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.
In my last post “Easy Chinese tortilla”, I mentioned using pan-fried chicken thighs as a filling. I cooked some yesterday, served with potato wedges. It was a quick and easy dinner packed with flavour. Even though it was a bit too hot for the youngsters in our Red House, they still enjoyed it very much. “It’s just too delicious!” one of them said. For those who have been asking about this dish, here it is, my recipe of spicy cumin chicken thighs with green beans.
Inspired by Chinese lamb skewers
This is not a classic Chinese dish but inspired by a popular street food I used to have back in my home province of Gansu, in China. It’s called Yang Rou Chuan (羊肉串), 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 Islamic (halal) cuisine.
It’s super easy to cook
So much in love with the flavour of Yang Rou Chuan, 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
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp 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 tortillas.