Craving some fried chicken? Switch it up with some chicken pakora! These deep-fried nuggets of chicken made with besan (chickpea flour) are packed with spices that deliver a punch of flavors that takes fried chicken to another level!
Chicken pakora are delicious crispy chicken fritters, loaded with spice which give these crispy bite-sized snacks/appetizers lot of amazing flavors. If you like any kind of fried chicken then I urge you to try this spectacular Indian dish.
This dish is surprisingly very easy to make, and the batter is very forgiving which means it's easy to adjust to the right consistency to get it to a wonderful crispy texture. Did I mention how flavorful it was?
If you love Indian food or chicken pakora is something you order frequently for takeout or when you eat out, here's your chance to make a huge batch at home to indulge on and share with your friends!
INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN PAKORA
- Chicken - I highly recommend using dark meat for this recipe because it makes a juicier and more flavorful chicken pakora. If you prefer white meat, it will also work well but it may not be as flavorful and juicy.
- Curry Leaves - Fresh curry leaves add a lot of great flavors but may be hard to find, but in most cases, these will be available at a local Indian grocery store. I have not found a good substitute for curry leaves, so if you cannot find it, you can omit it.
- Chickpea Flour (Besan/Gram flour) - Chickpea flour gives this dish a nuttier and slightly sweeter batter that's soft and spongy on the inside. You can substitute the chickpea flour with all-purpose flour but you will miss out on the texture and flavor it provides.
- Ginger/Garlic/Lemon Juice/Cumin - These ingredients are essential for this recipe to give it the robust flavor and should be omitted.
- Corn Starch/Potato Starch - For a crispier batter, use potato starch. Corn starch will work, but will not stay as crispy for as long.
- Chilli Powder - This is used purely to increase the spiciness. If you cannot find this, you can substitute this with cayenne pepper. Do not use Chili seasoning, which is a mix of spices (cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder etc) which is made to make Tex-Mex chili.
INGREDIENTS FOR CREAMY COCONUT DIP
- Coconut Cream - For this dip, I use coconut cream instead of coconut milk. Coconut cream is creamier and a lot more flavorful than coconut milk. Coconut cream is also a lot thicker, especially when chilled in the fridge, it becomes almost butter-like. If you cannot find this, you can use coconut milk in its place but you will lose a bit of the coconut flavor and the texture may be a bit runny but you can add 1-2 tablespoons of dried unsweetened coconut to absorb the excess liquid to thicken up the sauce and give it a bit of texture.
- Dried Shredded Coconut - Completely optional, but add 1 tablespoon of dried unsweetened coconut to add a bit of texture! It is also great to use a thickener if the dip is too runny.
- Soy Sauce/Fish Sauce - You can use soy sauce or fish sauce as the salt element when making this dip. Adjust this to your taste.
CHICKEN PAKORA CHICKPEA BATTER
When you are ready to deep fry the chicken pakora, add the egg, corn/potato starch, and chickpea flour and water directly into the bowl of chicken with its marinade. Use your hands to mix everything until everything is very well mixed together.
The batter should have the consistency of a thick paste so that the onions and chicken can stick together in clumps. If your batter feels too runny, add some more chickpea flour (a tablespoon at a time) and mix until it is thick, but if your batter feels too dry and the chicken and onions are not sticking together in clumps then add water to it, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until everything sticks to together.
HOW TO GET CRISPY CHICKEN PAKORA
Whenever I deep fry anything, I like to use the Korean method of deep frying and double fry everything extra crispiness. To double fry, remove it out of the oil 1-2 minutes earlier and let it sit for 30 seconds, and then put it back into the oil to re-fry it for 1-2 minutes.
Cooking Time: The smaller you make the fritters the less time you need to cook them. My fritters were about golf ball sized which cooked fully in 8 minutes. You may need to adjust your cooking time if you are making them smaller or larger.
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Chicken Pakora with Creamy Coconut Dip
- I highly recommend using dark meat for this recipe, for a juicier and more flavorful chicken pakora.
- The batter should be thick. The chicken and onions should be able to clump together easily. If the batter is too runny, add more chickpea flour, 1 tablespoon at a time and mix until the batter is thick. If it is too thick and hard to mix then add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it is easy to mix but still thick enough that the chicken and onions can clump together.
- I highly recommend marinating this overnight but if you're in a rush you could marinate it for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of water or milk to thin out the dip if it is too thick.
- Add additional dried unsweetened shredded coconut to give the dip a bit more texture and thicken it.
- Chilling this dip in the fridge will make it thicker before serving.
- 6-8 boneless chicken thighs
- 1 onion (sliced)
- 4 cloves garlic (finely minced, or grated)
- 1 tablespoon ginger (finely minced, or grated)
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy sauce)
- ½ lemon (juiced, approximately 2-3 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon chilli powder (add more if you like it spicier)
- 20 curry leaves (chopped)
- 1 ½ teaspoon cumin
Chicken Pakora Batter
Chicken Pakoras - Preparation
- Cut up the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put it in a large bowl
- Slice up the onions and add it to the bowl
- Add in the cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chopped curry leaves, garlic and ginger into the bowl
- Add the lemon juice and fish sauce into the bowl
- Mix well and marinate in the fridge for 4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Chicken Pakoras - Deep Frying
- When you are ready to start cooking the chicken, add in the egg, corn starch, chickpea flour, and water into the bowl with the chicken (including the marinade and sliced onions) and mix until the batter is a thick consistency. You want the batter to stick to the chicken and onions. If the batter is too runny- add some more chickpea flour 1 tablespoon at a time, if the batter is too thick and hard to mix - add in water 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Pre-heat oil to 350F (176C). If you are doing it on a stove-top, set the oil to medium heat.
- Add in the chicken mixture into the oil gently, 1-2 tablespoons at a time, careful to not overcrowd else it will drop the temperature of the oil. (Note: Try to refrain from making too big of a spoonful of chicken. I use a ¼ cup to measure out the chicken. If your pakoras are too big the middle will not cook through and the outside will come out burnt.)
- Cook for approximately 8 minutes.
- Enjoy fresh with the coconut dip!
- Combine all ingredients together and enjoy with pakoras!
- (Optional) Adding ½ tsp of onion seeds adds a bit more spice and flavor to the dip.
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
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