This Indo-Chinese Chili Chicken represents the best of Pakistani and Chinese cuisine all in one dish. So easy to make and so full of flavor this is another family favorite! If you're new to Indo-Chinese or Hakka cuisine you're in for a treat and this recipe is the perfect introduction!
The History Of Indo Chinese Food
As discussed in my post on Chinese chicken corn soup Chinese immigrants have had a prominent role in the history of the Indian Subcontinent. Present in Calcutta since the 18th century, many of these immigrants were of Hakka origin.
After the Pakistan and India partition, many of these Chinese migrated to Pakistan. They brought with them their unique Indo-Chinese cuisine for which I am very grateful because I'm a huge fan!
The oldest Chinese restaurant in Karachi called A.B.C dates back to pre-partition days. Hong Kong, The Four Seasons, and Golden Dragon are a few other historic Chinese restaurants in Pakistan. Serving traditional Chinese food with "spicy, tangy, sticky" sauces as per youlinmagazine.com these eateries represent the rich history of this particular cuisine.
My Chili Chicken Story
Of all the Pakistani Chinese food recipes, the ones with sweet, sour, and spicy sauces are my favorite, like my Korean ground beef bowls (with Gochujang). Eaten with fried rice or plain steamed rice I can make a huge batch of this and eat it for days.
After my own traditional Pakistani food this is perhaps one of my favorite cuisines. Growing up this was everyone's go-to when they wanted a change from the day-to-day curries. Although Pakistan now has a lot more variety in terms of assorted cuisines for me this is still my favorite.
It took me a while to get the hang of cooking Indo-Chinese food. But I missed it so much that I persevered till I got it right. Looking back I'm not sure why, because it seems so easy now. You can now look forward to tons of recipes on the blog!
Hopefully, my recipe and tips at the end will help you cook it right the first time!
Marinating the Chicken
Since the actual cooking time for this recipe is so short it's best to marinate the meat to insure it's well flavored. I usually put the meat in the fridge with the marinade while I chop my vegetables and cook my rice.
Many recipes call for the meat to be dipped in the cornflour, followed by the egg and then fried. I find that adding these two ingredients to my marinade is a more time efficient method and yields good results.
The Cornstarch in Indo Chinese Cooking
In case you're wondering why cornstarch is used in most Chinese cuisine, it helps in a couple of different ways. The cornstarch helps make the Chicken crispy and golden on the outside and juicy on the inside. This is the one step that will make your chicken as good as the restaurant variety and the one thing I've learnt to do properly!
It's important to fry the chicken in small batches. Adding all of it at once reduces the temperature of the oil and makes it soggy.
The Ketchup gives the sauce that vibrant red color we all associate with many of our favorite chinese dishes. Add soy sauce and you get a darker maroon but for this recipe I stick to basic ketchup.
Ketchup has tomatoes and vinegar which contribute tanginess to the dish. The sugar in the ketchup balances the acidity and spiciness of the dish and the ketchup gives the sauce a nice glossy finish.
The Kashmiri Chili Powder
Kashmiri chili powder is used in alot of Indian, Pakistani cooking. This is the spice that gives many of our traditional dishes that beautiful red color. It's no wonder the spice was deemed for for this recipe.
This particular chili powder is not too spicy, but rather smoky and earthy. If you don't have it on hand the closest substitute would be paprika. While paprika doesn't have exactly the same taste, it does lend the desired red color and a little of the smokiness .
The Cashew Paste
The cashew paste helps thicken the curry and adds a delicious nutty texture to this stir fry. The cashews you later toss on the finished dish adds more of the nuttiness.
Indo Chinese Chili Chicken
- Cutting Board
- Mixing Bowl
- spice grinder
- Slotted Spoon
- Cooking Spoon
- 2 lb boneless chicken
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup cornstarch (SEE NOTE)
- 1 egg (SEE NOTE)
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 1 onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 cup tomato ketchup
- 2 tsp red chili powder
- 2 tbsp cashew paste
- ½ cup cashews
- ½ cup green onions
- cut the chicken into cubes
- mix the garlic, ginger, kashmiri chili powder, salt, black pepper, cornstarch and egg and marinate the chicken with it for an hour
- while you're waiting for the chicken to marinate thinly slice the onion and bell pepper , chop the green onions and roughly break the cashews into pieces
- grind the 2 tablespoons of cashew nuts in your spice grinder to make a paste
- after 1 hour of marination heat the oil in a wok and deep fry the chicken in batches (SEE NOTE)
- after the chicken is done remove all but ½ cup of the oil from the wok and saute the onions and bell peppers for 2-5 minutes (SEE NOTE)
- Add the ketchup, cashew paste and red chili powder to the vegetables and stir till well mixed
- add the chicken to the sauce and mix just till the chicken is coated with the sauce
- sprinkle the cashew pieces and green onions and serve with rice
- If you want your batter to be crispier, double the quantity of cornstarch and egg.
- Batch fry the chicken to insure crispiness. Adding all of it to the oil at one time will drop the temperature of the oil and make the chicken clump together, resulting in soggy chicken.
- I like to use the residual oil as it's flavored with all of the seasonings from the fried chicken and improves the taste of the sauce.
- If you like more sauce then double the amount of ketchup, red chili powder and cashew paste. Since adding too much sauce can make the chicken soggy you can make extra sauce on the side and pour it on later.
I like to eat this chicken with basmati rice as that's what most Chinese restaurants in Pakistan serve. But feel free to try it with Jasmine rice if you prefer.
Don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment when you make this!