer

Mesh strainer


  • Stove, with a large burner