A few weeks ago, it seemed as though the fierce rain would crack my glass windows.  The furious wind was screeching. It created shrill sounds that tore through the air. And then the thunder. It was so loud that even  the flowers on the deck seemed to be trembling. My five-year-old was looking out the window and I could see his little body tensing up. “Why do plants need so much water? Why does it have to rain so much?” he asked quietly. We held hands and watched the rain as it angrily pounded the deck.  “It will be fine, honey,” I said to him as we walked over to the dinner table. I am not sure my words assured him. He kept turning to the window, his tiny face grimacing at the sound of the thunder. We sat down and began to eat. It was just the two of us that night. As he ate, he seemed to settle down. He held my hand with one hand and ate with the other.  He ate his chicken with rice. His comfort food. I ate mine with jalapenos.. my comfort food.

We know the storms will go away and all will be well. The skies will clear, the winds will settle down, the thunder will lose its growl.

Chili Chicken with vinegary Jalapenos

By Monica Bhide

Photo by Reem Rizvi

Serves 4

For the chicken

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper (or less if you don’t want too much heat)

1 1/2 pound chicken pieces (about 1 inch dice)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil ( plus one more, if needed)

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 colored bell pepper, thinly sliced (lengthwise)

1 inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

4 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red chili sambal olek (red chilli paste)

1tablespoon soy sauce

½ tablespoon sugar

½ cup roasted peanuts

For the jalapeños

1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (I don’t seed them)

¼ cup vinegar

Pinch of salt

1. In a bowl, combine the chicken with the cornstarch, salt and pepper and set aside covered.

2. Heat a medium pan (or preferably a wok) on high heat. Add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the bell peppers and ginger. Cook for a minute or two until just soft. Add the scallions and cook for another minute.

3. Move the vegetables to one side of the wok so that you can cook the chicken. Please note: if you are more comfortable with taking them out to cook the chicken, you can do that. Then cook the chicken as indicated in the steps below and add the vegetables back before step 5.

4. In the same pan, add another tablespoon of oil (if needed) and add the chicken. Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is completely cooked. Add the vegetables and mix well.

5. Season with the sambal, soy sauce and sugar. Taste to check seasoning. You should have a good balance of hot, salty and a touch of sweetness. Add the peanuts. Mix well and cook for another thirty seconds.

6. Remove from heat and onto a serving platter.

7. Garnish with a piece or two of the jalapenos (strained). Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

For the jalapeno – Add the sliced jalapeno and salt to the vinegar and store, covered and refrigerated until ready to use. It must sit for at least an hour before you use it.

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  1. YUM!! I am a pickle fanatic and always have a pickled jalapeno in my fridge. I will have to try this one.

  2. What a sweet story! Your little guy reminded me of those years when my kids were growing up and still needed me to assure them everything will be okay. You write so beautifully, the memory of it all made me misty-eyed. Thanks for this awesome chicken recipe. My now grown up sons will love this!

  3. This is just what I want to make today! And such a tender story. . . .

    1. Thanks, Judith! I really appreciate it.

  4. I love this recipe and the sweet story. I think I am going to give it a go. If you like jalapenos, I will give you my jalapeno martini recipe… it is a killer and I am not even a big martini drinker.

    1. Thanks so much for your love! I appreciate the kind words.

    2. Thanks so much for your love! I appreciate the kind words. Oh, and I am going to give that drink a try!!

  5. This looks so delicious, and would certainly take my mind off of a storm if I were eating it.

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