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Buttermilk Chicken Pakoras Recipe

Excerpted from ‘Ammu: Indian Home Cooking to Nourish Your Soul’

spinner image Buttermilk Chicken Pakoras on a blue tray with a bowl of herbs
Laura Edwards

Serves 4 to 6

This is a halfway house between a chicken nugget and a spicy pakora that is sold in dhabas, or roadside eateries, along the Indian highway. These are very delicious and can also be fried in a deep fryer, if you have one. My boys use random dips with these pakoras, including mayonnaise.

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  • 2 lb., 3 oz. (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. (2.5 cm) cubes
  • Generous 1 cup (500 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 cloves
  • 1-in. (2.5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (150 g) rice flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. chile powder
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 g) full-fat Greek-style yogurt
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying



Put the chicken in a pot with the buttermilk, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves, fennel seeds, cardamoms and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked and tender. To check, take out one piece of chicken and cut it in half to ensure it is no longer pink in the middle. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and spread out on a plate. Strain the liquid and set aside, discarding the spices.

Put the rice flour in a bowl, add the cumin, chile powder and the remaining salt, and whisk in a scant 1 cup (200 ml) of the strained buttermilk, followed by the yogurt, until evenly combined.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep pot over high heat. Drop a little of the batter into the oil to test if it is ready — it should immediately start to sizzle and darken. If the oil is not hot enough, heat it for a bit longer and test again. Using a slotted spoon, remove the trial batter and lower the heat to medium. Do not fry pakoras over high heat, or the outside will burn and the inside of the batter will remain raw.

Dip the chicken pieces in the batter, ensuring they are totally covered, and then fry the pakoras in the hot oil in small batches. Do not overfill the pan, since that will reduce the temperature of the oil and the pakoras will not get crisp. Drain on paper towels as you take each batch out of the oil. Serve hot.

Extracted from Ammu by Asma Khan (Interlink Books, $35 USD). Photography by Laura Edwards.


Cook With Chef Asma

spinner image Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul by Chef Asma Khan book cover
Interlink Books

Two more recipes from Ammu: Indian Home-Cooking to Nourish Your Soul:

Chapati — Whole-Wheat Bread

Everyday bread eaten by many families in India and meant to be eaten hot and immediately.

Sikandari Raan — Spiced Leg of Lamb

An inauspicious dish that takes time to cook, but it is worth the wait — and comes with a fascinating backstory. 

Read our interview with Chef Asma Khan.


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