Chinese Bao ~ Indian Style

Indian bao

Sticking with the whole “many uses of tandoori chicken” theme, I made something that I have wanted to for a long time, the Chinese bao or bun. I love Asian food, every kind, but am not very good at making any! I want to blame the fact that I have always had an electric cooktop and with an electric cooktop, there is no way to get a wok hot. I use frying pans most of the time ad they get it done but as you know by now, I love to own pans. I feel they add to the authenticity and taste (probably not but this is what I tell my husband as I am spending his money). 

These buns don’t need a wok so I figured I was pretty safe and couldn’t possibly muck it up. Besides, I am good with yeast doughs and I like working with them. Let me tell you that I have never had a bao until the other day when I made my version. I can only imagine that the BBQ’d Chinese ones are pretty amazing. Unfortunately, as much as I love Chinese cuisine, I am unable to try many things because of the high usage of pork which we don’t eat. Therefore, I convert everything to chicken.

Chinese cooking lends itself pretty well to Indian fusion. No surprise really considering the Mongols invaded India many times. I am assuming that their food was very similar to their Chinese neighbours in the South. There are a lot of fusion dishes that Indian chefs and home cooks have created and it is very popular.

I remember when I was young and we used to go to India for summer holidays, one of my favourite places to eat was at the Chinese Indian restaurant. I would wait ever so patiently for my uncles to take us there. I loved every thing they served. They were all Chinese dishes but with a little Indian twist. If you check the ingredients for Chicken 65, you will find soy sauce and I believe this is one of those fusion dishes that became so popular. By the way, if you have never had Chicken 65, make some now! I guarantee it will become one of your favourites. I have my recipe on the site, check it out.

When I baked the tandoori chicken for the Butter Chicken, I had one huge tandoori chicken breast left over. I saved it to make these fusion bao. Instead of the sweet and smoky, barbecued chicken that can be found in a traditional bun, I decided to add an Indian twist by filling with tandoori chicken. It’s really still BBQ; just different spices that’s all. I made some mint and cilantro chutney to mix with the chicken and added a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. They were spectacular! I was really thrilled that they turned out so well.

The dough for the bun is a straightforward yeasted, sweet, milk dough. It was easy to blend and knead and fairly easy to roll. Shaping the buns takes time but that’s not too difficult to do.  

If you’ve never tried bao, maybe try a Chinese Indian fusion one.

Indian Chinese buns


Chinese Bao ~ Indian Style

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 16 pieces

Bao Dough
  • 3 cups/460g all purpose/plain flour
  • 1 packet/7g instant yeast
  • 11/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ cup/177mL hot milk (hand hot)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 cups/260g diced, cooked tandoori chicken
Mint-Cilantro Chutney
  • 1 cup/13g fresh mint
  • 1 cup/13g fresh cilantro
  • 1 green chilli
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  1. Make the bao dough first and let it rise.
  2. Proof the yeast in the slightly hot milk with the sugar.
  3. Mix flour and salt together in the bowl of a mixer.
  4. Once the yeast milk mixture is frothy, add to the flour and mix.
  5. Add the egg and the oil.
  6. You may need a bit more milk depending on how dry your flour is that day.
  7. Using the dough hook, let the dough come together.
  8. Knead for about 10 minutes until it is a smooth ball.
  9. Place ball of dough in a greased bowl in a warm place to rise.
  10. Since it's a heavy milk dough, it will take a good 90 minutes to 2 hours to double in size.
  11. Make the chutney.
  12. Add the mint, cilantro, green chilli into a blender with a dribble of water (2 tablespoons or so) and blend to a paste.
  13. Check for salt and add the cumin.
  14. Mix a couple of tablespoons of the chutney and sweet chilli sauce into the chicken filling.
  15. You don't want it too liquidy or it will be hard to make the buns.
  16. Put aside.
  17. Preheat the oven to 350℉/180℃
  18. Once the dough has doubled, pull the dough onto a counter and roll into a log.
  19. Cut into 16 pieces.
  20. Roll each piece into a ball and put aside.
  21. Work one at a time and roll out the ball into a circle of about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm)
  22. Make the dough thicker in the centre, thinner at the edges.
  23. Put a scant teaspoon of the filing into the centre of the rolled dough.
  24. Pull up the edged of the dough towards the centre, pinching the dough and sealing as you go.
  25. Twist the top a bit to ensure it is sealed. I wet the edges a bit, it was easier to seal them that way
  26. Put them on a baking sheet and repeat until all are made into buns.
  27. Brush them with a beaten egg and place them in the oven.
  28. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and risen.
  29. Cool a little before eating.
  30. Serve with extra sweet chilli chutney or the mint chutney.
Drain the chicken mixture in the chutney a little before filling the dough. Too much liquid and you will have it seeping through the top.




So, what do you think of my fusion bao? Having had a few, let me tell you they were excellent and my family gobbled them up. I still want to try the authentic Chinese ones one day, maybe I’ll make them next time.

Now onto important matters, the winner of my Gordon Ramsay cookbook giveaway! Anybody who left a comment on any post and also followed me on one other social media platform, was entered. The more they “followed” the more chances they had. I just made numbered list and put it through a random number guesser/generator. The winner of the Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunches cookbook is…………………Nami from Just One Cookbook! 

Way to go Nami! I will get your details and send the cookbook out. I hope you find it useful in some way. Most of all I just wanted to thank all my readers for their support. I appreciate you all!

Hope you are having a great weekend so far.

    • Thanks Nazima! I had a couple leftover from dinner and I ended up packing them for my son for his lunch. Made a change from a dull sandwich.

  1. looks lovely! it is true, chinese food reallyt lends itself well to fusion. just went for a hakka-indian supperclub a week ago, and the food included things like “hakka noodles” and lemon chicken, all although not authentic in the chinese sense, were DELICIOUS. good one! I wonder how this will work with steaming the buns..:)

    • Ooh, that supper club sounds great! Indian Chinese food is great, makes a change on both sides. Thanks Shuhan!

  2. Your boas look gorgeous. Have not made them in a while, must make amends. You can now find chickne bao in Chinese restaurants and vegetarian one also.

    • Thanks Norma! I wished you lived closer and then I’d take you with me to these Chinese joints and you could navigate me through the menu!

    • Thanks Natalie. They were good. I like messing around with recipes once in awhile, though mostly, I am a traditionalist.

  3. Have you tried steaming these, like the chinese ones? It gives the dough a completely different texture.
    And, as for chinese cooking is full of pork – all you have to do, is swap it with chicken 🙂
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    • Hi Anne, no, not yet. I wanted to try baked first, I will definitely be steaming them next time. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Thanks John for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment! Indian food does really well with some Chinese influence. These bao worked out real well.

    • Thanks Charlie..yeah, it was really good, the sweet and spicy chicken went well with the sweet bun.

    • I am surprised Uru, considering Asian food has so may vegetarian options. You could make these with a cheese filling. They would be awesome with cheese!