Lahori Chargha has become the iconic food of Lahore. It’s nearly impossible that you visit the city and don’t get to eat it or at least pass by a devilishly tempting Chargha house.
Chargha is a whole chicken roast, marinated in a salty and sour masala mix, first steamed slowly to cook it thoroughly and then fried to make it crispy and golden on the outside.
Traditionally some red or yellow food colour is also added to give it a beautiful golden hue but I prefer instead to add Kashmiri mirch which has more red colour and less heat and turmeric as natural food colours.
The quantities of salt and sour in the recipe seem a lot but don’t worry as most of them will drip away while steaming…leaving you with a balanced, moist and delicious chicken.
If you can’t find garam masala where you live, you can simply use a blend of cumin powder and black pepper too.
To ensure that the chicken is done inside, cook it for 20 minutes for every 450 gm of weight and then an extra 20 minutes for even cooking. Or poke a knife in the fattest part to check if the juices run clear.
Served over a bed of French fries if you are not avoiding carbs, otherwise with simple fresh salad and raita will make it a complete meal.
Don’t want to fry it? No worries! You can cover it with foil and bake for 1+1/2 hour at 180 degrees C and then remove the foil and place it under the broiler for 6-7 minutes, turning sides till it gets golden brown all around.
1 whole chicken, skinless( 1+1/2 kg)
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons red chilli powder (preferably Kashmiri chilli )
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Ghee, mustard or olive oil for shallow frying
This Is What You Do :
Add ginger, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, salt,red chilli powder and garam masala to a food processor and whiz to make a paste.
Make deep incision on chicken, rub the masala paste all over the chicken, into the cavity and in the deep incisions.
Wrap in a plastic film and leave to marinate overnight or at least four hours.
To cook, steam in a steamer on low heat for 1+1/2 hour OR if you don’t have a steamer than fill a deep pan 1/4 with water. Place the chicken in a colander over its mouth, cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook over low heat for 1+1/2 hour.
Heat 1/2 cup oil in a big frying pan, fry the chicken on all sides till the outside is golden and crispy.
Squeeze a lemon over it just before serving.
Serve with fresh salad, mint raita or French fries.