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Crunchy Chicken Pakora

Chicken Pakora—crunchy fried chicken pieces with ginger, garlic, ground chile, and chaat masala coated in a chickpea flour batter—are an easy appetizer and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

High angle shot of a platter of chicken pakora garnished with lime wedges.

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Pakora are a favorite Indian street food snack. They’re crispy, bite size nuggets of vegetables, seafood, or meat.

To make this Chicken Pakora recipe, start by marinating the chicken in flavorful Indian seasonings. Next, coat them in besan batter and fry them until they’re golden brown and crunchy. 

These delicious deep fried, crispy, golden Chicken Pakora bites are totally addictive. Make Chicken Pakora as a snack or an appetizer and watch them disappear.

overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make chicken pakoras.

Ingredients you need

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

This is one of my favorite pakora recipes. I like that it doesn’t require a ton of ingredients but still turns out absolutely delicious.

Aside from a couple of Indian spices and some chickpea flour, the ingredients you need to make to make Chicken Pakora recipe are pretty basic. Here’s what you need:

  • Boneless chicken: I recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs because they are so moist and full of flavor. You could use skinless, boneless chicken breast as well.
  • Fresh ginger and garlic: You can substitute ginger-garlic paste if you like, but I think freshly minced ginger and garlic are more flavorful.
  • Kashmiri chili powder: Kashmiri chile powder is the best here. You can buy it in an Indian market or online. You can also substitute another ground red chile, like cayenne, if you want.
  • Chaat masala: This Indian spice mixture usually contains cumin powder, coriander, black salt (aka kala namak), amchur (dry mango powder), asafetida, and red chili powder. It is perfect for seasoning a wide range of dishes. You can substitute garam masala powder if you prefer.
  • Baking soda: This keeps the coating light and airy.
  • Besan: Chickpea flour is the traditional coating for pakoras. It makes for a crispy outer shell and has the side benefit of being gluten free. You can buy besan in any Indian market or online.
  • Cornstarch (aka corn flour): This adds a little extra crunch. You can substitute potato starch or rice flour. Using half-and-half cornstarch and rice flour or potato starch will give you a good crunchy crust that browns nicley.
  • Oil for frying: Use any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point to fry Chicken Pakora. I use safflower oil, avocado oil, canola oil, or peanut oil.

How to make them

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

It is so simple to make Chicken Pakora. Here’s how to make the best Chicken Pakora recipe:

  1. Toss the boneless chicken pieces with the seasonings (garlic, ginger, chili powder, chaat masala or garam masala powder, and salt) and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Combine the besan, cornstarch (or potato starch or rice flour), baking soda, and water to make a batter.
  3. Add the chicken to the batter and stir to coat the pieces well. Let stand for another 15 minutes or so.
  4. Fill a heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot with about 3 to 4 inches of oil. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  5. Fry the battered chicken cubes in batches in the hot oil until they are dark golden brown, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all of the chicken is cooked.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot. Garnish the crunchy chicken bites with chopped fresh cilantro or fresh coriander, chopped green chillies, curry leaves, or thinly sliced red onion if you like.
low angle shot of a platter of chicken pakora garnished with lime wedges.

How to serve them

I like to serve this Chicken Pakora recipe as an appetizer or a game day snack. You can top them with chopped fresh cilantro or coriander, fried green chilies, curry leaves, or sliced onion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or lime juice if you like. Add Paneer Pakora to the spread to please the vegetarians!

Kachumber Salad is great to serve alongside pakora, too!

I like to offer Cucumber Raita, Cilantro Mint Chutney, as well as Tamarind Chutney for dipping the chicken pakoras.

Low angle shot of a plate of chicken pakoras.

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Yield: Serves 6

Chicken Pakora

Chicken Pakora

Chicken Pakora—crunchy fried chicken pieces with ginger, garlic, ground chile, and chaat masala coated in a chickpea flour batter—are an easy appetizer and a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or another ground red chilli powder)
  • 2 teaspoons chaat masala
  • Dashes of turmeric powder, chilli flakes, and other spices are optional
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup besan (aka gram flour or chickpea flour)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the boneless chicken cubes, ginger, garlic, chili powder, chaat masala, and salt and toss to mix. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the besan, cornstarch, and water and whisk well. Add chicken cubes to the pakora batter and stir. Make sure to coat the chicken pieces completely.
  3. Let stand for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high or medium-high heat. You want the oil to be hot enough that when you drop a piece of the batter-coated chicken in, it sizzles immediately.
  5. Add the chicken pieces in batches to the hot oil and cook, turning as needed, until dark golden brown, about 6 to 9 minutes per batch. Transfer the cooked chicken pakora to a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with your favorite chutney. Garnish crispy chicken pakora with chopped green chillies, chopped cilantro or coriander leaves, or chopped curry leaves, if desired.

Notes

  1. Boneless chicken thighs are recommended for making crispy chicken pakora, but you can use boneless chicken breast if you like.
  2. You can substitute ginger garlic paste for the ginger and garlic if you like.
  3. You can substitute potato starch or rice flour for the cornstarch.
  4. You can substitute any red chilli powder for the Kashmiri chili powder.
  5. Add other ground spices if you like, such as turmeric powder or chile flakes.
  6. You can add cilantro or coriander leaves or green chilli to the batter or as a garnish on top.

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Nutrition Information

Yield

6

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 313Total Fat 16gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 132mgSodium 726mgCarbohydrates 12gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 31g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on July 5th, 2022

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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