Kung Pao chicken now globally popular originated in the Sichuan province of China during the Qing dynasty. For more on the history of this spicy chicken dish visit my Instagram profile @deshpandetara

Traditionally this dish is made with chicken and peanuts but you can also use tofu and cashews.

Soaking the chicken in egg white is a technique known as velveting and helps to tenderise the chicken.

Ingredients serves 4

Ingredients for Kung Pao chicken

For marinade

  • 800 grams skinless boneless thigh meat sliced into strips and soaked in half a cup of milk and one egg white for 3-4 hours.
  • 1/4 cup regular soy sauce or low sodium
  • 1.5  tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1  teaspoon white pepper
For the sauce
  • 1/4 tsp finely powdered Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or low sodium

Salt and more brown sugar if required

For stir fry

  • 1/4 cup vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely crushed Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup unroasted unsalted skinless peanuts
  • 2 Thai red chillies
  • 4-8 dried whole Sichuan red chillies or Mathania, Kashmiri or Arbol, stalks removed  (add between 4-5 for your preferred spiciness)
  • 6-7 scallions or green onions bulbs with an inch of the stalk, washed, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 6 inches of celery stalk cut in 6 pieces
  • 1.25 tablespoons of fresh garlic  paste
  • 1.25 tablespoons fresh ginger paste


For chicken marinade

Rinse chicken under cold water and drain fully to remove egg white and milk. The milk helps deodorise the chicken and the egg white tenderises it. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade with the fully drained chicken, stir well and reserve.

Combine the brown sugar and soy sauce and stir to dissolve. Reserve for the sauce.

For the stirfry

Heat half the vegetable oil in heavy bottom non stick pan and saute the peanuts until golden on medium heat.

Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve.

Add remaining vegetable or peanut oil to the pan and saute Sichuan pepper and Thai red chillies on low heat until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. This allows the oil to absorb the flavours of the peppercorns.    Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppers and red chillies and discard them.

Add dried whole red chillies of your choice, 1/2 the scallions and 1/2 the celery and toss on high heat about 1 minute.

Add garlic ginger paste and half the sesame oil and keep stirring to prevent burning about 1 minute until the paste is fragrant.

Add all the chicken with its liquid and toss well. Then pat down and arrange in a single larger in the pan. Lower heat to medium and allow it to cook 2 minute until sauce begins to thicken.

Add all the remaining ingredients for the sauce- chinese vinegar, toasted sesame oil sugar and soy  sauce and stir well. Add more water a little at a time only if required.

Add peanuts, remaining celery and green onions, toss and cook until chicken is tender.

Adjust for salt and sugar.

Serve hot with boiled white rice.


CHILI CON CARNE- Kidney Bean and Corn Stew

If you like Rajma you will love this dish. Its spicy sweet and robust. A one pot classic that will feed you for a couple of days.

A complete meal, this nutritious dish is of Mexican origin and a part of South Western cuisine in the United States. You can use a variety of kidney beans for it. It can be made entirely vegan with sweet potato instead of meat. If you use sweet potato add less brown sugar.


  • 250 grams  red or speckled kidney beans (you can use pinto or black beans or a mix as well)
  • 1-2 large red onion finely chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 bell peppers red and yellow
  • 6 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 4 tbsp veg or olive oil
  • 500 gram minced chicken/beef or uses peeled and chopped sweet potato (about 1/2 inch dice)
  • 400g can tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 1 cup fresh shelled corn
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin powder

  • 1/2-1 tsp paprika or red chilli powder
  • Hot sauce of your choice  I used chipotle but habanero jalapeño is also fine
  • Salt to taste
  • TO SERVE (optional)
  • sour cream and or grated cheddar, to serve
  • cilantro or fresh coriander leaves to garnish
  • Tacos, gutLI pao, cornbread as an accompaniment


Wash and soak kidney beans in excess water 4-5  hours or overnight. Wash drain and reserve.

Heat oil in a pressure cooker pan on a high flame. Saute onions and garlic till soft but do not brown them. Add bell peppers and cook until soft and water evaporates. Add carrots and saute one minute. Add tomatoes and tomato puree and saute 2-3 minutes. Add corn and kidney beans and combine. Add all spices and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Add some water if required and pressure cooker on medium heat for 2 whistles.

This stew is thick and juicy but not not runny. The meat when added will release a fair bit of water so add any extra liquid with care.

Open cooker and add meat. Stir well and pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Open and check for doneness. Add water salt, chilli powder and sugar as required.

This dish can also be prepared in a slow cooker. If using a large biryani or Dutch oven style pot you will need to add 2-3 cups of excess  water for the kidney beans.