Chicken Manchurian is a popular Indo-Chinese recipe made with boneless chicken. Crispy pieces of chicken are added to a spicy and tangy Manchurian sauce, and served with fried rice. It’s a super popular dish at Pakistani and Indian restaurants that specialise in Indo-Chinese cuisine. Read on ahead for my recipe for restaurant style chicken Manchurian.
What is chicken Manchurian?
Chicken Manchurian is one of the most popular dishes in Indo-Chinese cuisine. It consists of crispy pieces of boneless chicken in a spicy and tangy red sauce and is usually served with Chinese fried rice. Though the name makes it sound Chinese, the recipe does not have Chinese origins. Chicken Manchurian is actually a part of Indo-Chinese cuisine, which combines aspects of Indian and Chinese cuisine, and is super popular in both India and Pakistan. So you get Chinese flavours and sauces, combined with Indian spices. Chicken Manchurian, and other variations of this recipe such as gobi Manchurian (cauliflower Manchurian) or fish Manchurian will be found in Indian and Pakistani restaurants that specialise in Indo-Chinese cuisine.
How to make chicken Manchurian?
There are two components to making this chicken Manchurian recipe. The first is frying off the chicken pieces and the second is making the Manchurian sauce or Manchurian gravy.
Crispy Chicken: Start off with marinating the chicken with spices, and then add cornflour as well as an egg to create a thick batter. Let the chicken marinate for around 30 minutes, and then deep fry the chicken till golden brown and crispy. Alternatively, the chicken can also be shallow fried, or made in an air fryer. Once the chicken is fried, set it aside.
Manchurian Sauce / Manchurian Gravy: A Manchurian is usually spicy, with a hint of sourness to balance the spice. The Indian Manchurian gravy is usually dark in colour, whereas the Pakistani Manchurian gravy is more reddish in colour. The recipe that I am sharing today is for the Pakistani style chicken Manchurian. The rich red colour comes from the use of tomato ketchup (tomato sauce) along with chili garlic sauce (or chili paste). The spice comes from the use of the chili paste, as well as whole red chilies. If you prefer a less spicy Manchurian, just adjust level of chili accordingly. Check out a healthier version of chicken Manchurian here.
Making the Manchurian Sauce / Manchurian Gravy: To make the Manchurian sauce start off with sauteing garlic and whole red chilies in oil, followed by the cubed onion and capsicum (green bell pepper). Add the tomato sauce, and other liquid sauces and saute for 2 minutes or so, then add the chicken stock followed by the rest of the spices. It’s also possible to add a chicken cube / bullion cube with water instead of stock. Let the mixture come to a boil, and then add the cornflour / cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce is all glossy, add the fried chicken pieces and cook for a few minutes till the chicken heats through. Garnish with spring onions, and serve hot with fried rice on the side.
What to serve with chicken Manchurian?
Chicken Manchurian is best served with rice, usually Chinese style fried rice. However, it can also be served with plain Basmati or Jasmine rice. There are many times when I am not in the mood to make fried rice so I just make plain rice. To make a complete Indo-Chinese meal, you can serve chicken Manchurian with hot and sour soup, beef chilli dry, and chowmein.
Here are some other Chinese recipes that you can try out:
- Chicken corn soup
- Hot and sour soup
- Chilli garlic fried rice
- Sweet and sour chicken
- Chicken and vegetable spring rolls
- Sesame chilli chicken
- Fish and vegetable stir fry
Would love it if you could try out and rate the recipe, and let me know how it was in the comments below!
Chicken Manchurian Recipe
For the chicken:
- 500 grams boneless chicken 2 chicken breasts, cut in small cubes
- ½ tablespoon garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon white pepper powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 egg whisked
- 4 tablespoon cornflour / cornstarch
- Oil for frying
For Manchurian sauce / gravy:
- 2 tablespoons oil use the same oil as was used for frying
- ½ tablespoon freshly minced garlic can be substituted with garlic paste
- 4 dried whole red chillies see note 1
- 1 onion cut into cubes
- ½ green capsicum / green bell pepper cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons soya sauce
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- ½ cup tomato ketchup / tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce or another chili sauce see note 2
- 1 – 1 /2 cups chicken stock or 1 chicken cube / bullion cube dissolved in same amount of water
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon cornflour / cornstarch dissolved in water
- 2 spring onions thinly sliced (for garnish)
For the chicken:
- Place the chicken in a bowl, and add garlic paste, salt, white pepper powder, red chilli flakes and soy sauce. Add the egg and mix well.
- Add the cornflour till a thick batter consistency is reached. The recipe states 4 tablespoons of cornflour / cornstarch, but you can add more or less to reach the right consistency.
- Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil for frying in a wok or shallow frying pan.
- Add the chicken in batches, and fry till golden brown and crispy. Keep the heat low – medium so that the chicken can cook through from the inside but doesn’t burn from the outside.
- Set aside the fried chicken.
- The chicken can also be shallow fried, baked in an oven, or made in an air fryer.
For the Manchurian sauce / gravy:
- Place the tomato ketchup / tomato sauce, sriracha, soya sauce and vinegar in a small jug or bowl. Stir and set aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok / medium sized pot (or Dutch oven). The same pan can be used that was used for frying the chicken, just remove the oil and leave only 2 tablespoons in the pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add the freshly minced garlic and whole red chilies. Saute for a minute, and then add the cubed onions and capsicum.
- Sauté for around 2 minutes, and then add the tomato sauce mixture that was kept aside.
- Add the chicken stock, along with the red chili flakes, white pepper powder and salt. Add only a little salt as the other ingredients are already quite salty.
- Let the mixture come to a boil, and then turn heat to simmer.
- Add the cornflour slurry and cook for 2 – 3 minutes till the gravy thickens and turns glossy.
- Add the fried chicken to the gravy and mix through. Cook for a few minutes till the chicken is heated through. The gravy will thicken a little more due to the fried chicken batter. If you want, you can add more chicken stock at this stage, and adjust seasonings.
- Once the chicken is heated through, turn off the heat. Garnish the chicken Manchurian with sliced spring onions and serve hot with fried rice.
- In this recipe I use dried whole red chilies. They are added whole in the recipe and add flavor, aroma as well as heat. The variety that I use is the round one which are grown in Pakistan, known as ‘dundicut peppers’ or ‘gol lal mirch’. If the round dried red chilies aren’t available, the flat ones can be used instead.
- In Pakistan, I would always use chili garlic sauce to make Indo-Chinese recipes. Chili garlic sauce is a type of spicy tomato ketchup, with garlic and chilies. It can be difficult to find abroad as it is available at Indian or Pakistani grocery stores only so I use Sriracha instead. For this recipe you can use sriracha sauce, chili garlic sauce, chili paste, or sambel olek paste depending on what is available in your country. Adjust quantity based on the spiciness of the sauce / paste being used.