This tasty Chicken Manchurian is an amazing combination of crispy fried chicken and tangy, spicy, slightly sweet sauce that is an ideal appetizer for any night! Serve it as a side dish, a snack, or just enjoy it as a meal that everyone will love!
Chicken Manchurian Combines the Best of Sweet and Savory
Chicken Manchurian is quite a popular Chinese dish, but it is also found in many Indian and Pakistani homes and restaurants. Why? Well, the recipe was originally created by a chef of Chinese descent who was born and lived in Calcutta, India!
This dish is a wonderful example of how recipes and flavors are influenced over time by the environment in which they are created and prepared. Chicken Manchurian is a tasty blend of salty and tangy flavors, with just a hint of sweetness that will have everyone begging for more!
Since my family loves all things spicy - from slightly to wow! - this was a recipe that had to be tried! We've enjoyed it many times now and always fight the urge to add more of one of my fave ingredients, the chili paste!
What You'll Need
There are several steps involved in preparing Chicken Manchurian, but don’t worry! It’s the marinating that takes the longest - all of the other steps are fast and easy!
- Chicken Breast - Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Both will work equally well but the thighs tend to be a bit moister.
- Soy Sauce - Tamari can be substituted - both add a great umami flavor. Fish sauce is also a great go-to substitute for soy sauce!
- Ginger Garlic Paste - Gives an amazing spicy and peppery taste. Check out my ginger garlic paste recipe, it's so much better than store-bought!
- Chili Powder - This is mostly for color and paprika can also be used.
- Ground Black Pepper - Use ground black pepper or freshly ground pepper to add flavor.
- Egg White - Works as a binding agent, keeping the marinade stuck to the protein.
- Corn Starch - Provides a coating for the meat that prevents it from overcooking.
- All-Purpose Flour - The bulk of the marinade mixture that creates the breaded chicken effect once fried.
- Cooking Oil - Use any neutral-flavored oil for frying, such as canola, avocado, or coconut oil.
- Yellow Onion - You can also use a white onion or the white section of green onions.
- Chili Paste - Crushed red pepper flakes are a great substitute, as is ketchup with cayenne added.
- Tomato Paste or Sauce - Optional, but it adds to the color and gives a slight sweetness.
- Rice Vinegar - This is always the best vinegar for Asian-inspired recipes, but any vinegar will do. My second choice would be apple cider vinegar followed by white vinegar.
- Sugar - Or honey, for a sweet taste to balance out the vinegar.
- Salt - To taste. Salt will highlight all of the delicious sauce flavors!
- Chicken Broth - Homemade or store-bought chicken broth will work equally well. You can also use plain water, but broth adds richness to the dish.
- Bell Peppers - Use fresh peppers. Go with green bell peppers or a variety of colors for fun!
How to Make Chicken Manchurian
The chicken can be chopped into small chunks, minced, or even shredded in a food processor. If you want to make meatballs, you will need to form them by hand after marinating and before frying.
- Gather your marinade ingredients and cube the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Using a mixing bowl, combine the chicken and ingredients for the marinade starting with the 1st portion of ginger garlic paste, chili powder, black pepper, egg white, and the first portion of soy sauce. Mix well until the chicken is completely coated.
- Add the 1st portion of cornstarch and the all-purpose flour next and coat the wet chicken thoroughly.
- Place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for a minimum of one hour - longer is great!
Frying the Chicken
- Using a wok, deep skillet, or Dutch Oven, heat the cooking oil to 375ºF (190ºC) over medium/high heat. If you have cut the chicken into small chunks, you will only need about 3 tablespoons of oil, but meatballs require more - at least half an inch of oil to fry. Make sure there is enough oil to cover meatballs halfway.
- Fry the chicken pieces or meatballs until crispy and golden in appearance. To make sure the meatballs are thoroughly cooked, break one open and take the internal temperature with a digital thermometer. It should be 165ºF (74ºC) and no trace of pink!
- Place all of the fried chicken onto a plate or tray lined with paper towels to absorb the grease.
Make the Manchurian Sauce
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl, including tomato sauce (optional), soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili paste, and salt.
- Wipe your frying pan or wok clean from cooking the chicken if desired, but leave about a tablespoon of oil for the sauce. Gather all of your ingredients, as the sauce will come together quickly!
- Combine the onions, the ginger garlic paste, and the bell peppers and sauté on medium heat until aromatic, 1 - 2 minutes.
- Next, pour the sauce into the pan, and mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water to form a slurry to thicken the sauce. Pour the slurry and the chicken broth (or water) into the sauce once you see it start to bubble.
- Turn the heat down to low and let simmer until the sauce visibly thickens, 3 - 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
- Toss the fried chicken or meatballs back into the pan and stir until the meat is coated in sauce. Serve immediately!
Chicken Manchurian is usually served on top of, or next to, a bed of rice. Garnish with chopped green onion for a perfect plate!
There is also a vegetarian version of this dish called Gobi Manchurian. It is the same recipe, but the chicken is replaced with cauliflower florets.
However you choose to make it, this delectable and savory Chicken Manchurian is a quintessential Indo-Chinese dish that is sure to please everyone! Enjoy!
Storing Leftover Chicken Manchurian
I didn't know it was possible to have leftovers! But if you do, place the fully cooled chicken and sauce into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 -4 days maximum. However, this breaded chicken is best eaten within 1 - 2 days.
If you know you may have more than enough for your planned appetizers, it would be ideal to store the fried marinated chicken separate from the sauce. This would yield the best results when it's time for reheating!
- 1 lb chicken breast (boneless, skinless)
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce (divided - use 1 teaspoon for the marinade, and 1 tablespoon for the sauce)
- 1 ½ Tbsp ginger garlic paste (see recipe - 2 portions, use 1 teaspoon for the marinade, use 1 ½ tablespoons for the sauce)
- ⅛ tsp chili powder (or paprika, for red color)
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 egg white
- 5 tsp corn starch (divided - 2 teaspoons for the marinade, 3 teaspoons for the sauce)
- 1 ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
- cooking oil (for frying)
- 1 medium yellow onion (finely diced, or use about 2 tablespoons of green onion whites)
- 2 Tbsp chili paste (such as Sambal Oelek)
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste or sauce (optional)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 pinch salt (to taste)
- 1 cup chicken broth (or water)
- 1-2 bell peppers (cut into 1-inch chunks)
- The chicken can be cubed into bite-size pieces or finely minced to form meatballs later. Either way, proceed through the marinating portion and up to frying. The only exception is that you would need to form the chicken into 1 to 1 ½-inch meatballs before frying (after marinating).
- In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the chicken with marinade ingredients including the first 1 teaspoon portion of soy sauce, the first 1 teaspoon portion of ginger garlic paste, ⅛ teaspoon of chili powder or paprika (optional, for red color), ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 egg white, the first 2 teaspoon portion of cornstarch, and 1 ½ tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Mix until the chicken is well coated.
- Set the chicken aside and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for an hour. Longer is OK.
Frying the Marinated Chicken
- Heat your oil in a deep skillet, frying pan, wok, or Dutch Oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) over medium to medium-high heat. When frying chunked chicken, you only need about 3 tablespoons of oil, meatballs require at least a ½-inch depth of cooking oil to fry. *You need enough oil to come up at least halfway onto your chicken meatballs.
- Deep fry the chicken pieces or formed meatballs until golden in appearance and crisped. Break open a meatball or use a digital meat thermometer to check that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). You should not see pink meat either!
- Remove the cooked chicken from your skillet (wok, etc.) and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate or tray.
Make the Manchurian Sauce
- In a small mixing bowl combine the sauce ingredients including 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoons tomato paste or sauce (optional), 2 tablespoons chili paste, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of salt (to taste).
- Clean your frying pan (wok, etc.) leaving about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil for the sauce.
- Over medium heat, fry the onions or green onions along with 1 ½ tablespoons ginger garlic paste and cubed bell peppers. Cook until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the sauce then make a slurry with the second portion of 3 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water. Pour the slurry and 1 cup of chicken broth (or water) into the sauce once the sauce begins to bubble.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Once thickened remove from heat.
- Add the fried chicken pieces or meatballs back into the frying pan and stir to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!