In the mood for Chinese!

After such a disaster in the kitchen, last week, it shook up my confidence so much that I went back to the very basic flavours I know I can cook well without fail. So it was boiled rice and lentils for a few days in the Mazhar household. Mixed in with a few frozen delectable staples in every freezer – fish fingers, chicken nuggets and spring rolls ๐Ÿ™‚

Then we got to the weekend which involved meeting the family, eating out and driving back and forth between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. So after recuperating my culinary senses over the weekend I decided to be adventurous again! Mr. Mazhar is a die-hard Pakistani cuisine fan – all desi foods all year long suits him just fine. But if there is one other cuisine that he thoroughly enjoys and doesn’t refuse (often) is Chinese. 

Over the course of the past two years I have found that the trick to Chinese cuisine is getting the mise-en-place right. After that it’s smooth sailing with quick stir frying and plain boiled rice mixed in with vegetables and egg. Soy sauce was always in our pantry, growing up. After reading up on some Chinese recipes, I stock up on rice vinegar and sesame oil too. Since I bake quite a bit I also have corn starch and brown sugar at hand. I enjoy trying out new sauces/ marinades and using those with chicken, beef, seafood and even vegetables. As was the case yesterday!

I was browsing through Pinterest and came across a recipe for Kung pao chickpeas. It was meant to appeal to vegan consumers but it looked quite interesting to me because I do like Kung pao chicken. I am usually very well stocked with chickpeas – because I love them! – so I decided to give it a try. For Mr. Mazhar’s sake I added on some spicy fried fish and egg fried rice. I had some basic roast chicken leftovers which I took off the bone, cut up into small chunks and refreshed it with a little bit of soy sauce and hot sauce, stir fried together. And a wonderful dinner was ready! Needless to say Mr. Mazhar was a very happy camper last night ๐Ÿ™‚


Kung Pao Chickpeas


  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce 
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2-3 tbsp water
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo), washed and drained

For Garnish

  • 2 stalks spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted


  1. In a bowl mix together the soy sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, oil, chilli flakes and cornstarch. Divide the liquid in half in another bowl. 
  2. Add the chickpeas to one of the bowls and mix well to coat the chickpeas with the marinade. Set the chickpeas in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a wok or a large high-sided saucepan on a medium flame. Add the remaining reserved marinade to the wok and let it sizzle for a minute or two. Then add the chickpeas and stir- fry till the sauce thickens and the chickpeas look toasted. If the sauce looks a bit glugy just stir in a tablespoon or more of water.
  4. In a small, dry frying pan toast the sesame seeds till light golden. Be careful with the heat here because they burn very easily and then they taste really bad. Scatter on top of the chickpeas along with sliced spring onions. (Oops I forgot to add the garnishes before taking the picture!)

Serve immediately with egg fried rice. Since I saw Chef Gordon Ramsay cook egg fried rice on his Ultimate Cookery Course TV show that is the only way I make mine. You can get his recipe here:


    2 Comments Add yours

    1. eat2healthUK says:

      Yum, chickpeas! This recipe looks delicious! It can be frustrating when you have frequent kitchen mishaps (we completely understand!)… but don’t give up on experimenting with new flavours! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Nida Sami says:

        Thanks for your words of encouragement!

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