“Desi Chinese” is probably a term that you have never heard before. The word “desi” is a direct reference to almost anything Indian (including person, place or thing). So essentially Desi Chinese is Chinese food Indian style. It’s the best of both worlds and simply delicious. It’s old world fusion cuisine at its best. Traditional Chinese dishes are prepared with aromatic Indian flavors and spices.
Chicken Manchurian is a favorite among fans, it is easy to prepare and tasty. Served along side stir fried noodles with vegetables or fragrant jasmine rice, it makes for a delightful meal. A vegetarian version can be made by easily substituting the chicken pieces with cauliflower florets (Gobi Manchurian), baby corn pieces (Baby Corn Manchurian) or paneer cubes (Paneer Manchurian).
There are many different variations of this recipe and I have tried most of them. The one below is my very own and a favorite in my house especially with kids.
CHICKEN MANCHURIAN (Chicken in a Fragrant Spicy Chinese Sauce)
Yield: serves 6
1 lb of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
6 small green chilies, cut in half lengthwise
1 tsp chili powder
4 tbsp soy sauce (light or low sodium is fine)
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup of water
½ cup of oil (vegetable or canola)
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro leaves, finely chopped for garnish
toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Marinate the chicken pieces with salt, pepper and half of garlic and ginger. Mix well to combine and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. This can be done using a plastic zip bag.
In a large skillet, add the oil and heat on medium. Prepare a slurry by combining the cornstarch and the water. Mix thoroughly to create a smooth batter. Pour the mixture over the marinated chicken and coat well. Fry the chicken pieces until golden brown and crispy on all sides. This can be done in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Drain well and set aside until needed.
There should be a light coating of oil left in the pan, remove any excess if needed. To the same pan add the chilies, onion and the remaining garlic and ginger. Stir fry this for 4-5 minutes until the onions start to brown. Add the chili powder, soy sauce and tomato ketchup. Reduce the heat to low and check the seasoning. Add the crispy chicken pieces; they will soften slightly as they absorb the sauce. If your sauce is too thick, add water if needed. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.