Achari Chicken which literally means "pickled" chicken is made with pickling spices. This North Indian curry uses an unbelievably flavorful combination of spices such as fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fenugreek seeds for a warm, rich, pickle-flavored curry with smokey aromas.
My mouth starts to water as I describe this dish. I grew up eating homemade pickles and the spices always made me curious as the flavors are so much intense. One of the spices used in making Indian pickles is nigella seeds known as Kalonji in India and I am so excited to introduce this new spice to you via this spicy, finger-licking chicken curry.
Served with cumin rice or steamed basmati rice and a side of warm parathas to wipe up the curry sauce, this Achari Murgh (Pickled Chicken Curry) is a must-try. It comes together in less than 30 minutes in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker.
Here are a few unique must-have whole spices to make the best Achari Chicken curry
- Kalonji - These tiny black onion seeds look similar to black sesame seeds but with a different flavor profile. Frying them in hot oil for a few seconds releases a load of nutty, smokey, piquant flavors
- Fennel Seeds - Often chewed as an after-dinner digestive, these sweet, anise-flavored morsels add a hint of sweetness to this curry
- Fenugreek Seeds - This bittersweet spice has an undertone of maple syrup and works really well with coriander, cumin, and red chile powder. Briefly frying them in the tadka (tempering) helps reduce bitterness and add a ton of nutty-smokey flavors
- Mustard Seeds - These pungent, nutty seeds are essential in pickles and curries. Adding them to a hot tadka makes them crackle and pop to release their earthy flavor
- Cumin Seeds - Also known as Jeera, cumin adds nutty, warm flavors and dimensions to this curry
Once you have these spices the other ingredients are pretty basic and you probably already have them in your pantry.
- I like the bone-in chicken drumsticks in this recipe. To remove the skin on the drumsticks, simply grab the skin with a paper towel and pull it back towards the narrow end. Any other skinless, bone-in cut of chicken will also work well
- If using boneless chicken, cut the chicken into 2-inch pieces and pressure cook for 5 mins followed by natural pressure release
- Make sure not to over-fry the whole spices, especially the fenugreek seeds as they can get bitter. Turn off the sauté mode once the mustard seeds start to pop.
- Remember to deglaze the pot after adding water and turn off the sauté mode so it will stop the liquids from evaporating and preventing the "BURN" error
- Do not mix in the tomato paste as it can get stuck to the bottom of the pot and cause a "BURN" error
- Do not add cold yogurt directly to the hot curry. Mix a few spoonfuls of hot gravy into the yogurt which will bring up the temperature of the cold yogurt. This, in turn, prevents the yogurt from curdling in the curry
Step 1: Set the Instant Pot to Sauté mode and heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and once they start to pop add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Sauté for 10 seconds. Add the sliced onion and mix well. Add whole red chilies and saute for 3 to 4 mins covered or until the onions become translucent. Next, add ginger, garlic paste, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and mix well.
Step 2: Turn off sauté mode, add ½ cup of water and deglaze the pot. Add the chicken pieces and stir everything together until the chicken is coated with all the spices. Layer the tomato paste on top and do not mix. Close the Instant Pot and pressure cook for 6 minutes followed by natural pressure release.
Step 3: Open the Instant Pot and add some hot gravy to the bowl of yogurt and stir. This helps bring up the temperature of cold yogurt, preventing it from splitting in the curry. Add the curried yogurt to the chicken and mix well. Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
Here are a few options to pair this spicy Achari Chicken curry with and make a delicious homemade Indian meal
- Rice - Cumin Rice or Basmati Rice
- Bread - Parathas or Roti
- Side - Spicy Cabbage Salad or Cooling Cucumber Salad
- Drink - Mango Lassi or Ginger Lemonade
Spicy Indian food always leaves me craving something sweet and here are a few of my favorite desserts:
- Carrot Halwa - This Instant Pot version can be made Vegan and is lighter than the traditional versions with the same authentic taste
- Pineapple Sheera - This semolina pudding is packed with fresh pineapple for a heavenly treat
- Mango Cheesecake - The popular recipe from The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook that made it to the People Magazine
- Almond Burfi - Quick & easy Badam burfi made with almond flour
Enjoy this chicken curry fresh. You can also make ahead a day before as the flavors continue to develop. Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days or freeze it for longer shelf life.
- 1½ pounds chicken drumsticks skin removed
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon nigella seeds or onions seeds
- 4 dried whole red chilies
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 1 large yellow onion finely sliced
- 1½ tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup full fat yogurt lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped for garnish
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode and heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Sauté for 10 seconds.
- Add the sliced onion and mix well. Add whole red chilies and sauté for 3 to 4 mins covered or until the onions become translucent. Next, add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, chilli powder, salt and mix well.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir everything together until the chicken is coated with all the spices. Turn off saute mode, add ½ cup of water and deglaze the pot. Layer the tomato paste on top and do not mix.
- Close the Instant Pot with the pressure valve to sealing. Pressure cook for 6 minutes followed by 10 minute natural pressure release.
- Open the Instant Pot and add a few spoonful of hot gravy to the yogurt and stir, this will prevent the cold yogurt from splitting in the curry. Add the yogurt to the chicken and mix well. Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro.
- Heat oil in a 4 to 6-quart heavy-bottomed pan or pot. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Sauté for 10 seconds.
- Add the sliced onion and mix well. Add whole red chilies and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes covered or until the onions become translucent. Next, add ginger paste, garlic paste, turmeric, chili powder, salt and mix well.
- Add the chicken pieces and stir everything together until the chicken is coated with all the spices. Add 1 cup of water, tomato paste and mix well. Cook covered on medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Add a few spoonfuls of hot gravy to the yogurt and stir, this will prevent the cold yogurt from splitting in the curry. Add the yogurt to the chicken and mix well. Stir in lemon juice and garnish with cilantro. Add more salt to taste if needed.