Achari Chicken: Pakistani Recipe of Chicken Pickle

Pakistani Achari Chicken in a pan

Achari Chicken

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. 

Achari Chicken with overlay text

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.

ingredients for achari chicken

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.

photo collage of how to make chicken achari

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. 

But you always eat it with rice too. Whether it’s plain Basmati rice or spiced rice dishes such as Biryani or Pilau rice.  

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.

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.

Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Yield: 4

Achari Chicken

Achari chicken in cooking pan

Achari chicken has a piquant pickling taste with aromatic fragrant from all the spices in it. It's rich, spicy, and slightly tangy. It's simply delicious with Rotis/ chapatis, naan bread, pita bread, or flatbread. But really, rice will also go well with this delightful chicken dish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 600 gr/ 21.16 oz Chicken (I used 4 pieces of chicken thighs).
  • 2 small/ 100 gr/ 3.53 oz Brown/ yellow onions.
  • 2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste (see the note).
  • ½ tsp Fennel seed powder (Saunf).
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder.
  • ½ tsp Ground coriander.
  • ½ tsp Dried-mango powder (Amchoor).
  • ½ tsp Anise seed powder.
  • ½ tsp Fenugreek seed powder (Methi).
  • ¾ tsp Ground cumin.
  • ¼ tsp Ground black pepper.
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder.
  • 1 tsp Red Himalayan salt (see the note).
  • 1 tsp Five whole spices - Panch phoron (see the note).
  • 2 Bay leaves.
  • ½ cup Canned tomatoes or 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped (see the note).
  • ¾ cup Natural yoghurt, lightly beaten (see the note).
  • 2-3 Fresh green chillies (optional).
  • ¾ cup of cooking oil (I use rapeseed oil).


  1. Mix the salt and all the spices powder in a small bowl. I.e. fennel seed powder, turmeric powder, ground coriander, Amchoor, Anise seed powder, fenugreek seed powder, ground cumin, ground black pepper, and chilli powder.
  2. Take about 2 teaspoons of spice mix and place it in a big bowl. Then add about ¼ cup yoghurt and mix well.
  3. Get the chicken ready and slightly pierce the poultry using a skewer (this little trick will help your chicken develop a tastier flavour right to the bone). And place the pieces in the yoghurt mixture. Ensure all the chicken pieces are well coated with the yoghurt mix. Set aside to marinate while you get on with your prep.
  4. Finely chop your onions and fry them on a large cooking pan (or kadhai). Cook until the onion becomes translucent and has a light golden colour.
  5. Next, you add in the ginger garlic paste and let it fry further for about a minute.
  6. Then add the spice powder mixture, the salt and the bay leaves. Continue frying until the spices release their aroma. 
  7. Add the tomatoes in and give it a good stir. Here, you can add a little water if you think it’s too dry. Let the spices and the tomatoes cook until all well blended. Try to mash the tomatoes every now and again. You want to make a nice smooth masala mixture.
  8. When the oil separates a little from the masala mixture, put the chicken pieces in it. Stir well until the poultry pieces are covered with the sauce. Put the lid on. And let it cook at moderate-high heat for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Keep checking and stirring every now and then to ensure the chicken doesn’t get burned at the bottom.
  9. Then add the beaten yoghurt in. Again, stir well and put the lid back. This time you cook the Achari chicken at moderate-low heat. 
  10. After about five minutes, sprinkle the Panch Phoron over your chicken. Cook further until the curry sauce looks thick and the oil separates from the edges.


  • To make ginger garlic paste, you pound, ground or mince a ½ -inch ginger root with 4 garlic cloves. I often make the paste in a bulk and store in the freezer. 
  • As for the spice powder, you can always get the whole spices and grind them into powder using an electric spice grinder. 
  • Ever since my husband was diagnosed with cancer, we try to use food ingredients with the highest alkaline as possible. And we believe Himalayan salt is one of them. Also, it makes the food taste way better. But of course, you can use any salt that you prefer, just put the amount of salt according to your taste. You can start with less before adding more.
  • I find canned tomatoes are an ideal choice to make curries. Because they keep longer. So I can just stock up for more than a few weeks without worrying they go rotten.
  • You can make your Panch Phoron. I’d say you get the whole spices for this recipe. And just grind the amount needed for the spice powder mixture using the spice grinder. So you can also use those whole spices for Panch Phoron. Just mix fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and black nigella seeds (Kalonji) in equal portions. And use according to the recipe.
  • When it comes to yoghurt, please choose the natural yoghurt. Don’t use a creamy yoghurt such as Greek yoghurt, etc. Because of the creamier the yoghurt, the more chance of your curry getting curd and whey. Plus, the taste won’t be right. Because this Achari chicken should have a tangy taste, that comes from yoghurt and Amchoor (dried mango powder). In fact, if you think your natural yoghurt is fresh and has a very mild taste, take the portion you need and place it in a bowl/ cup. And leave it covered in a room temperature for several hours (overnight is preferable) before using it for your cooking.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 834Total Fat 66gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 53gCholesterol 144mgSodium 705mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 6gSugar 10gProtein 42g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation


  1. This sounds like a rich and flavorful winter dish! The combination of spices really make it flavorful!

  2. I love trying new ethnic recipes and this one sounds amazing. What a delicious combination of flavors!

  3. OMG This chicken curry dish looks delicious. I have tried curry dishes from India and Southeast Asia and I am sure this looks gorgeous. Perfect to eat it with rice or roti.

  4. I love a good chicken recipe, and this one looks so tasty!! Bookmarked to make later, thank you so much for the recipe 🙂

  5. Hi Devy. I made this last night and it was SUPERB! I’ve made Achari Chicken before but it’s always been a bit of a disappointment in terms of taste. But your one is fab – spicy and tangy – exactly the taste I’ve been looking for. Thanks a million!

    1. Hi Susan, thank you. I’m so glad you like it. You made my day.

  6. I cooked this the other evening and it was SUPERB! Aromatic, spicy and tangy. Definitely a keeper! Thanks Devy

    1. You’re most welcome. I’m happy that you like this Achari Chicken.

  7. I had SUCH a yen for this yesterday (and that’s not the kind of craving that just goes away!) but I’d left it too late to marinate the chicken. So I made the sauce, steamed some leftover Matar Chawal with some cubed chicken fillets and spooned some of the sauce through the rice. Craving satisfied! Plus I can freeze the remaining sauce for another time. Win win!

    1. Sounds like you satisfied your yen craving afterall. A good job :-).

  8. I won’t be so lazy next time!

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