Achari chicken is a North Indian dish made by cooking chicken with pickling spices. “Achaar” is an Hindi term which means pickle. In North Indian cuisine there are a lot of dishes which are made with achari spices or achari masala. These have a wonderful flavor and taste very much different from the usual dishes.
This recipe will give you a very flavorful, delicious, spicy & slightly tangy achari chicken. It goes very well with Indian breads like naan, tandoori roti, paratha or even with phulka (roti). It also goes well with plain basmati rice, jeera rice or ghee rice.
Achari chicken is best eaten during the cold winters as it is the right time to enjoy spicy and hot foods. Many people love to add a bit of pickle to any achari dish. It is optional and you may add or skip it.
But just note that all kinds of pickles are not suitable to use in this dish. I have only liked mango pickle here. I always feel the dish tastes good even without the addition of pickle.
This recipe has been roughly adapted from this achari paneer.
Mustard oil is used to make any achari dish. However if you do not have it you may replace it with any other cooking oil. But the flavor will not be anywhere close to the authentic achari chicken. As a substitute you can try adding a few tbsps of pickle made with mustard oil.
Achari masala is a blend of pickling spices used in this recipe. Do not alter the quantities of spices as it will alter the taste of the entire dish. Also do not use any ready made or store bought powder for this recipe. The specialty of the dish lies in the fresh ground achari masala.
Roasting spices is optional & can be skipped as the ground spices are sauteed in oil later in the recipe. However if you prefer to make the powder ahead, then you can dry roast and powder. This increases the shelf life of the powder.
Green bell pepper is a secret ingredient which is used in many Indian restaurants especially abroad. I always make mine with it as it enhances the achari flavor in the dish. However I have mentioned it as a optional ingredient here. Please do not use bitter bell peppers.
Tips to use curd
Curd or yogurt is another key ingredient in this recipe. It not only tenderizes the chicken but also adds a flavor & texture to the dish. Please use only fresh homemade thick curd or yogurt. If you are new to cooking then you can follow this homemade thick curd recipe and make your own.
- Avoid sour yogurt to make achari chicken. I feel it makes the dish too acidic.
- Using yogurt with low fats or with too much whey in it can curdle while cooking.
- Always whisk the yogurt well until smooth before adding.
- Keep the flame extremely low and add the curd to the pan in batches.
- You can also use greek yogurt that is fresh.
Achari chicken recipe
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 4 red chilies (less spicy variety)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- ¼ tablespoon mustard (use yellow if you have)
- 1 tablespoon cumin or jeera
- 2 Pinches methi seeds
- 1½ tablespoons fennel seeds or saunf
other ingredients for achari chicken
- 1 cup onions very finely chopped (2 large)
- ¾ cup tomatoes chopped or pureed (2 no)
- 2 tablespoons oil (preferably mustard oil)
- ½ to ¾ tsp kalonji or onion seeds (skip if you do not have)
- 1 pinch mustard (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida or hing (skip if you do not have)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric or haldi
- 1½ teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1½ teaspoon sugar (to balance the flavor)
- 1 teaspoon salt (adjust as needed)
- ½ cup fresh curd or dahi or yogurt (refer notes)
- ½ cup hot water (use only as needed)
- ½ kg chicken (preferably bone-in)
- 1 tablespoon pickle (optional) achar (use any of your choice)
For garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves (optional, I do not use)
- 1 teaspoon Shredded ginger
How to make the recipe
- Prepare the achari spice powder by adding red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin, mustard, fennel seeds and methi seeds to a spice jar.
- Make a fine powder set aside.
- Beat the yogurt well with a whisk until smooth.
How to make achari chicken
- Heat oil in a pan. If using mustard oil, heat it until smoky hot.
- Add kalonji seeds & mustard. When they splutter add hing.
- Next add onions and saute until golden stirring often.
- Add ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell goes away. Reduce the flame and stir in the achari spice powder.
- Saute until a nice aroma comes out just for 1 to 2 mins. Avoid over frying as it can turn bitter.
- Pour the tomato puree and saute till the masala thickens. Then add red chili powder, turmeric, salt and sugar.
- Saute on a low heat for 2 to 3 mins until the masala leaves the pan.
- Ensure flame is very low at thus stage and add half of the yogurt. Stir well to incorporate it with the onion tomato masala.
- Add the rest of the yogurt and mix well. Cook until the masala leaves the pan.
- Transfer the chicken at and saute it for about 3 to 4 mins on a low heat.
- When the chicken turns pale, cover and cook for about 3 to 5 mins stirring occasionally.
- By now chicken releases some moisture, based on this add some hot water to make a thick masala. You may need anywhere in between ½ to 1 cup water depending on the chicken. If you prefer your curry to be on the thicker side & not runny you will need only half cup.
- Cover and cook until the chicken is tender & cooked fully. If using achaar, stir it at this stage. Taste it and add more salt or sugar at this stage.
- Add ginger juliennes. Cover & rest the achari chicken for at least 30 mins before serving.
- If desired squeeze in some lemon juice before serving. Serve with basmati rice, roti or naan.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
- Ensure you use fresh thick yogurt at room temperature. Whisk well before adding it to the pan.
- I personally prefer to add half of a large green capsicum to this recipe. I blend it with the tomatoes and use. Capsicum enhances the flavor of the dish.
- Avoid using cold water as it can toughen the chicken.
- The amount of water to use depends on the chicken. Sometimes chicken releases lot of moisture. Use only as needed.
- Adjust the consistency of the dish as desired.
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.