Achari chicken is a delicious and flavorful dish many enjoy for its unique blend of spices and tender chicken. Achari chicken translates to “pickle-y chicken” because it is made with Indian pickling spices.
About this Recipe
Achari chicken is a traditional North Indian dish with the same spices used to make Indian pickles, similar to this Gujarati green chili pickle.
This recipe makes the dish in what I think is the most convenient way possible. Achari chicken is traditionally made in a karahi or Indian wok. I make it in the Instant Pot with boneless chicken thighs. With these adaptations, it becomes an easy, one-pot recipe. Using the Instant Pot makes it something that can be put together in about 30 minutes, making for an easy weeknight meal.
With this recipe, I also like to grind the spices without toasting them first. Instead, I add the freshly ground spices to the onions as they are frying in oil. This gives the spices a chance to toast and bloom while keeping the recipe simple.
Chicken – I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs because it is much more convenient to eat and carry with me to lunch the next day. If you prefer bone-in chicken, it is a simple switch, but you must add a couple of minutes to the cooking time.
Mango Pickle – you can use almost any kind of pickle. Deep hot mango pickle is the best mango pickle I have found available in the US.
Mild chili – Use mild green chilies, like anaheim peppers. For the video, I had some unusually mild serranos, and I used those. I wouldn’t usually use serranos, but these worked well.
Traditional Indian Pickling Spices
- Mustard seeds
- Fenugreek Seeds
- Fennel Seeds
- Cumin (optional)
- Nigella (optional)
- Coriander seeds (optional, I didn’t use them)
Achari chicken is a North Indian dish. I’ve seen it on restaurant menus occasionally. It is a karahi-style curry, which is cooked in a karahi, an Indian-style wok.
Here I’ve made it in the Instant Pot.
Serve with lemons on the side. A good meal featuring achari chicken might include a flatbread like naan, kulcha, or paratha, alongside simple rice like plain basmati or jeera rice.
- Once you add the ginger to the instant pot, it tends to stick. Keep stirring and cooking until the ginger and garlic turn golden and no longer smell raw. Deglaze when you add the tomato. Keep stirring and scraping the bottom. Don’t worry if things do stick. You will be able to deglaze them when you add the water. As long as you are not seeing black, you are ok.
- You can use bone-in chicken. Bone-in chicken gives a meatier flavor and must be cooked longer because of the bone. Cook for 6 minutes instead of 4 in the Instant Pot. If cooking on the stovetop, cook an extra ten minutes.
- Use a pickle of your choice, except lemon or lime pickle, which can become bitter. I highly recommend mango pickles as the best option for this recipe. Mixed vegetables or red chili pickles also work well.
- If you wanted to make it on the stove, closer to the traditional way, you could cook it in a dutch oven or wok. Cook it on medium-low heat for 18-20 minutes, uncovered, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
Achari chicken stores well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It freezes well for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave from frozen or on the stovetop. No need to defrost before. Add two tablespoons of water to the gravy to get it going.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 2 Tbsp hot mango pickle or pickle of choice
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 1 large tomato chopped finely
- 3 Tbsp oil
- 1 Tbsp Kashmiri chili powder or paprika
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 large mild chilies such as Anaheim or California
- Chop up the mango pickle to break up any large pieces of mango.
- Cut a slit down the middle of the green chilies, and cut the chilies into 2-inch pieces.
- Chop the chicken thighs into 2-inch pieces. In a medium bowl, combine chicken, half the mango pickle, yogurt, and some salt. Stir to coat and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients, about 15 minutes.
- Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, coarsely grind fenugreek, mustard, fennel, nigella, and cumin seeds.
- Set Instant Pot to saute mode. Add the oil and allow it to heat up. Add onions and cook until onions are softened and translucent.
- Add the coarsely ground spice mixture. Add turmeric powder. Let the spices toast with the onions for 30-45 seconds. It will start to smell very fragrant and the spices will start to turn golden.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste. Cook that for about a minute. The ginger and garlic will start to turn golden and the raw smell will dissipate. Stir and scrape the bottom to keep the paste from sticking and burning.
- Add the tomatoes and deglaze the pan by scraping up anything that sticks. Cook until the tomatoes are jammy and the tomatoes no longer hold their shape.
- Add the red chili powder and allow it to bloom for about 10 seconds.
- Add the chicken and all of the marinade. Add salt and 1/2 cup of water. Stir well and deglaze anything that has stuck to the pan.
- Cook under high pressure for 4 minutes. Followed by a quick release.
- Set the Instant Pot back to saute mode. Add the remaining pickle and green chilies. Mix well. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the sauce thickens to desired consistency.