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Chicken Chargha – Steamed and Fried Chicken

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Chicken Chargha is both steamed and fried for the ultimate fried chicken experience.

You might have tried chicken chargha at a good takeaway or two without even knowing it.

Chicken chargha is stems from Lahore, Pakistan and is a delicious way to prepare and serve a whole fried chicken.

Them chicken is first marinated, then steamed to cook through and then finished off by frying.

The result is super juicy chicken meat that is also crispy and flavourful. One thing that sets the flavour apart from other Pakistani fried chicken recipes is the use of chaat masala, both in the marinade and also sprinkled over the finished chicken chargha.

chicken chargha

Steamed and fried to perfection.

What is chaat masala?

Chaat masala is an essential ingredient for chicken chargha. It is really just a spice masala that has a strong flavour of black salt.

You can make your own or purchase it at Asian grocers and online.

If you can’t get it or don’t like the flavour and aroma of black salt, you could leave it out.

It won’t be an authentic chicken chargha without it but this recipe will still be very good.

Working ahead…

It is important to work ahead when making chicken chargha because the chicken needs to marinate.

You can marinate the meat for as few as 5 hours but letting it marinate for 24 to 48 hours is best.

If you like, you could also steam the chicken a couple of hours before actually frying it.

Steaming the chicken chargha…

I don’t personally own a steamer that is big enough to steam a whole chicken. If you do, then great!

In my case, I had to made a steamer buy placing a couple of upside down metal bowls at the bottom of a pan and then placed a metal table protector on top. Then I placed the chicken on a metal plate and place it in the pan on top. 

Anything will work. Bricks for example. 

steamer for chicken

my homemade steamer.

Alternative method for cooking chicken chargha

Although steaming and frying is the most popular way of cooking chicken chargha, you could also make tandoori chicken chargha.

I do this often on the barbecue. 

To do this, follow the instructions below, marinating and steaming the chicken chargha as described.  Then, throw it on a hot grill to char the exterior.

Step by step photos…

sliced chicken

Make shallow slits all over the skinned chicken. Then place in a bowl.

Chicken in first marinade

Rub the lemon juice and salt all over the chicken and set aside while you make the second marinade.

Ingredient for second marinade

Place the ingredient for the second marinade in a food processor and blend to a paste.

Blending marinade

You can add more lemon juice or water to the marinade if needed to blend.

Chicken placed in steamer

Marinate for 5 to 48 hours. When ready to cook, place the chicken in your steamer.

Steamed chicken chargha

After 20 to 25 minutes, the chicken will be cooked through and look like this.

Frying chicken

Fry the chicken breast side up for 5 to 7 minutes.

Frying chicken chargha

Carefully turn over and fry for another 5 to 7 minutes.

chicken chargha

Dig in!

Tandoori whole chicken
Tandoori chicken tikka
Piri piri chicken

Chicken Chargha - Steamed and Fried Chicken

chicken chargha
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1 x 1.5kg (3 lb) whole chicken, skinned
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace (optional)
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red dried chilli flakes, homemade (see page 00) or shop bought
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chaat masala, plus more to sprinkle over the chicken before serving
  • 1 tsp amchoor powder (dried mango powder)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 250g Greek yoghurt, whisked


  1. Make shallow slits all over the chicken with a sharp chef’s knife and then rub the chicken with the salt and lemon juice. Set aside while you make the second marinade.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a spice grinder or food processor and blend until you have a paste. Rub this marinade all over and inside the chicken being sure to get it right into the slits you cut. Marinate, covered in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight, turning from time to time to ensure the chicken gets nicely marinated.
  3. When ready to cook, bring a steamer pan, half filled with water to a boil. Once boiling, place the marinated chicken in the steamer, cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the heat.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a pan or wok, half full with the oil. You will be cooking both sides of the chicken so the oil should come halfway up the chicken when it is lowered into the oil to cook. If you have an oil thermometer, you are aiming for an oil cooking temperature of 175c/350f.
  5. Carefully place the and chicken breast side up in the oil and fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until nice and crispy. Using some strong tongs, carefully turn the chicken to cook the other side for 5 to 7 minutes. It’s ready when you are happy with the colour and crispyness.
  6. Transfer to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil and serve immediately sprinkled with a little more chaat masala and a good raita and/or coriander and mint chutney.

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I hope you enjoy this fried chicken recipe. Chicken chargha is awesome! If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Recipes land

Sunday 28th of May 2023

Easy recipe to follow Thanks for sharing

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 30th of May 2023

Thanks very much Dan

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