Does the word pickle immediately make your taste buds go into overdrive and do you find your mouth watering? If it doesn’t, I wonder what that says about you eh! Well, my mouth certainly waters thinking about pickles. The word ‘achar’ means pickle, and this Achari chicken recipe is such an explosion of flavours. All the pickling spices in a delicious thick yogurt based curr. This is the perfect dish you’d want to have on your dinner table, specially on a cold night alongside hot fresh rotis.
Achari Chicken is synonymous with North Indian cooking and is a firm favourite on all the Indian restaurant menus. But don’t worry, this dish is easy enough to conjure up at home, once you’ve got all the ingredients. My recipe packs in all the flavours and is very authentic in taste and flavour. This recipe does work best with mustard oil. The mustard oil goes well with the pickling spices and also helps preserve the curry for longer. This holds true in the hotter parts of North India like Rajasthan ( think Lal (red) Maas and Safed (white) Maas curries oozing with oil, spices and salt – the perfect ingredients to store curries for long). If you’re like me and find mustard oil too pungent, feel free to use vegetable oil or sunflower oil.
Pickle you say?
Think of all these warm spices put together.- fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds all roasted together with dried red whole chillies. Just writing about these makes my mouth water. When combined with sautéed onions in a yogurt based thick curry, the chicken absorbs all these warm flavours from the spices and the flavour profiles just get elevated to a different level. You could also make this curry vegetarian by switching the chicken for vegetables of your choice, I tend to use cauliflower florets, carrots, red/green peppers, baby corn and green peas. Swap the yogurt for a vegan substitute to make it vegan. Both a vegetable Achari curry or a Vegan Achari curry sound divine and pack in all the punch from the pickling spices.
Think of all these warm spices put together. Fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds all roasted together with dried red whole chillies. Just writing about these makes my mouth water. The yogurt adds the acidity and thickens the curry, while it absorbs all the delicious pickling spices. The flavour profiles just get elevated to a different level. You’re a vegetarian or vegan, fret not! You could easily swap the chicken for vegetables of your choice. I tend to use cauliflower florets, carrots, red/green peppers, baby corn and green peas. Switch the yogurt for a vegan substitute to make it vegan. Be it a vegetarian or vegan curry, this Achari recipe packs in all the punch from the pickling spices.
Like most curries, you’ll notice that the curry gets more flavourful the next day. So if you want to make a curry one day in advance, this Achari chicken recipe will be the perfect candidate. Serve this with warm rotis and a cool cucumber raita.
|Prep Time||10 mins|
|Cook Time||30 mins|
- 650 gms chicken thighs skinless, boneless, cut into bite sizes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or mustard oil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Nigella seeds or onion seeds
- 4-5 dried whole red chillies
- 1/2 inch Ginger peeled and grated
- 6-7 pods garlic peeled and grated
- 2 medium red onions finely sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato puree Use 2 tomatoes blender if you don’t have puree
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 100 gm yogurt lightly beaten to smooth
- 100 ml water
- 1/2 tbsp Lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- coriander leaves cleaned, washed and finely chopped
- In a large pan, heat the oil. Once hot, add in the fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and nigella seeds. Roast until aromatic and they start to sizzle a little. Now add in the dried red chillies and stir continuously so they don’t burn.
- Next go in the sliced onions, add a pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent. Now add in the grated ginger and garlic, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in the tomato puree, turmeric powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder. Mix everything well, put the lid on and cook for 5-7 mins or until the oil starts separating.
- Now add in the chicken pieces, mix to cover the chicken pieces in the pickling curry. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame for 5-7 mins.
- Add in the water now, season well and stir. Cook for 5 mins or so.
- Now slowly add in the lightly beaten yogurt to the curry, while stirring continuously so that the yogurt doesn’t split. Add in the lemon juice and season with salt after you’ve tasted the curry.
- Put the lid back on and simmer for another 7-10 mins, until the chicken is cooked through.
- Take off heat, garnish with finely chopped coriander. Serve Achari Chicken alongside warm rotis and some cucumber raita