I hope everyone is doing well! I miss you guys! I keep up with my Snapchat regularly so if you are interested in seeing my daily antics head on over there. My username is RehanaDuJour.
Today I’ll be showing you an easy, impressive, and super yummy recipe – Lahori Charga!
I don’t know how the name came about because charga is Pushto (my language – woot woot!) for chicken. But people in Lahore are Punjabi don’t say charga…so did this dish originate from my people? I’m certainly unsure about it’s origins but I am sure that it’s gosh darn good.
The texture of the chicken makes it interesting to the palette. It’s soft and crispy at the same time. It’s soft because you’ve steamed it for a while and it’s crispy because it’s fried. It’s everything you love about fried chicken…but without the skin. I don’t know why Pakistani dishes take the skin off for every dish, but it’s just the way we roll so I had to stick with the traditional recipe and do it that way.
I could’ve jazzed this platter up more in presentation with some lettuce leaves and such, but some oven fries (and some vegetable on the side) is all you really need.
Here’s how it’s done:
First, get one skinless whole chicken. If you are not getting this from an Indian or Pakistani grocery store the butcher might look at you funny, but that’s what you need.
You’ll want to make gashes into the chicken breast and chicken thigh and leg all the way to the bone. This will not only let the marinade sink all the way into the meat but it will ensure the chicken is fully cooked in about 40 minutes.
Next, we’ll want to whip up the marinade for the charga. Yes, I could make a concoction of spices and claim it is the best in the world – but why mess with a good thing when you have Shan masala. So that’s what we’ll be using. It’s under a dollar and it works.
We’ll want to mix half of the spice packet with one tablespoon of ginger paste, one tablespoon of garlic paste, and two tablespoons of lime juice. I would generally use fresh lime juice, but in a marinade such as this one where there are so many competing spices, you won’t be able to tell the difference at the end of the day with bottled lemon juice or fresh. You want the citrus zip, and that’s what this will do.
When you’re ready to cook your chicken, you’ll want to create a steaming apparatus. you can use any pan that you have that you can place steamer or a rack into. Anything to elevate the chicken off the boiling water. I used the insert from my pasta pot and lined it in another pot to create a large steamer.
Now it’s just a matter of bringing an inch of water to a boil, placing your chicken in, covering with a tight fitting lid, and letting it steam for 30 minutes. You’ll want to check on your water levels to make sure there is water there! If not, top it off.
You’ll want to check the thigh meat to make sure that it registers at least 170 on an instant read thermometer. Remember, science is our friend here. When the chicken is done cooking, you’ll want to take it out of the steamer and let it rest while you heat up 3 cups of frying oil.
I let the chicken drain on some paper towels for a minute before plating on a platter. It’s good to sop up any excess oil.
Also, if you are serving this to guests I would get frozen crinkle cut fries, it looks fancier with this. Oh, and this makes a perfect dish to make for kids when you’re having a dinner party. The Shan packet for Lahori charga is not spicy, which is unusual for Shan.