If the title of this post seems a bit weird, well, it is. South Indian Chinese food is a well known Indian food phenomenon. Its spicy to the point of tears, and the taste is completely unique and distinctive (and nothing like authentic Chinese food). I can still remember the first time I ate Chinese food in Delhi - I turned to my friend and plaintively said, 'but it doesn't taste Chinese at all'. Boy, I was so not a world foodie at 20!!
Jokes apart, this style of food is pretty tasty. Its an unusual combination of Indian cooking, with Chinese ingredients. And, as is usual with most Indian food, every meat eating household will have their own recipe for chilly chicken. My friend May, for example, has her own pretty good recipe here.
My recipe comes from my aunt Justine, and I have adapted it myself. Its what I love about Indian food, everyone adds their own touch, and it depends on who is cooking the dish, and where its cooked. I have very rarely followed an Indian recipe without modifying it, sometimes to the extent that it doesn't even taste like the original :-) But still, pretty tasty, and really, that's all that matters in the end, right?
As you may have probably noticed, I tend not to cook meat very much at home. This is because my husband and daughter don't eat meat. Neither actually cares if I cook meat at home, and I do when we have non vegetarian guests, but its just not something I do very often [other than my bacon sandwiches, that was the one non-negotiable clause in our wedding vows :-)]. But when it happens that Kay is away on a business trip, then its open season on meat for me. I actually plan the recipe I am going to make about week before he's due to leave, and then the day he leaves, its meat day. I also stick with traditional Indian meat recipes, as I just don't feel like experimenting with any other kind at this time.
For this particular recipe, I have reduced the spiciness of this recipe by lowering the number of green birds-eye chillies. Feel free to increase them to suit your own spice tolerance levels.
1/2 kilo chicken, in bite sized pieces (I use chicken thighs)
2 green chillies, sliced lengthways (use more to increase the spiciness)
2 flakes garlic, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally
1 green pepper (capsicum), sliced into strips
2 tbsp light soya sauce + 1 tbsp extra
1/2 a stock cube (or 1/2 tbsp stock powder)
1/3 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
A few drops of hot tabasco sauce
1 tsp hot chilli sauce
1 and 1/2 tsp red wine or white vinegar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup water
Salt to taste
Handful fresh coriander chopped, for garnish
1 tbsp oil or ghee
Marinate the chicken, ideally for a couple hours, or even overnight, with 2 tbsp soy sauce, the crumbled 1/2 stock cube or powder, ground turmeric and ground pepper.
Heat the oil, and add the ginger, garlic and sliced chillies. Fry for 2 minutes, then add the green pepper strips. Fry for another 3 minutes or until the pepper starts to soften.
Add the spring onions and chicken to the pan, along with any marinade, and fry on a fairly high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup water and the 1 tbsp soya sauce (if required).
Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Open the pan and add the tabasco and chilli sauce.
In a bowl, whisk together the cornflour, vinegar and sugar.
Stir in the cornstarch mixture into the chicken. Cook without the lid for about 5 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened slightly and coats the chicken pieces. You can leave the sauce as thick or thin as you wish. Cook a bit longer for a thick sauce.
Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
Take off the heat, and stir in the fresh chopped coriander. Serve hot with rice, or any Indian bread. Or, if you want to be 'authentic', with noodles :-)
As with most Indian curries, this tastes lovely the next day when the meat has had a chance to absorb the flavours.