Saturday, 21 May 2011

Chilli Chicken

Finally! That quintessential Kolkata dish that finds pride of place under the city's Chinese menus, but that one would probably be hard-pressed to find in Chinese homes, much less in the Mainland. The Indian-Chinese/Calcutta-Chinese version of it can be summarised thus: Tangy marinated chicken, batter-dipped, deep-fried, and simmered in spicy gravy. Eaten with steaming plates of long-grained rice, cooked with toasted tiny-chopped carrots, shallots, onions and peas.

If *that* doesn't float your boat, I don't know what will.

Here's what you need:
Chicken, cleaned of fat, blood and gristle. Chopped in pieces not more than a couple of inches across.
Garlic, two small onions, one large tomato, green chilies.
Lemon, salt.
Flour -- a fistful.
Soya sauce, chilli sauce (latter optional)

Squeeze the lemon over the chicken, and rub with salt. Add a dash of pepper too, if no one's looking. After all, it's called chilli chicken -- consider your folks and guests warned. Now make a paste of as much garlic as you like, as many chilies as you can stand, and one quartered onion.



Pour this paste onto the chicken pieces and mix thoroughly. Let stand in shade for at least half an hour. Leave it for at least two hours for the maximum tenderness and flavour that can be coaxed into naturally bland chicken.



Then throw a fistful of flour in the bowl. Fold it in. You can break an egg over it before adding the flour, to make the it really stick to each piece of chicken. Now deep-fry the lot.


This, by the way, is too much flour.

It'll be damn near impossible not to pop a few in your mouth right after they've come off the wok, golden-crisp and wafting the fragrance of fried garlic. I have twice stopped cooking at this stage, made a cuppa, and eaten this with chili sauce on the side.




Just telling you where the trip-wires are.


Now -- in the same work, for better effect -- heat oil. Turn the flame completely down when hot, and add onions and chopped green chilies. When the onions turn translucent, add crushed or minced garlic. Let cook for a minute, then add the chopped tomato. Sprinkle a little salt on top. Stir like mad till it disintegrates. Then let it have the rawness cooked out of it in peace.





When the tomato is thoroughly fried, add two cups of water and turn the flame to medium. To balance the tang of the tomato, add half to one teaspoon of sugar. When the gravy begins to thickens, add the fried chicken that isn't already nestling comfortably inside your tummy.



Turn the flame down again, and add half a tablespoon of soya sauce. If you like chili sauce, stir it in now. Simmer, covered, till the gravy reaches the kind of consistency you prefer.



If you haven't the patience for fried rice after this, just serve over plain steamed rice. That's how I eat it :-) Though this also tastes amazing with plain parathas and rotis.

17 comments:

eve's lungs said...

Amazingly simple Rimi . I tend to marinate the chicken in soya sauce and garlic and slit chillies though..and I add a little cornflour - way crispier than flour .

eve's lungs said...

Oh and before I forget - if you ask Mainland China very nicely they make you a decent chilli chicken - but that's only for middle aged gents ...

Rimi said...

Aw, thank you Ruma mashi! For chicken marinated in soya sauce and garlic though, have you tried the Dragon Chicken ? Do! Kaalkei koro!

Also, I haven't been to Mainland China after a disappointing meal there, almost two years back =(

storyteller said...

This is a very delicious blog.

ieva said...

i think i should try this, just those chillies... will it be really hot for my unaccustomed lithuanian folks?

Rimi said...

Thank you, Storyteller. I know you by another name, don't I? =)

Ieva! You've finally landed here! Go ahead and just add one chilli for flavour, and leave it out of the gravy. I'd love to know how your folks liked it :-)

storyteller said...

@ Rimi N - Hee, yes! - Shreya :)

Magically Bored said...

I like this kind of Chilli Chicken best with steaming hot rotis.

Rimi said...

Tuna, oh yes. Makes a wonderful dinner.

Dea-chan said...

Oh Rimi this sounds delicious. I might have to do this soon... also, T cleaned our kitchen top-to-bottom while I was away this weekend, so I have a sparkly kitchen with with to make messes! :-D

I might have to make him chili chicken to thank him.

Sue said...

My recipe is much simpler, kintu. And I has a Secret Ingredient. *looks suitably pompous*

Rimi said...

Sunny! Tell!

Is it ajinamoto? :-)

Sue said...

Nope. Let me post the recipe. Will need to make it first, of course.

Mine's idiot-proof chilli chicken for dummies. And the Secret Ingredient (which is actually my Mejopishi's!) is completely optional.

Dhruva said...

A few variations on this (basically pointers from how I make this):

Cornflour instead of flour- lighter and crisper. I usually whisk the egg and the cornflour together with a pinch of salt, for a more even batter.
No black pepper- doesn't agree with the rest of the spices. In any case, add powdered cloves midway through cooking for a stronger kick, if you must.
This is the secret to the 'Chinese' tang: Don't add lemon to the marinade. Be generous with the garlic and chillies. Then, after you're done with the onions, pour in about 1/4 cup full of sugar. Stir constantly so that the sugar doesn't burn or stick. When it starts to melt, pour in 1/2 cup full of vinegar. When making the gravy, don't use two cupfulls of water- use one and half cups, and make sure to stir in a little cornflour in them, so that the gravy thickens and eases out the strong flavours. Use 1 whole tablespoon of soy sauce instead of 1/2.

Sue said...

http://sunayanaroy.blogspot.com/2011/06/mejopishis-chilli-chicken.html

Anonymous said...

Yummy and delicious looking Chilli Chicken

MyWorld said...

Was looking for a 'hindi-chini bhai bhai' kind of chilli chicken recipe and yours fits the bill completely! Must make this...

- Sangeeta