Experience the delightful flavors of Chilli Chicken, a fusion dish that seamlessly blends the spicy zest of Indo-Chinese cuisine with the traditional elements of Chinese Hakka cooking. This recipe features tender pieces of boneless chicken breast or thighs, enhanced with aromatic spices and a variety of Chinese sauces.
More than just a simple stir-fry, Chilli Chicken is a versatile dish, perfect as a flavorful appetizer or a substantial side with fried rice, noodles, or soups.
The dish uniquely combines traditional Chinese cooking methods with Indian-inspired ingredients like ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, and green chilies, creating a unique and captivating flavor profile. Enjoy it either dry or with gravy, adjusting the sauces and liquids to suit your taste preferences.
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Ingredients and Substitutions Overview
To prepare Chilli Chicken, you'll need a combination of essential Chinese and Indian pantry items. Here's what you'll need:
Ingredients for Marination:
- Chicken: Boneless breast or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces. Chicken is the main protein in this dish, offering a tender texture when cooked.
- Soy Sauce: Low-sodium soy sauce is recommended. It helps to marinate and flavor the chicken while keeping the sodium content in check.
- Paprika and Black Pepper: Paprika provides a deep red color and a mild flavor to the chicken, and can be replaced with Kashmiri chili powder for a similar effect. Black pepper adds an earthy, spicy note, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Flours: A mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. This combination is used for coating the chicken, which helps to achieve a crispy exterior once fried.
- Ginger Garlic Paste: Adds a fresh aroma and flavor, essential for creating the distinctive taste of Chilli Chicken. The paste also helps in tenderizing the chicken during marination.
Other Key Ingredients:
- Aromatics: Ginger, garlic, green chili, and onion. These are used for stir-frying and contribute significantly to the dish's flavor profile, offering a blend of spiciness, pungency, and sweetness.
- Bell Peppers: Add a sweet and crunchy texture to the dish. Their vibrant colors also enhance the visual appeal of Chilli Chicken.
- Sauces: Low Sodium Soy Sauce, chili sauce (or substitutes like Schezwan sauce or Sambal Olek). These sauces provide a depth of flavor, ranging from salty to spicy, and are key in achieving the dish's signature taste.
- Ketchup: It offers a mild sweetness and tanginess, balancing the spicier elements of the dish.
- Cornstarch Slurry: Used to thicken the sauces, giving the dish a rich and appealing consistency. It helps in evenly coating the chicken and vegetables with the flavorful sauce.
How to Make Chilli Chicken Dry?
Follow along with our photo and video guide to master the art of making Chilli Chicken. From marinating to frying and stir-frying, each step is captured to ensure your culinary success. Let's begin!
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- Chilli Paneer
- 1.75 lb Boneless Chicken Breast, or thighs, cut into small bite size
- 2 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 tsp Salt
- ¾ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Paprika, or Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 2 tsp Soy Sauce
- 3 tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 2 tbsp Cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Cornstarch
- 2 tbsp Water
For Chilli Chicken
- ¼ cup Oil, for frying
- 2 tsp Garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp Ginger, chopped
- 4 Green Chilies
- ¼ cup Onion, sliced
- ¼ cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
- ¼ cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
- ½ tsp Ground Black Pepper
- Salt, as needed
- 1½ tsp Chili Sauce
- 2 tsp Ketchup
- 2 tsp Soy Sauce
- 3 tbsp Water
- Spring Onions, to garnish
To Marinate the Chicken
- In a bowl, combine boneless chicken breast with ginger garlic paste, soy sauce, black pepper powder, salt, paprika, all-purpose flour, and cornstarch. Mix well to ensure even coating, then cover the bowl and let the chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes to absorb the flavors.
To Make Chilli Chicken
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken pieces one by one, avoiding overcrowding for even frying. Fry each side for about 2 to 3 minutes or until they turn a reddish-brown color, indicating they're perfectly crispy.
- Remove the chicken from the oil and set it aside for later use.
- In a wok over medium-high heat, add oil along with ginger, garlic, and green chilies. Sauté until aromatic, which forms the flavor base of the dish.
- Add onions, green and red bell peppers, and sauté until they are crisp yet tender, balancing texture and flavor in the dish.
- Stir in salt, soy sauce, chili sauce, and ground black pepper. This combination of ingredients adds depth and complexity to the sauce.
- Incorporate the cornstarch slurry (dilute the specified amount of cornstarch in water as mentioned in the recipe) to thicken the sauce to the right consistency, ensuring it coats the chicken well.
- Add the fried chicken to the sauce, stirring to ensure each piece is evenly coated, merging the crispiness of the chicken with the richness of the sauce.
- Garnish with chopped spring onions and remove from the heat. The spring onions add a fresh, crunchy contrast to the dish just before serving.
- Enjoy this Chinese Chilli Chicken as a flavorful starter or as a complementary side dish with fried rice, noodles, rice, or soup for a truly comforting meal. For more delightful pairing ideas, refer to the serving suggestions section.
Chef's Notes and Tips
Preparation and Marination:
- Preparation of Ingredients: Prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking. This is known as 'mise en place' and is especially important in stir-fry dishes where cooking happens quickly and at high heat.
- Use of Fresh Ingredients: Fresh ginger, garlic, and chilies make a significant difference in flavor compared to their dried or powdered counterparts.
- Marination: Marinating the chicken for at least 15 to 30 minutes is crucial. This resting period allows the chicken to fully absorb the flavors from the seasonings. Don't skip this step to ensure flavorful chicken.
- Brining: To ensure juicy and tender chicken, brine the chicken in warm salt water. Soak the boneless chicken breast or thighs in warm water with a teaspoon of salt for at least 15 minutes. Then, remove, pat dry, and cut into bite-sized pieces. This process enhances moisture retention in the chicken, leading to juicy bites after cooking.
- For Juicy Chicken: The size and cut of the chicken affect its texture post-frying. Cutting it into small, uniform bite-sized pieces is recommended for achieving a balance of crispiness and juiciness.
Cooking and Serving:
- Frying Temperature: Maintain a medium temperature while frying the chicken. Consistent oil temperature is key to achieving perfectly crispy chicken.
- Stir-Frying Temperature: Vegetables and sauces should be stir-fried at high heat. This ensures that the veggies remain crispy. Keeping your wok or pan at a high temperature is vital for this step.
- Avoid Overcrowding the Pan: When frying the chicken, do it in batches if necessary. Overcrowding can lower the temperature of the oil, leading to less crispy chicken.
- Sauce Consistency: Adjust the consistency of the sauce with the cornstarch slurry. If you prefer a thicker sauce, add a bit more slurry, and vice versa.
- Experiment with Heat Levels: If you enjoy more spice, you can increase the amount of green chilies or chili sauce. Conversely, reduce them if you prefer a milder dish.
- A Good Quality Wok: Using a high-quality wok can add an authentic, earthy flavor to your dish, typical in many Chinese stir-fry recipes. However, if a wok is not available, a regular pan can suffice.
- Serving Immediately: Chilli Chicken is best served immediately after cooking to enjoy its crispiness and fresh flavors.
Disclaimer: We’re not nutrition experts. Nutritional info is estimated and should be used as a guide. For precise details, consult a professional.
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Chilli Chicken, with its bold flavors, pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Here are some top pairing suggestions:
- Fried Rices: Pair with classic fried rice, chicken fried rice, or Schezwan fried rice, enhancing the rich flavors of Chilli Chicken.
- Noodles: Whether it's lo mein, chow mein, or rice noodles, the soft texture of noodles balances the crunch of the chicken.
- Rice Dishes: Complement Chilli Chicken with steamed jasmine or basmati rice for a mild, fluffy base.
- Flat Breads: Naan or roti are excellent choices, perfect for absorbing the flavorful sauce of the dish.
- Sauteed Vegetables: A side of stir-fried or sautéed veggies like broccoli, bell peppers, or bok choy adds a fresh and healthy element to the meal.
Enjoy Chilli Chicken at its best when served straight from the wok, or store any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a day. When ready to enjoy again, just reheat in the microwave until evenly warm.
How to Make Chilli Chicken Gravy?
To make Chilli Chicken with gravy, follow these steps, keeping the marination and frying process the same as in the dry version:
- Adjust Sauce and Liquid: Increase the amount of sauces and liquid base for the gravy.
- Sauce Suggestion: Use 3 teaspoons of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of chili sauce while stir-frying, a bit more than in the dry recipe.
- Liquid Suggestion: Instead of the 3 tablespoons of water used for the dry recipe, use 1 cup of water for the gravy. The cornstarch slurry (1 tablespoon of starch diluted in 2 tablespoons of water) remains the same.
- Thicken the Gravy: Once you've adjusted the quantities, cook the sauce until it becomes glossy and thick.
- Toss: Add the fried chicken into the sauce and toss well to ensure each piece is coated with the gravy.
- Garnish: Finish by garnishing with spring onions for added flavor and a pop of color.
- Serve: Your Chilli Chicken with Gravy is now ready to be enjoyed. Serve it hot for the best taste.
Note: The ingredient quantities specified in this recipe are tailored for the serving size mentioned. If you plan to adjust the serving size, be sure to proportionally adjust the quantity of the ingredients accordingly to maintain the balance of flavors and consistency.