Charga /chargha (fried or roasted whole chicken)

Charga/chargha is a very famous dish in Lahore and in Asian cuisine, especially in Pakistan. I tasted it in London (UK) in Lahore restaurant. Charga means, a full chicken which is marinated with spices, cooked and then fried or deep fried in oil/ghee. In each house or restaurant the chargha tastes different because of the marinade and the way it is cooked. For the marinade, curd (yoghurt), cumin powder, chilli powder, vinegar, ginger and garlic paste is used, but you can add your own spices. I have added the ingredients as per my taste and spiciness. I have used medium size chicken and used wide and large vessels to make the cooking easy. I have fried the chicken instead of deep frying, as it is very difficult to handle. In the pictures I have shown you with skin and without skin chicken roasting or frying in a grill and kadai, you can choose and cook as per your taste. I have served charga/chargha as a starter, but it can be served with naan, salad and some dipping sauce or can make naan roll or serve with pulav, but in restaurants it is served with chips and salad with pickled green chillies which is my favourite.

If while making full chicken , if it breaks or pieces come apart it okay, at the end you can join the pieces and serve. any how u have to cut the pieces and eat it. While cooking full chicken we have to be very care full while turning the chicken, other wise it can break. follow the instruction and make tasty chargha at home.

In my previous recipe full chicken fry, I have done the same method, this time different spices and frying it on grill or kadai/wok. You can take chicken with skin and without skin.

Ingredients

  • Full chicken (make slits on chicken) - 700 gms to 750 gms
  • Oil - for frying
  • Marinade

  • Ginger and garlic paste – 4 tsp
  • Kashmiri chilli powder - 2 tsp to 2 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - as per taste.
  • Vinegar - 1 tbsp
  • Biryani or orange colour (optional)
  • Curd - 1/2 cup thick
  • Oil - 2 tsp
  • Chat masala – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Roasting spices

  • Cumin seeds – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper seeds – 3 tsp
  • Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
  • Kashmir dry chilli – 1
  • Garnishing

  • Chat masala to sprinkle
  • Lemon pieces few and salad leaves

Method

    Marinade

  • First make some slits on the chicken and keep it aside.
  • Take a bowl or plate and add all ingredients one by one and mix well, till all the spices are combined well.
  • Roast the other spices and grind or crush it in a pestle mortar coarsely.
  • mix this roasting spice also in the marinade. Check it weather salt is enough or not by tasting it little.
  • Then apply on chicken, inside its body also, apply all over the body. Rub the chicken nicely and evenly on the chicken. the marinade should be thick, so that it can nicely be marinated. cover and keep it in the fridge for 4hrs to overnight. before cooking, remove from the fridge and bring it to room temperature for 1/2hr and then cook it.
  • You can see in the picture, the marinate is nicely coated with the chicken, do not rub your hand on it again, you have to cook directly in the vessel. Donot disturb the marinated chicken by touching or mixing it again with hand.
  • There are 2 steps to cook charga.

    a. Cooking the chicken in its marinade

    b. Frying in a kadai/grill

    The cooking instructions may be quite long, but I have given this to understand in a better way.

    a. Cooking the chicken in its marinade

  • This method you can adopt if ,you do not have oven at home. this is just cooking the chicken in a vessel, without oil or water, then cooking it in a big and wider kadai or in grill pan, to get that charred colour.
  • Take a vessel, any deeper or wider vessel(it will be easy to cook full chicken and turn also),put the full chicken with the marinade and close the lid and cook it on medium heat. If you want can grease the vessel with a tsp of oil. Can open the lid and cook the chicken.
  • The main purpose is to cook the chicken and absorb all the water and make the chicken marinade cooked and dry.
  • In between check the chicken, so that it should not stick to the pan, after sometime turn the other side and cook it. Use tong and one big spoon to turn the chicken, or 2 big spoons can see in the picture. it will be easy to hold and turn.
  • When you see that all marinade juice is absorbed and chicken is also cooked, then switch it off. Do not cook it on a very high heat or high flame. In between check it so that it is not burnt or stick to the vessel.
  • If the chicken is cooked and marinade liquid is still there, open the lid and cook it. the marinade juice will be absorbed quickly, do not over cook it. Now take out the chicken and keep it aside.
  • I have also done the same using chicken with skin. You can see the pictures below.
  • b. Frying in a kadai/grill

  • After the chicken is cooked in a vessel, it is time to give that charred affect on the chicken like tandoori colour or barbeque affect.
  • Put oil 1 tbsp in a wider grill, so that chicken can be cooked well and easily turned also. Do not cook it on a very high flame.
  • When the oil is hot, put the chicken on grill carefully and fry it, when the chicken is cooked on one side and colour changes, turn the chicken to the other side and cook it till it is fried well. cook the chicken evenly on all sides. Can drizzle some oil in between if required.
  • As the chicken is already cooked, it will get fried soon, as we want to give that tandoori colour or as a barbeque colour.
  • I have also done the same using chicken with skin. You can see the pictures below.
  • Turn it with the help of a tong and hold the grill also. when it is cooked on all sides and nice charred type colour has come ,then remove it and serve it with salad. sprinkle some chat masala and lemon juice on it, but it is not needed as already we have added in the marinade. If you see in the picture , I have just removed the 2 legs and fried the chicken again, as I wanted to get charred from inside, if you want can do it or just avoid it.Serve it with sliced onions and lemon slices. Taste is really good , try it.

Notes

  • You can eat directly after the first step.
  • You can deep fry if you want, but be very careful as handling deep frying of a whole chicken is not easy.
  • Do not get confused by seeing the long process, it is just cooking the chicken first by steaming , then for the reddish charred colour we are frying it in a grill or kadai.
  • When cooking in a kadai or grill, the oil can split, all over, so can close the lid and cook it. cook on medium flame, in between you can simmer it, while turning the chicken.
  • Check the marinade then apply on chicken, whether it is spicy or salt is there or not.
  • You can add your own spices and marinade it. when you add the curd it should be thick. you can alter with the ingredients according to your taste.
  • You can use any chilli powder and any dry chilli also, if Kashmir chilli is not available.
  • While cooking, if the pieces come apart its okay, at last while serving, you can arrange it like a full chicken and serve it. main thing is to get the taste best.
  • I have not given the measurements for oil, as you are just drizzling the oil to give that charred colour, it depends on your cooking method. you can use oil or butter at last for frying.
  • With the remaining chicken pieces, you can make tortilla wrap or salad.
  • Instead of whole chicken can use pieces also, with the same charga masala.

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