Da Pan Ji: “Big Plate Chicken”, a Chinese/Uyghur Fusion Dish

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My version of dapanji, with nan bread.

Da pan ji (大盘鸡 “big plate chicken”) is one of the few foods that is equally popular among Chinese and Uyghurs. It originates from Xinjiang, but is claimed by neither group: Uyghurs regard it as a Chinese dish, and Chinese regard it as a Xinjiang specialty. Regardless of who originally came up with it, it’s become quite popular in the rest of China and can even be found in Chinese restaurants abroad.

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Dapanji served in an Urumqi restaurant.

Just like the name, it’s a big plate of chicken stewed in a rich, spicy sauce with potatoes, green bell peppers, and chilies. The star anise makes it amazingly fragrant when complete. There are plenty of variations in the sauce and how it is served: some places serve it with noodles, other with bread, others just by itself. I personally love eating it with Uyghur nan bread to soak up the sauce.

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Dapanji served in a Kashgar restaurant.
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Nan bread is great with dapanji, recipe here.

This recipe is adopted from JadeCw’s recipe on Xiachufang as well as Abdulaziz Salavat’s version.

Ingredients:
Chicken (1-1.5lb, I use dark meat that won’t get tough during the cooking)
Potatoes (3-4 medium sized ones)
Green bell peppers (1-2)
Onions
Chinese fermented black bean sauce (豆瓣酱 doubanjiang)
Chili garlic sauce
Tomato paste
Soy sauce
Dried chilies
Star anise (八角 bajiao, 5-6 pieces)
Sichuanese peppers (optional, a small handful)
Can of beer or Shaoxing cooking wine (optional)
Sugar
ingredients

Directions:
Prep: Chop the potatoes into medium pieces – not too big or they won’t cook through, not too small or they’ll get overcooked and make the sauce starchy. Chop the chicken into small to medium-sized pieces. Chop the green bell peppers into medium-sized square pieces.
1. Heat the wok on high heat and add oil. When the oil has heated, add a small amount of sugar (1-2 teaspoons) and mix well.

2. When the sugar has melted into the oil, put in the chicken and stir fry this until it is browned. The melted sugar will give the chicken a nice golden color.
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3. Put in the onions and cook these until soft and light brown.
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4. Add the black bean sauce, chili garlic sauce, and tomato paste. Add a good dollop of each – maybe 2-3 tablespoons worth. Mix everything well.

5. Salt, and add the dried chilies and Sichuanese peppers, mixing everything well.
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6. Add soy sauce, add the beer or wine (if you are using it), and add enough water so the broth almost covers everything.

7. Put in the star anise. Once the water boils, turn the heat down to medium. Mix everything well, cover the wok, and let this cook for at least 25 minutes.
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8. Taste the sauce and reduce if too watery. The sauce should be spicy, aromatic, and savory. Finally, add the bell peppers and let them cook briefly. Dapanji is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day after it has been sitting in the fridge; the flavors thicken and become more complex with time. Ideally, let it simmer over minimum heat for a while before serving. Serve in a big serving plate; you can put noodles or bread on the bottom to soak up the sauce, or serve them separately. Enjoy!
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Dapanji served over noodles.

Chakhokhbili: Spicy Georgian chicken stew

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Chakhokhbili with khachapuri (cheese bread)

Georgian food is quite different from Central Asian food; if I had to describe it simply, it’s like a fusion of Russian and Turkish cuisine. I’ve only had Georgian food in restaurants here in NYC, but loved what I’ve tried. Some foods, like the famous khachapuri cheese bread, are rich and hearty, reminiscent of Eastern European cuisine; others, like khinkali dumplings or tolma stuffed grape leaves show the influence of Central Asia or the Middle East.

Chakhokhbili is a Georgian dish of stewed chicken made with a special mix of herbs and spices called khmeli-suneli. Reading the label, khmeli-suneli has: marjoram, dill, thyme, basil, celery, mint, parsley, coriander, safflower, summer savory, red pepper, hyssop, black pepper, fenugreek, and bay leaves. I found it in Kalustyan’s. If you can’t find it, just use your favorite herbs. Probably just marjoram and thyme would be a decent substitute.

This recipe is from BigGeorgeHighlander, watch his Youtube recipe here (in Russian).

Ingredients
Chicken, chopped into medium sized pieces – 1lb
Onion, diced – 1 medium sized onion
Garlic, finely diced – 4-5 cloves
Basil, roughly chopped
Cilantro, roughly chopped
Diced tomatoes – 1 can or a few tomatoes
Black pepper
Khmeli-suneli spice mix
Red chili pepper, finely diced
Salt
Sugar

Directions
1. Sautee the chicken in oil over high heat.
CookChicken

2. After the chicken is browned, add the onion and cook until soft.
ChickenOnions

3. Add the red chili pepper and cook everything for a bit.
4. Add black pepper and a few teaspoons of khmeli-suneli and mix everything together.
AddSpices

5. Add the diced tomato and a bit of sugar.
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6. Turn to low heat, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stew

7. Add salt, garlic, and the basil and cilantro. Cook everything together for a bit. Complete!
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