Spicy Chili Chicken

Honestly, no matter how hard I try to eat healthy food, there comes a time (more often than I would like) when I just crave the comfort of something spicy, yummy, finger-licking, lip smacking good, yet come with a not so healthy label. One of those dishes is chili chicken.

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I am sure there are as many variations of the dish as there are cooks and kitchens. So, this recipe is of course an original concocted in my kitchen, and enjoyed my many.

(Disclaimer: I did not intend to really post this recipe, so I did not take too many pictures! Talking about pictures, I need to “grow” some patience to fiddle with the settings on my Galaxy or use an actual camera! One of these days! Anyway, the taste and flavor profile of the dish convinced me to take couple of quick pictures to actually post this recipe!)

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This dish, unlike some other recipes you might have seen online is very straightforward. Ingredients are just chicken, few basic spices, lots of cayenne powder, a splash of apple cider vinegar and a coating of Thai sweet soy sauce. That’s it guys! So, you ask me what makes this slip from the relatively healthy domain into the not so healthy one…well, it’s kind of the liberal use of oil and cornstarch. You could definitely cut down on the oil and cornstarch or completely eliminate the latter, but the texture will be a bit different. So, I suggest you try the recipe as is the first time and tweak for the subsequent tries – because I know you will want to make it again!

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Spicy Chili Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs, bone in (you can use boneless as well)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated finely
4-6 Thai chili peppers or other spicy pepper like jalapeno, sliced lengthwise
1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
3 tablespoons canola or other light flavored oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 – 2 tablespoons sweet Thai soy sauce

Preparation:
1. Remove skin of the chicken, and cut into 4 or 5 pieces. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add all spices, through garlic to the chicken and mix thoroughly to coat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. To this, add the chili and curry leaves, if using. Toss in oil for few seconds.
4. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and cook under high heat for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally.
5. Sprinkle the cornstarch. Mix well to coat.
6. Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, turning occasionally. By now, the chicken pieces will be cooked all the way through and there will not be any liquid remaining. If there is some liquid remaining, remove lid, reduce heat and continue to cook till the all liquid evaporates.
7. Add the soy sauce and toss well. Cook for another 2 minutes.

The chicken can be served as an appetizer (a welcome change from chicken wings) or with steamed rice or noodles and veggies for a complete meal. And, oh, the chicken tastes great cold too.

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Sweet and Tangy Turkey Meatballs

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What is it about a blend of tastes – sweet and tangy, sweet and spicy…Flavor combos like these are always extra intriguing to the palette! Such was the inspiration for this dish…healthier ground turkey, seasoned with a blend of spicy jalapeno (mmm…would love to try the recipe with habanero next time around), sweet mango, citrusy note of lemon zest and freshness of cilantro!

This recipe is a nice change from the traditional beef meatballs in red tomato sauce, or if you are a bit more adventurous Swedish meatballs! While you could serve these meatballs as little cocktail bites, mixed with some veggies like carrot and simmered in some liquid, these could also double as a topper for some hot cooked rice or pasta. These would even be great with a side of steamed veggies if you want to go light on the carbs!

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These meatballs are super easy to whip together. Yeah, it takes a bit of a prep – sauteing the onion and peppers, making the meatballs, browning them, and then simmering them in the sauce, but the effort, in my opinion, is worth it! They are very tender and delicious, with just a little note of heat and sweetness.

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Sweet and Tangy Turkey Meatballs

  • Servings: 4-5
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Ingredients
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon oil, additional 2 tablespoons
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet, ripe mango
1 tablespoon lime zest
1-2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 large carrot, chopped (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup orange marmalade

Preparation:
1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a skillet and saute onion, garlic and jalapeno till golden. Take care not to burn. Add the oatmeal and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, combine turkey, sauted mixture from above and all remain ingredients through breadcrumbs.
3. Form into 1″ balls.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Remove to a platter. Note that the meatballs will not be cooked all the way through, so please resist the temptation to bite into one (though you will really be tempted!)
5. In a medium sauce pan,add a teaspoon of oil and saute the carrots for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and a bit of salt to taste. Stir in the orange marmalade and drop the meatballs into the pan. Gently toss to coat, cover and cook for 15 minutes, till the carrot is tender and sauce is a little thick.
6. Serve the meatball with rice, pasta or steamed veggies.