Chilli chicken is a popular kind of street-food in India. Influenced by the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 18th century, this dish bridges the gap between the comforting warmth of traditional Indian food and the spicy heat of classic Chinese cooking.

That doesn't mean it's for the faint of heart, though. With ginger, green chillis and chilli sauce, it certainly packs a punch. Make sure to adjust the level of heat according to your palette, or you'll be in for an interesting night...

If you're looking for a vegetarian option, the chicken can be replaced with paneer.

Ingredients

For the marinated chicken

  • Sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 50g (13/4oz) plain flour
  • 10g (1/4oz) cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 500g (1lb 2 oz) chicken breasts, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 small green chillies, halved
  • 2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 5 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chilli-garlic sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water

To serve

  • Rice or vegetable chow mein

Method

  1. To prepare the chicken, combine the flours, salt, chilli sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, eggs and measured water in a bowl to make a marinade and add the chicken pieces. Cover and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Heat enough oil for deep frying in a deep-fat fryer or heavy saucepan (ensuring the pan is no more than one-third full) to 180°C (350°F). Once the oil reaches that temperature, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and fry, in batches, for 3–4 minutes, until golden brown.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the sunflower oil in a wide saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic, green chillies and ginger and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant, then add the onions and cook for about 8–10 minutes, until golden brown.
  4. Stir in the green pepper and cook for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce, vinegar, chilli garlic sauce, salt and measured water. Mix well.
  5. Add the fried chicken pieces to the sauce and give it a good stir. Serve hot with rice or chow mein, if you like.

Taken from Chai, Chaat & Chutney by Chetna Makan. Published by Octopus Books (£20). octopusbooks.co.uk.