This vegan Indo Chinese “Egg” Fried Rice puts happy smiles on my family’s faces, whether they are brown-bagging it for lunch or eating it on a busy night when I cook on the fly. The “egg” is made with chickpea flour, or besan, and the recipe is soy-free because the soy sauce is served on the side and optional. If you already have some cooked rice on hand, this recipe should take no more than 20 minutes from start to finish.
Indo Chinese food is a stalwart of Indian street food, with a flavor profile that’s quite unique to India. For one, it includes spices that are not typically used in Chinese cuisine, like coriander, turmeric, and dry red peppers. I have even eaten Chinese food in India cooked in a tadka or tempering of mustard seeds, the way most Indians would start any cooking.
Tofu, a popular ingredient in vegetarian Chinese dishes here in the United States, is completely absent — or was when I lived in India which, admittedly, was 20 long years ago. The dishes had unusual names, like Gobi Manchurian, Chili Paneer, and Hakka noodles.
Back in the day when the only way you could get exotic food in India was by ponying up loads of cash to eat at a restaurant in a five star hotel, Chinese restaurants and street carts provided India’s food-loving masses with a flavor of the exotic without the big price tag. You could choose from as many vegetarian as non-veg options, and for many middle class Indians, eating out became so synonymous with Indo Chinese food that when they migrated to other countries, like the United States, restaurant chains selling Indo Chinese food cropped up in their wake to meet the demand.
I understand that craving: I feel it so badly that when I travel to India, I make it a point to get some Indo Chinese food because, unfortunately, there are no Indo Chinese restaurants here in the D.C. area. On our last trip, we wolfed down heaping plates of Vegetable Garlic Fried Rice at Cafe Leopold in Bombay, along with glasses of cold beer. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
Indo Chinese food is easy enough to emulate at home, without the monosodium glutamate you will find in many restaurant versions, and definitely healthier. I have shared many Indo Chinese recipes with you on this blog, but this one is a special favorite: a simple but incredibly addictive vegan Indo Chinese “Egg” Fried Rice.
You could add more vegetables and make this just a vegetable fried rice, but I like the chickpea “egg” because it makes this a complete dish, full of balanced proteins. The chickpea also adds more fiber, and it takes just a few more minutes of your time, so why not?
This vegan Indo Chinese “Egg” Fried Rice is a two-step recipe, but it all happens very quickly, and you can do it in one pot, so long as you use a non-stick wok or cast-iron pan. You will need to cook the “omelet” first, before you stir-fry the rice. The whole thing takes no more than 20 minutes from start to finish if you have cooked rice on hand, but if you don’t, you can factor in another 15 minutes to cook the rice. Leftover white rice from Chinese takeout would work very well for this.
I don’t add any soy sauce to this recipe, because in Indo Chinese restaurants it is served on the side, along with chilli vinegar (chopped green chilies steeped in vinegar). Add as much of both, or either, as you like. I love mine with just a splosh of the chilli vinegar.
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The "egg" in this vegan Indo Chinese Egg Fried Rice is made with chickpea flour, or besan, and the recipe is soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and takes no more than 20 minutes.
- 1 cup medium or long grain rice, cooked. Brown rice is fine. Day old rice is great for this, but if you use freshly made rice, spread it out on a baking sheet to dry, or the rice will turn sticky when you stir-fry.
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green chili peppers, like serrano or jalapeno, finely minced. Deseed if you want less spice.
- 6 spring onions, green and white parts chopped into rings
- 1 tsp vinegar
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour with the water, turmeric, cayenne and salt until there are no lumps.
Heat a non-stick or cast-iron wok or wide skillet. Coat the bottom with oil or cooking spray.
When the pan is hot, pour in the chickpea mixture. Cook until brown spots appear, then flip with a wide spatula and cook the other side for 2-3 minutes more until set.
Remove to a plate and set aside while you make the rice. When cool enough to handle, roll the omelet and cut into very thin strips.
Heat the oil in the same wok or skillet you made the omelet in. Add the garlic and green chilies and saute for a few seconds until the garlic gets fragrant.
Add the spring onions and saute for a minute, then add the rice.
Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes over high heat. Add salt, stir, and cover with a lid and let the rice cook for 2 minutes, no more.
Remove the lid and add the shredded vegan "egg." Mix well.
Serve hot with soy sauce and chilli vinegar on the side.
More Indo Chinese recipes from the archives: