Friday, 31 March 2017

Chilli chicken from my childhood ... with lots of chillies and no Capsicum

 Chilli chicken
( If you are a vegetarian, you can make this recipe with paneer or cauliflower. )

I do not claim this recipe of the Chilli chicken as authentic or perfect or even the right way to make Chinese chilli chicken. When young, this is the way chilli chicken was made not only at our house but also the ones that we got from restaurants.
Having said that, I must say that eating out was not something that we did much. One of the reasons is me ... I was painfully shy and could not imagine sitting in a public place and eating ... no matter however good the ambience or the company.
It nearly killed me when people, who were mostly strangers to me,  would walk up to our table and talk to Bapi and Ma.
I would never accompany my parents or relatives to any wedding ceremony invitations just because of that terrifying thought of sitting among a huge number of people and eating. 
This continued till I left home for studies. At the hostel and the PG where I stayed, I slowly came to realise that if I did not loosen up, I would stay hungry. Which I did on most days.
Now, while I have changed a lot and do go out with groups to eat out, I still come back home with just a few nibbles and an empty stomach.

So, the only solution was to bring home or call for a takeaway. Which Bapi sometimes did. Like most Bengalis, there would be the fried rice and chilli chicken combination. And a beautiful chicken bharta,  that I so miss these days.
The chilli chicken lived up to its name. It would have lots and lots of green chillies, fried along with the onions ... which were both crunchy as well as sweet.
The chicken pieces would be with bones ... which is why I loved it so much ... and have a thick coating that would have soaked up the sauce by the time we sat down to eat ... giving it a slightly soggy yet delightfully sweet and sour taste.
Sometimes the chicken chunks would be red in colour and Bapi would exclaim "Colour!Again!" and get up to drain the red oil into the kitchen sink.
I loved to soak a piece of tandoori naan, that came with the bharta, into that reddish, sweet and sour oily sauce and chew on it ( I told you I am a complete desi when it comes to food).

Chilli chicken
Later, after I landed in Pune, I came across the new version of the Chilli chicken .... boneless, small pieces, deep fried to a chewy chunk, not a trace of green chilli and horror of all horrors, loaded with big chunks of capsicum!
Why the dish has capsicum is a question that has stayed unanswered to me still. You will get a few, soggy and limp slices of onions too. But you will have to search for a decent piece of chicken from under those big chunks of capsicum.
After trying to search for a good chilli chicken in Pune, I finally gave up. Sadly, even today, there is not a single restaurant in Pune where I can ask for a good Chilli chicken.
So took it to making it myself.

I do not make it too often though, especially as it is only for myself at most times. But if I am making Chinese, I do make these. On the bone for family; boneless for guests.
This time I made it with chunky, chicken thigh pieces ... ideal pieces for a juicy yet dry dish. And shallow fried the chicken, instead of deep frying it.
Pretty quick to make.
You can fry the chickem pieces and store in the fridge, covered of course, and toss it with the rest of the things just before serving.
While they are the perfect accompaniment to a fried rice or a Hakka noodles dish, they make great starters or finger food too for snacks.
Pair them with some good wine or a cocktail for a light evening fare.

Chilli chicken
Need :

Chicken - 250 gms, chopped into small pieces
Corn flour - 3 tbsp
Maida / Apf - 1 tbsp
Baking soda - a small pinch
Ginger paste - 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Vinegar - 1 tbsp
Green chilli sauce - to taste
Crushed black pepper - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 big, cut into cubes
Green chillies - 6 to 8, chopped
Garlic - 6 to 8 cloves, chopped
Soy sauce - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste
Sugar - to taste
Cooking oil - 4 tbsp

How I make it :

Marinate the chicken pieces with vinegar + a little salt + soy sauce + ginger paste + garlic paste  for around half an hour.

Then add the corn flour + maida + baking soda + black pepper to it and mix well.

Heat 3 tbsp of oil in an open, flat pan.
Carefully let in the chicken pieces and shallow fry, a small batch at a time, and remove on a paper  napkin.

Add the rest of the oil ( if needed ) to the pan and add the garlic.

Fry a little and then add the green chillies + the onions + the chilli sauce.
Adjust salt + sugar.

Add the chicken pieces and toss well on high heat.

Serve immediately.
Chilli chicken


Ps: I did not realise I had already ranted about the capsicum thing in one of my earlier posts ... i.e. the quick stir fried Chilli chicken. Try that too.


  1. এটা ভালো বলেছ, শর্মিলা। চিলি চিকেনে ক্যাপসিকাম কেন, চিলি নয় কেন? আমার মাথায় প্রশ্নটা আগে এসেছে বলতে পারি না, তবে তুমি পয়েন্ট আউট করার পর আর তাড়াতে পারছি না। এই রান্নাটা দেখেই বোঝা যাচ্ছে দারুণ হয়েছে।

    1. Oi capsicum er jalaye amar chilli chicken khawa mathaye utheche Kuntala.

  2. When you've been writing a blog for a long time, you don't always remember what's a new topic and what's old. :) I've never attempted Chinese Chilli Chicken at home, mainly because it's such a pain to go find boneless stuff. Now I don't each much chicken so ...


Thank you for sharing Kichu Khonn( a few moments ) with me in my kitchen!