Fried Chau Chau (Nepali Chow Mein) — vegetarian, and chicken

This page includes TWO receipes (the first Vegetarian, the second Chicken)

Main ingredient: noodles. Rice noodles are white in colour (there are variants to this where additional very small quantities of other ingredients can cause them to be brown in colour, etc.), very mild in flavour, and are made from rice flour.  They originated in the Far East / China (existing there for some 3000 years, and famously discovered by Marco Polo, who introduced them to Europe, where they formed the genesis for pasta.  They are low in nutrients (the only vitamins are B ones, such as B6 and folate, niacin), but high in carbohydrates and in calories, and in regard to their important carbohydrate content have similarities as a meal-base, with rice itself, and comparable to the potato in terms of roughage content: as such modest quantities are advised. 

Its fibre is not easily assimilated by the stomach, hence giving a filling effect.  Egg noodles are considerably higher in calories.  Rice noodles are very low in sodium, making them quite a healthy option; Soy Sauce is often used to adjust this in East Asian dishes, and in Nepali / South Asian dishes such as Chau Chau.  Great care has to be taken with the amount of cooking oil used with fried noodles; these should never be presented swimming in oil, but only present to taste in very modest amount.  Deepak Tamrakar’s version of Nepali fried Chau Chau follows this rule rigorously, for example.

Taste description & background:

Chau Chau is a mildly salty very flavoursome filling dish, in which texture (firm noodles that are suffused by the moderately spicy seasonings) is an important feature of the culinary experience. A common fault and danger with making this dish is to use too much cooking oil when preparing, and serving with excess oil, which gives a greasy taste and smothers the seasoning; I always make sure that minimal oil is used in cooking and on the finished dish, so you can savour Nepali Chau Chau’s wonderful taste whether in its vegetarian or meat forms. 

I first saw this really popular, easy to make dish being made during my childhood at my family home, at friends houses, and it being a frequent feature on street stalls and bistro menus in my home town.

Quantity: Serves 2 people two times, or four people for one occasion.

Time taken on creating dish: to prepare and cook takes about 20 – 25 minutes.


  • Frying pan 
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula or wooden spoon for stirring
  • Bowl for mixing
  • Knives for chopping and preparing ingredients


  • Noodles (thin white, Japanese Udon and Chinese equivalents are particularly suitable, rather than Italian pasta/Spaghetti vermicelli)
  • 1.5 to 2 chopped brown onions
  • 200 grammes of Sweetheart cabbage
  • Spring onions (3-4)
  • Soy sauce – to taste
  • One to one and a half large sweet chilies 
  • Masala – to taste
  • 4 tablespoons of Oil (Vegetable or Extra Virgin)
  • Salt — to taste
  • 1 finely chopped fresh chili — to taste
  • Chili powder — to taste
  • 100 grammes of chopped carrots (optional)
  • 100 – 150 grammes of Broccoli spears/sections (optional)
  • 150 grammes of French green beans (optional)
  • Fried / chopped eggs [for Non-Vegan option]
  • Green sweet chili pepper slices or half slices to decorate on top of dish (optional)

Nepali Chicken Chau Chau (Chow Mein)

Ingredients: As above, but includes 100 grammes of skinned and cut into small chunks or strips, chicken breast to the above in the final cooking stage, with the chicken cubes, seasoned with salt & black pepper, cooked in a frying pan beforehand.  Incorporate into the noodles in the frying pan and stir gently, during the final 3 – 5 minutes of cooking the noodles.


Boil water (about a litre) and then add noodles, and once cooked (leave in for shorter time if you prefer your noodles firmer), strain and run through cold water if you wish, and leave in a bowl. If you wish to include eggs, make these separately as an omelette, and then shred, ready to incorporate towards the end of the dish preparation. Then add oil to frying pan covering sides as well as base. Then add in salt and pepper, then spices & seasonings and main ingredients progressively, with noodles being added (later if preference is for firmer noodles); cook and stir for about 5 – 6 minutes.  Your Nepali chow mein is ready to serve.  You can be garnished with slices or finely sliced segments of sweet green chili.


  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato Sauce (Western/British)  
  • Nepali spicy achar (often green in colour)

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