The secret technique to the crunchiest chilli chicken in a hot, sour and mildly sweet sauce. If you have been missing Calcutta’s Tangra chilli chicken, this is the recipe for you!

[In this series, we tip our hats to some of our favourite dishes available in the restaurants, cafés, and cabins of Calcutta. Our purpose in doing so is to document their existence, and give people a way to recreate them if they happen to live away from the city. Make these at home, or hunt them down from the source—irrespective of how you get your hands on these items, we hope you enjoy them.]

Chilli chicken is perhaps the most popular Indo-Chinese dish found both in restaurants and street side stalls. No visit to Calcutta’s Chinatowns (especially Tangra) is complete without an order of chilli chicken. The dry chilli chicken works as a snack, appetiser as well as a side. The gravy chilli chicken is more popular as a side to either chowmein or with fried rice. There are various versions of the chilli chicken recipes. While you can play around with the sauces you like in your chilli chicken, most folks will agree that the best chilli chicken has the chicken still crispy when served. With that goal in mind we tested both the wet batter as well as the dry breading technique and finally went with breading. What yielded the crunchiest chicken was Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method which he had used in his General Tso’s Chicken recipe in Serious Eats Food Lab. Do give this a try and let us know how it goes!


COOKING TIME 1 hour
YIELDS 4 servings


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250 g Boneless chicken thigh (3-cm cubes)
FOR THE MARINADE
15 g Egg white of half and egg
15 g Dark soy sauce
10 g Chinese cooking wine (optional)
2 g Ginger paste
2 g Garlic paste
3 g Salt
½ tsp Pepper
1 pinch Baking soda
12 g Cornflour
FOR BREADING THE CHICKEN
¼ cup (30 g) Cornflour
¼ cup (30 g) All-purpose flour (maida)
¼ tsp Baking powder
3 g Salt
FOR THE SAUCE
20 g Vegetable oil
2 pcs Dried red chillies
75 g Onions (3-cm squares)
50 g Capsicum (3-cm squares)
5 g Ginger (finely chopped)
5 g Garlic (finely chopped)
10 g Green chillies (2-mm thick, cut on the bias)
8 g Dark soy sauce
8 g Light soy sauce
10 g Chinese cooking wine (optional)
10 g Vinegar
20 g Tomato ketchup
15 g Red chilli sauce
75 g Chicken stock (or water)
1 pinch MSG
1 tsp Ground pepper
2 g Salt
20 g Sugar
3-cm deep, ~200 g Oil for frying

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Kadai | wok
  • Jhhajhhri | perforated frying spoon

Appliances

  • Stove
  • Grinder

Served with