Yet again, food has opened my world to a whole new bunch of friends in Melbourne.
I have been part of a growing food group called ‘Chef at Large’ on Facebook for quite a while now. A couple of months ago, a bunch of us belonging to the group and residing in Melbourne decided to meet up for a coffee. And the only thing that we knew about each other – food makes our world go around!
And that friendship has blossomed over the months with regular meet-ups, coffees, pot lucks, family gatherings etc….
Our recent meet was a potluck party at a nearby farm where we had a whale of a time sampling each other’s dishes, rambling, laughing….all the good things of life. Apart from all the food and fun, we had also decided to swap an ingredient each and come up with a recipe featuring the same.
I was given the round, dry red chillies, which are hugely popular in the South Indian region. Also known as ‘Gundu Milagu; these chillies are small and round with bright, shiny, deeply red skin. It is extensively used in the Chettinadu style of cooking apart from being used for tempering traditional Indian dishes like dals, sambar and rasam.
Chillies are always looked upon as a source of heat and very rarely, as a source of flavour. When used in the right manner and the right quantities, you can enjoy the flavour profile of each chilli without making the dish fiery or hot. Today’s recipe, chilli chicken bites, is an example….
Chilli chicken is a classic Indian starter but I decided to give it my own twist to make it appealing to all taste buds, especially as a snack for children.
The marinade used is a medley of red chillies, cumin, fenugreek, cloves and coriander along with aromatics like ginger and garlic. The chicken pieces can be marinated and frozen for upto a month which makes this dish a handy one when you have parties or gatherings. You could also freeze this in small portions and use in lunch box recipes like I do. Sandwiches, wraps, snacks…..my son loves the chilli chicken bites in his lunch box.
So, here’s the recipe for chilli chicken bites – a classic example of why you should love chillies!
1. 1 kg, chicken thigh (boneless); cut into bite sized pieces
2. 5-6 dry red chilli, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes (it will not be spicy, trust me)
3. 5 garlic cloves
4. 1 inch ginger root, peeled
5. ½ tsp cumin seeds
6. ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
7. 5 cloves
8. 1 tsp coriander seeds
9. Salt, to taste
10. 3-4 cups Panko breadcrumbs, for coating (use ordinary breadcrumbs if you wish to)
11. Vegetable oil, for frying
Pssst….if you live in Australia, then these chillies are available in Indian stores which specifically sell South Indian or Srilankan ingredients.
1. Wash and drain the chicken pieces well; keep aside.
2. Soak the chillies in warm water for at least 15 minutes.
3. Dry roast cumin, fenugreek, cloves and coriander seeds.
4. Grind the roasted spices and the softened chillies with a bit of water into a paste.
5. Add the paste to the chicken pieces, season with salt and mix well to combine.
6. Marinate for at least 3-4 hours, more if possible. If you want to freeze for later use, do it at this stage.
7. Heat oil in a deep pan to fry the chicken pieces.
8. Coat each chicken piece in the Panko crumbs and fry till golden brown. Drain on a kitchen paper.
9. Serve hot with dip of choice.