Achari chicken or Achari Murgh is a chicken curry cooked in pickling spices. It’s one curry dish that has a piquant flavour and distinguished taste that once you try it, you’ll remember it.
This pickle chicken has a unique creamy flavour from the spicy yoghurt. And it has an exotic fragrance from the whole five spices called Panch Phoran.
The word Achar itself literally means pickle. But you don’t really use any pickles in the dish nor do you have to go through the pickling process to cook the dish.
It’s the spice combination that gives a tangy pickle aroma and taste.
How its taste like
This spice combo gives chicken achari tangy and spicy flavour.
Like most curries these days, you can get the ready-mixed spices and just follow the instructions to cook this chicken Achari. And most of them are quite good.
The only downside is that those shop-bought spices mix tend to be very spicy. And if you reduce the measure, the flavour will be compromised.
Unless you’re okay with hot spicy curries, ready mixed spices are good. But if you want to have more control over the heat of your dish then this recipe is for you.
Because when you try reducing the spice, your dish won’t come out as tasty and right. It’s so frustrating. Especially, when you want to cook this dish for a family with young children like mine.
Therefore, I’ve tried and tested mixing my own spices. Many times. And now I’m happy with the recipe I’m sharing here.
This recipe will teach you how to cook Murgh Achari (Murgh = chicken, achari = pickle) from scratch. So that you can always adjust its spiciness according to your liking without sacrificing the overall spice proportion.
So you will have a well-balanced spice in your pickle chicken curry.
What it is that the dish has the pickle aroma and taste.
And there are many recipes of Achari according to its main ingredients. God willing, I will share the other Achari dishes one by one.
What you need to make Chicken Achari from scratch
In essence, there’s not much difference in making this dish from most curries. You just need more variety of spices to create the taste of the pickle.
So, apart from the chicken, you will need ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and ginger garlic paste. You also need anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder (Ajwain), fennel seed powder (Saunf), dried-mango powder (Amchoor), and five whole spices (Panch Phoran).
As for the latter, you can get the ready mixed Panch Phoron, or you can mix them yourself. You can check my post on how to make your own panch phoron yourself.
And if you have a spice grinder, I suggest you make your own spice powder. Because they’re pretty much the same ingredients as to make panch phoron.
When it comes to chicken, you can use chicken with bones or boneless chicken.
The first one will give a more savoury flavour to the gravy as the bones give its gelatin. While the latter one can vary. If you choose boneless chicken breast, the meat tends to taste dry.
I personally prefer using boneless chicken thighs. Because they have more flavour.
How to make Achari Chicken
The method that I use for my chicken pickle curry is very similar to most curries that I cook. Apart from marinating the poultry before cooking, every other step is pretty much standard.
Firstly, you want to make your spices mix by putting all your spices powder and the salt together. Take a few teaspoons of this spice powder mixture and stir in ¼ cup of natural yoghurt to make the marinade.
Place the chicken pieces in the spicy yoghurt to marinate while you get on with other things.
Secondly, make the masala sauce. Fry the chopped onions on a large cooking pan or a kadhai or a wok until lightly brown, then add in the ginger-garlic paste. You can make the paste by mincing ½ inch of ginger root with 4 cloves of garlic.
Then add the remaining spice powder into your onions. Let it cook further until it releases its intoxicating aroma. Next, you add in the tomatoes and continue cooking until you get a smooth curry sauce. Just make sure you keep checking and mashing the tomatoes. So it doesn’t get burned at the bottom of the pan.
When the oil separates from the edges, put the chicken in the masala sauce. Give it a good stir until the masala covers all the chicken pieces. Cook it at moderate-high heat with the lid on for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
You may have to keep checking and stirring to ensure that nothing gets burned at the bottom of the pan.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, you can add the lightly beaten yoghurt in. And continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Sprinkle the panch Phoran over and leave it cooking until the oil separates from the edges and get the sauce consistency you desire.
Top tips to make the best chicken achari
- Just like any marinade, the longer you leave the chicken in the yoghurt to marinate, the better flavour it will develop. If possible leave it for at least 2 hours.
- If you don’t have much time to marinate the chicken, use a skewer or a fork to pierce the poultry. So we create spaces inside the chicken pieces for the spice to go in. Then marinate before you prepare everything else.
- When you fry the spices, ensure you let it release its aroma before you add in the chicken.
- Mash the tomatoes as you cook so that you will get a smooth curry gravy.
- Cook the dish until oil slightly separates from the edges.
Ways to enjoy pickle chicken
The best way to enjoy your Achari chicken is having it with roti/ chapati, naan bread, pitta bread, or flatbread.
I suggest you make more gravy of your chicken achari if you plan to have it with rice. You can add more water, or don’t let it cook for too long so it doesn’t dry up.
Menu spread to go along with achari chicken
If you’re planning to throw some Pakistani dishes on the table, below is the suggestion of a popular menu that often appears on special occasions.
- Lamb kebabs (starter).
- Chicken Pilau (main).
- Achari chicken (main).
- Aloo Gosht – potato and meat curry (main).
- Aloo Palak – potato and spinach curry (side).
- Gajar Ka Halwa – sweet carrots desserts.
More chicken recipes in Pakistani style
Thank you for checking this achari chicken recipe. I hope you now want to try it. If you love spicy food with a bit of fresh sourness in it, then this pickle chicken dish is the one you want to try.
And if you fancy other chicken dishes in Pakistani style, you can check my other recipes that you may like.
Take care and all the best.