Today being the auspicious Chinese New Year, I thought I will post a recipe for a Chicken dish that is a fusion of Indian and Chinese flavors! I also have an amusing story below to go with it (that is if you care to read 🙂 )…meanwhile I would like to wish everyone a very happy Lunar New Year!
‘Chili Chicken’, ‘Chicken Manchow’, ‘Chicken Manchurian’ are all ‘Chinese’ dishes that the folks in China may never have even heard of ! 🙂 It’s really a mystery how these dishes came about. All I remember is while growing up in Mumbai in the 1990s there was suddenly this huge craze for ‘Chinese’ food in India with restaurants and even roadside joints offering ‘spicy Chinese food’ with the likes of the above mentioned names in both chicken and vegetarian dishes. Whoever had started this and created these recipes must have been a truly great chef, combining Chinese flavors and cooking techniques with Indian ones and the result – truly tasty and finger-licking!! I truly believed that those dishes were the authentic Chinese stuff until I moved to the US and was talking to my Chinese classmate in grad school. She was a good cook herself and I begged her to give me the recipes for ‘Chicken Manchurian’ and Chilli Chicken’ (which I was craving for and which I could not find on any of the US Chinese restaurants’ take out menu!) and she just stared at me with a blank look on her face. Other than telling me that Manchuria was the name of a region in NorthEast China she was totally unaware of any foods with that name!!! LOL !
So anyways, that experience did not falter my love for those dishes nor did it deter me from creating my own version of ‘Chilli Chicken’ which is slightly different from the ones available in India (and still extremely popular there!) but has basically the same main ingredients – chillies for the heat and soy sauce for the tang. In my version, I also add tomato sauce to give an additional tang and body to the sauce and I pan fry the chicken pieces instead of deep frying them. I also use a mix of green chillies and red chilli powder(you could use only one). You can also obviously reduce the amount of green chillies and cayenne powder to cater your tastes (and your individual tolerance for heat!) You can serve this dish either as an appetizer (in which case you would not add as much sauce) or have it as main course with white rice.! Hope you like it as much as I do!
- 2 lb boneless chicken, cut into small bites size pieces
- 1 egg (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli pow (use less if you want it mild)
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tsp coconut aminos or soya sauce (Use coconut aminos for paleo)
- 2 tbsp tapioca flour / tapioca starch
- About ½ cup light olive oil for pan frying
- For the sauce:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 scallions chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 5 green chillies slit length-wise (use less if you want it less hot)
- ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
- 1 large green or red pepper, diced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- ½ cup tomato puree unsalted (optional)
- 2 tsp soya sauce or coconut aminos (use coconut aminos for paleo)
- 2 tsp tapioca starch mixed in 2 tbsp water
- About ½ cup to 1 cup water
- In a large mixing bowl, add the egg(if adding) and beat it well. Then add the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix well. Add the chicken pieces to this.
- Heat a large frying pan with some oil to shallow fry the marinated chicken pieces in batches. Pan fry them on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes total turning them midway to cook both sides. Keep the fried chicken pieces aside.
- Now to make the sauce , heat a deep skillet or a medium size pot with a broad base and add the oil. When hot add the scallions, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies.Saute for about 1 minute and then add the green/red peppers and the broccoli florets. Cook for another couple minutes and then add the red chilli powder, the soy sauce(or coconut aminos) and the tomato sauce(if adding). Check for seasoning and add salt accordingly. Stir for about a minute and then turn heat off. Set the sauce aside.
- For serving as appetizer, just before serving, add the fried chicken pieces to the sauce above and stir fry for couple minutes and serve immediately garnishing with scallions on top.
- For serving as a main course dish, add the water to the sauce mixture and heat. Then add the tapioca starch slurry slowly till the sauce thickens. Finally, add the chicken pieces. Cook for about 2-3 mins. Turn heat off and again serve hot.