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Super tasty and bursting with amazing flavour, this chicken pakora recipe is a great option for a starter, snack, or even lunch. Bring this classic Indian dish into your own home – and it’s every bit as delicious as you would find in a restaurant!
What is it?
Pakora is a popular fried fritter recipe, often eaten as a snack food, from India. You may also know them by the name ‘bhaji’ (although as I understand it, a pakora is a type of bhaji and a bhaji is not always specifically a pakora). The most popular variations include onion or potato but it’s also commonly made with aubergine/eggplant, spinach, cottage cheese (paneer) or other types of vegetables. You will also find them made with chicken (as per this recipe) or fish.
The ingredients are then coated in a batter made with Besan/gram flour and then fried.
What is Besan?
Besan is a flour made from chickpeas. You’ll often see it called gram flour or possibly chickpea flour. It is gluten free and contains a higher proportion of carbohydrates than regular flour. It’s also slighly higher in protein and fiber.
While it’s typically easy to find in mainstream supermarkets, you should be able to find it in a Western-Asian speciality shop if not.
What are some tips for cooking pakoras?
Firstly, make sure the oil is the right temperature! If it’s not hot enough you will end up with a soggy pakora, and if it’s too hot then it will simmer into a hard, very dark fritter. Take the time to heat the oil to the right temperature (so the temperature isn’t continuing to rise while you are cooking) and test some batter in the oil before you start to add the chicken pieces.
Be conscious of how much water you add to the batter also, as this will affect the end result. If you prefer them to be a little softer then add a little more, if you want them crispier then add a little less.
Can you make them in advance?
These chicken pakoras are best served as soon as they have been fried. This is when they are at their crispiest. However, if you do have leftovers, you can reheat them in the oven at 200C/400F for around 10 minutes.
To make this chicken pakora you need a few ingredients – most of them are spices so don’t worry if the list looks a bit long! For the full list of ingredients including measurements jump to the printable recipe card.
- chicken breast, cut into pieces
- minced ginger
- minced garlic clove
- chilli powder
- ground coriander
- garam masala
- chopped coriander
- lemon juice
- veg oil – for the batter
- veg oil – for frying
- cashews, roughly chopped
If you don’t have all of the spices available then you can substitute any of them for:
- curry powder
You can use canola / rapeseed oil, sunflower or grapessed oil instead of the vegetable oil. Just make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point.
Boneless chicken thighs can be used instead of the chicken breast
How to make them
First, add the chicken to a large bowl and then add the ginger, garlic, chilli powder, ground coriander and garam masala. Add the coriander, lemon juice and oil (for the batter), Mix everything together well and then leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the flavours to infuse.
After marinading, add the besan and cornflour/cornstarch. Add a little water, a couple of teaspoons at a time, to the chicken mixture and keep stirring everything together until you have a thick and goopy paste coating the chicken pieces. Around 1 tbsp of water per 2 people is a good amount.
Heat the oil for frying in a large deep pan (you want to have 1-2 tsp of oil at the bottom of the pan) and heat over medium-high heat. To check if the oil is hot enough drop a small amount of the batter into the oil and if it gently sizzles then it’s ready.
Add the chicken pieces to the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning halfway through. If you are making several portions you may want to do this in two or more batches so the pieces don’t overcrowd the pan and stick together.
Using a slotted metal spoon or straining spoon carefully remove the chicken from the oil and transfer to a plate covered in paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
Add the cashew nuts to the oil and cook for around 30 seconds to brown and crispen.
Serve the chicken pakora with the cashew nuts and some extra chopped coriander sprinkled over the top. These go great with a mint or chilli dip. This cucumber raita is a perfect accompaniment.
Products that work well for this recipe:
Stainless Steel Strainer Set
Nest Measuring Cup/Spoon Set
Indian Karahi Curry Bowls
This homemade chicken pakora is every bit as good as you’ll find in a restaurant. Packed with amazing flavours, they work great as a starter or snack.
The default recipe makes 2 portions
- 100g / 3.5oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (you can also use boneless thigh pieces instead)
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander ground
- 1/4 tsp garam masala
- few pieces of fresh coriander, finely chopped, with a little reserved for garnish at the end.
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp veg oil (for the batter)
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp besan (gram flour)
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or enough to fill the pan around 1-2cm deep – for frying)
- 3–4 cashews, roughly chopped
- Mix together the chicken, ginger, garlic, chilli powder, ground coriander and garam masala in a bowl. Add the chopped coriander, lemon juice and oil and season. Pop in the fridge for 1-2 hours to allow the flavours to infuse.
- Add the cornflour and besan to the chicken and mix together well. Add around 1 tbsp of water per 2 portions. Add it in a little at a time until you have a smooth but fairly thick batter.
- Heat the oil for frying in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. When hot drop in the chicken pieces. To check the temperature you can drop a little of the batter in to test. It should gently splutter when you add it in but not cook so quickly that it turns brown too fast. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to stop the pieces sticking together. Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted metal spoon or strainer. Place on a plate covered with kitchen towel to absorb any excess oil.
- When you’ve cooked all the chicken pieces then add the cashew nuts to the oil for around 30 seconds to crispen and brown a little.
- Serve with the cashew nuts scattered over and some extra chopped coriander. This is best served with a dipping sauce such as mango chutney, chilli sauce or this cucumber raita.
- Leftovers can be reheated in an oven at 200C/400F for 10 minutes, although these are at their best when served freshly made.
- You can get creative with the spices you use based on what you have in. Alternatives could include curry powder, cumin, turmeric or paprika.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus 1 hour marinading)
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Category: Starter
- Method: Fry
- Cuisine: Indian
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 305
- Fat: 18g
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Protein: 19g
Keywords: indian, pakora, starter, snack, chicken, spices