Chilli Chicken

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After The Mainland China Cookbook (read the book review) was delivered last Saturday, I was just trying to find that opportunity to prepare something from it. Though I prepared crackling spinach, but before I could even get a chance to take a snap, it was all finished.

Last night prepared chilli chicken. Chilli chicken is probably the most popular Chinese dish prepared in IndiaJ. According to Mr. Ranjit Banerji, one of our very active users of the Cook Like a Bong Facebook page, chilli chicken and chicken manchurian is the innovation of the famous Nelson Wang, the founder of China Garden restaurant in Mumbai. It seems almost everybody can relate to this juicy and succulent Chinese preparation. From roadside stalls to fine-dining Chinese restaurants, chilli chicken finds it place everywhere. During my school days, I remember our favorite party-time combo was fried rice and chili chicken.

The Mainland China cookbook has the Keong style of chilli chicken documented. I have made a little variation to this dish to add the extra hint of greens in this saucy Chinese dish.


  • 200gms of Boneless chicken, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaped tablespoon of cornflour
  • ½ cup capsicums, cut into 1” triangles
  • ½ cup onions, chopped into 1” squares
  • ½ tablespoon of Ginger-garlic paste
  • 6-7 green chilies, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoon dark soya sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ cup of spring onions, chopped to 1” sizes
  • Few spring onions finely chopped for garnishing, optional
  • Salt to taste


  • Dissolve half the cornflour with 1 tablespoon of soya sauce and one beaten egg
  • Mix this with the chicken, marinate for ½ hour
  • Stir fry the chicken till the outside turn crispy, remove from the wok and soak the extra oil in a kitchen paper
  • Heat oil in a wok, as the oil turns smoking hot add the capsicum and onions. Stir well till the onions turn translucent. Add the green chilies
  • Dissolve the extra cornflour in the remaining soya sauce, and pour it in the wok, stir
  • Add the fried chicken and spring onions, and adjust the seasoning
  • Cook till the chicken is evenly coated with the sauce
  • Serve hot with noodles garnishes with chopped spring onions

Hot Tips – You can keep the chicken in the marinade for longer hours, but then refrigerate it.

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14 thoughts on “Chilli Chicken

  1. Namaskar. Please forgive my intrusive comment. I am trying hard to find and preserve the recipes of Old Calcutta and I hope some of your relatives and readers can help me with this project. On to the Chinese recipes of FRIED Chilli Chicken and Fried Rice.

    Mr. Wang was hardly the originator. The destructor or the Bowdlerizer in Chief, maybe. I should be grateful if he should ever deign to reply in person to my anguished query.

    I have eaten Tangra home-ccoked food, and I can answer Mr. Wang face to face about the horrors he has wreaked, making “Indo-Chinese” food just diverse pakoras cooked with tomato ketchup and a bit of bad soy sauce. That is basically it!

    Calcutta in 60s and 70s had a particular bhadralok middle class, or dare I say, elite Bangali kulin class, that did eat out at Chinese restaurants, but with restrictions. Peiping and Waldorf, the Chinese Kitchen at the Calcutta Club were the venues of choice, with Chung Wah on Central Ave and Jimmy’s Kitchen making up the tail. How Hua and such, had not yet been born. Other places near Lal Bazaar were off limits to families!! One heard about their garlic prawns and such, but nada, nyet, nein!! Likewise, Tangra supplied unknown delicacies like lovely dried prawns of huge size cooked in red wine lees and other sauces, lo mein wrapped in banana leaves for transport, as Mr. Wang will doubtless remember [Harly & Sons?] but again out of bounds.

    Let us come to the Fried Chili Chicken. Small Poussin sized birds blanched in a lu, cut in classic Chinese style, never through the joint and always ON THE BONE, never boneless, like the current avatars. Always skin on; those days, always desi chickens, no broilers around, excellent flavor and meat texture. Jimmy’s K and Waldorf dusted theirs with cornstarch, Peiping did not. Deep fried to the right golden brown. Scant oil in wok, scant garlic, either lengthwise green chillies or cut into rounds, long, red onions chunked, high heat, GOOD soy sauce drizzled around the sides, rice wine, maybe some sugar and vinegar?, some broth to balance, no thickener, and that is it. Scant oily gravy redolent of fresh green chillies, hot, and in other versions, still redolent, but almost no gravy left, clinging to the cornstarched pieces. Delicious. NO tomato based sauces, EVER, no sriracha type sauces ever. Trust me on this, a careful follower of Calcutta Chinese.

    This version of Fried Chilli Chicken must indeed be familiar to all who have lived through the decades mentioned. They will recall there was not a trace of any reddish sauce! Indeed, Ananda and Guin Caterers, the big names of those days [Bijoli Grill was nowhere on the horizon] began to serve this same item except with Bhetki fish, for those who could not eat Chicken. Additionally, they would prepare a Tandoori Bhetki, of Bhola Bhetki since the genuine species was too flaky. This was good too. people will remember the Fish Roll with Shrimp Filling, which is easy enough to duplicate in the USA, and the batter-dipped crunchy Bhetki Fillets that for a time became a novelty, replacing the traditional Fish Fry in some venues. The ups and downs of Bangali Banquet menus in those decades are worth a sociological investigation in their own right, as also the changes in the Kolkata-Rajdhani AC Sleeper menus up to 1988!!

    Now the fried rice. Dadkhani rice, which is the converted or parboiled form of mini-basmati types like Sitabhog or Kalojeera, common in Kolkata, at least in those days. ]There is differentiation I make between Calcutta Chinese and Kolikata].

    The rice is cooked quite a bit on the underdone side, in plentiful water, drained, sort of “dried” in strainers. This is not how Chinese eat rice, it is for the Indian market! By the 70s, much of the cooking in Peiping was done by Odiyas and Nepali and the ownership had passed to a Sikh, worse luck. Quality had begun to fall. I had known the Chinese staff and manager very well indeed and can duplicate certain dishes exactly, but not their chow mein. Re: Waldorf, I can duplicate their fantastic prawn roll, but never their ambrosial prawn noodle soup to perfection. 85-90% maybe, but not to my finicky taste. And I am quite able to prepare the classical Cantonese First Class Stock for Banquet Cooking, which I am positive Waldorf never did!!!! Still, their base was absolutely fantastic; what was in it, beyond the usual suspects? I have cooked professionally in Thai and Chinese takeouts here, which is hardly a commendation!! But I do understand the basics of Chinese cookery well. So what were their secrets has driven me nuts!

    I do hope that through your blogs we might find those who can help recover our lost heritage, sans Nelson Wang!

  2. Chilli Chicken : though the recipe mentions of ginger-garlic paste, you have forgotten to ‘instruct’ at which stage of the cooking it has to be mixed witj the other ingredients.

    1. Sorry about that Sanjit. You can add the ginger garlic paste in the first step, that is when you are marinating the chicken.

  3. Parties reminded me that my Mom had made chili chicken, fried rice and noodles for my classmate for my last birthday before our tenth. Our school was up to the tenth. I posted my take on my Mom’s version. Bengali moms have been perfecting this way before Mr Wang I guess 🙂 But then he did come to Mumbai because his father didn’t allow him to marry his Bengali girl friend 🙂 Took the liberty of posting link on chili chicken

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