Chicken achari is a flavorful, sharp-flavored main dish that will brighten up your dinner table. The recipe takes less than 40 minutes to prepare, making it ideal for a weekday meal or entertaining unexpected guests.
Rather than making chicken achari at home, we always got it from a restaurant. But when I saw a recipe for it in the Salt N’Pepper Village Cookbook, I knew I had to try my hand at it. For Pakistan Eats, I altered the recipe to use boneless chicken and made a few tweaks to achieve the consistency and sharpness I desired.
The achari masala is what sets this chicken unique. Other types of protein or vegetables, such as goat meat (achari gosht) or potatoes, can be used as a base for this masala (achari aloo). While there are many various variants of achari masala, I’ve noticed that the unifying elements, at least in Pakistani recipes, are fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, and fennel seeds. These give a lovely aromatic basis on which you may build a truly magnificent dish.
- ¼ cup neutral oil canola/sunflower/vegetable
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1 pound (~450 grams) boneless chicken, diced
- 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion thinly sliced in half rings
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (preferably Kashmiri red chili powder)
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- 4 roma tomatoes crushed
- 1 tablespoon full-fat yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mixed pickle (optional)
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil. Add whole spices (fenugreek seed, fennel seeds and nigella seeds) and fry on medium heat until aromatic.
- Add sliced onion, and continue to fry on medium heat until evenly soft and brown, about 5-7 minutes.
- Lower heat, and add crushed ginger and garlic. Fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add ground spices, and fry until they stop smelling raw. Deglaze the pan with a splash of water if needed.
- Increase heat to high, and add crushed tomatoes. Mix well, and stir on high heat until the oil begins to separate from the tomato-onion base.
- Add chicken, and sear on high heat until no longer pink.
- Add water, and bring to simmer. Partially cover the pot, and let the chicken cook for about 10 minutes.
- Lower heat, and add in whisked yogurt. Mix well.
- Remove from heat, and stir in mixed pickle if using.