Achari Chicken is an authentic Indian chicken curry that can be made as a one-pot dish in just 45 minutes. The pickling “achari” spices, such as nigella seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek, and mustard seeds, add a punch of spicy and tangy flavors to this achari curry. Serve with naan, paratha, or rice for a comforting meal!
Achari Chicken is one of my favorite chicken curries. The spicy pickle flavors….they are so good. Who does not love them!!
If you have tried achar or pickle, which we have a variety of in India, you know the concentrated tangy and spicy flavors. Yes, those are the flavors in this chicken curry. The best part is that you don’t need to keep it for a month like “achar” to develop those flavors.
So, let’s see how to make this delicious chicken curry with my tested and perfected recipe. And did I say it takes less than 45 minutes to make it 🙂
Table of Contents
What is Achar?
Before getting into the depth of Achari Chicken, let’s understand what achar is and its values in Indian cuisine.
The term “Achar” refers to pickles or condiments prepared from fruits or vegetables that are preserved in oil, vinegar, or brine, typically seasoned with spice and herbs. Various kinds of achaar are savored throughout the year with the season’s favorite meals.
The recipe and heritage of making Achaar in my family have been passed on for ages- from my grandparents to my parents and then me. I’m a big fan of Achaar myself and always find a reason to make it part of my everyday meal. Here is a simple ginger chili pickle recipe you will love!
What is Achari Chicken?
Achari Chicken is a soulful North Indian delicacy made with the spices used when making South Asian pickle. The magic lies in its blend of pickling spices like mustard, fenugreek, fennel, and nigella seeds, crafting a tangy and aromatic delight in every bite.
Savored in various regions of India and Pakistan, Achari murgh or Achari Chicken is a must-try if you want to enjoy the earthy flavors of authentic Indian meals.
This recipe uses some extra whole spices that are not commonly used in other chicken curries.
Chicken Thighs: Use boneless and skinless chicken thighs. They are meticulously marinated in a tangy blend of pickling spices, tenderizing the meat while imparting a nuanced depth of flavor.
Oil: I highly recommend using Mustard oil in this achari recipe to get the authentic flavors. If using mustard oil, make sure to heat until it smokes to mellow the pungency. Of course, if you don’t have mustard oil, use any vegetable oil you like.
Whole Spices: You’ll need fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and dried whole red chili.
Fenugreek Seeds: These seeds have a bitter, earthy flavor and are an important ingredient for this achari chicken recipe. However, you can use less amount based on your preference.
Nigella Seeds: They are also called Kalonji. You will find these seeds typically used in naan. They add a wonderful aroma and taste to the dish. I also like the look of these seeds in the final curry.
Fennel Seeds (Saunf): These are an essential ingredient of Punjabi pickle recipes, and hence an essential ingredient for this achari curry too.
Mustard Seeds: Use black or brown mustard seeds for a punch of nutty flavor to the curry. You must temper these in hot oil to release their aroma.
Cumin Seeds: Popularly called jeera, they add a warm, earthy flavor to the curry.
Dried Red Chili Peppers: Whole dried red chilies add subtle heat and smokiness to the achari chicken.
Onion: Use yellow onions and ensure that they are finely diced.
Ginger: Imparts a tantalizing warmth and depth, subtly intertwining with the medley of spices.
Garlic: Adds depth to the flavor of the dish, while the thin garnish at the end enhances the presentation, completing the dish with both taste and visual appeal.
Tomato: Use pureed or finely diced tomatoes.
Yogurt: Acts as a creamy binder, tenderizing the meat while imparting a luxurious texture and a hint of tanginess to the dish.
Lime juice: Gives a tangy flavor to the final dish.
Cilantro Leaves: Fresh cilantro leaves are recommended for garnishing and adding color to the dish for a fresh look.
How to make Achari Chicken?
I will share the recipe to make Achari chicken in a pan on the stovetop and in the instant pot (pressure cooker).
- Heat a heavy-bottom pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and allow it to heat. If using mustard oil, heat until it produces wisps of smoke, then reduce the heat. This step is important to mellow the mustard oil’s pungent flavor.
- Add the whole spices – fenugreek, mustard, cumin, fennel, nigella seeds, and whole dried red chili to the pan. Saute for a few seconds to unlock their aroma.
- Add the diced onions to the pan. Cook until the onions are golden in color.
- Add ginger and garlic to the pan. Saute for an additional minute, stirring frequently.
- Proceed to add tomato puree and spices, stir, and sauté until the oil separates from the sides of the pan.
- Add the chicken and cook until the exterior of the chicken pieces turns white.
- Cover the pan and simmer the chicken over low heat until it is tender and cooked; keep stirring occasionally. Once done, remove the lid.
- Gradually add the whisked yogurt and cook on low heat while stirring continuously.
- Finally, mix in lime juice and garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger. Serve the Achari Chicken with naan, roti, or rice for a delightful meal.
Instant Pot Method
- Follow the steps to prepare the curry base using onions and tomatoes. Once ready, add the chicken and sauté until its outer layer whitens.
- Deglaze the pot by adding a couple of tablespoons of water, ensuring nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Pressure cook for 5 minutes on high pressure, then quick release the pressure.
- Then, follow the steps to add the yogurt and lime juice.
- Garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger. Enjoy the Achari chicken with naan, roti, or rice for a delightful meal.
Quality Ingredients: Opt for fresh and high-quality ingredients, especially spices like fenugreek, mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds. Fresh ingredients ensure the best flavor.
Chicken: I used boneless chicken for this curry. You can also use bone-in chicken cut into small pieces (curry cut) or drumsticks. The cooking time will be 2-3 minutes extra for bone-in chicken.
Tempering Spices: Properly tempering whole spices in hot oil enhances their aroma and flavor. Heat the oil adequately, especially if using mustard oil, to release the spices’ essence. At the same time, make sure to not overcook them, as burnt spices can give a bitter taste.
Achari Masala: You can use store-bought achari masala in this recipe if you like. Replace the ground spices with the achari masala.
Deglazing: If cooking in the instant pot, deglaze the pot after sautéing the chicken to avoid the burn signal. Scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot also enhances the flavors of the sauce.
Yogurt: Use full-fat whisked yogurt at room temperature. Keep stirring while adding the yogurt until it is incorporated well into the curry.
Consistency: Aim for a thick consistency for this curry. Adjust the amount of water or yogurt accordingly to achieve the desired texture.
Resting Time: Allow the cooked Achari Chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and ensures a more flavorful dish.
What to Serve with Achari Chicken?
How to Store?
Keep your achari chicken leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
This curry will also freeze well. Transfer to individual portions and store in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months.
When craving it again, thaw it overnight in the fridge and warm it up in the microwave or a pan on the stovetop.
- 3 tablespoon Mustard oil, or any vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds (Methi dana)
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds (Rai)
- 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds (Saunf)
- 1 teaspoon Nigella seeds (Kalonji)
- 3 Dried Red Chili Whole
- 1 1/2 cup Onion, finely diced
- 1 inch Ginger, grated
- 5 cloves Garlic , minced
- 2 Tomato , pureed or finely diced, I used roma tomatoes
- 1 1/2 pounds Chicken thighs , boneless and skinless, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces*
- 1/4 cup Water
- 1/4 cup Yogurt , whisked, I used full-fat yogurt at room temperature*
- 1 tablespoon Lime or Lemon juice , adjust to taste
- Cilantro leaves , chopped, for garnish
- 1-2 teaspoon Ginger , julienned, for garnish
- Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium-high heat. Add oil to it, and let it heat. If using mustard oil, heat the oil till it smokes, then lower the heat.
- Add the fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and whole dried red chili. Sauté for about 30 seconds so they release thier aroma.
- Add chopped onions. Sauté for about 8 minutes until the onions are golden on medium-high heat.
- Add ginger and garlic. Sauté for another one minute while stirring frequently.
- Add tomato puree and spices. Stir and saute for 3-4 minutes until the oil leaves the sides of the pan.
- Add chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes until the chicken pieces are all white on the outside.
- Add 1/4 cup water and stir it. Cover and cook the chicken on low heat for about 10-12 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Stir a few times in between. Then, remove the lid.
- Now, add the whisked yogurt. Cook on low heat for around 2-3 minutes while stirring continuously.
- Stir in the lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger. Enjoy Achari Chicken with naan, roti or rice.
Instant Pot Method:
- Follow the instructions to cook the curry base of onions and tomatoes. Then add the chicken and saute for 3-4 minutes until the chicken turns white on the outside.
- Then add 2 tablespoons of water and deglaze the pot, making sure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot. Pressure cook for 5 minutes on high pressure. Then, quick release the pressure.
- Then follow the steps to add whisked yogurt while stirring the curry continuously for 2 minutes.
- Add lime juice and garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger. Enjoy the Achari chicken with naan, roti, or rice.