Get ready to meet one of your new favorite chicken recipes - delicious chicken pakora. A famous street food throughout Pakistan & India, crispy chicken pakora is a fried chicken dish that’s bursting with flavor. Pakora recipes can also be used at home for a crispy appetizer, side dish, or even enjoyed as an evening snack.
The first fried chicken pakora, according to hindustantimes.com was created by none other than Kundan Laal Gujral, the creator of tandoori-chicken and butter-chicken, in the 1930's. My version of this dish is all about creating an easy chicken pakora recipe that doesn’t sacrifice on flavor.
Ground chicken, besan (gram flour), and an array of spices are all combined together and deep fried to make crispy, crunchy, golden-brown bites. Serve them hot and fresh from the Karahi or fryer with a mint chutney or sweet chili sauce to impress your guests or satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
- Ground chicken
- Garlic paste
- Green chilies
- Coriander powder
- Cumin powder
- Red chillies
- Kashmiri chili powder
- Turmeric powder
- Ajwain seeds (Carom)
- Besan (Gram flour)
- Cooking oil
See recipe card for quantities.
The pakora is a category of street food that’s incredibly popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. To make pakoras, vendors combine simple ingredients like vegetables or chicken together with Indian spices.
The combination is then coated in besan or gram flour before being fried in hot oil. Popular variations include paneer pakora, aloo pakora, and of course, crispy chicken pakora.
While nothing can beat a chicken pakora hot and fresh from a street food vendor, for me, this is the best chicken pakora recipe to replicate the mouthwatering taste at home.
The recipe is simple:
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and let the chicken mixture marinate in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
- Remove from the fridge and stir the marinated chicken.
- Heat your cooking oil in a large pot or karahi over high heat. Then, reduce the heat to a medium flame.
- Drop tablespoons full of the ground chicken mixture into the hot oil, deep frying until they are a nice golden brown.
Some ingredient substitutions to the list above.
- Kashmiri chili powder - Kashmiri chilies have a very distinct flavor that’s integral to Indian food recipes like this one. Although it’s hard to replicate, you can make your own variation of Kashmiri chili powder using paprika and cayenne powder. Mix 3 parts paprika and 1 part cayenne per teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder.
- Gram flour - If you’re having trouble finding gram flour, then try searching for chickpea flour or besan flour instead. These three flours are actually the same, but one name may be more common, depending on where you live. Oat flour, rice flour, and almond flour are also easy alternatives to gram flour and can be used in a one-to-one substitution.
- Ginger - For pakora recipes, I prefer to use fresh ginger because of its bold, fresh flavor. However, in a pinch feel free to use ground ginger or store bought ginger paste.
- Chicken Thighs - Chicken thighs are an easy variation if you’re looking for tender chicken morsels. Since chicken thighs are fattier than ground chicken, they hold up well to deep frying. Be sure to buy boneless chicken thighs for an easier preparation and cut them into small pieces.
- Chicken Breast - You can also opt for a variation using chicken breasts if you’d prefer. The chicken breasts will still create crunchy chicken bites, but be aware that the leanness of the meat may make the pakora a bit dry.
- Large mixing bowl - Since you’ll be working with raw chicken, I recommend using a large mixing bowl made from glass or another non-porous material. This will make for an easier clean up.
- Large pot - For the deep frying, you’ll need a large pot, deep pan, or a karahi. Use whatever you have on hand, just make sure it has enough room for the hot oil and chicken pakora batter.
- Slotted frying spoon - This utensil is a huge help when it comes to deep frying. A slotted spoon allows you to scoop out the chicken pakora without having to worry about splashing the hot oil. It also automatically helps drain some of the excess oil from the chicken fritters.
- Cookie dough scoop - One of my favorite tricks for dealing with thick batter is to use a cookie dough scoop. You’ll be able to keep your hands clean and scoop the batter right into the hot oil. A small scoop is the perfect size for the chicken pakora batter.
- Plate - A plate lined with paper towels will help absorb the excess oil off of the pakora as they finish deep frying.
These crispy chicken pakoras are best enjoyed fresh. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can then reheat them in the oven at a medium-high heat like 375 F.
Don’t overcrowd the pot when deep frying. When you place too many pieces of the pakora mixture into the hot oil at once, you’ll actually lower the temperature of the oil. With a low oil temperature, you won’t be able to get those deliciously crispy pakoras. Instead, fry the chicken pakora batter in multiple rounds if you need to.
You can absolutely still make delicious chicken pakora in the air fryer. Prepare the batter using the same ingredients and then dollop into a greased air fryer. You can then fry at 400 F for about 25 minutes. Flip the pakoras at least once as they cook.
Yes! Since gram flour is used instead of all-purpose flour, this recipe is completely gluten-free. Just remember to check that your cooking oil of choice is also gluten-free.
I recommend shopping at your local South Asian grocery to stockpile the array of spices you’ll need like Kashmiri chili powder and ajwain. The fragrant spices will also come in handy for plenty of other tasty Pakistani and Indian recipes.
When you’re making any kind of fried chicken, or deep frying in general, you'll want to pick a neutral cooking oil that has a high smoke point. This just means that the oils can handle cooking at high temperatures. Peanut oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil are all great options.
A karahi or kadahi is a deep, slightly circular cooking pot that’s primarily used throughout the Indian subcontinent. A karahi is similar to a wok, but usually has higher sides, making them incredibly useful for deep frying or simmering large dishes. Owning a karahi is certainly not a requirement, you can use a deep frying pan, a wok or a regular pot for the frying as well.
This pakora works great as a crunchy chicken appetizer with a simple sprinkle of chaat masala and a squeeze of lemon juice or fresh lime juice over top. In Pakistani and Indian restaurants, you’re likely to see it served alongside delicious condiments like green chutney, mint chutney, or even a sweet chili sauce on occasion. No matter how you serve it, I have to recommend pairing it with a steaming cup of masala chai. The chai and pakora together are pure comfort!
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Crispy Chicken Pakora
- 1 lb ground chicken
- ½ chopped onion
- 1 tbsp crushed ginger
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 chopped green chili
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp corriander powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp crushed red chillies
- ½ tsp kashmiri chili powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ tsp ajwain(carom)seeds
- ½ cup besan(gram flour)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups cooking oil
- Mix all of the ingredients except the cooking oil and let the mixture marinate in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.
- Remove the mixture from the fridge and remix it one more time.
- Heat the cooking oil on high and then reduce the heat to medium.
- drop tablespoons full of the mixture and fry till they are a nice golden brown(SEE NOTES)