We Indians have a different version of ‘Chinese’ that apparently first originated in the vibrant city of Kolkata. It’s called as – “Indo-chinese” cuisine!
So, outside of India, if a newly-migrated Indian tells you that they are extremely fond of Chinese food, you can safely assume that they are not talking about your traditional Chinese cuisine. Don’t be puzzled, if you take them to a Chinese restaurant and they leave most of the food, saying “Err…but this is not Chinese!!” 😉
This is exactly what happened to hubby and me, when we went to the Chinese restaurant for the first time, after moving to the U.K!
‘Chilly-chicken’ is strictly an Indo-chinese dish, as authentic Chinese is seldom spicy. Basically, we like our Chinese really hot and thus, Indo-chinese dishes are way spicier, saltier and richer than the standard Chinese fare.
Speaking of myself, you can wake me in the middle of the night, to make me eat this food. This is one cuisine that I have never been able to resist. All my family and friends know that it is my weakness. During the recent trip to India, hubby was a little frustrated, because all of my relatives and friends volunteered to take us to Chinese restaurant knowing how much I loved it…. (Yes, there it’s just Chinese Restaurant and not Indo-chinese restaurant lol! ‘Indo-chinese’ term has to be used outside of India only, as there’s actual Chinese food around). Hubby is a die-hard Indian-food kinda guy and by the end of the trip, he had gotten allergic to the question ‘Let’s go out for Chinese?’
Another funny story about my love for Chinese food. You know when you are a teenager and want nothing more in the world than to annoy your sibling? When my sister and I were kids, I was super-excited to have created my first e-mail id on Hotmail. My excitement turned to anger when my smirking older sister told me that she had easily gotten into my account. Such an intrusion of my privacy! I kept on creating new mail ids and she kept on hacking them. I was puzzled and impressed at the same time, till she let me in on the secret. You know how there’s a secret question when you are making a new email id, that helps you retrieve your password in case you forgot it? The thing was that I’d always select- “What is your favorite food?” as a secret question, and my sister would easily enter “Chinese” and get in. HMPH! …….siblings!
Anyway, I used to make my “chilly chicken” with too many elements before…onions, tomato puree, vegetable stock etc…..but I began feeling that the dish accompanying a flavorful fried-rice or chicken noodles, needs to be simpler, otherwise the whole thing together gets too intense and over-powering. So, I actually saw a simpler version of chilly chicken at another blogger’s page some days ago, which called for a few basic elements only. Authentic Kolkata chilly chicken she called it.
I tried it and this mild version was way better and easier to enjoy with fried-rice or noodles. So, I go for the simpler recipe most days now, but still make my original version occassionally, when making a large batch.
So give this recipe a go friends, and enjoy!
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 heaped tsp ginger-garlic paste
½ tsp soy-sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsn cornflour
Salt & pepper to taste
For the gravy-
2 tbsn olive-oil
Some chopped garlic
1 slit green chilly
Some cubes of capsicum and onions
1 tbsn soy-sauce
1 tbsn chilly sauce
1 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp mirin (optional)
2 tbsn cornflour mixed in ¼ cup of water
½ tsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
oil for deep-frying
Some chopped spring onion greens , for garnishing (optional)
*Chinese cooking is always done on high heat!*
– Marinate the chicken with ingredients listed under “Marination” for atleast an hour, refrigerated.
– Deep-fry the chicken, until golden-brown. Keep aside!
– In a sauce-pan, heat your olive oil.
– Add chopped garlic and saute for a few seconds.
– Throw in your onion and capsicum cubes and toss well. Cook uncovered, for 3-4 minutes as covering the pan will turn the veggies soft and we want them crunchy for this dish!
– Add all the sauces and mix well. Cook for around half a minute.
– Add your cornflour solution, while stirring your sauce continuously while pouring it into the gravy. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, till your gravy turns silky and thick.
– Add the seasonings but be VERY CAREFUL WITH THE SALT. There is plenty of salt in all the sauces and we had added it in the marination as well. I can’t tell you how many times my chilly chicken or manchurian has been ruined in the early days, just because the salt got too much to bear. I don’t add salt at all these days, till the dish is complete and has cooled down, because that’s when you actually get to know if it needs salt or not. So be very careful.
– Cook your chilly chicken for 2-3 minutes more and then switch off the gas.
– Garnish with spring onion greens.
Serve hot with fried rice/noodles or even as it is, as a snack!
– You can increase or decrease the quantity of cornflour solution in your chilly-chicken, based on the amount of gravy you need.
– Chilly chicken can be made with boneless chicken or with the chicken on bone!