Asian chilli chicken with sticky sauce(paleo, aip)

Indian Chili Chicken (Paleo, AIP option)

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 ‘paleo’ version,  I use tamari or coconut aminos and I use arrowroot starch instead of corn starch. I also pan fry the chicken pieces instead of deep frying them. I use a mix of green chillies and red chilli powder for the heat but you could use only one of them if you prefer to keep it less hot.

You can serve this dish either as an appetizer (in which case you would not add as much sauce or serve them without the sauce as in Crispy Asian Style Chicken Bites) or have it as main course served with white rice or cassava rotis for a paleo option.! I am sure you will love this recipe as much as we do in our house!

I sometimes also add other vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower to the sauce before adding the chicken that way it becomes a complete meal.

For an AIP version, you can either skip the chillies completely (but the it won’t be Chilli Chicken!) or use Ganthoda powder for the heat.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chili Chicken || Spicy Indo-Chinese Chicken ||
Recipe type: Main Course, Appetizer
Cuisine: Indian, Chinese, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
Bite size chicken pieces coated with ginger garlic paste, shallow fried and then coated with a spicy and tangy asian style sauce along with vegetables
Cooking the chicken:
  • 1.5 lb boneless chicken, cut into small bites size pieces
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chilli pow or ganthoda powder( use ganthoda for AIP)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste (see notes on how to make this paste)
  • 2 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari or GF soy sauce(Use coconut aminos for paleo)
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch / tapioca starch
  • About ½ cup avocado oil for pan frying
For the sauce:
  • About 2 tbsp avocado oil (or whatever is left in the pan)
  • 4 scallions chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • ⅔ green chillies chopped finely ( omit for AIP)
  • ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder or ganthoda powder (use ganthoda for AIP)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp GF soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch / tapioca starch mixed in ½ cup water
  • sea salt as needed
  • black pepper or white pepper as needed
Frying Chicken pieces:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients listed under 'cooking the chicken' except the oil and mix well. Mix well using your hands to coat all the chicken pieces with marinade. (will not be too wet because of the starch). keep aside for at least 15 mins.
  2. Heat a large frying pan with the oil to shallow fry the marinated chicken pieces in batches. Pan fry them on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side. Keep the fried chicken pieces aside.
Making the sauce:
  1. In the same skillet add more oil (if needed). Then add the scallions, mushrooms, ginger garlic paste and the green chillies. Saute for about 1 minute and then add the red chilli powder, the tamari(or coconut aminos). Add the water. Check for seasoning and add salt accordingly if needed. Cook for about a minute till the water comes to a boil.
  2. Now lower the heat and add the arrowroot / tapioca starch slurry slowly stirring continuously till the sauce thickens. Finally, add the chicken pieces to this sauce and let simmer for about 2-3 mins. Turn heat off and serve immediately.
If you are making this ahead of dinner, then fry the chicken pieces and make the sauce and keep the sauce and the chicken separate. Just before serving, add the chicken pieces to the sauce and simmer for a couple mins and serve immediately.
You can also add vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower etc) to the sauce and cook them for a couple mins before adding the fried chicken for a complete meal.


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  1. Chilli chicken is a popular snacks and I love it very much. I was looking for this gravy version and thank you for describing it so nicely. I am going to make it. Looking forward for more stir fry recipes.

  2. Hi Indu, I have no idea how I missed this post for the last Fiesta Friday! But I am so glad I visited and found your blog–which looks amazing btw. This chili chicken dish looks right up my alley and I will definitely try it! I hope to see you at the party again soon!

  3. A few years ago when my husband was still a restaurant reviewer, he was writing about an Indian place that had a huge section of Chinese dishes on the menu. We were fascinated by it, assuming that it must have been food we didn’t know about from the north of the country. But, when interviewed, the chef said, “Oh, no, it’s just Chinese food that Indian people like.” Your chili chicken looks delicious!

  4. Indu, I’ve never heard of this dish either, but just from reading the recipe, I know I will love it! ‘Cause I love spicy. I’ll give this a try and maybe order in pizza for the rest of the family. They don’t want spicy, totally annoying!! Thanks for joining the party. XOXO

    • Hi Angie, LOL I know the name is a little misleading…its not that hot and spicy- that’s why I added the tomato sauce. Plus you can always reduce the amount of green chillies and red chilli (cayenne) powder. Hope you like it ! 🙂 thanks and cheers!

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