Achari chicken or Achari Murgh is a chicken curry dish 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 exotic fragrance from the whole five spices called Panch Phoran.
The word Achar itself literally means pickle, which is the same as “Acar” in Indonesian (both are pronounced as aa-chaar). So as a native Indonesian, I’m familiar with the idea of Achar. Therefore, when I first saw the Achari Chicken spice mix in the shop many years ago, I could guess what the taste would be like. Pickle.
But as I checked the packet on how to cook this chicken pickle, I was discouraged straight away. Simply because I found it a hassle to do it. So I left the idea of making this curry dish.
It was only about a few years ago when my Pakistani friend made this Achari Chicken for me then I remembered and was tempted to try.
Because the dish she made was out of this world. I could eat it every day. It was so delicious that I was willing to try making the dish. And I was even more intrigued to try when my friend told me how easy it was cooking this Murgh Achari (= Achari chicken = pickled chicken).
In essence, it’s not much difference in making this dish from most curries. But you need more variety of spices for the pickle. So I could just get the spice mix packets from the shop and just cook the chicken the way my friend taught me.
And this worked fine for me. But not for my husband and our kids. Because most ready-mixed spices tend to have a high content of chilli that the flavour was too hot for them.
To make my cooking easier, I tried to compromise by cutting down the spices. But it didn’t turn out very well. As the reduced spices made something missing in the dish. It just didn’t taste quite as good as it should be.
So I decided to mix my own spices. I jotted down all the ingredients stated in the mix packet. And I tried and tested every combination and proportions that I thought best.
I’m happy I’ve found the spice mix that gives me Achari Chicken with the taste exactly the same as the one my friend taught me.
It uses more spices
As I mentioned above, you need more varieties of spices for this pickled chicken. So apart from the usual spices of ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and ginger garlic paste, you also need anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder (Methi), fennel seed powder (Saunf), dried-mango powder (Amchoor), and whole five spices (Panch Phoran).
Panch Phoran is actually a mix of whole spices. It consists of whole fennel seeds, whole nigella seeds (Kalonji), whole fenugreek seeds, whole cumin, and whole black mustard seeds. For this one, you can get the ready mixed packet.
But if you have those whole spices in your pantry/ kitchen, you can mix the Phoran (flavour) yourself.
For this recipe, you can make Panch Phoran as follow:
- Fennel seeds (Saunf) 1 tsp.
- Fenugreek seeds (Methi) 1 tsp.
- Cumin seeds (Jeera) 1 tsp.
- Black mustard (Rai) 1 tsp.
- Nigella seeds (Kalonji) 1 tsp.
If you have a spice grinder like this, I’d say just get the whole spices for everything. Just put the spices into the grinder according to the recipe, and grind them until you get the spice powder. Because that is what I actually did. And I notice that a teaspoon of whole spice makes a pretty much a teaspoon of spice powder. This way, I don’t have to buy too many things.
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 yoghurt and ensure all are coated well with the spicy yoghurt. Set aside and let it marinate while you get on with other things.
Secondly, you 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 all the poultry pieces are well covered with masala. 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 tell by its opaque colour), 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.
Ways to enjoy pickle chicken
Just like any curries, you can always eat your Achari chicken with roti/ chapati, naan bread, pitta bread or flatbread. You can also have it with rice, whether it’s plain rice or spiced rice dishes such as Biryani or Pilau rice.
And if you’re planning to throw some Pakistani menu on the table, below is the suggestion of a popular menu that often appears on special occasions.
- Chicken tikka (starter).
- Dahi Baray – lentil dumplings in spicy yoghurt (starter).
- Lamb kebabs (starter).
- Chicken Pilau rice (main), or
- Chicken Biryani rice (main), or
- Vegetable Pilau rice (main).
- Achari chicken (main), or
- Chicken Karahi (main).
- Aloo Gosht – potato and meat curry (main), or
- Lamb Kofta curry – lamb mince meatballs curry (main).
- Aloo Palak – potato and spinach curry (side).
- Chana Aloo – chickpeas and potato curry (side).
Recipe for Achari Chicken
I’m so excited that you finished reading this post. I hope you now want to try this recipe. Trust me, it’ll be worthy of your time and effort. If you love spicy food with a bit of fresh sourness in it, then this Achari Chicken will be the one you want to try.
When you try, please share what you think about the recipe in the comments below (leave in a reply box). I really appreciate it.
And do follow me on Instagram or Pinterest @soyummyrecipesbydevy to sneak peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen.
Finally, don’t forget to check out my other recipes for more food delights from Pakistani cuisines.
- Lauki Gosht: meat curry with bottle gourd.
- Aloo Keema: potato and minced meat curry.
- Keema Matar: minced meat curry with green peas.
- Aubergine curry.
- Halwa Puri – semolina pudding with fried flatbread.
- Khaman Dhokla.
- Kitchari – rice congee with mung bean dal.
- Keema Paratha – flatbread with minced meat stuffing.
Thank you and all the best.