This hot and fiery soup is seen only in the Indo-Chinese restaurants of India. When the weather is cold or I’m feeling unwell, I often make this soup. To boost the protein, you can add bits of leftover rotisserie chicken or tofu. Serve this with rice wine vinegar, Chilli-Soy Vinegar Sauce, or Indo-Sichuan Sauce on the side.


  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 2 in [5 cm] piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • 2 green chillies, minced

  • 5¾ oz [160 g] cabbage, finely chopped

    Flavor Equation Flavor Equation Nik Sharma
  • 5¾ oz [160 g] mushrooms, thinly sliced

  • 3½ oz [100 g] green beans, finely sliced

  • 3½ oz [100 g] carrots, finely diced

  • 3½ oz [100 g] green bell pepper, finely diced

  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch

  • 2 large eggs, lightly whisked (optional)

  • Fine sea salt

  • 3 scallions, both white and green parts, finely chopped

  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves

  • 4 oz [115 g] fried noodles, store-bought

  • Rice wine vinegar, for serving

  • Chilli-Soy Vinegar Sauce, for serving

  • Indo-Sichuan Sauce, for serving



Using fat extracts the heat from the capsaicin of the chillies as well as the gingerol in ginger and the allium products from the garlic.

Umami-rich flavor boosters like garlic, ginger, and soy sauce are used to take advantage of the synergism effect. 

Cornstarch is added at the end at 140ºF [60ºC] to thicken the soup. Don’t add the vinegar until just before serving; added sooner, it would destroy the gel-like structure created by the cornstarch. 


Heat a carbon-steel wok or large stock pot over high heat. When the wok is hot, add the oil and stir-fry the garlic, ginger, and chillies for 1 minute.

Add the cabbage, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, and bell pepper and stir-fry until the cabbage just starts to wilt, 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, black pepper, and 2½ cups [600 ml] of water. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to 140°F [60°C]. 

Whisk the cornstarch with ½ cup [120 ml] of water in a small bowl to form a slurry, and slowly stir this into the soup. Return the wok to the stove and let it simmer. Cook until the soup thickens, stirring slowly and gently. If you’re running low on time, don’t cool the soup. Remove the wok from the stove and stir the cornstarch slurry directly into the hot soup. Return the wok to the stove and let it simmer until it thickens. 

Slowly pour in the eggs, if using, while gently stirring the soup; it will form ribbons. Taste and season with salt. Remove from the heat. Stir in the scallions and cilantro.

To serve, divide the hot soup among four bowls and top each with 1 Tbsp of the fried noodles. Offer rice wine vinegar, Chilli-Soy Vinegar, and Indo-Sichuan Sauce on the side.

Chilli-Soy Vinegar Sauce

This sauce is usually prepared without the addition of soy sauce; however, I find mixing the two together with the chillies gives a more robust flavor. A quick and easy sauce to prepare, it’s got acidity, umami, and heat all rolled into one. Sprinkle a few drops of the liquid into your Manchow Soup or over your noodles to kick things up. 

MAKES ½ CUP [120 ML] 

  • ¼ cup [60 ml] rice vinegar

  • ¼ cup [60 ml] soy sauce

  • 1 green chilli, such as serrano or bird’s eye, thinly sliced

  • Fine sea salt

Place the vinegar, soy sauce, and chilli in a small serving bowl. Season with salt and let sit for 1 hour before serving. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Indo-Sichuan Sauce

The name of this sauce is a bit misleading; it does not use Sichuan peppercorns but instead refers to the Hakka. 

While this sauce is served with Chinese food in India, I use it as a dipping sauce for everything; it even goes on top of my fried eggs. The oil extracts the bright red pigment of the red chillies, and you end up with a brilliant shade of rouge. While Kashmiri chillies are mild in their level of heat, you can further reduce the level of fieriness in the dish by simply removing and discarding the seeds from half the chillies, then proceeding with the recipe.

MAKES 1¼ LB [570 G], 3 TO 3½ CUPS 

  • 1½ oz [40 g] dried whole Kashmiri chillies, stalks removed and discarded

  • 1 cup [240 ml] boiling water

  • ½ cup [120 ml] grapeseed oil or other neutral oil

  • 2 Tbsp minced shallot or red onion

  • 3¼ oz [90 g] garlic, peeled and minced

  • 2¼ oz [65 g] fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • ¼ cup [55 g] tomato paste

  • ½ cup [120 ml] cider vinegar

  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • Fine sea salt 

Place the chillies in a medium bowl or cup and cover with the boiling water. Push down the chillies to submerge them and let stand for 30 minutes to soften and rehydrate. 

Remove the chillies and transfer them to a blender with half of the soaking water. Reserve the remaining water. Pulse for a few short seconds until a coarse paste forms.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the chilli paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, ginger, and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and the reserved water. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, until the ginger is completely tender and cooked, almost all the water has cooked off, and the oil separates, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Taste and season with salt. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Reprinted from The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking Explained + More Than 100 Essential Recipes by Nik Sharma with permission from Chronicle Books, 2020. Photographs © Nik Sharma.

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