Chicken “chargha” is a deep fried chicken originally from Lahore, Pakistan. The whole chicken without skin is ideally marinated overnight with spices mixed in yogurt. After that, it is steamed then deep fried.
The first time I ate chicken chargha was as a child when my dad bought some home. It was served with naan, raita (yogurt dip), and onion slices. Usually, my dad did not like to buy food from outside because he did not trust all restaurant kitchens to be clean. This restaurant, however, was known for its fresh quality ingredients and cleanliness.
I tried to cook chicken chargha at home in Grade 9, but only my dad seemed to like it! Because of his encouragement, I kept trying to cook different recipes at home and did not give up. My dad always encouraged us to keep trying, even if we failed the first time.
Now I cook chicken chargha in a modified, healthier way – instead of deep-frying the chicken, I actually bake it in the oven
- One whole chicken with skin (~3lbs)
- 2 medium potatoes
- 3 tbsp yogurt (2% or 3%)
- 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (if you don’t have a paste, you can chop 3 garlic cloves and a 1” piece of ginger)
- 2 tbsp red chilli powder
- ½ tbsp cumin powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ tbsp garam masala powder (garam masala is a 5-spice mix easily found in South Asian grocery stores)
- ¼ tbsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tbsp turmeric powder
- Lemon juice from half a lemon
- For Garnish: ½ lemon and chaat masala (also found in South Asian grocery stores)
1. Wash chicken and pat dry with paper towel.
2. Make 1” cuts on the whole chicken using knife.
3. In small bowl, mix all spices and yogurt.
4. Apply the yogurt mixture on the chicken, making sure to apply into the cuts made as well. Keep aside ~2tbsp of the yogurt mixture for baking the potatoes later on.
5. Cover bowl with a lid and marinate for 4 hours in the fridge (for best results, can also marinate overnight).
6. Remove the chicken from fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking. Discard any liquid that has collected.
7. Tie chicken legs together with a string and tuck the wings behind the body to prevent the wings from overcooking.
8. To steam the chicken, fill a large pot that will fit the chicken with 1” of water. Place a heat-proof bowl upside down in the pot or place a metal rack in the pot. Place the large pot on the stove on high heat and bring the water to a boil. When it’s boiling, put the chicken on the bowl or rack, cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 35 minutes.
- To prepare potatoes for baking, wash and peel 2 potatoes and cut into 2” cubes. Mix potatoes with 2 tbsp of yogurt mixture and transfer to the roasting pan that will also be used to bake the chicken.
10. Pre-heat the oven to 415 ºF. After the chicken is steamed, remove chicken from the pot, place in a roasting pan and bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is cooked (I cooked to an internal temperature of ~180 ºF). Change oven setting to broil and cook for another 3 minutes to allow the chicken skin to get more crispy.
12. Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle chaat masala and squeeze half a lemon on the chicken.
13. Serve hot with baked potatoes, naan, raita, and onion slices.
Deep frying chicken option: if deep frying chicken instead of baking it, the skin should be removed beforehand. Deep fry chicken until crisp golden brown and temperature >165 ºF.
Hope you enjoyed this recipe! Remember to like, share and comment!
Till next time.