Get this Pakistani-style, spicy fried chicken recipe that requires very little active time. You first steam the Lahori chargha for the juiciest tender chicken followed by deep-frying for a crispy crust.
This post was updated with new photos and ingredients section on 13th, January 2022.
Hello! I know, I’m over-excited to share the Lahori chargha recipe that will be the love of your heart and stomach too. The origin of chicken chargha is quite uncertain, the only thing we know certainly is that it originates from Lahore, Punjab. Lahori Chana Chaat and Chicken Karahi are also very famous.
How does this recipe work?
Lahori chargha, also known as chicken chargha is Pakistani fried chicken that is cooked in three steps. It is first marinated, then steamed, and finally deep-fried until golden and lightly crispy. Sometimes it is roasted instead of frying in a clay oven (tandoor). It is usually served with fries and chutney.
However, Lahori Chargha is cooked and sold on streets all over Pakistan and abroad. Chicken Chargha tastes similar to fried tandoori chicken but has a different taste due to the profuse use of chaat masala, a famous Punjabi condiment.
It is more authentically called “ch-er ghaa” in the Punjabi accent. It is super simple to make and has very little active time. You just need a bit of planning. The ingredients of Lahori Chargha are basic and visible below.
- Chicken: 1 kg to 1.25 kg skinless whole chicken works best for Chicken Chargha. Because the flesh of a smaller bird is tender and cooks quickly. If getting a live hen from the slaughterhouse, a chicken weighing around 1.5 kg to 1.75 kg.
- Cornflour: Cornflour helps us give some crispy crust to this chicken. You can use other flours too like rice flour or similar flours.
- Kashmiri Chili: This ingredient is particular for color. You can use a combo of cayene pepper and paprika to skip it.
- Egg: Egg helps the spice marinade to stick to the skin.
- Garam Masala: Garam masala is a mixture of varioua spices. This can be skipped if you don't have it.
- Chaat masala: Chaat masala is essential for chargha and it is easily available in Indian stores. This condiment can be sprinkled like pepper on most foods and tastes yum. Go get it!
- Yellow color: This is again an optional ingredient. You can skip it or use very little red or orange color instead.
- Red chili flakes: You can sub red chili flakes with red chili powder.
- Vinegar: I used distilled vinegar, you can use lemon juice instead.
- Ginger and garlic paste: I forgot to add it in the ingredient shot.
- Common Indian spices: Turmeric, cumin, and coriander are other common spices used in this recipe.
How to make it?
Lahori Chargha is soft succulent fried chicken marinated overnight in the spicy and tangy rub and steamed. Steaming is followed by deep-frying which is the authentic way.
In another healthier version marinated and steamed chicken is baked in a tandoor and it is called tandoori chargha. I've also discussed baking, rotisserie, and no fry method after step by step.
- How to place cut for Lahori Chargha: Wash your chicken and place in the colander for 5-10 minutes so excess water drains. Then pat dry with a chicken towel.
Now place letter V- shapes cuts on the chicken breast with a sharp knife. Make the cuts about an inch apart. The cut should be really deep until the knife touches the bone breast bone.
Similarly, place 1-2 deep cuts on the leg pieces. You can also poke the chicken with a fork if the bird is really large.
- Spices: So have a look at the spices that are red chili flakes, turmeric, black pepper, chaat masala, coriander powder, cumin powder, Kashmiri chili powder, garam masala, ginger-garlic paste, and salt. Now, add an egg, oil, and vinegar to make a paste.
- Marinade: The chargha marinade is ready.
- The right way to marinate a whole chicken: Wear gloves or at least apply a little oil on your hand so the spices in the marinade don't burn your hand. Take marinade in your hand and apply it all over the chicken.
Slide your fingers between the cuts to make sure the marinade reaches the bone and beneath the flesh. Make sure to be gentle so you don't break the flesh. Then tie the legs of the chicken with a cotton thread.
(Rest your marinated chicken in a colander with a bowl or plate underneath so any water from the chicken drains underneath while the marinade stays sticking to the chicken skin. This is particularly useful if doubling or tripling the recipe. This is optional.)
- Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours on the counter in a cool place or preferably overnight in the fridge. Then place the chicken in the steamer. Make sure the water level is at least ½ inch below the steaming plate. ( I placed a metal colander in a large pot filled with little water.)
- Place the lid tightly and steam for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is tender. Preferably, let the chicken cool a bit before frying so it is easy to handle when placed in the hot oil.
- Just before serving, fill a non-stick wok with 2-3 inches of oil. Heat oil slightly, then place chicken very carefully in the oil and avoid splutters. Now, increase the heat to medium-high. We want the chicken to be heated thoroughly and get crispy too, so adjust the heat as needed. Let the chicken heat thoroughly first on medium heat, then increase heat to high, and fry for another 2 minutes on each side. Turn and remove the chicken with help of two tongs.
- Before frying the Lahori Chargha, prepare the platter with fried or baked potatoes, fresh veggies, and green chutney, and garlic dip Then places the crispy fried chicken on the platter and serve with naan or bread.
- Marinate well: Marinating is key to a tasty succulent Lahori chargha. Placing proper cuts and at least 4 hours of marination at room temperature is necessary. Overnight marination in the fridge works best.
- Pair with sides: The Lahori chargha chicken is soft and juicy but you need some chutney and sauces for that amazing combo. Fresh green chutney or any garlic dip like garlic mayo, or garlic raita is the best choice. I've found ketchup mixed with chat masala also works as a quick sauce.
Instructions for Oven
You can make a Chicken Chargha in an oven by placing it on a sheet lined with butter paper. Don't forget to bake a few veggies along to go as a sideline. Baking time would be about 1 hour or more at 350 F or 180 C.
If using a meat thermometer to check, the internal temperature should reach 165F to be safe. The suggested timings are 1 kg whole chicken, cooking time will increase for a bigger bird. Check the chicken roasting temperature and timing guide at The Spruce Eats.
Instructions For Rotisserie
I've tried it and it tastes great and healthy way to eat Lahori Chargha. Place a baking sheet lined with the butter paper underneath to catch the drips and also bake potatoes wedges, and other veggies along.
Roast at 350 F for 25-30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165 F. The suggested timings are 1 kg whole chicken, cooking time will increase for a bigger bird. Check this rotisserie chicken guide for more useful info.
No Fry Method
Steaming cooks the Lahori chargha very well and keeps it tender. It is quicker than baking too. Before serving brush the chicken generously with the oil.
Then bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 15 minutes to heat thoroughly. Finally, broil for 5-7 minutes for crispy skin and serve.
Chargha is served with lemon wedges, chat masala, spicy garlic raita and/or green chutney. You can eat it with any bread, naan or roti or just alone too. Fried or baked potatoes also pair well with it.
Not really, the marinade might seem loaded with spices but when you deep fry the chicken, it fairly reduces the heat of spices. If baking, consider reducing red chilies to reduce the heat in the recipe.
You can use other whole and skinless birds to make Lahori Chargha like turkey or duck. The cooking time will increase with a bigger bird and you need to increase the marinade. The recipe provides marinade for 1 kg-1.25 kg of chicken.
Other chicken pieces like whole chicken leg and chicken breast with wings can be used too which is easier to handle while cooking. Steaming time will reduce to 15-20 minutes with small pieces.
If you try this Lahori chargha recipe, I'd LOVE to hear your feedback in the comments. Your 5-ratings motivate me to do my best. Stay connected for more recipes and videos on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube.
- 1 skinless whole chicken, about 1kg - 1.25 kg
- 2 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder, or paprika for color
- ½ tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes, or chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala, optional
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 2 tablespoon cornflour
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon chat masala, more to sprinkle
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 3 tablespoon vinegar, or lemon juice
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon zarda color , optional
- Oil , to fry
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Salad leaves
- Green chutney
- Onion slices
- Garlic raita
- French fries or Batata harra
- Spicy ketchup
- Wash and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Place deep letter V- shapes cuts on the chicken breast with a sharp knife. Similarly, place 1-2 deep cuts on the leg pieces. Set aside.
- Mix all the ingredient listed under charga marinade in bowl. This marinade is enough for 1-1.25 kg chicken.
- Take marinade in your hand and apply it all over the chicken. Wear gloves to avoid spice burns. Also tie the legs of the chicken with a cotton thread.
- Marinate chicken for at least 4 hours on the counter in a cool place or preferably overnight in the fridge.
- Then place the chicken in the steamer. Make sure the water level is at least ½ inch below the steaming plate. Place the lid tightly and steam for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove chicken from steamer and set aside.
Fry Chicken chargha
- Before frying the chicken, prepare the platter with fried or baked potatoes, fresh veggies and green chutney, and garlic dip.
- Fill a non-stick wok with 2-3 inches of oil. Heat the oil on a medium-high flame and place the steamed charga in it. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until the chargha is throughly heated and golden. Turn and remove the chicken with help of two tongs.
- Place the crispy fried chicken on the platter. Pour lemon juice and sprinkle chaat masala and serve.