When I was little, I had a toy puppy and a doll. They were probably my most favorite since I still have them, carefully kept in a wooden cupboard beside my bed at mom’s house. Even after reminding myself every time I opened that cupboard, amid all that crazy last moment packing, I forgot to bring them along on my last trip. The puppy has a brown fur,big black button eyes and it woofed cutely darting out its little red tongue. It hopped & crawled when the key near its belly was turned. Sometimes I brushed its fur with the small comb which came along with it. Last week when we got little A a fuzzy pink pup with swanky neon glares, adorning a glitter studded cap and a silk scarf around its neck, she played and giggled with it all afternoon. Maybe we share an affection for dogs (the toy ones),I thought to myself.
My doll wore a floral frock with flat shoes and it had green glassy eyes. When I learnt to recognize flowers and shapes and colors, I named it Daisy from the ones printed on her black dress.I used to tie her black nylon hair into a pony using the same comb I brushed the dog’s hair with.It looked like a little brit missy with those matching daisies on her hat, readying for afternoon tea.Secretly, I wished to be as pretty as her(oh innocence!).Once when we had a fight and one of my sibling sketched pimples on its face (!) with a black pen, mom tells me I was dull for days and spent hours in the bathroom to wash those out. The dots mostly faded away but that ugly outline around one of her eyes still remains, signaling the grumpy look that the sketching was intended for.
Life just goes on and days pass one after the other but suddenly amid the busy ones, I stop for a while and get reminded of my childhood seeing my daughter and her antics.I wish she creates her own – of the house, toys and favorite things. I think about family,those years, the food, that bustling local market near our house where we used to go for shopping fabrics, jewellery, handicrafts and what not. Sometimes the shopping stretched for so long that suddenly it was decided that tonight we are eating out – at one of the local chinese restaurants with dragon print curtains and smelling of sweat and sesame. One where they served a spicy clear vegetable soup with unlimited side of rolls and chicken in hot garlic sauce over glutinous rice.
I start craving that chicken in hot garlic sauce severely,one with bits of garlic and crispy morsels coated in a deep flavored, sticky and hot reddish sauce. With no recipe to follow, it is just left to receding memories to build one.
You can read bits about indo chinese food in this post. As many of you who read my blog would know that we love some serious spicy indo chinese food in our house. What follows in the kitchen is mixing chinese & indian ingredients – soy with coriander, turmeric and vinegar . Ideally, the chicken needs to be deep-fried to crispy perfection, but seared it on high heat. The sauce is hot – you have a quite a handful of Thai bird chillies going in and even though there is a good amount of honey in the recipe but the kick from them remains. Spicy,smoky hot, garlicky or addictive – I don’t know how to describe the taste. It left us utterly content. I don’t claim to match any restaurant or cookbook recipe but the one I am sharing today left us almost licking our plates.Try it!
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
- 1 lb boneless chicken thighs,skinless
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 garlic pod, minced
- 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce ((I use Ching’s brand)
- pinch of turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Oil for skillet frying (I used sunflower)
Use tofu, paneer and assorted vegetables for a vegetarian version of this recipe
For the Sauce
- 8 garlic pods
- 5-6 whole red Kashmiri chillies (adjust to tolerance, de seed if you like )
- 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
- 1-2 Thai bird chili, whole
- 2 tsp dark soya sauce (I use Ching’s brand)
- 3 tbsp chilli tomato sauce (I use Maggi Hot & sweet)
- 2.5 tsp honey (or brown sugar)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tsp pure sesame oil (optional but recommended)
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 2/3 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water
- 3-4 tbsp oil (I used sunflower, use any neutral oil)
- 4 scallion stalks, white & green cut separately
- 1/2 cup thin sliced red onion
- Salt to taste
- 1.5 tbsp white vinegar (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- For Garnish – chopped scallions(green parts)
Soak the whole red chillies in warm water for 20 minutes.
Cut the cleaned chicken into bite size pieces. Rub it with flour, garlic, chili, soya sauce, turmeric, salt & pepper and let sit for about 25-30 minutes.
While the chicken is marinating, using your mortar and pestle or mini processor, crush the garlic, sesame seeds and soaked red chillies to tiny bits.You could use some soaking water if required for blending.
In a small bowl, mix up the soya sauce, chili tomato sauce, honey and sesame oil(if using). In another bowl, mix the cornstarch with the stock and set aside.
In a wide skillet (I used my 12″), heat up 2-3 tbsp of oil on high. Layer the marinated chicken pieces on the skillet and let sear on both sides, flipping in between. Make sure that the chicken pieces cook all the way through. This may take about 7-8 minutes or more depending on size of pieces.
Once done, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and reserve the dripping in the skillet itself.
Add the 3 tbsp oil into the same skillet and heat it up on medium. Add the crushed garlic- chili paste as well as the whole green chili to it and fry up these for 20-30 second or so till you smell the aroma. Be careful that the garlic does not burn. Next add the chopped scallions (white part) & onions and cook on medium high for 2-3 minutes or till light brown in color. Add the coriander, turmeric,ginger and soya sauce mix made earlier, let cook for 3-4 minutes till everything starts looking glossy or till you see bubbles on the sides.Next, add the cornstarch mix to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low and let everything simmer for another 2-3 minutes till the sauce thickens slightly.
Next, taste & adjust the salt in the sauce. Sprinkle the garam masala & vinegar to the skillet and stir everything well. Add the chicken & toss so that the pieces are evenly coated.
Garnish with chopped green scallions & serve immediately.
Enjoy and Thanks for stopping by!