Achari Chicken is a bold, tangy Pakistani/Indian curry made with pickling spices and topped with stuffed green chilies. The chicken is cooked in a tomato and yogurt sauce infused with nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds, brown mustard seeds and fennel seeds. Enjoy it with naan, roti or steamed basmati rice!
What Is Achari Chicken
Achari Chicken also called Achari Murgh is a Pakistani and North Indian style chicken curry made with Achari Masala (pickling spice mix). The oil is infused with fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and brown mustard seeds for that intense aroma and smokey flavour.
Achari masala can be used to liven up various foods. Add it to your potatoes, or chickpea curry or make my Achari Baingan (this recipe will make you fall in love with eggplant).
This dish can be made with both boneless or bone-in chicken. Using boneless chicken ensures a quicker, much more hassle-free meal but bone-in chicken is definitely tastier.
With just a little prep this Achari Chicken comes together in around 40 minutes and the zesty flavours are so captivating. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, I definitely urge you to give this dish a go. You will be hooked for sure!
Ingredients for Achari Chicken
- Chicken - You can use either boneless, skinless breasts or thighs cut into 4 cm (around 1.5 inch) cubes. Also, boneless chicken can be replaced with bone-in chicken.
- Tomato - Blend the tomatoes with skin into a puree.
- Yogurt - I have used full-fat, plain yogurt.
- Lemon - This imparts a nice tangy flavour to Achari Chicken.
- Onion - Make sure you blend it well. This will make the base of the curry.
- Green Chilies - Stuffed chilies jazz up this dish but if you wanna skip the hassle feel free to add plain whole green chilies near the end.
- Oil - You can use any neutral cooking oil. Mustard oil will give you a more authentic flavour and many recipes use it for making Achari Chicken. You can also add a bit of oil from your Pakistani/Indian pickle jar at the end.
- Ginger & Garlic - Finely mince or crush these! Try not to use ready-made, jarred ginger and garlic paste.
- Chaat Masala - It is a spicy, tangy South Asian spice which can also be made at home. And it is also readily available in a pre-made form like this.
- Pickling Spices - Each and every spice is very important for the right flavour of this dish so I suggest not to skip any. More details on each spice below.
- Other Seasonings - Some other common spices used are salt, red chili powder, kashmiri chili powder (mainly for colour) and turmeric powder. The kashmiri chili powder gives a deep red colour to the gravy, it is not spicy. So if you don’t have it you can skip it and add an additional ¼ teaspoon of red chili powder.
What Is Achari Masala Made Up Of
Achari Masala (Pickling Spice Mix) comprises of these whole spices:
- Nigella Seeds - Also called nigella sativa or kalonji, these look like black sesame seeds. They are a tad pungent but add a warm, toasted flavour to the dish. Don’t confuse them with onion seeds or black cumin.
- Fenugreek Seeds (methi dana) - It has a sweet and bitter taste. I use only half a teaspoon in this recipe. When infused in oil and combined with other spices it adds complexity to the flavours.
- Brown Mustard Seeds (rai dana) - These are added for their nutty, sharp flavour.
- Fennel Seeds (saunf) - Quite similar to anise, fennel imparts a subtle sweetness to the dish.
- Cumin Seeds - Also called zeera or jeera, it is used for its warm, nutty aroma. It looks quite similar to caraway.
Are Stuffed Chilies Important
This step is not mandatory. If you skip this part, Achari Chicken will still taste as good. But adding these chilies and combining bites of that succulent chicken with the tangy, spicy chilies totally elevates the experience.
For this part, get hold of some fat Indian/Pakistani green chilies from a South Asian store and fill them with a mixture of chaat masala and lemon juice.
Many people also like to add roasted and grinded achari masala inside the chilies instead of chaat masala.
How To Make Achari Chicken
- Make the achari masala. Put together your pickling spices by combining fennel seeds, brown mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds in a bowl.
- Then blend the onions and tomatoes separately and put aside for later use.
- Slit the green chilies lengthwise and remove all seeds. Mix the chaat masala and lemon juice and stuff the whole chilies with it. Keep aside.
- Now heat oil in the pan and infuse the pickling spices mix till fragrant. Do not burn the spices.
- Add and cook the onion paste till golden and then fry the ginger and garlic.
- Add in the chicken pieces along with rest of the seasonings. Then mix in the blended tomatoes and yogurt. Fry the chicken curry on high heat for a couple of minutes before covering and cooking on low heat.
- Uncover and fry till the oil comes on top. Mix in the water, add the lemon juice and put in the green chilies. Cover and cook on low heat again till the chilies have softened.
- Garnish with sliced ginger and fresh coriander and enjoy the Achari Chicken with roti or tandoori naan!
- While infusing the pickling spices with oil, make sure to not burn it as it will spoil the flavour. Roast the spices only 2-3 minutes on medium-low heat.
- The separation of oil from the gravy is a very vital step for maximum flavour. If the oil is not coming on top then most likely you are not using enough. Also frying and stirring on medium high heat also aids in this oil separation process.
- To prevent yogurt from curdling use full-fat, plain yogurt and stir continuously while adding it in.
Absolutely! But the cooking time will increase if you are using bone-in chicken.
Enjoy it with roti, naan or steamed basmati rice. This recipe will also pair really well with parathas.
Store the leftover Achari Chicken in an airtight box in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or freeze for around a month. This curry freezes quite well.
More South Asian Chicken Curries
- ⅓ cup oil
- 500 g boneless chicken cut in 4cm (1.5inch) cubes
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 (100g) medium onion blended
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¾ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder for colour
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 small (180g) tomatoes blended
- ¼ cup plain yogurt full-fat
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 green chilies
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 teaspoon chaat masala
- 1 tablespoon ginger slices
- 1-2 tablespoon coriander
- Slit the green chilies from the centre lengthwise and take out the seeds. Mix 3 teaspoon chaat masala and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to make a thick paste. Fill each chili with around a teaspoon of this mixture and keep aside for later.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the Achari Masala ingredients. Roast for 2 minutes till they release their aroma.
- Then add the blended onion on medium heat. Saute till the onions turn golden.
- Add the minced ginger and garlic and stir till they are no longer raw.
- Now put in the chicken on medium high heat along with salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and kashmiri chili powder. Mix everything in.
- Pour in the blended tomatoes and yogurt. Stir well and cover the pan. Let cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low heat.
- Uncover the pan, increase the heat to high and fry for 2 minutes. This process will bring the oil on top.
- Mix in 2 tablespoon of water so that the gravy doesn't get dry. Then place the green chilies, slit side up on top of the chicken.
- Drizzle the lemon juice and cover. Let cook for 6-8 minutes on low heat until the chilies are softened.
- Garnish with sliced ginger and fresh coriander. Serve warm Achari Chicken with naan, roti or steamed basmati rice.
- Prep your ingredients in advance like combining the pickling spices (achari masala), blending onion and tomatoes etc. This will make cooking faster and easier.
- You can also use bone-in chicken. The cooking time will increase though.
- Make sure not to burn the achari masala while infusing it with oil.
- To prevent yogurt from curdling use whisked, full-fat, plain yogurt and stir continuously while adding it in.
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