Monday, 12 August 2013

Chilli Chicken - My Style

Its very difficult to find a Bengali who doesn't like Chinese food. Chinese is probably the first road side snack that we get introduced to back home. Momos, Hakka noodles, Manchurian, Chicken soup - you name it and you have it there right at the corner of the street...a unassuming small shack in an Indian city dishing out mouth watering 'Chinese' cuisine. Of course the Chinese we get in our country are the Desi version of their counterpart, revamped to suit our palates which expect a lot of spice and flavor in every bite. But who is complaining. We grow up with this taste and expect anything that claims to be a Chinese cuisine will taste similar to what we are used to.

That's when we get the rude shock once we stick to our expectation while having Chinese in a American city. Totally bland, minimal seasoning, thick noodles, minimal or no flavors and totally limited variety. I love Chinese food and while in US the moment our colleagues planned a Chinese luncheon I was too pleased.  I had been craving the same for too long and was all ready to satiate my cravings. P.F Chang - one of the leading names in the South Asian bistros.I remember I had ordered some rice, a hot and sour soup and some chicken sides. The soup tasted and smelled so bad me and my colleague left it as it is. The rice and chicken were equally bland and tasteless to me. One of my colleagues had ordered garlic noodles which was still better, but in the end that marked my last visit to the bistro. From then on if I had Chinese cravings I would visit small Japanese food outlets in the city mall. What they served was still much similar to what we have in our country.

To cut the long story short, we Indians are used to adulterated food, so authentic Chinese failed to make the mark for me whereas our desi versions are totally what I am in love with. When I speak of Chinese, Chilli Chicken is one dish that is obviously Chinese and on top of the charts for any Chinese food lover. For me the story had been otherwise. From childhood days whenever we had ordered Chilli chicken, the chicken came with a coating of flour which usually turned soggy due to the presence of the sauces in the dish and was a definite blah for me. Anything that comes in a flour coating, I simply cannot stand it. Thus chilli chicken and Manchurian were two things I consciously avoided while ordering my Chinese food.

Once while I had some chicken left in my fridge and not much vegetables in my hand, I decided to make a stir fry of everything. That's how I made this Chilli chicken which is too easy to make, not much ingredients required and most importantly not coated with anything. It's Chilli and Chicken and nothing in between :).

Preparation Time: 15 minutes 
Marinating Time : 2 hr

Cooking Time: 35 minutes


Cuisine: Desi style Chinese


Marination Items:
  • Chicken - 300 gm
  •  Yoghurt - 1/2 cup
  • Pepper Powder - 2 tsp
  • Red Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
  • White Vinegar - 3 tsp
  • Salt - 2 tsp
  • Refined Oil - 1 tsp
Main Dish:
  •  Capsicum - 1 Medium
  • Onion - 1 big
  • Potato - 1 Medium
  • Garlic - 12 cloves
  • Ginger - 2 inch 
  • Green Chilli - 3
  • Dried Red Chilli - 2
  • Soya Sauce - 1 tsp 
  • Maggie Chicken Masala cube/ Ching's Fried Rice Miracle Masala/ Ching's Schezwan Miracle Masala / Ajinomoto - 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Refined oil - for deep frying
1.    Clean the chicken and place it in a big bowl. Add all the ingredients mentioned under marination items  to it and mix well. Let the chicken marinate for 2-3 hours or overnight if you have time on your hands.

2.    Chop the Capsicum longitudinally in thin strips, Onions as medium strips and dice the potatoes (Potato is optional in this recipe, I added it because my husband can't do without potatoes).

3. Chop the garlic in small pieces and the ginger into thin small pieces of half inch size.

4. Slit the green chillies

5. Shallow fry the diced potatoes till half done and keep them aside.

6. Heat oil in a wok and temper the oil with Dried Red chillies (break them into half before tossing into the oil), ginger, garlic. Saute for a minute.

7. When you get the aroma of red chilli and garlic, toss the onion, capsicum, and green chillies. Add 1 tsp salt and sugar to it. Saute for sometime till the Onion starts to become pink and the capsicum is tender. Add the fried Potatoes. Keep on  sprinkling water so that the veggies don't stick to the wok or get burnt. I prefer to stir fry the veggis without putting a lid on as that preserves the color better.

8. Move the contents of the wok into a bowl once the veggis are done. Clean the wok and add oil/ butter to it. Put the heat on.

9. When the oil is warm add the marinated chicken to it. Stir fry for 8-9 minutes or till the chicken are done. Continuously stir the chicken or it will stick to the wok.

10. Once the Chicken is done add the veggies prepared in Step 6. Mix well.

 11. Add Soya Sauce and adjust the salt and sugar level. Keep stirring.

12. When everything is cooked and mixed well, sprinkle either Maggie Chicken Masala cube/ Ching's Fried Rice Miracle Masala/ Ching's Schezwan Miracle Masala or if you have none of these use Ajinomoto (Monosodium Glutamet). Stir for a couple of minutes and remove from flame.

Serve with any kind of fried rice or noodles.

I had a totally unconventional pairing though. I served the chilli chicken with steamed rice and masoor daal. Try it and I bet you will fall in love with this combo. it will become your quick fix meal when you crave something good but involves less work.

Note: You can improvise on this basic recipe by adding any veggie that you like. I added corn, carrot and mushrooms sometimes and it turned out equally great.

Sending this to Cooking 4 all Seasons' "Side Dish Mela" event and Priya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event.

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