Quick to cook and difficult to fail, spicy cumin chicken thighs with green beans is inspired by a popular Chinese street food. An easy pan-fried dish full of flavour.
Inspired by Chinese lamb skewers
This is not a classic Chinese dish but inspired by a popular street food that I used to have back in my home province of Gansu, in China. It’s called Yang Rou Chuan’r (Lamb Skewers), referring to small pieces of lamb roasted on skewers over charcoal.
I loved watching the vendors (usually Chinese Muslims) cooking this snack and often asked them to put extra spices over the meat. The key flavours come from cumin and chilli, spices commonly used in Chinese halal food, such as Hand-torn Lamb Noodles, Baked Lamb Bao Buns, etc..
It’s super easy to cook
So much in love with the flavour of lamb skewers, I created quite a few recipes using cumin and chilli. Spicy cumin chicken thigh is the one I cook most often as it involves minimum preparation and is very quick to cook. Two simple steps only:
- Coat the chicken with the spices and oil (no need to marinate).
- Fry both sides in a pan.
Two key spices: cumin & chilli
In my recipe, I use both cumin powder and whole cumin seeds, the same for chilli too (both powder and flakes). This helps to maximize the fragrance of the spices and to create an appealing finished look.
If you are not accustomed to very hot food, please feel free to reduce the amount of chilli powder and flakes (or use milder ones). However, I wouldn’t suggest reducing the cumin as it’s really the soul of this dish.
You may fry or roast
Skinless and boneless chicken thighs are the best cut of chicken for this recipe. They have a certain amount of fat (but not too much) which makes them tasty. In addition, they are inexpensive and super easy to cook.
I prefer using a pan to fry my spicy cumin chicken thighs. It only takes 12-15 minutes in total to cook both sides. You may also roast them in the oven at 220°C / 425 ° F for 20-25 minutes.
Add some pre-blanched vegetable
A few minutes before the chicken thighs are fully cooked, I toss some green beans (pre-blanched) in the same pan. The fat from the chicken makes the vegetable very flavoursome. Asparagus is a great choice too and it doesn’t need blanching.
Spicy cumin chicken thighs with green beans
- 300 g green beans - 10oz
- 1 pinch salt
- 6 chicken thighs - skinless & boneless
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add green beans and a pinch of salt. Leave to simmer until the beans are cooked (do not overcook). Then drain them in a colander.
- While waiting for the beans to cook, mix the chicken thighs with all the other ingredients (including the oil).
- Heat up a frying pan (preferably a heavy-bottomed one) on a medium heat. Place in all the chicken thighs (do not overlap). Cook the first side until it turns golden brown (it takes around 6-8 minutes).
- Flip them over. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Then push the chicken thighs to one side of the pan. Tilt the pan a little to let the existing oil flow to the other side. Add drained green beans. Toss from time to time.
- When the second side of the chicken thighs are done, dish everything out. Serve warm with rice or potato. You can also slice the chicken into pieces then use as a filling for Chinese Spring Pancakes.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.
A superb recipe! Easy to do and very tasty. I served it on steamed rice and mung bean sprout stir-fry. A delightful medley!
Hi. Can you use boneless skin-on thighs?
Wei Guo says
Yes, absolutely. Happy cooking!
Babar Shameem says
Simplicity delivers delicious result! Went with asparagus instead of beans. Added garlic powder to the ingredients.
Wei Guo says
Glad you enjoyed it!
Sally Yoshida says
I found this recipe a few years ago, and my family and I have been enjoying it regularly ever since (as a matter of fact, sizzling on my stove top right now!).
Easy, uses ingredients I always have on hand, and delicious!
I usually make it with bone in thighs, and I finish cooking them in my convection oven after browning on the stovetop.
SO GOOD! Thank you, Wei 🙂
Wei Guo says
you’re welcome Sally! Love your oven browning idea.
I adore cumin so can’t wait to try this! The chili powders sold in my supermarket are not hot, rather they are savory. Do you think I could substitute cayenne powder?
Wei Guo says
“Chili powder” in my recipe refers to pure, ground dried chili without addition of any other seasonings or spices. Yes, you can use cayenne powder for sure.
I made this tonight and it was amazing. I don’t love green beans so I substituted broccoli and it was perfect.
Wei Guo says
Very happy to hear you’ve enjoyed the dish!
Instant hit! I was very ambitious because I love spicy food and doubled the amount of pepper flakes so my first attempt was very nearly too spicy but so delicious! Thank you for the recipe!
Wei @ Red House Spice says
My pleasure Michelle! I’m cooking this for dinner tonight. It’s one of our favourite regulars.