Saturday, September 10, 2016

Indo Chinese Chili Chicken

When an eight year old eats a dish, wipes it clean and declares - "This is the best thing I have ever had!", you gotta write that recipe down and share it with the world. Even if said eight year old is a particularly non-fussy eater. Even if you've only recently shared another recipe called Chili Chicken

Ever since I have come back from my holiday in Bombay, I have been going through an Indo Chinese food phase. It might be because my parents live perilously close to a Chinese restaurant in Bombay and I could smell their delicious food. All. The. Time. 

It has taken several iterations but I have got this Chili Chicken recipe down exactly the way I like it. One of the most important factors has been acquiring the right equipment. A wok is almost non-negotiable when it comes to cooking stir fries of any kind. I feel almost like a broken record when I say - High heat, quick cooking time. The shape of a wok is best for stir fries as well and you can get away with using much less oil while cooking a typical Indo Chinese dish. After several months of deliberation, I have recently invested in a large electric wok. It wasn't an impulse buy, I assure you. I have only used it thrice so far, but it works like magic. One of my friends tells me that his electric wok started to warp because he was using it on the highest heat setting all the time. But since I got this thing for its high heat setting potential, I am going to keep going. I will report back on any wok warping in a few months and let you know how it goes! For now, I present to you this eight-year-old approved dish. 

Chili Chicken can be had "dry" or "with gravy"(sauce) in restaurants and food carts around India. This recipe can be adapted for both, but as you can see, I prefer a thick "dry" sauce sticking to the chicken. The amount of chillies, garlic and ginger is up to your personal preference (see notes for ingredients marked *). Chilli chicken is a particularly pungent dish, so if that's not your scene then maybe this recipe is not for you! 

Yield - Serves 4

Prep Time - 45 Minutes

Cook Time - 15 Minutes


1.5 LB (700 g) Chicken Breasts, Skinless Boneless
1 Capsicum 
1 Medium Size Onion
2 Scallions
Cilantro, Few Sprigs (Optional)
12 Cloves Garlic*
1 inch knob Ginger*
3 Tablespoons Cornflour
1 Egg (White only)
1/2 Tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Chilli Peppers*
Salt, to taste
2 Tablespoons Vinegar (divided)
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
2 Tablespoons Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Sambal Oelek*
1 Tablespoon Chilli Garlic Sauce*
5 Tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 Cup Water


For ingredients marked with an asterisk, please adjust quantity to your preference. You can swap the sambal oelek and chili garlic sauce for any other kind of chili sauce you prefer (but not sweet chili - that does not work with this recipe). For the fresh chili pepper, the kind of chillies will determine the amount. I usually use jalapeños if I have them but almost anything works. Remove the seeds to reduce the heat.


Spend some time and effort to prep your ingredients first. Cut the chicken first. Cutting the chicken right for any stir fry is key to not having dried out rubbery heart break. I cut them fairly thin and hold the knife at an angle (not straight down) to cut them into one inch thin chunks. Like so -

In a large bowl, combine an egg white, 2 tablespoons (heaped) corn flour, ginger garlic paste, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon vinegar. 

Whisk till there are no lumps. The mixture should be runny but thick. If it is watery, add a little more corn flour.

Add the chicken and mix with the marinade and refrigerate for half and hour while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

Cut the onion and capsicum into rough triangles. They don't have to be perfect.

Chop the ginger and garlic finely. And whatever you do, do not use pre made ginger garlic paste in this step!

Slice the chili peppers, discard the seeds.

Chop the scallions.

Make the sauce mix. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar, chili garlic sauce, sambal oelek, oyster sauce and dark soy sauce.

Heat the wok or pan as hot as you get it (pictured: my electric wok which I hope wont warp!)

Add the oil and cook the chicken in 3 to 4 batches to avoid over crowding. On high heat, this needs only a minute or so to cook. I'd almost recommend safety glasses for this step as it splatters a lot. Do not over cook the chicken. Drain it and let it rest. It continues to cook as it rests and it will cook further in the sauce in a little bit.

Once all the chicken is cooked, assess the remaining oil in the wok. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss in the finely chopped ginger and garlic. Let it fry for about 30 seconds.

 Add in the sliced chillies. Fry together for another 30 seconds. Do let it burn.

Add the onions. Toss.

Add the capsicum almost immediately. Toss and cook for a minute. Veggies should still be crisp. 

Add the sauce mix.

Stir it all together.

Add in the cooked chicken.

Stir and add in 1 cup of water mixed well with 1 tablespoon cornflour. This will thicken almost immediately. Add more water at this stage in half cup increments if you like this dish "wet". 

Toss and add the chopped scallions and chopped cilantro (if using)

Serve with rice.


1 comment:

  1. This looks amazing! I'm going to shop at the local Chinese grocery store to make this one. Looking forward!


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