Achari Chicken Curry
Also known as chicken achari or achari murgh, achari chicken is a bold and unique chicken curry made with pickling spices. It has a piquant pickling taste and sweet-smelling aroma from the five spices called Panch Phoran.
Originally a North Indian dish, the dish’s combination of spices and yogurt gives the curry a spicy, tangy, and creamy achari flavor. Once you try it, you’ll remember it. It’s that uniquely tasty.
The word achar itself literally means pickle. But you don’t use pickles in the dish or have to go through the pickling process to cook the dish.
The only thing you do is use the spices that are usually used to make Indian pickles.
Why you’ll love this chicken achari recipe
- It’s a full-of-flavor chicken curry with a bold and delicious mix of savory, creamy, spicy, and tangy.
- Unlike the shop-bought achari masala spice mix, with this recipe, you can add more or less the amount of chili without compromising the taste. Because the shop-bought spice mix usually has a high chili content. So you can’t reduce the amount of spice when you want to make it less spicy. Otherwise, the overall taste will be compromised.
- If you follow the recipe exactly, you will find it easy to make this achari chicken curry at home. And it takes a little time to cook.
- The spices used to make this curry are the usual items to cook Pakistani or Indian food.
The ingredients you need
So, to recreate this chicken with pickling spices, you will need the following.
Chicken, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, fresh ginger and garlic paste, anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder (Ajwain), fennel seed powder (Saunf), dried mango powder (Amchoor), and Panch Phoran/ Panch Puran.
You should get the whole spice and make your spice powder with an electric grinder. Then some spices can also be mixed into panch phoron. This way, you don’t need to buy the panch puran separately.
When it comes to chicken, you can use bone-in chicken pieces – such as chicken drumsticks or whole chicken with bones – or you can use boneless chicken breast or thighs.
The difference is that the curry made with bone-in chicken will taste more savory because the bone gives more flavor. Meanwhile, the boneless chicken tends to break more easily and end up with a dry texture, mainly if you use chicken breasts.
As for Kashmiri chili, you can substitute it with cayenne pepper powder. I like Kashmiri chili because it has a vibrant color with flavorful heat.
How to make achari chicken
First, mix the spice by combining fennel seed powder, turmeric powder, ground coriander, amchoor, anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder, ground cumin, ground black pepper, chili powder, and salt. This will be our achari spice mix.
Take a few teaspoons of this achari spice mix and stir in ¼ cup of natural yogurt to make the marinade.
Add the chicken pieces to the yogurt mix and ensure all are coated well with the spicy yogurt. Set aside and let it marinate for at least half an hour. And if possible, overnight.
Secondly, make the masala sauce. Fry the chopped onions on a large cooking pan, a kadhai/ karahi, a skillet, or a wok until lightly brown, then add ginger-garlic paste.
Then, add the remaining spice powder to your onions. Cook further until it releases aroma. Next, add the tomatoes and continue cooking until you get a smooth curry sauce. Keep checking and mashing the tomatoes so the mixture doesn’t get burned at the bottom of the pan.
Cook the chicken in the sauce when the oil separates from the edges. Please give it a good stir until all the poultry pieces are covered with masala. Cook until the chicken is fully cooked at moderate-high heat for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
You may have to keep checking and stirring to ensure nothing is burned at the bottom of the pan.
Add the lightly beaten yogurt and continue cooking until the sauce thickens and the oil separates from the edges. Sprinkle the panch phoran over.
Pro tips for the best achari chicken
- Like any marinade, the longer you leave the chicken in the yogurt to marinate, the more flavor it will develop. Leave it for half an hour or overnight.
- Prepare the chicken and pierce the poultry with a fork or skewer. This will help the flavor develop well right inside the chicken.
- When you cook the masala, let it cook until it is smooth and velvety, with oil separating from the edges, before adding the chicken.
- Mash the tomatoes as you cook to get a smooth curry gravy. If you like, you can whizz the tomatoes in a blender before adding them to the masala.
- Chicken releases water so that the masala may get runny. Unless you like having the curry with more gravy, you can cook it with high heat to reduce the liquid faster without breaking the chicken.
Ways to enjoy chicken curry with pickling spices
Achari chicken is best served with roti/ chapati, naan, pitta, or flatbread. So that you can mop the hot curry gravy with your bread.
However, you can always eat it with rice, too. Whether it’s plain Basmati rice or dishes cooked in masalas such as Biryani or Pilau rice. Make more gravy for your achari chicken if you plan to have it with rice.
Side dishes to go with
More chicken recipes in Pakistani style
Thank you for checking this achari chicken. I hope you now want to try it. If you love spicy food with a bit of fresh sourness, then this pickle chicken dish is the one you want to try.
Take care and all the best.
- Mixing bowls.
- Cooking pan or
- Wooden spoon
- 1.3 pounds chicken I used 4 pieces of chicken thighs.
- 2 small brown/ yellow onions.
- 2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste see the note.
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed powder Saunf.
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander.
- ½ teaspoon dried-mango powder Amchoor.
- ½ teaspoon anise seed powder.
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seed powder Methi.
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin.
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper.
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder.
- 1 teaspoon red Himalayan salt see the note.
- 1 teaspoon five whole spices – Panch phoron see the note.
- 2 bay leaves.
- ½ cup canned tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes chopped (see the note).
- ¾ cup natural yogurt lightly beaten (see the note).
- 2-3 fresh green chilies optional.
- ¾ cup of cooking oil I use rapeseed oil.
- Mix the salt and all the spices powder in a small bowl. I.e. fennel seed powder, turmeric powder, ground coriander, Amchoor, Anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder, ground cumin, ground black pepper, and chilli powder.
- Take about 2 teaspoons of spice mix and place it in a big bowl. Then add about ¼ cup yogurt and mix well.
- Get the chicken ready and slightly pierce the poultry using a skewer (this little trick will help your chicken develop a tastier flavor right to the bone). Place the pieces in the yogurt mixture. Ensure all the chicken pieces are well coated with the yogurt mix. Set aside to marinate.
Make the masala
- Finely chop your onions and fry them on a large cooking pan (karahi/ kadhai). Cook until the onion becomes translucent and has a light golden color.
- Next, add the ginger garlic paste and let it fry further for about a minute.
- Then, add the spice powder mixture, the salt, and the bay leaves. Continue frying until the spices release their aroma.
- Add the tomatoes in and give it a good stir. Here, you can add a little water if you think it’s too dry. Let the spices and the tomatoes cook until all well blended. Try to mash the tomatoes every now and again. You want to make a nice smooth masala mixture.
- Put the chicken pieces in it when the oil separates a little from the masala mixture. Stir well until the poultry pieces are covered with the sauce. Put the lid on. Let it cook at moderate-high heat for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Keep checking and stirring to ensure the chicken isn't burned at the bottom.
- Then, add the beaten yogurt. Again, stir well and put the lid back. This time, you cook the achari chicken at moderate-low heat.
- After about five minutes, sprinkle the Panch Phoron over your chicken. Cook further until the curry sauce looks thick, the oil separates from the edges, and the chicken is tender.
- To make ginger garlic paste, grind or mince a ½ -inch ginger root with 4 garlic cloves. I often make the paste in bulk and store it in the freezer.
- As for the spice powder, you can always get the whole spices and grind them into powder using an electric spice grinder.
- I almost always use Himalayan salt in my cooking nowadays. But of course, you can use any salt that you prefer. Just put the amount of salt according to your taste. You can start with less before adding more.
- I find canned tomatoes are an ideal choice to make curries. Because they keep longer. So I can stock up for over a few weeks without worrying they go rotten.
- You can make your Panch Phoron. I’d say you get the whole spices for this recipe. Grind the amount needed for the spice powder mixture using the spice grinder. So you can also use those whole spices for Panch Phoron. Mix fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and black nigella seeds (Kalonji) in equal portions. And use according to the recipe.
- When it comes to yogurt, please choose natural yogurt. Don’t use creamy yogurt such as Greek yogurt, etc. Because the creamier the yogurt, the more chance of your curry getting curd and whey. Plus, the taste won’t be right. Because this Achari chicken should have a tangy taste that comes from yogurt and Amchoor (dried mango powder). In fact, if you think your natural yogurt is fresh and has a very mild taste, take the portion you need and place it in a bowl/ cup. Leave it covered at room temperature for several hours (overnight is preferable) before using it for your cooking.
Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.