Chilli chicken recipe – Indian Chinese restaurant-style chilli chicken dry and gravy

Chilli chicken recipe – learn how to make chilli chicken dry and gravy(semi gravy and curry-like gravy) at home with an indian chinese restaurant-style taste described with step-by-step pictures. Chilli chicken is the most popular chicken preparation served as a starter or a side dish with a Chinese main course in an Indo-Chinese restaurant.

However, this chilli chicken recipe doesn’t exist in authentic Chinese cuisine rather it is originated in Indian cuisine by following the Chinese hakka cooking style. Due to its popularity, chilli chicken is easily available in Indian roadside fast food corners from street-style food vans to popular Indo-Chinese food joints to any multi-cuisine restaurants as a dry starter to a gravy-based curry.

What is chilli chicken? Chilli chicken is nothing but crispy batter-fried chicken pieces tossed in a sweet and spicy Chinese sauce with cubed onion, green bell pepper, chopped garlic & lots of chilies with pepper.

Why it is named chilli chicken? In this recipe, lots of chilies are used along with two types of spicy chinese style chilli sauces so this recipe is named after the usage of chilli.

Can I use the same recipe to make chilli chicken dry and gravy? Yes, you can. Both dry and gravy(semi gravy and curry-like gravy)based chilli chicken recipes are prepared with the same recipe. Just for making the dry version of this recipe means to make chilli chicken as a starter toss or stir-fry the fried chicken pieces in different sweet & spicy Chinese sauces with other ingredients. On the other hand, adding cornflour mixed water with the dry chili chicken will easily make its gravy version. Or you may first prepare the gravy and then add fried chicken pieces to it for making its later version, as I did in my Chilli Prawns Recipe.

We have several Indian chicken recipes which are also prepared with more chilies but that must not be called chili chicken, right, why? Because chili chicken is neither a pure Chinese dish nor an Indian recipe. It is actually a combination of Indian and Chinese cuisine. Where its making process is partially Indian like the frying of chicken but the use of different types of sauces, pepper, and tossing method totally inspired by the Chinese cooking style. Even we have also learned the use of cornflour from them.

indian chinese restaurant style chilli chicken with gravy served in a white bowl with chopsticks with chinese vegetable fried rice in a white bowlchinese style chilli chicken with gravy served in a white bowl with chopsticks with chinese vegetable fried rice in a white bowl

For making chilli chicken, few things need to keep in our mind. Firstly, The usage of lots of chilies and pepper(black or white), many sauces like tomato sauce (or ketchup), Soya sauce, chili sauce( red or green or both) and cooking should be on high flame. Even as Chinese preparations do not take much time to cook so before start cooking keep its ingredients ready.

Is chilli chicken too spicy? Though its name and usage of chilli describe how spicy this dish is. But the choice is yours, how spicy you want in your chilli chicken is totally up to you, use chilli as per your taste not more or less. As I can not use more chili in it just because of my kid.

I’ve learned this finger-licking chilli chicken recipe from my dad(a great cook of my family). Since I got married I mostly prepare it at home when I or my husband gets a craving for Chinese food. Even it is common in our menu when we visit any Chinese restaurant.

I feel My dad makes the best chilli chicken, even it is more delicious than the restaurant-style version. Today I’m going to share that particular recipe with you. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

Even people have many more questions about this recipe. Such as, how to make chicken pieces tender and juicy that it easily melts in our mouth. How to marinate the chicken to get rid of its raw smell after cooking? Here I’ve shared all my tricks and tips through this step-by-step recipe and I hope it will help you to clear your all doubts.

Try this chilli chicken recipe, with dry version, semi gravy version of curry like gravy version as per your requirement. The choice is yours. Make it at home and please let me know your valuable feedback in the comment section below.

You may try some of my other similar Chinese recipes from my website

Even you may enjoy this dish with Italian herb rice too.

Chilli chicken recipe – Indian Chinese restaurant-style chilli chicken dry and gravy

Prep time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

Served in: 35 mins

Served for: 5 people

Course: Starter / Dinner

Cuisine: Indo Chinese / Chinese style

Author: Moumita Paul


For making the chicken soft

  • 500 gms boneless chicken 
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/2 tbsp vinegar

For making the batter for marinating chicken

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp ginger(grated or paste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic(grated or paste)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tbsp maida or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For making gravy

  • 2-3 onions(cut into cubes)
  • 1 large green capsicum( cubes cut)
  • 3 tsp garlic(chopped)
  • 2 tsp ginger(chopped)
  • 4 tbsp of tomato ketchup
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 2 tsp red chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup spring onion
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 1/2 cup of refined oil
  • Salt(as required)

How to make chilli chicken dry and gravy with step by step pictures


How to make the chicken soft and tender

  • Take 500 gms chicken breast or chicken with bones and cut into small to medium pieces. Then keep the chicken pieces in a bowl, clean, and wash it thoroughly.
small to medium size boneless chicken pieces
  • Then add 2 cups of lukewarm water to the chicken, add 2 1/2 tbsp of vinegar to it. Cover the bowl and leave it for 30 mins to make the chicken pieces soft and it also helps to remove the raw smell from the chicken.
adding vinegar to the chicken added lukewarm water
  • After 30 mins take the chicken out from the water and squeeze each piece to remove the excess water from it. Keep it aside.
squeezing the chicken pieces to remove excess water

How to marinate the chicken

  • Then take another mixing bowl, add two eggs, 3 tbsp cornflour, 3 tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, 1 tsp grated or ginger paste, 1 1/2 tsp grated or garlic paste.
eggs, ginger, garlic, cornflour, plain flour or maida, black pepper and salt in a mixing bowl
  • Mix all the ingredients together by using a whisker, spoon, or with your hand. Then all the chicken pieces into the mixture and coat the chicken nicely into the batter. Once it is done, cover the bowl and marinade it until frying.
  • This marination will also partially remove the raw smell of chicken and lastly cooking in sauces will completely remove the smell.
chicken in batter to marinade

How to make the sauce for this recipe

Now make the sauce ready for this recipe, take a bowl, add 4 tbsp tomato ketchup, 2 tsp soya sauce, 2 tsp red chili sauce, 1 1/2 tsp vinegar, 1 tsp chilli flakes,  1/2 tsp black pepper powder and 1/4 tsp salt and mix it well. Keep it aside for later.

sauce mixture is ready by adding salt in it

How to fry the chicken

Now take a deep frying pan, heat it up on medium flame. Add 1/2 cup or 8 tbsp of white oil or refined oil, let the oil gets hot. Then add the batter-coated chicken pieces to the oil but the pan must not be crowded.

frying the batter coated chicken pieces for making this recipe
  • Fry the chicken pieces until they get golden brown in color from both sides. Remove it from the pan.
chicken is golden brown in colour after frying and ready for all chilli chicken recipes

How to make chilli chicken

  • For making dry chilli chicken, When the frying of all batches is done, then put the flame of your oven on medium to high heat. First, add 3 tsp chopped garlic after sauté for few seconds add chopped ginger to it, and sauté it too.
adding chopped ginger in the pan after garlic and garlic is the important ingredient of all chinese recipes
  • Then add onion cubes(parted away) to the pan and stir it well. Sauté it for 1 min then add the green capsicum to it. Even add 3-4 green chillies to it.
onions, capsicum and green chillies are added to the pan
  • After the sautéing, the veggies for 1 minute, add the sauce mixture(prepared before) to it and mix it well.
adding sauce mixture to the sauteed vegetables for making this indo chinese recipes
  • Just after 1 minute add a handful of chopped spring onions and 1/2 tsp of black pepper powder to the pan.
adding spring onion to the pan which is must in all chinese recipes
  • Saute all the masala and vegetables for 30 secs and add the batter-fried chicken pieces to the pan. Stir or toss it well for making chilli chicken dry. After keeping the pan on high flame by continuous stirring or tossing for a minute, stop cooking. May season it with a little salt in this step.
after adding fried chicken to the pan, dry chilli chicken will be ready by tossing
  • But if you want chilli chicken with a semi gravy, then take a mixing bowl with 1 1/2 cup of water add 3tbsp cornflour to it mix it well(to avoid lumps) and add it to the pan.
adding corn flour added to the chicken for making its gravy
  • Let the gravy boil on high flame for 1 min then add salt and mix it well.
adding salt to this semi gravy recipe
  • Then add a handful of spring onion, cook it for few seconds by continuous stirring, and your semi gravy style chilli chicken will be ready.
spring onion is sprinkled on this chilli recipe
  • But if you want a regular curry-like chilli chicken gravy, the quantity of cornflour added water must be raised to 2 1/2 cups instead of 1 1/2 cup. Then also you have to add salt(as per taste) and spring onion to the gravy and boil it or cook it on high flame for 1 more min.
chilli chicken is in the pan with full gravy
  • Chilli chicken is ready with a regular curry-based gravy. Serve it hot with any fried rice, noodles or even it goes well with roti too.
chilli chicken curry or chilli chicken with gravy is ready


  • Keep the chicken pieces small or medium as per your choice. As big pieces won’t be tender, juicy, and even not be tasty, even its raw smell can exist.
  • As sauce contains salt, so add salt as per your taste.
  • Here I’ve used vinegar but if that’s not available in your kitchen, then tenderize the meat with lemon juice too.
  • To create that exact Indo-Chinese restaurant-style taste in your chili chicken recipe, Ajinomoto or MSG(monosodium glutamate) is a must-used ingredient. As that taste-enhancing agent is used in every restaurant especially serve such Indo Chinese style dishes. Though I never use monosodium glutamate or msg or Ajinomoto in any of my homemade Chinese recipes due to its serious impact on health.
  • If you don’t have chili flakes, can add chili powder too but that quantity must be less. Even you may add only green chillies(as Andhra people do) or only use red chillies. But must use pepper to maintain its Chinese style taste and flavor.

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