Chicken Pakora is deceptively easy to make, and inherently gluten-free. The traditional flours used lend a better flavour & texture to the dish, than wheat flour!
Note: This recipe was first posted on my original blog, Celebration Generation, on March 21, 2013. It was transferred over to this blog - existing comments and all - on 9/29/2022, and most recently updated on 7/14/2023.
Well, I finally getting around to posting the final recipe from that... only 8 months later..
Anyway... here's my easy chicken pakora recipe!
Delicious chicken pakora - aka chicken pakodi or chicken pakoda - is a popular Indian street food . Tender chicken is battered - the batter including a blend of fragrant spices! - and fried into crunchy chicken bites.
Much like with my other crunchy pakoras, these fried chicken fritters are one of those food items that SHOULD in inherently gluten free, in restaurants - but the batter is often cut with wheat flour, and there’s often a risk of cross contamination.
This crispy chicken pakora is easy to make, and tastes quite authentic - it rivals any I’ve had in Indian restaurants!
As with all of my gluten-free pakora recipes, they're especially delicious with my Cilantro-Mint chutney!
Oh, and bonus?
If you leave the spice and cilantro out, and cut the chicken into chunks instead of fingers... these crunchy chicken pakoras
are a great substitute for chicken nuggets!
If you’ve cooked Indian food before, you’ll recognize the elements used n the crispy pakoras as fairly simple ingredients.
If you haven’t, no worries - these are all fairly basic ingredients that you should be able to find in pretty much any grocery store.
I do have a few notes for you on the following ingredients:
I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts for this, which I generally cut into strips.
Sometimes I’ll just the chicken breast into chunks / chicken nuggets, but I generally prefer the chicken-to-coating ratio when done as chicken fingers.
That said, you can use whatever boneless chicken pieces you’d like - I’ve been told that people have a lot of success using boneless chicken thighs with this recipe.
Boneless is key, though - I’d avoid using bone-in chicken pieces.
Other than that, just keep a eye on the cooking. The times given are approximate, and will vary with the size of your chicken pieces.
Both ingredients are available in most large grocery stores - assuming they have a decent gluten free section.
Other than that, both are generally readily available at Indian / South Asian grocers. The chickpea flour would also be known as gram flour or besan / besan flour, in those shops.
Herbs, Dry Spices, Etc
I use just a couple basic Indian spices and herbs in this recipe, which I see as a base recipe (more on that in a minute!). At the very least, I use:
... This was how I first started making chicken pakora, and I see it as a starting point. While fantastic as it is, there’s a lot of room for customization!
I’ll generally add other spices as I see fit, depending on what we’re in the mood for. A few ideas:
I’ve taken to adding a tablespoon or two of Ginger Garlic Paste to the batter. Grated fresh ginger is another great option, as is ginger paste, with or without pressed garlic cloves.
Sometimes I’ll add finely - VERY finely - chopped green chilies to the batter - and the spice levels.
As for spice powders, there are all kinds of different ways you can customize the batter.
You’ll also need some salt and baking powder.
Oil for Frying
You’ll want an oil with a high smoke point when deep frying.
I recommend vegetable oil - that’s what I use - canola oil, or peanut oil.
It’s not part of the recipe, but who wants any kind of battered and deep fried chicken dish without dips?
Personally, I like my Cilantro Mint Chutney - a bright green chutney - to dip these in.
My husband loves Tamarind chutney, so we generally have both on hand.
I used to use an actual deep fryer when making chicken pakora, but now that I’m in a smaller kitchen, I just use a heavy bottomed, deep pan.
Because this doesn’t have the built in temperature control that deep fryers do, I use an IR Thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
A candy/deep frying thermometer also works, though!
How to Make Chicken Pakora
The full recipe is in the recipe card at the end of this post, this is a quick step by step walk through, in pictures!
Start heating your vegetable oil temperature to 365 F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.
Note: When I’m not using an actual deep fryer, I’ll usually start heating my oil over medium-high heat, then reduce it to medium as the oil approaches the right temperature.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and cilantro. Add water, stir well to form a thick batter.
Allow batter to sit for 5 minutes or so, to soften the bean flour.
Slice your chicken breasts into fingers - or small pieces, as shown with this batch .
Allow excess pakora mixture to drip off each piece of chicken, before carefully transferring to the hot oil.
Fry in small batches for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer fried chicken to paper towel, to absorb the excess oil.
Serve hot, with cilantro-mint chutney or sweet chilli sauce, and a cup of masala chai!
If you add something like basmati rice as a side dish, you can serve your easy Indian chicken pakoras as a main dish, rather than as crunchy chicken appetizers 🙂
Air Fryer Chicken Pakora
Place battered chicken pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet, freeze until soliid.
Once frozen, you can either air fry them immediately, or transfer to a freezer bag for longer term storage.
To air fry, preheat air fryer to 400 F
Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray, arrange frozen chicken pieces in the basket, leaving a bit of room between each. Spray with pan spray.
Air fry for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
More Gluten-Free Indian Recipes
Craving some curry, pakoras, and chutney? I’ve got some delicious Indian Recipes for you!
Chicken Shahi Korma
Mango Lassi Popsicles
Mixed Vegetable Pakora
... I even have a few diet friendly adaptations on my low carb blog, Low Carb Hoser:
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Easy Crispy Chicken Pakora
- Start heating your vegetable oil to 365F – you’ll want at least 2-3″ of oil in your pot or deep fryer.
- In a large bowl, combine flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and cilantro. Add water, stir well to form a thick batter.
- Allow batter to sit for 5 minutes or so, to soften the bean flour.
- Slice your chicken breasts into fingers, toss with additional garbanzo flour, then dredge in the batter.
- Carefully transfer a few battered chicken fingers to the preheated oil.
- Fry for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
- Use a slotted metal spoon to transfer fried chicken to paper towels.
- Serve hot, with with cilantro-mint chutney.