Cooked with fragrant spices used in Indian pickles, Achaari Murg is one of the most delectable of all North Indian dishes. (Achaar=Pickles, Murg/Murgh=Chicken). A chicken curry with a heart beat, the kind that will liven your spirits up!
Indian pickles consists of numerous fruits and vegetables, (chili peppers, garlic, lemon/lime, mango, vegetables like carrots, cauliflowers, bitter melon, eggplants etc) and sometimes even meat and shrimp which are more popular in the southern parts of the country. The pickles in India, unlike the idea of pickles in the America, are loaded with spices and are preserved in oil. They are lip smacking good and an exotic way to liven up any meals. The pickles in India come in wide variety of flavors; so a pickle from the Northern parts of Indian will taste very different from the one in the Southern regions. The Achari Murg is a not a pickle and it is not preserved, but derives its name from the fact that it is cooked with all the spices used to make a North Indian pickle.
This dish is usually cooked in pure mustard oil as most of the North Indian pickles uses mustard oil. The mustard oil gives the dish a very strong and typical taste and flavor, but if you do not have it at hand do not refrain yourself from making this. It will be milder than the traditional; besides the spices used will add up to the flavor.
Below are the pretty, vibrant spices we are going to be using for this recipe.
Achaari Murg – Chicken Curry with Pickling Spices
- 3 lbs skinless chicken on bone, cut into pieces (use any part – thigh, drumstick, breast etc)
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup mustard oil + 1/2 cup vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower oil) - [may be substituted with all mustard oil or all vegetable/sunflower/canola]
- 4-5 medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced into half moons
- 3 inch ginger, grated/made into a paste
- 12-16 cloves of garlic, mashed & minced/made into a paste
- 1.5 cups tomato paste + 1 cup water (combine paste and water and set aside) or about 6 fresh tomatoes, grated
- Fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped – for garnish (Optional)
- 10 whole dry red chillies (or adjust amount as per your taste)
- 2 teaspoons fenugreek/methi seeds
- 2.5 teaspoons onion seeds/kalonji/nigella/kalo jeera
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
- 2″ stick of cinnamon
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds/saunf
- 4-6 cloves
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder, divided
- 3 teaspoons red chili powder (Optional)
Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces.
Marinate chicken with salt, yogurt and 1 teaspoon turmeric.
Dry roast red chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella/kalonji/onion seeds, cinnamon and cloves separately. Cool the spices and grind coarsely; set aside.
Heat oil (both mustard & vegetable/canola together, if you are using both kind) in a thick-bottomed pan.
Add onions and sauté till light brown. Add grated ginger and minced garlic and continue to sauté for about 7 minutes at medium heat. Add the coarsely ground dry spice powder. Cook for half a minute, stirring all the time so the spices do not stick to the pan.
Add the chicken pieces & cook on high heat till the chicken is well browned on all sides. Add grated tomatoes, rest of the turmeric powder, red chili powder (if you are using chili powder) and salt to the pan and toss well till everything is well mixed.
Cook at medium heat till oil is slightly bubbly and leaves the sides of the pan.
Add about 4 cups of water, (more or less as needed to cook the chicken), stir, bring it to a boil and cover the pan. Cook on medium heat till the chicken is fully done. Uncover and cook for a while or till the sauce is to your desired consistency. There should be enough sauce to dunk a bread and eat, but not too watery and soupy.
Garnished with fresh coriander/cilantro if you want .
Serve hot with Naan/Paratha/Flatbread or Pulav/Pilaf.
This dish is exquisitely flavored; very different from the other kind of chicken curries I make. So many kinds of strong flavored spices adds a dimension quite unexpected till you actually try it out. An explosion of flavors, scrumptious and lip smacking good!