The dish gained popularity in Xinjiang in the mid-to-late 1990s. It is said to have been invented in Shawan, northern Xinjiang by a migrant from Sichuan who mixed hot chilies with chicken and potatoes in an attempt to reproduce a Sichuan taste. The dish was served by restaurateurs along the Xinjiang highways, as a quick fix for the often untimely arrivals of the hungry truck drivers. However, its rich flavor and heartiness quickly made the dish a favorite of the region, and also spread to the rest of China.
The chicken is cut into bite size pieces (usually with bone in), sauteed with spices and coarsely chopped vegetables, and slow cooked in broth, providing a savory and spicy casserole-like dish. It is usually served with latiaozi (hand stretched noodles) or lamian (lahman, lamen, ramen), and shared by family and friends in a communal manner.
Other versions of the dish may be served with naan (馕包大盘鸡), a staple bread widely consumed in Xinjiang, usually served baked or roasted in Xinjiang restaurants and other places. With the sauce, the bread becomes very soft and moist, producing a melt-in-the-mouth savoury texture.