These small morsels of chicken bites laced with quintessential Indian spices and fresh herbs are the best Indian side dish you can serve. This chicken pakora recipe is just like the street style snack we all know and love!
Why You’ll Love This Side Dish
This chicken pakora recipe (or pakoda) is incredibly moreish, so in fact, you should double the portion if you think they are going to get smashed. When I served these up, they were literally gone before I could even blink!
They are so delicious, and it epitomises what deep fried food should taste like. Hot, bite-sized, crispy, and so full of flavour.
It has hints of spicy heat while all those lovely Indian spices blend so well together and come through in heavenly droves.
Just like our easy onion bhaji recipe (onion fritters) recipe, these will appeal to people of all ages and can be served as a side dish, snack or appetiser. Just know that if you serve it up before a meal, it isn’t going to last very long.
They are also a great side dish to have during Diwali.
What Is Chicken Pakora?
A pakora or also known as a pakoda, is an Indian deep fried fritter of sorts. It usually consists of a vegetable that is marinated in a spiced batter and then deep fried. They are well-known Indian street food and are usually found on menus in Indian restaurants.
Chicken pakora is the meat version of a vegetable pakora.
Using bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken, it is marinated in batter usually made of besan or gram flour, rice flour and a myriad of quintessentially Indian spices such as garam masala, red chilli powder and turmeric, just to name a few.
Tips For Making the Best Chicken Pakoras
Don’t skip marinade: I highly recommend that you marinate the chicken for an hour in the refrigerator. Of course, you can skip this process if you’re pressed for time, but the marinating process allows all the flavours to be infused into the chicken and also helps to tenderise it.
Batter consistency: The consistency of the batter or coating should be thick and sticky. If you have not worked with besan or gram flour before, it doesn’t feel like a regular batter.
Don’t add too much water, or you’ll get a runny batter. If that happens, add a little bit more besan to thicken it up.
Oil temperature: The temperature of the oil must be perfect. I go for a medium to high. If the oil is too hot, it will burn the batter on the outside, and the chicken won’t be cooked. If the temperature is too low, it will make the chicken pakoras soggy.
Overcrowding: Do not overcrowd the fry pan or saucepan with chicken pieces. They need space to cook properly, and also, too many chicken pieces will bring the temperature of the oil down. Cook them in batches.
Double frying: The first batch of frying cooks the chicken and absorbs all moisture. The second batch, however, adds additional crispiness to the chicken pakoras. Again, just a quick return and toss will suffice as you don’t want to burn them.
How To Make Chicken Pakora in Oven?
If you want to skip deep frying, you can make chicken pakoras in the oven. Will it taste the same as the authentic chicken pakoras? Unfortunately, not. Nothing can ever quite replace the smell, taste and texture of deep fried food.
In saying that, however, it doesn’t mean you can’t replicate a good chicken pakora in the oven. The process is the same until it is time to bake them.
Place a wire rack on top of a lined sheet pan or baking dish. Bake at 230°C or 450°F for about 8 minutes.
Then take them out and turn them over and bake for another 8 minutes. Longer if you feel it hasn’t achieved a level of crunch you may desire but be careful not to burn them.
Flavour/Texture: Synonymous with Indian food, these chicken pakoras are popular street food. Imagine spiced up chicken nuggets but far, far tastier.
The outer texture is crisp as the besan and rice flour make for excellent deep-frying candidates. The boneless chicken pieces are cooked to perfection in hot oil and are juicy and moist.
All the fantastic Indian spices all work so well together. They are aromatic, pungent, and so distinctive in taste and smell.
The curry leaves have such a unique flavour that is intense yet so fresh and slightly sweet in smell. There are pops of spiciness from the red chilli powder and fresh green chillies.
Ease: Getting the batter or chicken pakora coating right is vital, and I remember thinking I would definitely fail the first couple of times I made them at home. Surprisingly, I didn’t, and the portions and consistency were just right. Follow this recipe, and you’ll be fine too!
Deep frying can be a messy business, and if this is something you don’t normally do, just ensure you have good kitchen paper or paper towels, your workbench is clean, and you’re wearing home clothes. You may get a few splats of hot oil, too, so beware.
Time: Chicken pakoras require a good hour for marinating. But you can prepare everything else during that time to maximise your day. Deep fry slowly in batches for the best results.
Ingredients required for this chicken pakora recipe.
Chicken: This chicken pakora recipe requires boneless chicken pieces that can be cut to about 1-inch cubes, preferably all of the same size. So, chicken breast and thighs would do well. Sometimes if you can get thick chicken tenderloin pieces, that would work too.
Curry leaves: Get fresh curry leaves from the herb section of your supermarket or greengrocer. Fried curry leaves are incredibly aromatic and used as garnish before serving.
Green chilli: We are adding finely diced chilli in the chicken mixture as well as frying whole green chillies at the end for garnish, and anyone game enough to eat them whole!
Garlic and ginger: You can purchase garlic ginger paste from any Indian grocer. They usually come in really big jars, though, so if you think you have no use for them regularly, just mince up fresh garlic and grate ginger.
Garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt, turmeric: All the love dry spices required for marinating the boneless chicken pieces. You can easily get these in the spice section.
Besan & rice flour: Mixing both besan (gram or chickpea flour) with rice flour gives it that crispy edge. It also means this chicken pakora recipe is gluten free.
Baking powder: Adding a tiny bit of baking powder gives the chicken pakoras extra crispiness.
Variations and Substitutions
Chicken cut: You can use any cut of the chicken as long as you’re able to get even cubes. Breast, thigh and tenderloins work well.
More fresh ingredients: If you would like more fresh ingredients, you can also add finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.
Dry spice alternatives: Some other dry spices you can add to the recipe include black pepper, Kashmiri chilli, cumin, fenugreek and chaat masala.
Reduce the level of spiciness: Be sure to de-seed the green chilli, add less chilli powder or omit altogether.
Step by step instructions for how to make chicken pakoras.
Cut the boneless chicken into 1-inch cubes.
Remove the curry leaves from 2 x stalks and finely chop.
De-seed 1 x green chilli and finely chop.
Make a slit down the length of the remaining 3 chillies and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, add the chicken, curry leaves, green chilli, garlic, ginger, garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix until well combined, cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.
Then add besan, rice flour, baking powder, egg white and mix well. Add 1 tbsp of water at a time to get a good consistency. It should be sticky and thick.
On medium to high heat, heat up oil for frying. Add one chicken piece to test to see if it is hot enough. Then add the chicken pieces one by one. When it is a nice golden brown and cooked, remove and set aside.
Once all cooked, place the chicken pakoras back onto the hot oil for a second round for extra crispness. Remove and place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
When finished, add the curry leaves of 2 x stalks and the rest of the green chillies into the hot oil. When cooked, add on top of the chicken pakoras. Serve.
What To Serve with Chicken Pakora?
Frequently Asked Questions
Chicken pakoras do not contain dairy. No ghee, yoghurt or milk products are used in this recipe.
Chicken pakoras do not contain gluten as the most common flours used in the recipes include besan (chickpea flour), rice flour and cornflour.
Yes, chicken pakoras can be reheated to be eaten later. You can put them back in hot oil and deep fry them again to regenerate the crispness.
You can also put them in the oven and bake them to heat them and regenerate some of the crunch. Another way is to pop them in an air fryer to reheat and fry them to crispiness.
You can freeze chicken pakoras. Cook them as usual, let them cool down and then place them in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to eat it again, thaw it overnight, and the best way is to deep fry them again.
You can eat chicken pakora cold, but it will no longer be crispy. Be sure that the chicken pakoras are refrigerated after 2 hours of being cooked to ensure they are safe to eat.
There is never any mistaking the wafts of Indian cooking in your kitchen. The strong aroma of garam masala and turmeric mixed with the crispy fried curry leaves always sends the house into a frenzy in anticipation of these golden nuggets.
This chicken pakora recipe is a crowd pleaser. Can’t wait for you to try them!
More Indian Side Dishes
Chicken Pakora Recipe
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Cut the boneless chicken into 1-inch cubes.
- Remove the curry leaves from 2 x stalks and finely chop.
- De-seed 1 x green chilli and finely chop.
- Make a slit down the length of the remaining 3 chillies and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add the chicken, curry leaves, green chilli, garlic, ginger, garam masala, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix until well combined, cover and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Then add besan, rice flour, baking powder, egg white and mix well. Add 1 tbsp of water at a time to get a good consistency. It should be sticky and thick.
- On medium to high heat, heat up oil for frying. Add one chicken piece to test to see if it is hot enough. Then add the chicken pieces one by one. When it is a nice golden brown and cooked, remove and set aside.
- Once all cooked, place the chicken pakoras back onto the hot oil for a second round for extra crispness. Remove and place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.
- When finished, add the curry leaves of 2 x stalks and the rest of the green chillies into the hot oil. When cooked, add on top of the chicken pakoras. Serve.
- You can use any cut of the chicken as long as you’re able to get even cubes. Breast, thigh and tenderloins work well.
- If you want more fresh ingredients, you can also add finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.
- Some other dry spices you can add to the recipe include black pepper, Kashmiri chilli, cumin, fenugreek and chaat masala.
- To reduce the level of spiciness, be sure to de-seed the green chilli, add less chill powder or omit altogether.
- Do not overcrowd the fry pan or saucepan in the first round of frying. This will ensure the chicken is cooked evenly.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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