Winner winner chicken dinner! With my Pepper Chicken with Shallots and Bell Peppers, a quick weeknight dinner feels like a treat with its heady aroma, contrasting textures and umami richness. Inspired by the very delicious pepper chicken fry that is an absolute favourite in the south of India, I have developed this recipe to suit the kitchen of a person who is so very far away from home and often finds herself with the desire to mark the end of a busy day with a meal that makes her feel closer to home. In this recipe, I have not included fresh curry leaves which is often used to add the distinct warm and spicy flavour to many South Indian fare. I do so not only because here, in London, curry leaves aren’t as easily available as, say, coriander but also because I feel that the absence of curry leaves needn’t deprive me of the joy that I would feel from eating some of my pepper chicken that’s truly delicious despite missing a herb that would make it ‘kinda’ authentic. That said, if you happen to have curry leaves, do add a few to the dish right with the dried chillis and let its deep aroma warm you from within. Additionally, my version includes halved shallots for texture instead of sliced onions and green bell peppers for additional nutritional benefits, flavour and crunch which in my books, is always a good idea. Make it in 30-40 minutes, and settle in with some after a busy day and let your worries disappear as you tuck in and enjoy! Additional ingredients such as laughs and giggles with family and friends/ a binge-worthy series on Netflix/ an interesting audio book or a pod-cast optional but highly recommended.
Ingredients (serves 2)
Chicken and the marinade:
- 400 chicken thighs, diced
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1sq inch of ginger, grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated
- 1 tsp of coriander powder
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp oil
For the stir-fry:
- 2 tbsp of oil
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
- Dried red chillies 3-4 broken
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thick
- 200 grams of shallots, halved
- A generous pinch or 2 of salt
- A generous pinch or 2 of turmeric powder
- 1/2 -3/4 tsp of freshly ground black pepper; I usually use a pinch more than 1/2 a tsp
- 2 capsicum or green peppers, diced
- 1tsp of soy sauce
- A few springs of coriander leaves or/ and spring onions for garnish
- Add all the ingredients listed for marinade and mix well to combine.
- Let it rest in the fridge overnight for best results but marinating for 5 to 10 mins works wonderfully as well; place the marinated chicken at room temperature for about 20 minutes before you are ready to cook if you marinated it earlier and refrigerated it.
- Pour the oil into a wide pan and place it on medium heat.
- Add the cinnamon and cumin seeds to the hot oil and fry until golden.
- Add the dried chillis, fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until aromatic and slightly browned and add in the shallots and the garlic.
- Add in a pinch of salt and fry until caramelised around the edges on medium heat.
- Add in the chicken and stir gently to combine; we don’t want the shallots to fall apart.
- Sauté until the chicken is cooked through, almost all of the moisture evaporates and the oil starts to separate.
- Add in the soy sauce and sauté until it’s well incorporated.
- Add in the ground pepper (freshly ground is best) and the diced capsicum and sauté until cooked through; we want the capsicum crisp and yet cooked through.
- Stir in your garnish (coriander leaves and spring onions) and serve over steamed rice or some spiced pulao for a quick and delicious weeknight meal.