Sunday, November 11, 2012

Kolkata Style Chilli chicken -- the way Ma-in law makes it

Kolkata Style Chilli Chicken | Chinese Chilli Chicken

Indian Style Chinese Chilli Chicken is a hot, spicy favorite of almost every Chicken eating Indian. It is not authentic Chinese but an Indian adaptation which is immensely popular in Indian restaurants

Phewww...the last two weeks have been a tough week for folks in my part of the world as we are still reeling in the aftermath of the hurricane Sandy that made a landfall about 80 miles from my home. We felt the power of nature as huge gusts of wind rattled windows, my neighbor's tall willow tree swayed and finally fell, fences flew around like dry leaves in my front yard and we lost power.

Chilli Chicken

People have lost homes and much more and so it doesn't sound right for me to start cribbing about my loss of power for several days. I guess the power became more of a problem since no one here has a backup power source and steady supply of electricity and water is taken as granted.Schools were off, traffic signals refused to work, most businesses, stores, including gas stations were unable to operate for the first couple of days.

The kids were the ones who made most of this situation though. They made up games to play by the flashlight, had many fun sleepovers, spent two happy days with an aunt which would normally have not happened during school week and lived life beyond the usual routine.

And it is in this chaos that I found many reasons to celebrate. That we were safe. That we had food . That we have great friends to tide us through the powerless days. That we got back power in time for election. That Little Sis can now clean her own bum.... Yes, yes that last one took me by so much surprise and admiration for LS.

She is the proverbial second child, the one whose potty training just happened without my breaking my head because I waited and waited until she was ready, the one whose reading or writing I don't worry about much as I have learned that a child attending a school will eventually do those, the one who eats more candy that her sister did at this age and I just give in tired of picking up any more battles, the one who is still the baby and gets away with a lot of tantrums I wouldn't have allowed otherwise. So the fact that LS cleans her own bum at school made me really proud. At home though she refuses to do that job. Yet.

She also likes "jhaal chicken" aka "spicy hot chicken". Big Sis also likes "jhaal chicken". So once we got back power "chili chicken" and fried rice was made for dinner. Indian Style Chinese Chilli Chicken is a hot favorite of almost every Chicken eating Indian I have ever met. The first time I had a hot, hot Indian style Chinese chilli chicken was many many years ago as a second grader at a small restaurant in the mountain town of Kalimpong. I knew very less about China at that time (not that I know much now) but my respect for the country had gone up just because of this single dish. I imagined a country where people ate Hakka Noodles, Chilli Chicken and Manchurian Fried Rice non stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner. What is not to respect.

Nowadays every time I make this Chi-ll-i Chicken, I feel very very sorry for the Chinese. I mean here I am getting annoyed if someone makes alu posto in olive oil and here is the poor Chinese who is getting credited for a dish that has nothing, nothing except Dark Soy sauce as the Oriental ingredient. That is if I am in the dark about Huen Tsang's love for loads of green chilli and hot spicy chicken.

With due apologies to the Chinese here is my Ma-in-law's version of the Indian Chilli Chicken. Cook it, enjoy it and never forget it.

Ma-in-law's Chilli Chicken

In a mortar pound
2 clove of garlic
2 green chili
to make a paste

Marinate 1-- 1.5 lb chicken cut in small pieces with
garlic+chili paste
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp White Vinegar
and salt for an hour or half. If you can cut the chicken in 1" pieces it is best

When you are ready to cook add
1 beaten egg
1/4th tsp of Black pepper
to the chicken pieces and combine well.

In a shallow bowl mix
& 1/4th Cup of Corn flour
1/4th Cup of AP Flour

Add the chicken pieces to this flour mix so that the pieces are well coated

Heat Oil in a wok or kadhai or a saute pan. Oil should be enough for frying.

Add the chicken pieces in a single layer and fry till they are golden brown. Remove the lightly fried chicken pieces and keep aside. The fried chicken will be like popcorn chicken and ready to eat. But don't eat them!

Usually the remaining oil will be too much for the gravy so take out most of it and use 2 Tbs sp of it for the next steps.

To the oil, add
2 clove of garlic finely minced.
1 tsp of minced ginger.
and 4 green chili chopped in rounds

When you get the flavor of garlic( careful don't burn the garlic) add 1 cup thick sliced onions. Fry till onion is pinkish brown.

Add 1 red/yellow/green bell pepper thinly sliced. Saute for 2-3 minutes. This step is optional and can be skipped

In a bowl make the sauce as follows.
1 Tbsp of Soy sauce + 1 tbsp of Maggi Hot&Sweet + 2 tsp green chili sauce + 2 tsp of red hot sauce + 1 Tbsp of Vinegar and mix. Note: Soy sauce has salt so careful. Instead of green chili sauce add Sambal Olek or if don't have any of those add couple more hot green chilli finely chopped.
Add this sauce to the wok/frying pan

In about 3/4th cup of warm water mix 2 Tbsp corn starch and make a smooth mix. Add this to above and mix well.

When the gravy starts simmering add the fried chicken pieces & fry at medium high for couple more minutes combining the sauce and veggies till chicken is totally done and the gravy is thick and clinging.

Garnish with chopped spring onions if you have those and serve with Noodles or Fried rice

Chinese Style Fried Rice

Wash 2 cups of rice in water and let it soak for 10 mins. Cook rice in enough salted water. Once the rice is cooked drain in a colander.

Now heat Oil in a wok. You can use the oil that you have remaining from making the chilli chicken.

To the hot oil add 2 cloves of minced garlic and some black or white pepper powder. Follow with finely chopped carrots and green peas.  Add some soy sauce, salt to taste and cover and cook till veggies are done. Now add the cooked rice gradually tossing it with the veggies and sauce. Add little more oil if necessary. Finish adding all the cooked rice tossing so that all the rice is coated with the sauce and oil. Garnish with spring onion.


  1. Hi, I read your blog often - as an English guy, it is really nice to read so much about Bengali cooking, some of the nicest food in the world.
    I also cook a lot of Chinese food in my spare time, trying to learn how Chinese people cook, and this is really close (except maybe the sliced onion), so don't feel too sorry for the Chinese... :-)
    The vinegar is a nice touch, especially if you found Chinese rice vinegar in the shop (in the UK it is in most big shops these days), and you could try adding some finely chopped ginger along with the garlic if you like to try...
    Hope you like my suggestion, and thank you for sharing.

    1. You are right...This is a superb blog and am also a regular follower of this blog...
      Kindly visit my first recipe event @ "I love my Mom's Recipes"

    2. Thanks so much Jackson for your kind words. India has whole array of Chinese dishes which have been Indian-ized :) and that is the taste we are used to.
      The Chinese dishes here in the US were quite the shocker initially.

      Thanks Manidipa

  2. glad to know you guys are all good and er congrats to LS...sometimes I wonder if chili chicken is more bengali than kosha mangsho

    1. Shottiy chili chicken and chowmein is such a Bangali thing that I was much dejected by the chowmein in the Chinese places here

  3. Living without power for several days is difficult to say the least. I mean, I have an electric stove so I couldn't so much as heat a cup of water if that happened here. I'm glad you rallied together and came through fine!
    And that right there is a big milestone for LS- she's growing up fast, eh?

    1. We have a gas stove Nupur and there was hot water so that was a blessing. But the cold was getting us eventually

  4. Big milestone for LS, congratulations!

    I've seen olive oil creations in Chinese restaurants too - the latest as recently as yesterday. To justify its presence in a Chinese restaurant, it was in some sort of red sauce. All the veg dishes were swimming in thick, viscous sauce and all of them had broccoli and zucchini in them!

    Glad you were able to manage the crisis comfortably.

    1. To be honest I do use Olive oil in many of my Bengali cooking, but I don't tell the pundits that ;-) But that alu posto needs mustard oil

  5. Good to read you again! It is nice to read about the fun side you picked up from recent tough days.
    Congrats and big hugs for LS! Big pat on your back for being a chilled out mum! It is really hard you know as being one myself I know that keeping your cool as a mom is much more difficult than showing the stress out!

    1. Chandrima, I am not really a chilled out Mum. It is just that I tend to be stricter with the first born and then go experimental with the second. I guess because I see that all the issues I have with BS eventually does not matter in the course of few months or years as they grow up. Like say I would be on top of reading for BS and she is good at it but now I realize it is okay if you read at 5 instead of at 4 and it is not really a big thing to worry about.
      That does not make me worry less about BS though, I am not chilled about her !!

  6. Made this today, this is absolutely fantastic!! Thank you. You have earned yet another fan.

  7. Absolute stunner dish.... Made me remember those childhood days when I wud say "jhaal" and crave for chilly chicken.... Thanks for sharing this one !! :)

    1. yes chilli chicken is a part of lot of our childhood

  8. Congrats to LS and to u - i can feel how u have felt! And I can also imagine how u celebrated the cooking when the power finally arrived! here we believe in back up for everything - for traffic signal we have traffic police, we urban ppl mostly have power back up and we also have regular reasons to test them on live! so it is diff for us here to realize how was the situation actually there. personally i remember ayla 2 yrs back. we hardly gave much importance initially - i sent my son (then 4) to the summer camp. when i picked him up, it was raining. when we rchd home, it was really difficult to get down fm the car. finally the storm arrived. i big tree in front of our house was having a simple harmonic motion - i just cant forget the scene! luckily that tree is still there. I pray such situation does not occur to u any more in life dear!

    1. Ha, ha, back up for everything is really necessary :) Ekhon ekhane shobar generator kenar dhum legeche. But shob barir i energy consumption eto beshi je high wattage generator na hole sei partial labh hobe. Goratei golod.

  9. The indianised version of chilli chicken is a hot favourite of my son . Lovely recipe indeed

  10. Who can resist Chilli Chicken especially one looking this good.
    Living without power is hard because we are so used to having it all the time but glad you guys made it out alright.

    1. Yes, we take these things for granted and then something like this happens and poof. But the kids really enjoyed their two weeks of fun

  11. Glad to see ur post and I wonder how u guys survived without power in cold weather :( Sandy was scary!
    I love the Chilli chicken but never tried it!

    1. Cham, we mostly stayed out nights with friends who had power. But thank god that powercut is all we had to suffer

  12. All a matter of perspective, na? If there wasn't worse devastation elsewhere, the power outage would have been more intolerable. Glad you all are ok. My friends in Bridgewater are now on day 13 without power. Stay safe and a very happy Diwali to you all. A big YAY for LS!

  13. Ummm this looks so delicious,reminds me of college days,..:)

  14. Hi Bong Mom,

    I absolutely love your dishes. Whenever I miss bengali cooking or am looking for a recipe, I stop by your site for the perfect recipe and it turns out exactly like the one I had been craving for. Just one question: Is there any particular brand of soy sauce to use for making chilli chiken? I have noticed in the past that dark vs light soy and specific brands make a difference in the taste. Vinegar brand too please? Thank you and please continue with this awesome blog.

  15. Hey.. I just tried this recipe and it turned out great! Thanks. And it was nice and simple.

  16. Tried this one...turned out really well...:)

    However there is this peculiar thing which happens with me - I don't get the taste, aroma of the food I cook if consumed immediately after cooking. Say cooked in the evening by 8 and consumed at 9 - just like with this chilly chicken last night! But on the next day ( or even next bala) I find is super tasty ( if at all it is :) )...again just like this dish which I just had for lunch and landed here...

    BTW my hubby was repeatedly saying from last night that it was super yummy...he just gave me a call now, after having is lunch, to say the same again!

  17. your recipe was my first attempt at making 'indian' chinese chilli chicken and it turned out beautifully! and it tasted super awesome.. thank you :)

  18. Hi Bong Mom!!!!! I really adore your mom in law style of cooking I tried all her recipes such as chingri jaal, mutton curry and chili chicken. Please tell her thank you from my side and a million thanks to you for sharing your recipes through your blog.... xoxoxox Regards Sania :)

  19. I keep coming back again and again for your recipes and of course the stories you narrate with so much passionate zest! Relived through your story the passing of that hurricane, the loss of power and everything that means. But all's was well, and that's what matters! ��
    For this dish, I was wondering if you could recommend a healthier option than deep frying the chicken (first step)? Would the taste suffer too much, d'you think, if I choose the healthier option of just cooking the chicken (cooker? Or just blanching!), and doing everything else the same? Thanks!!


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