Kenyan Kung Pao Chicken Inspired Dish

I have stated before on my website about how much I love chicken and I’m always looking for new ways of enjoying it. All you have to do is look at my Kienyeji chicken,  crispy chicken wings or even the chicken gizzards to know that I love my chicken! My latest quest brought me across Kung Pao Chicken. I decided to take it a step further and localize it, hence, coming up with Kenya Kung Pao Chicken Inspired Dish.

What made me want to try out this dish you might ask. Simple and short answer, the interplay and layers of flavours was very intriguing to me. The style and process of making it was also something that resonated with my internally wired sense of taste. It felt like the recipe just had my name written on it and I couldn’t ignore it!

The challenging bit was finding all the authentic ingredients that are required to come up with a successful Kung pao chicken dish. I had no idea where I was supposed to get sichuan peppercorns in Kenya, or Chinese dried red chilies, or Chinese black vinegar. But, you know what? It’s never that serious, my motto is to try and recreate the dish with what I have in hand. Hence my Kenyan Kung Pao Chicken Inspired Dish.

Another thing that I can’t get my palate to get used to is the hotness of the dish. I mean, it just numbs your tongue and mine has refused that. My recipe has very little heat and that is courtesy of the red chili powder and freshly cracked black pepper. So, if you have no problem with the heat that the authentic recipe calls for go right ahead and dive into it.

Ingredients For Sauce

  • 1 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  • 20 ml water
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2″ ginger
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil

Ingredients for spice powder mix

  • 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard powder
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Pinch of dried rosemary leaves

You will need 3 chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces. Adjust the above quantities accordingly to suit the amount of chicken thighs you have. You will also need enough oil to deep fry your chicken. You should also have a handful of peanuts for garnishing and some spring onions.


  1. Mix all the dry spices together and pour them onto the chicken thigh pieces. Toss to ensure all the pieces are covered and are no longer sticking together.
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce (apart from the ginger, garlic and onions) in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Deep fry your spiced chicken on moderate heat for about 3 minutes or until the meat turns a light golden brown colour and acquires a slight crispiness to it. Don’t cook it all the way through.
  4. Drain the chicken on a kitchen paper to absorb excess oil and set aside for use later.
  5. Pre heat the vegetable oil in a sauce pan before adding the onions. Cook them until they just turn translucent.
  6. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for about two minutes.
  7. Add sauce and cook until it thickens to a consistency of your liking.
  8. Finally, add the pre-cooked chicken pieces and leave to simmer for about 2 minutes for them to cook completely and absorb the sauce as well.
  9. Add the peanuts and turn off the heat.
  10. Serve immediately and garnish with more peanuts and spring onions if desired.


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