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.


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!)


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!


Spicy Chili Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
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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

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.

Curried Ground Turkey


Of late, my hubby has been doing majority of our grocery shopping. As much as I appreciate his help, I sometimes wish I was the one running to the grocery store – especially when he comes home with 3-pound package of meat or a whole grocery bag full of those fat eggplants! 🙂

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Such was last week’s grocery run! Among other things, 2 packages of 3-lb pack of ground turkey – and oops, not my usual extra lean version! These were the oh so moist, yet oh so calorific 85% lean version! What to do! Oh well! Since both the packages were promptly placed in the freezer (guess who did it!), I had to use up everything once I thawed a package! 3 pounds of ground turkey and a lazy weekend with nothing to do!


My kids have been asking for meatballs and I actually wanted to get ground turkey to make a curry! Since I didn’t want to use up all that meat in just two dishes, I added a third! So, my 3 pounder transformed into super moist meatballs, curried turkey and seasoned turkey taco meat! All were pretty easy recipes, so off I started with the curried turkey dish first!


You don’t need many exotic spices to make this immensely flavorful dish that could be served over rice or with a side of a flatbread such as Indian naan, pita bread or just plain super-crusty bread! You just need a small amount of good quality curry powder!


Since my dear hubby also brought me a mesh bag full of sweet potato when I specifically asked for 3, I decided to amp up the nutritional value of the curry with the addition of sweet potato cubes and spinach! Don’t wait, grab the few ingredients that are needed and whip up this delicious, semi-nutritious (wish I had the extra lean meat)

Curried Ground Turkey

  • Servings: 4-5
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1 pound ground turkey (lean or extra lean)
1 tablespoon oil*
1/4 cup chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, optional
1/4 cup water
salt to taste
1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, optional

1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown ground turkey till lightly brown and cooked through.
2. If you are using higher fat than 90-93% lean turkey, chances are you will have bit of fat accumulating after browning the meat. I usually scoop this out and discard.
3. If the meat mixture is too dry, use the tablespoon of oil*. To the pan, add onion and garlic.
4. Stir around cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the dry spices and salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
5. Add the sweet potato and spinach. Gently stir. Add the water and cook covered on low heat for 15 minutes or so, till sweet potato is soft and the sauce thickens.
6. Stir in the coconut milk, if using, and remove from heat.

Serve the dish with steamed rice or your favorite flatbread.

Chickpeas in curry sauce

20140327_191710I always try to have a can or two of chickpeas on hand. Yes, they are tastier and probably healthier if you soak and cook them in your own kitchen, but I always seem to need them on the spur of the moment. Hence, I usually stock my pantry with few cans of different types of beans.

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I use chickpeas in salads, mixed in with rice, tossed in chicken curry and in myriad other ways. One of the most common preparation is making a curry highlighting their simple, yet delicious taste and texture. Chickpea curry can be prepared in many ways and it goes by different names – chole and channa masala being the most common.

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This particular recipe also uses some diced potato. Potato soaks up the flavors well without “stealing the thunder” from the chickpeas. Feel free to omit it if you want to just keep it all chickpeas. Taste will be unaltered.


This dish can be served with steamed rice or any flat bread. Accompany it with a small crispy salad or sliced cucumbers and red onions with bit of lemon juice.

Chickpeas in curry sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
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1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 medium sized potato, diced into about 1/2″ cube
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons ginger/garlic paste
2″ piece of cinnamon, broken up
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (adjust to taste)
salt to taste
To garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup sliced red onions
Sliced lemon

1. Heat oil in a medium wok or pan. Sauté cinnamon and cumin for a minute under low medium flame.
2. Increase heat to medium and add onions and ginger/garlic paste and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add potato and continue to cook for another 3 – 4 minutes.
4. Stir in cayenne, tomato sauce, curry powder and water. Season with salt and cook for about 20 minutes, till potato is cooked through.
5. Add chickpeas and continue cooking till chickpeas are heated through and the sauce reaches the desired consistency.
6. Garnish with sliced onions, chopped cilantro and slices of lemon.
7. Serve hot with steamed rice or flat bread of your choice (like naan, roti, chappati or even pita bread).

“Instant” Chicken Curry

Instant Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy/moderate
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finished chicken curry

Everyone that I know loves a good chicken curry – whether it is Sri Lankan chicken curry with coconut milk, a Thai curry, Indian butter chicken, Jamaican curry or myriad of other types! Regardless of their origin, most of these curries call for exotic spices that are likely to be found in an adventurous cook’s kitchen or requires a special visit to a well-stocked local grocery store or an ethnic grocer.

But, what if it is one of those days when you don’t want to make a sandwich, east some leftovers, or make another pot of soup? What if you want to decompress in the kitchen by creating something satisfying and different? What if you end up wondering, if only you could relish mouthfuls of some delicious curry with a piece of flat bread, steamed rice, or even a piece of bread? Only if!

You always thought your kitchen was pretty well stocked although you didn’t always have an assortment of Asian spices like cardamom, curry/garam masala powder, or special blend of chili powders! Can you still make great chicken curry with what might usually be in your pantry? YES, YOU CAN!

Today, I am going to share with you just one of those “instant” chicken curry recipes – “instant” not because you open up a frozen package of chicken curry and nuke it in the microwave, but because you can whip this baby up with mostly basic pantry items. I made it two nights ago and I have to say it was a big hit with my whole family!

Before we begin, let’s do a quick check to see if you have the following on hand – you can potentially skip couple of these ingredients without compromising on the flavor, taste and look of the dish! You will need about 1 ½ lbs of chicken (any type, although I used drumsticks in mine), onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, turmeric (can be skipped if you don’t have any), fine sea salt (or regular), cayenne powder, lime or lemon juice, fresh tomato, cilantro (can be skipped , but it does add a wonderful aroma), coconut milk or heavy cream and oil. So, assuming you have these on hand, let’s start!

First, we need to prepare the meat and veggies. Remove the skin of the chicken and make couple of slits on the drumsticks if you are using them. Otherwise, just cut the chicken into desired size. You can use thighs cut into 2-3 pieces, breasts cut into about fourths or bite sized pieces. You can even use boneless chicken breast, although in my humble opinion, a good chicken curry needs at least some red meat and/or pieces with bones. To me, curry made from boneless, skinless breast just doesn’t cut it! So, back to prep work. After you clean the chicken, rinse and drain all the water. You can even blot it dry, but I rarely do. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of fine sea salt, a tablespoon of lime juice and a heaping teaspoon (or per your taste) of cayenne on the chicken and mix well, making sure to get them into the slits. Let sit while you prepare rest of the ingredients.

All marinated and waiting for action

All marinated and waiting for action

Chop onions, tomato and cilantro. Mince ginger and garlic. Set them aside.

chicken curry veggies

Heat a wok or a heavy pot/pan over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. To this, add ginger, garlic, onion and a piece of cinnamon stick broken up. Saute till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden. Add ¼ tsp of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon cayenne powder and stir for few seconds. Cayenne can be adjusted according to taste. I used a little more than a teaspoon because we love super spicy stuff in our house. You might want to turn your exhaust fan off to ward off any ill effects of cayenne in the air! Now, add tomato and ¼ tsp of salt.

tomato cooking for chicken currychicken added

When the mixture starts to turn pulpy and fragrant, add chicken pieces along with any juices left behind. Stir well in the spice mixture. Add about ¼ cup of water and cook covered under medium low flame for about 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is fairly thickened. Keep an eye on the curry while it is cooking as you might need to add little bit more water if the gravy looks too dry. To finish, add about 3 tablespoon of unsweetened coconut milk or heavy cream, stir and garnish with chopped cilantro.

finishe chicken

Serve with cooked rice (in the picture above, I served with brown rice and “raita”)or bread and a side salad or another vegetable dish.

When it comes to being creative in the kitchen, if you put your mind to it, you can make incredible dishes with what you have on hand!

1 1/2 lbs chicken pieces, skin removed
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne (more or less, per your taste)
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2″ piece of cinnamon broken up
1 cup chopped tomato
additional salt, if needed
3 tablespoons unsweetened milk or cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro