Chicken Shashlik (Saucy with Gravy)
Chicken Shashlik is an Indo-Chinese recipe made with boneless chicken, bell peppers, and red onion. Similar to Chicken Manchurian, this dish is coated in a sweet and spicy gravy that’s bursting with flavor. This is a unique, flavorful, and kid-friendly weeknight dinner that can be made quickly and easily using pantry staples.
“Love this recipe-took me back to my childhood! Thanks Izzah for giving us such a great recipe like always.”Kiran
What is Chicken Shashlik?
The word ‘Shashlik’ refers to skewered and grilled meat, similar to (and possibly a derivative of) shish kabab. It’s especially popular in Russia and Central Asia, where it was traditionally made with mutton.
I’m not sure how Shashlik transpired into the Indo-Chinese version as we know it. My guess is restaurants were involved, and they started serving saucy versions along with the skewered.
If you’re not familiar with Chicken Shashlik, you’re not alone. Even within the Pakistani & Indian population, Chicken Shashlik is not as well known as other Indo-Chinese dishes like Chicken Manchurian. If you are looking for more Indo-Chinese recipes, check out my Spicy Cashew Chicken and Saucy Mongolian Beef.
What is the difference between Chicken Manchurian and Chicken Shashlik?
Though they both share similar Indo-Chinese sweet and hot flavor profiles, Chicken Manchurian and Shashlik have two main differences:
- The chicken is cooked in different ways. Manchurian is usually coated in batter and deep fried, while Shashlik is either grilled or stir-fried (for the gravy version).
- The amount of ‘tomatoey’ flavor. Shashlik is a bit more ‘ketchupy’ (in the most nuanced way) than Manchurian.
Ingredients You’ll Need
The key ingredients are chicken, red onion, bell peppers, garlic, and ginger. The remaining ingredients for the marinade and sauce are pantry staples:
Notable Marinade Ingredients
- Yogurt – Though I’m not sure if it’s a ‘traditional’ Shashlik ingredient, using yogurt in the marinade enhances the taste and texture.
- Worcestershire sauce – I find it’s best to only add it in the marinade or else it can get overpowering.
- Soy sauce – Used both in the marinade & sauce.
- Vinegar – You can use white vinegar (which I used for this recipe) or rice vinegar.
Notable Sauce Ingredients
The sauce Ingredients (pictured on the tray) complement the marinade. The additional ones are:
- Ketchup and Tomato paste – Both key ingredients that add tang and bold tomato flavor to the sauce.
- Chili garlic sauce – Use any brand you like (I use Huy Fong). Adjust the amount depending on the brand and how spicy you prefer it.
- Cornstarch – Used to thicken the sauce.
- White Pepper Powder – I love the milder “Chinese” flavor it gives. If you don’t have it, feel free to subtitute black pepper.
How to make Chicken Shashlik
Start by marinating the chicken. You can do this up to a day in advance but marinating right before is just fine. Then prepare the sauce and set it aside.
Next, cook the chicken. Sauté garlic and ginger, then stir-fry the chicken before covering to finish cooking. Then raise the heat to saute out extra moisturé. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and cover to keep it moist.
In the same pan (no need to clean it up), stir-fry the vegetables with a generous pinch of salt. Do this on the highest heat so they can get as ‘charred’ as possible.
Lastly, add the sauce back in followed by the chicken. Stir it all up until it starts to bubble and the oil starts to shine.
What to Serve with Chicken Shashlik
Chicken Shashlik is typically served with plain or fried rice. I think it’d also be great with noodles.
Tips & Variations
- The size of the chicken cubes will affect cook time. Larger pieces will take longer to cook, while smaller pieces will cook faster. To prevent overcooking and drying out the chicken, try to cut them evenly and stop cooking as soon as it’s cooked through.
- If you have leftovers, you’ll find the chicken soaks up the sauce and gets even more tender the next day.
- I had Shashlik at a restaurant here and they added barbeque sauce to the gravy. I found that to be an interesting addition worth sharing. Feel free to experiment with Indian and Pakistani sauces like Hot and Sour Sauce.
- If you’d like more gravy, add ¼ cup of water and bring to a boil again. You can also add 1/4-1/2 tsp cornstarch to this water if you want it to remain thick. Be sure adjust salt and seasoning.
More Indo-Chinese Recipes
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Chicken Shashlik (Saucy with Gravy) – Indo-Chinese Recipe
- 1 lb (454 g) boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1” pieces (See Note 1)
- 1/4 cup (61 g) plain, whole milk yogurt
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce, I use gluten-free
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar, I use cane sugar
- 1/2-1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp paprika powder
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup (65 g) tomato ketchup
- 3 tbsp (45 g) tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp (25 g) chili garlic sauce, (use 1 tbsp for less spice)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) water
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1/4 cup (56 g) neutral oil, divided
- 1 tbsp (~5 garlic cloves) minced/finely chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp (~1 inch) minced/finely chopped ginger
- 1 small to medium (230 g) red onion, chopped into 1” squares
- 1 small to medium green bell pepper, chopped into 1” squares
- 1 small to medium red bell pepper, chopped into 1” squares
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken with all the ingredients listed under ‘Marinade’. Set aside.
- In another medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients listed for the ‘Sauce/Gravy’ and set aside.
- Heat a large sauté pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Once hot, heat 3 tbsp of oil and add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the chicken with its marinade and stir-fry until it changes color (~3-4 min). Add 1/4 cup water and bring to a light boil.
- Lower the heat to a low, cover and allow the chicken to simmer for 8-10 minutes. (Typically 8 min for breast, 10 min for thighs.) Then raise the heat to high to sauté out the excess moisture (~3-5 min). There will still be plenty of curry but the oil will start to separate from it. Transfer the chicken, including its curry, to a bowl. Cover to keep it moist and set aside.
- In the same pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but remain crisp.
- Pour the prepared sauce into the vegetables and stir for 1-2 minutes, until thickened and starting to bubble. Add the cooked chicken and allow it to cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the oil starts to shine.*(See Note 2) Taste and adjust salt and seasoning. Turn off the heat and serve hot.