I would like to start by saying that I am dedicating this post to my late Aunt Eulalia Fernandes who went to be with the Lord on 29th July 2017. She like the rest of us, was a lover of food… Indo-Chinese food to be specific. Every time we went out to eat, there was no doubt that she would’ve ordered a bowl of Mixed Schezuan Noodles, or if I asked “Aunty, what do I order for you?” Her response, “Anything will do but if someone’s ordering noodles (sheepish Smile), I’ll have some from that!”
Buddy Aunty (That is what we called her lovingly) was no stranger to the food preferences of her family. She was a really good cook and every time she tried something new she’d send some over to our place. “Food bartering” is one of the ways we show our love in the family.
Though I have always loved cooking, I started getting more adventurous only after I got married. I soon realised that I had to fill the gap in the salad department at our family dinners and Buddy aunty would eagerly look forward to what I prepared. I would always strive to make something different and she would be excited to see what’s new this time. I can actually imagine her right now sitting with her plate giving me the thumbs up saying, “Sarah, too good man!” and then after two days she calls me up asking for the recipe. We will definitely miss her and her infectious laughter.
I can go on and on but then we will drift far off from our Schezuan Sauce. and we do not want to finish all stories about her today. As we progress in our food journey I may probably get chances to share more “Buddy episodes” with you.
Now, coming to the second star of the post, Schezuan Sauce. A mandatory part of any Indo-Chinese Menu. A delightful sauce sitting sweetly in a small pot at the table of your favourite Indo-Chinese restaurant, playing the perfect bride to her perfect partner (in my opinion), the mighty Chicken Lollipop. A favourite of many many kids (us included) in India. One bite and you will know its power packed with flavour; sweet and spicy both at the same time.
I am honestly not sure where this originated but I am sure we Indians claim ownership of this wonderful concoction. Sometimes we behave like we invented Chinese food before the Chinese even did.
All said and done, guys, you must try making this sauce. I cried and coughed and sniffed and snorted when I made it… because the 25 chillies I ended up using were the SPICYYYYY kinds! But I still love it. After making it a couple times I now, of course, have got the situation under control in the kitchen. I always make sure I have a bottle of this ready in my fridge because it is the best thing to have at hand when you want to whip up a good stir fry.
I like to make this spicy, you can of course adjust the Spice levels by deseeding the chillies or use more Kashmiri chillies (Not very spicy, long, kinda crinkled chillies). Even though I follow the recipe exactly as given below, I sometimes tend to adjust the levels of ketchup and/or sugar depending on how spicy the chillies were. Please do let me know in the comments below how your attempt turned out and whether you love it as much as I do.
- 15 Kashmiri Red Chillies (Colour only) (soaked in water for half an hour)
- 10 Byadagi Chillies (for Spice) (soaked in water for half an hour)
- 15 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 inches Ginger, minced
- 6 shallots, minced
- 2-3 tbsp Ketchup
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- Heat oil in a pan. Add the minced ginger and garlic and sauté on low flame until the raw aroma goes. Do not brown or burn the ginger-garlic. Add the minced onions and cook on low flame.
- Meanwhile, grind the soaked chilies with two tablespoons of water into a paste. Use the same water that was used to soak the chilies.
- Once the onions have caramelized, add the ground chilies, soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sugar, salt and ¼ cup water.
- Bring it to a boil and simmer until the sauce thickens. The oil should have separated, and there should be some oil floating on top.
- Once done, let the sauce cool completely and then transfer into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for about 15-30 days.