Sometimes you don't want a small starter but can't quite handle a main course. The answer? Crunchy red chicken pakora! This Indian finger food is second to none. Today, I will tell you how it's made and what it tastes like and share my own authentic Indian restaurant takeaway recipe. Read on to find out how we do it!
What is Chicken Pakora?
Chicken pakoras are chunks of seasoned chicken coated in a crisp, flavourful and seasoned batter. This deep-fried dish is crunchy on the outside and juicy and tasty on the inside. Pakora can be served as either a large appetizer or a main dish. Often Pakora is served with a creamy dipping sauce.
But I'm going to be honest here…
The above doesn't really do the dish justice. This is finger food, Indian style, which means it is also the ideal dish to take on the go!
Now you've had a brief run down, let's look at what goes into each tasty morsel and the kind of taste you can expect from our red chicken pakora recipe.
What is in a Chicken Pakora?
The beautiful thing about chicken pakora is that they are super easy to make. Considering how dominant the various tastes are within the dish, there are remarkably few ingredients. Let's break the ingredients of chicken pakora down in detail, and you'll get a real flavour of the dish: -
Obviously, you can't make red chicken pakora without the key ingredient…
Traditionally you'll find that most places will use chicken breast. Dark meat can work, but due to the already high-fat content that comes from deep-frying, the breast is best! Also, chicken pakora is a boneless dish.
Chicken breast cooks relatively quickly, meaning that the batter and the breast meat being cooked through should happen simultaneously.
Turmeric is one of those spices at the backbone of Indian cuisine. This bright yellow spice has a subtle taste, a little 'curryish' with a slight smoky undertone. It is a great addition to both flavour and colour.
Often, you'll find that chicken pakora has a bright yellow tinge instead of red. The reason for this is that turmeric features heavily in the recipe.
Turmeric is used to marinate the meat before dipping it in the batter.
Kashmiri Chilli Powder
Want to know what puts the 'red' in 'red chicken pakora'?
This is it.
Don't be daunted that it's chilli powder. My regular readers will already know that in terms of heat, red Kashmiri powder is used more for colour and flavour than for heat.
Essentially, the redder your Pakora, the more chilli powder has been used. This can also be supplemented by some red food dye if needs be. (in fact, I use it in my very own recipe)
Translating from Hindi as 'hot spice blend' garam masala is a really easy way to add a curry taste to practically any dish, chicken pakora included!
Garam masala is a little spicy with a slightly sweet and smoky taste. It's sort of like a universal Indian spice mix. It normally contains: -
- Clove powder
- Coriander seeds
We've already got an element of coriander in the garam masala. Now, it's time to boost it! However, unlike in most traditional Indian recipes, coriander isn't used in the pakora recipe to marinade the chicken…
In any good red chicken pakora recipe, the coriander is fresh and actually features as part of the batter!
When it cooks in hot oil, it simultaneously crisps up a little. It infuses all of that citrusy flavour into the batter.
The end result?
Flecks of herby deliciousness dotting every single bite! (Unless you are one of those folk who doesn't like coriander!)
Garlic and Ginger
As with the fresh coriander, the garlic and ginger in the recipe are included as part of the batter.
I mean, think about it…
It's a really easy way to ensure that it sticks to the chicken instead of marinading those chicken breast cubes for hours.
Indian chefs will normally use premade garlic and ginger paste; here's how to make it yourself.
Chickpea flour, also called gram flour, is an Indian staple in many recipes.
Why use chickpea flour instead of normal 'plain' white flour?
Chickpea flour turns super crispy! The texture and flavour are also a little different from regular flour. I've tried both regular and gram flour, and it's well worth using the latter if you can get hold of it.
Gram flour also adds a nice yellow tinge to the batter, so if you want to reduce the red colour but don't want your Pakora looking too pale, then this is the way to go.
How is Chicken Pakora Made?
The traditional red chicken pakora recipe is very easy to make. Generally, it follows a three-stage process. First, we give chicken chunks a quick marinade in a dry spice mix. We then mix and prepare the batter before coating the chicken. The final stage is simply deep frying your Pakora.
Let's dive into each stage in a little more detail…
Chicken Pakora Dry Marinade
The hardest part of making this red chicken pakora recipe is cutting the chicken into cubes.
Once we've done this, all we need to do is create a dry spice rub. We mix turmeric, garam masala and a few spoonfuls of chilli powder in a large bowl. It is simply a case of throwing in your chicken breast chunks and giving them a good stir so they are all coated.
Oh, and don't forget a pinch of salt too!
See, I told you it was easy?
I normally like to leave the chicken sat covered in its spicy mix for around 30 minutes, which gives the flavours a fighting chance of soaking in a bit.
But I don't sit just waiting…
Cooking Indian food quickly is about being prepared and multitasking.
While I wait for the spices to soak in, I get on with making the batter.
More good news coming up…
The batter is super easy to prepare. If you can beat an egg, you can make pakora chicken batter.
I start by beating a single egg with a little chopped coriander, some ginger and garlic paste and some sparkling water. Once I've got a loose (and very foamy) mix of egg, ginger and garlic, I go in with a small spoonful of gram flour before adding more…
Why do it this way?
Well, my friends…
It is far easier to ensure you get the right batter consistency by adding flour a little at a time. Do it the other way around, and you may end up with too thick batter and then be forced to add more water, diluting the flavour.
If you want to know how thick your chicken pakora batter should be, check out my FAQs below…
Here's the easy bit.
There are two keys to ensuring you have crispy chicken pakora.
Here's the secret. It's simple: -
- Ensure your oil is hot
- Don't overcrowd your pan.
Follow these two' golden rules', and I promise you won't go wrong.
Depending on how big the chunks are, I normally fry the chicken for anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. The bigger the chunks, the longer they'll need to cook through.
Now we've seen a detailed run down, here's my fully authentic red chicken pakora recipe. Give it a go! It will take less than an hour from start to finish!
Red Chicken Pakora FAQ
Well, that was easy. Still, got questions?
If you are new to Pakora, then here's everything you need to know.
Why is Pakora Red?
Traditionally Pakora was made red by the prolific use of chilli powder. However, with this addition comes some heat. Not everyone likes chilli heat.
So to get around this, many restaurants add red food colouring to the batter to produce vibrant red colour. Some will still use chilli too. It is the combination of these two ingredients that Pakora takes its bright red colour from.
How Thick Should Pakora Batter Be?
Chicken pakora batter is supposed to be relatively light and crispy, similar to tempura. To achieve this result, the batter needs to be relatively loose. As a minimum, you will want it to be about the same thickness as double cream. If you want, you can also go up to the consistency of yoghurt without the recipe being adversely affected.
How Do You Eat Red Chicken Pakora?
The only way to eat Pakora is with your fingers. Consider them a little like Indian chicken nuggets. Sure, you can use a knife and fork, but Pakora is, in fact, Indian street food. Some people even say that eating food with your fingers makes it taste better!
How Spicy are Chicken Pakora?
Chicken pakora is not spicy at all. On a scale from 1 – 10, with 10 being crazy hot, Pakora will sit at around a 2. They do contain chilli powder, but this is diluted significantly. Also, deep-frying removes the vast majority of the heat. Pakora is about the same spice level as black pepper.
Is Chicken Pakora Healthy?
Unfortunately, if you are looking for a healthy curry, Pakora is low down on the list. Because they are deep-fried, they soak up quite a lot of oil. As they are cubed, they also have a huge surface area. These two factors combine to make them high in calories.
If you are looking for a healthy Indian meal, look no further. Here's everything you need to know.
What Does Pakora Mean?
Pakora is a mix of words derived from the ancient language of Sanskrit. It is a derivative of the word pakvavata. This is, in fact, two words, 'pakva', meaning 'cooked', and 'vata', meaning 'small chunk'.
Pakora isn't limited to being made out of chicken either. In fact, they share a remarkable resemblance to onion bhajis.
Chicken Pakora and Chicken Pakoda, What's the Difference?
There is no difference between Pakora and pakoda. Due to subtleties in translation and spelling, these terms are used to describe the same thing precisely. So, regardless of whether you are ordering red chicken pakora or red chicken pakoda, you'll get exactly the same dish!
What Sauce is Served with Pakora?
There are a few sauces traditionally served with Pakora (along with a thick wedge of lemon). These can include: -
- A fiery red chilli sauce
- A sweet and minty dairy raita
- Mango chutney
- A green coriander-based sauce
- Garlic and yoghurt dip
- Spicy ketchup
Each restaurant will have its own 'traditional' dip to serve. However, just like chicken nuggets, you will want to serve them with a sauce. Try any of the above for a tasty treat!
Red Chicken Pakora | Final Thoughts
I rarely spot red chicken pakora on the menu and skip them! They are crispy, tasty and incredibly juicy. They are also normally served in a huge portion, making them ideal for sharing with friends. Because they are quick to prepare, they are great when making a starter for Indian dinner parties. Why not swing by my article here, and get yours planned to perfection! Or alternatively, check out some of my other recipes.