Make restaurant-style Chicken Manchurian with fewer ingredients and fewer calories in just 30 minutes with melt-in-the-mouth velveted chicken! No deep frying is required.
Updated: The post was updated with an ingredient shot and more information on 14 February 2022.
Chicken Manchurian is one of the easiest Indo-Chinese chicken recipes. It is very famous in Pakistan too. Did you know Chicken Manchurian is not Chinese in origin? It was first introduced in Calcutta, a city in India, by Nelson Wang.
The Chinese-style velveted chicken dunked in sweet and sour gravy was wedded with Indian spices, an extra burst of garlic, and soy sauce.
Soon the dish was famous all over the city and similarly, many other pseudo-Indo-Chinese recipes were created to meet the Indian taste buds with fancy names.
A vegetarian version of Chicken Manchurian dish called cauliflower or Gobi Manchurian is very famous. This recipe pairs very well with my vegetable fried rice.
You can't go wrong with this Chicken Manchurian recipe. It’s so simple, you need the velveted chicken to get soaked in sweet and sour Manchurian gravy. The taste is mildly hot with extra heat from chilies and a rich burst of garlic and soy sauce.
Why does this recipe work?
- This is the best chicken Manchurian recipe in the gravy version. Because we skip that thick batter and deep frying, the dish stays both healthy and light. Chicken in the Manchurian sauce is soft, velvety, and juicy. To attain this we use velveting, a technique in Chinese cuisine secret.
- We thinly coat the chicken in flour batter and fry it. This locks the juices in the chicken making it very tasty. While some recipes call for deep frying. I've found stir fry provides an equally delicious taste with fewer calories.
- So this is also a healthy Chicken Manchurian recipe if homemade ketchup is used. I like this non-stick wok best for stir-frying. I've found lightly battered chicken works best, as a thicker coating gets soaked in sauce and becomes soggy and too heavy to be enjoyed.
Here's a visual of the ingredients of Chicken Manchurian that you can glance at and check your pantry before you begin making this recipe. Below I will only list ingredients for which I need to suggest substitutes.
- Boneless Chicken: Use bite-sized boneless chicken that is cubbed in ¾ inch pieces. Since we are using the velveting technique you can use chicken breast without worrying about dry and tough chicken.
- Soya sauce: Use light soy sauce in the recipe to keep the gravy bright red-colored.
- Egg: Coating chicken with egg helps to keep the chicken moist after frying. But you can skip this ingredient.
- Cornflour slurry: It is needed to add thickness to the sauce. Cornflour and cornstarch both can be used.
- Red chilies: The button red chili provides a burst of flavor to the Manchurian sauce rather than heat. You can subs it with any dried chili you have in hand.
- Garlic: The flavor of garlic is profound in this recipe that's why we used garlic paste as well as freshly chopped garlic.
- Chicken cube or bullion: This ingredient is recommended because it replaces chicken stock and Ajinomoto (MSG) in the recipe. Both are always used in the restaurant versions. If you drop this ingredient then use chicken stock instead of water in the recipe.
- Veggies: Veggies that go well with Manchurian sauce are onions, green onions, and bell peppers. You can add less or more or skip to your taste.
- Tomato Ketchup: This one ingredient replace sugar, vinegar, and tomato sauce. If you are short of tomato ketchup then add all three basic ingredients.
- Chili garlic sauce: This is spicy, garlicky ketchup that is easily available in stores. You can substitute it with more ketchup and extra red chilies.
- Chili powder: This ingredient is optional and you should add it only if you enjoy spicy food.
How to make it?
There are many versions of the Chicken Manchurian recipe. Here’s my simple but delicious version.
Steps for Chicken
- Put all the ingredients to marinate the chicken in a bowl except oil and mix well.
- Set aside and let it marinate for 30 minutes.
- Now, heat just 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick pan and stir fry half of the marinated chicken on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the color turns white and the chicken is cooked.
- Remove the chicken to a plate. Now add another 2 tablespoons of old and stir fry the remaining chicken similarly. Set aside until gravy is ready. (I used the same technique in Mangolian beef.) Check the video to see how soft the chicken is.
Protip: Stick to just 4 tablespoons of flour in the recipe or less. Remember, we are coating chicken for velveting and not for crusting. You can read more about velveting here at the wok of life.
Steps for Manchurian Sauce
- While the chicken marinates, prepare the Manchurian gravy. In a pot or wok, heat oil and add garlic and dried red button chili. ( You can use any other dry red chili too.)
- Add Ketchup, chili garlic sauce, capsicum, chicken stock cube, and soy sauce. You may use less or more soy sauce depending upon its potency.
- Add water and mix well.
- Mix cornflour and water in a bowl to make a slurry and add to the Manchurian sauce to thicken the gravy. Keep cooking on low heat and stir constantly to avoid lumps until gravy is thickened.
Protip: Most Chicken Manchurian recipes call for ketchup and rely on sugar and vinegar for more flavor. I found using extra ketchup substitutes some of the ingredients and give the same restaurant-style taste with a bright red color similar to my Chicken 65.
- Add chicken munch to the gravy.
- Now Manchurian is moderate to the very spicy gravy. So I recommend adding black pepper first then doing a taste test and adding red chili powder as needed to match your heat preference.
- Garnish with green onions and serve Chicken Manchurian with plain or fried rice. (Get Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe here.)
Steps for sizzler:
To make a Manchurian sizzler add an extra ¼ cup of water to gravy and heat thoroughly. Heat the hot plate on the stove for 15 minutes until thoroughly heated.
Add about 1-2 tablespoons of oil to the hot plate and spread all over then add half of the Manchurian gravy and serve the sizzling plate immediately. CheckFajita Plate Set - Pre-seasoned Cast Iron Fajita Pan with Wooden Tray and Hot Mitt by Old Mountain. Check the video!
- I used chicken bullion in the recipe but can replace the water in the recipe with chicken to skip chicken bullion.
- You can also add onion chunks to the sauce if you like soft onions in the gravy.
- For extra heat, some people also add slitted green chilies along with red chilies.
- Chicken Manchurian can be frozen for up to two months.
Hungry for more? Check these!
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Chicken Manchurian Recipe
- Wok to fry
- 2 chicken breast, cut in ¾ inch small cubes
- ½ tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon light soya sauce
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoon cornflour
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoon oil, to stir-fry, divided
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 5 whole red button chilli, substitute with any hot chili, see note 1
- 2-3 tablespoon soya sauce
- 1 chicken cube or bullion, see notes 2
- ½ cup capsicum / bell peppers, sliced, any color
- ½ cup ketchup, homemade ketchup recipe here
- 4 tablespoon chili garlic sauce, substitute with 1 tablespoon sriracha, see note 3
- 1 ½ cup water, Use less for thick gravy.
- 2 tablespoon cornflour, dissolved in ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder, optional for extra heat
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 2-4 tablespoon green onions, thinly sliced
- Fried Rice, to serve, recipe here
- Mix all ingredients to marinate chicken except oil in a bowl. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a pan or wok and stir fry half of the chicken for 2-3 minutes. When the color of the chicken changes to white, remove it to a plate. Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the remaining chicken similarly. Set aside.
- Heat oil in the same pan, add garlic and red button chili. Fry for 1 minute then add ketchup, chili garlic sauce, capsicum, and soya sauce. Simmer for a minute then add the water and mix well.
- Now add cornflour slurry and cook for few minutes until gravy turns glossy. Stir continously to avoid lumps.
- Do a taste test, add red chili powder and black pepper. Adjust as per heat preference.
- Garnish with green onions and serve with rice.
- Boneless Chicken: Use bite-sized boneless chicken that is cubbed in ¾ inch pieces.
- Egg: coating chicken with egg helps keep the chicken moist after frying. But you can skip this ingredient.
- Cornflour: Cornflour and cornstarch both can be used.
- Red chilies: These button chili provide a burst of flavor to the sauce rather than heat. You can sub with any dried chili you have in hand.
- Chicken cube or bullion: This ingredient is recommended because it replaces chicken stock and Ajinomoto (MSG) in the recipe. Both are always used in the restaurant version. If you drop this ingredient then use chicken stock instead of water in the recipe.
- Veggies: You can add less or more or skip to your taste.
- Tomato Ketchup: If you don’t want to use tomato ketchup. You may use tomato purée, vinegar, and sugar.
- Chili garlic sauce: You can replace it with more ketchup and extra red chillies.
- Chili powder: This ingredient is optional and should be added only if you enjoy spicy food.
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