Hello! I know, I’m over-excited to share spicy fried chicken that will be the love of your heart. This is the most famous and traditional Pakistani fried whole chicken from the city Lahore? Obviously, it’s time to share Lahori Charga or chargha recipe.
It is more authentically called “ch-er gha” in the Punjabi accent. It is super simple to make and has very little active time. You just need a bit of planning.
The origin of this dish is quite uncertain, the only thing we know certainly is that it originates from Lahore, Punjab. However, it is cooked in sold all on streets all over Pakistan and abroad.
What is Charga?
Chargha is soft succulent fried chicken marinated overnight in the spicy and tangy rub and steamed. Steaming is followed by deep-frying which the authentic way. In another healthier version marinated and steamed chicken is baked in a tandoor and it is called tandoori chargha.
Charga or chargha chicken tastes similar to fried tandoori chicken but has a different taste due to the profuse use of chat masala, a famous Punjabi condiment.
Tips to make best Lahori Chargha
- Use medium-sized chicken: 1kg to 1.25kg skinless whole chicken works best for 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 is best.
- Marinate well: Marinating is key to a tasty succulent chargha. Placing proper cut and at least 4 hours marination at room temperature is necessary. Overnight marination in the fridge works best.
- Pair with sides: The charge chicken is soft juicy but you need some chutney and sauces for that amazing combo. Fresh green chutney or any garlic dip like garlic mayo, garlic raita is the best choice. I've found ketchup mixed with chat masala also works as a quick sauce.
FAQ: Lahori Chargha
What to serve with Charga?
Charga 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.
Is Charga spicy?
Not really, the marinade might seem loaded with spices but when you deep fry the chicken, it fairly reduce the heat of spices. If baking, you can reduce red chilies to reduce heat in the recipe.
Can I bake or roast Charga in oven to skip steaming and frying?
Yes, you can make a 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 here.
Can I make Charga in an oven rotisserie?
Yes, I’ve tried it and it tastes great too and is a healthy way to eat Charga. 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.
Can I steam the charga and bake instead of frying?
Yes, that is a good option as steaming cooks the chicken very well and keeps it tender. It is quicker than baking too. Then before serving brush the chicken generously with the oil. Then bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 15 minutes to heat throughly. Finally, broil for 5-7 minutes for crispy skin and serve.
Can I make Lahori Chargha with other birds?
You can use other whole and skinless birds to make Charga like turkey or duck. The cooking time will increase with a bigger bird and you need to increase marinade. The recipe provides marinade for 1 kg-1.25 kg chicken.
Can I make charga with other chicken cuts?
Other chicken pieces like whole chicken leg and chicken breast with wing can be used too which easier to handle while cooking. Steaming time will reduce to 15-20 minutes with small pieces.
How to make Lahori Charga?
- 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, chat 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 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 marinade reaches till 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 placing 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 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 place the crispy fried chicken on the platter and serve with naan or bread.
Hungry for more Chicken? Try these!
- Red Ketchup Tikka Masala Whole Chicken
- Easy Tandoori Chicken, can be made with a whole chicken
- Bohra Fried Chicken
- Balochi Tikka Karahi
- Kashmiri Chicken chicken, can be made with a whole chicken!
Lahori Chargha Recipe fried or roasted
- 1 whole chicken, about 1kg - 1.25 kg
- 2 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
- ½ tablespoon cumin powder
- 2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes, or chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 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
- 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 medium flame and place the steamed charga in it. Cook until chicken is throughly heated and golden. Turn and remove the chicken with help of two tongs.
- Place the crispy fried chicken on the platter and serve.