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A spicy chicken dish to heat up your winter nights

Our lives have become such a hurried affair these days that for most families, dinner tends to be perhaps the only meal that is shared and eaten together.

It is a joyous time when the whole family can come together at the end of a busy day to a healthy and nourishing meal. And with the ‘hardly any time to cook’ problem, we all need quick, easy recipes that can be prepared in a jiffy without compromising on the taste factor.

This stir-fried chicken with Sichuan peppercorns, chillies and cashews ticks all the right boxes in that regard. A dish from the Sichuan province of China, this one is flavourful and fiery.

The star of the dish is the Sichuan peppercorn, which is an integral part of any recipe from the Sichuan province of China. Unlike other parts of China like the Cantonese or Hunan region, the food of the Sichuan province is high on the heat scale. This is mostly because of the bone chilling clammy climate of the region which enables the residents to have a high tolerance for spicy foods.

You can of course reduce the heat by cutting down on the Sichuan peppercorns and chillies but then that would take away the soul of the dish. In spite of the peppercorns, this stir-fried chicken does not have a numbing heat, instead it has a rich depth and flavour that makes the heat bearable.

I wouldn’t recommend this dish to those who run from the sight of chillies. This is not a subtle dish; it packs in a punch and is bold in terms of flavour.

So, let’s get cooking. Pair this with a simple vegetable or egg fried rice.

Stir Fried Chicken. Indian Link

Stir Fried Chicken with Sichuan Peppercorns, Chillies and Cashews

Ingredients

500gm boneless chicken thigh

1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns

Salt, to season

2 tbsp chilli oil

2 tbsp cornflour

50 gm cashewnuts

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

8 dry red chillies

4 tbsp chilli garlic sauce

2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

2 tbsp sugar

2 spring onions

Vegetable oil

Note: If you cannot get Sichuan peppercorns, then increase the quantity of dry red chillies and use. And for chilli oil, I infused red chilli flakes in vegetable oil; you can also get the same in Asian stores.

Method

Marinate the chicken with cornflour, salt, chilli oil and Sichuan pepper; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the chicken pieces; drain and keep aside.

Remove excess oil and roast the cashewnuts in the same pan and keep aside.

In the same pan (add more oil if necessary), sauté garlic and ginger for a minute. Add dry red chillies and sauté for one more minute on low heat.

Add chilli garlic sauce, cooking wine, sugar and mix well.

Add the chicken pieces and cashews; mix to combine.

Remove from heat and garnish with spring onions.

Note: It is important to check seasoning after adding the sauces and adjust accordingly.