Pasta and Noodles

Differently named, pasta and noodles are consumed all over the world. They are basically made from unleavened dough of wheat, or buckwheat flour and water, and are available in different lengths and shapes.

Many varieties contain eggs. Likewise, many of them are cooked with flesh.


Pasta need to be boiled with lots of water and kept al dente (just under-done or firm when bitten).

Made from durum wheat flour or semolina in Italy, spaghetti (thin long strings) and maccheroni/macaroni (short tubes) followed by fusilli (swirls) and lasagne (sheets) are the most common of the hundreds of varieties consumed. Freshly made traditional Italian pasta such as fettuccine, tagliatelle and lasagne contain eggs.

Gnocchi (dumplings of semolina, wheat, potato or bread) and spätzle (noodles containing eggs) are also considered as pasta. And, hilopittes is the name for dried egg pasta of Greece.

Pasta is dried or fresh. Usually the dried varieties contain no eggs, but the fresh ones do, and may not even be labelled as egg pasta. Moreover, the same machinery that manufactures pasta containing eggs could be used for making pasta without eggs.

A BWC member pointed out that Barilla pasta (macaroni, spaghetti, etc.) boxes which carry the vegetarian symbol printed by the importer, also had “IT MAY CONTAIN EGG TRACES” written on them. Strong complaints were filed by BWC with the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India), and the Food and Drug Administration (Maharashtra State). This was not the first time, and it will probably not be the last, that non-veg packaged foods have been passed off as veg – and no action taken. We therefore advise that labels be read carefully, especially on imported foodstuffs.


Chinese egg noodles are made from a mix of eggs and wheat and are light yellow.

Spätzle is a Swabian (German) type of noodle also made of wheat and eggs. Spätzle, is the same as spätzli, chnöpfli, knöpfle and nokedli and they all contain eggs.


Ramen noodles are traditionally hand-made Japanese noodles containing wheat, water and eggs, although instant versions are available.

Instant noodles are curly and long, dried into bricks, made from wheat flour, salt, water, kansui (a type of
alkaline mineral water containing sodium carbonate and usually potassium carbonate as well as sometimes a small amount of phosphoric acid); MSG is an ingredient in the flavour packets that accompany these instant noodles.

Hakka noodles are steamed and air dried whereas instant noodles are cooked and flash fried during the manufacturing process. It is not true that they are coated with wax although they are unhealthy for other reasons.


Japanese noodles are of three main varieties:
• Soba made of buckwheat that have a distinctive brown colour and come in different thicknesses.
• Somen made of wheat flour and oil, are very thin and delicate, sold dry and bundled together
with a band.
• Udon noodles are also made of wheat but tend to be thick and chewy in texture.

Konnyaku made from a type of yam is another variety but is rarely found outside Japan. However Shirataki which is an off-shoot of Konnyaku is available.

Cellophane noodles/bean threads/glass noodles, are made from sprouted mung-bean starch, are very thin and string-like that become almost transparent when cooked. Cellophane noodles can also be made from potato or canna lily starch.

Egg is an ingredient of the dough from which wonton noodles are prepared for wonton noodle soup. And lo mein is a Cantonese dish containing these noodles which are usually tossed in a non-veg sauce. Both lo mein and chow mein are made with Chinese egg noodles.

Rice noodles/sticks/vermicelli white and rice textured, sold dry but pre-cooked, come in different thicknesses, and are usually used in Thai and Vietnamese dishes.

Idiyappam is the rice noodle of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of coastal Karnataka. Made from rice flour, ghee or gingelly/til oil, salt and water, in Sri Lanka rice flour is usually substituted by wheat flour and ghee is not used.

Corn noodles and acorn oak nut noodles are made by Koreans.

Page last updated on 11/04/24