Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lahori Chargha Lahore Style Seasoned Fried Chicken

In Lahore there are many restaurants where you can get this delicious deep fried chicken. I believe chargha is another Urdu word for chicken (hen, like murghi), but for some reason I have also seen this dish called "chicken chargha," which means chicken chicken. Kind of like chai tea and naan bread. Usually it's the goras who say chai tea and naan bread, but I have seen desis saying or writing chicken chargha. I know chargh/chargha is used in Pashto. Maybe chargha as chicken is too obscure since murghi or English "chicken" are so widely used. So maybe it got stuck that way the same way some English speakers say "with au jus." Au jus really means "with juice" so they are saying "with with juice." Long tangent... Anyhoo...in Lahore you can also get this same dish made with quail (batair).

In this recipe, I make use of a pressure cooker to briefly cook the chicken through while causing the marinade gravy to cling nicely to the bird's flesh. The pressure cooker nicely tenderizes the bird as well, so you don't get dry, over-cooked chicken from the double cooking process.

For this recipe you need bone-in, skinless chicken pieces. You can use a whole or halved chicken if you feel brave and have a large vessel for deep frying. In my recipe I usually use a quartered chicken or sometimes just leg-thigh pieces (5-6).

1 cup yoghurt
1 tbs vinegar
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp ajwain seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
1 tsp red chile powder
1 tbs red chile flakes
1 heaping tbs chaat masala (Shan brand is fine)
1 tsp salt or to taste
tiny pinch of orange food coloring (like biriani rangi)
Oil for deep frying

Lemon juice and chaat masala for final garnish

Make slits in the chicken so that marinade can penetrate. In a large deep bowl, whip the ingredients into the yoghurt. Add the chicken and slather it with the marinade. Marinate overnight in the refridgerator.

Place chicken pieces directly into the pressure cooker. There is no need to add water or oil. Cover the pressure cooker and cook on medium-low heat until you get one whistle (about 10 minutes). Lower the flame and continue to cook for five for minutes. Turn off the flame and release the pressure. When the lid opens, remove the chicken pieces and set out to cool down. The chicken should be just barely cooked. Notice the marinade is clinging so nicely to the chicken. These flavor bits will stick to the flesh even when you deep fry later.

When the chicken has completely cooled, heat oil in a deep pan (big enough to submerge the chicken pieces). When oil is hot, deep fry the chicken and remove from the oil. At this stage you are just giving the chicken a spice-crust, the chicken should be fully cooked so there is no need to fry for more than a few moments.Using a strainer or a slotted ladel, scoop out some deep fried bits of marinade and spread these on the chicken as well for extra tasty bits.

Drain chicken pieces and then set on a serving dish. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle chaat masala on top of the chicken.

If you have some roghni naan, serve with that, plus raita, tamarind chutney. Shauqeen log can serve this with white bread and ketchup.


RuhguZar said...

I am so hungry now, the recipe sounds so good, and the pictures are delicious, I wished u were moving to Northern Va!
Question- u said pressure cook for 10 minutes..I have never pressure cooked chicken before but when I PC beef for salan type dish it takes 12 minutes. I am thinking chicken might only use 5 minutes?

luckyfatima said...

Salaamz. My pressure cooker is a traditional kind that gives whistles, and on a medium-low flame with a medium sized chulha it took about 10 minutes for the first whistle...the chicken is cold from being marinated in the refridgerator. Anyhow, I think each brand and type of pressure cooker is different, so if you go for this recipe, just do what is intuitive to you in terms of timings.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu Aleikom
I marinated the chicken and will try to cook it today. I have some questions though and hope you can help inshaAllah

1.When I added the marinade it was really wet-I think I used to much yogurt? Is it supposed to be really wet? (it's thick and covers all of the chicken..just wondering if it should be more dry?)
2. I do not have ajwain seeds...does it make a big difference?
3. I do not have a pressure cooker and was thinking to use the oven. Lay the chicken flat on a baking sheet and cook on 350-400 for a short time then take out and cool and then fry. Do you think this will work? Have you tried it? I am worried all the seasoning will come off-I won't touch it while it's baking.

Sorry for so many questions..but I really want to cook this for my husband and I hope it will come out good-he will be pleasantly surprised :) -and of course thanks to you for putting recipes here.

Take Care

luckyfatima said...

@I am nobody: I think the ajwain gives it that Lahori fry touch and also aids in the digestion of this oily food. I guess it isn't integral, but if you buy some you can use it in other stuff like fish fry recipes, too.

Your yoghurt might just be watery. That is no problem. Baking may work, but I know for sure that you can do this: cook it in a pot and don't cover it so that the moisture in the yoghurt evaporates. You would add a bit of oil to the pot, heat to medium, add in the chicken and marinade, then cook stirring for about 10 mins until the oil rises up from the yoghurt. Then cook on med-low heat, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't stick, until the gravy is very very dry and clinging to the chicken, and the chicken is barely cooked. The pressure cooker just reduces the arduousness of this. Then just allow the pieces to cool and briefly deep fry them.

if you do end up baking this, let me know how it comes out.

I bet a healthier version could be made by baking.