The most admirable and fascinating aspect of Indian cooking is its diversity. India, being such a vast country with phenomenal diversity, this diversity is widespread in almost every aspect of life. Food is no exception. For someone like me, born in North Indian family and married to a beautiful lady from Konkan, it becomes an obvious practice if my food preparations are more inclined towards these two regions of India.
However, the last thing I would want in my life would be monotony and never would I want my culinary choices to be constricted between these two regions. I like to experiment in our kitchen, to alter some tested recipes and see what that recipe turns up into, a disaster or a hit.
There are some recipes that have been the result of some genius experiment. Indian history is full of cooks or khansamas who would go to any extent with their experiments and try to make innovative dishes that would please the emperor or maharajas. This recipe of Achari Murg (Pickled chicken) must be one such recipe. Though, I must admit I do not know the historical roots of this recipe, but I must say this very candidly that this was one masterpiece creation for which the creator of Achari murg deserves all the applause. For starters, let me begin with explaining “Achari Murg”. Achaar refers to pickle. They are made by combining certain vegetables and fruits (that are finely chopped) with Indian spices and preserved in edible oil. Primarily achaar is associated with mangoes and lime, but it would be too immature if I mention only these two ingredients. Achaar can be made of carrots, raddish, pumpkin, ginger, amla, bitter gourd, jackfruit and many more. In fact some places in India also combine meat and fish to make achaar.
Achari murg is, as the name indicates pickled chicken. However, do not misinterpret it as preserved chicken. It actually refers to a preparation wherein chicken is combined with same Indian spices that goes into making of an achaar. However, I must also tell you that some Indian restaurants do make this dish essentially by combining chicken with some readymade pickle and name it as Achari murg but that’s not what this recipe is all about.
At the heart of this preparation is a combination of 5 Indian spices known as Panch Phoran (mustard seed, fennel seed, cumin seed, nigella seed & fenugreek seed). These spices provide the pickled taste to this recipe and are used in tempering as a first step of preparation. Though it is often said that Panch Phoran combines each of the ingredients in equal proportion, but I would recommend to use fenugreek seeds in lesser quantity (for exact quantity check ingredient list), to reduce the bitterness in the recipe. I have two ways of storing Panch Phoran in my masala box (a box used for storing spices). I store the concoction of these 5 spices mixed in desired proportion together, and then use it while tempering the gravy. In second method of storing, I make a powder of the roasted spices and store them. This powder is used to make chutneys more flavorful. I also use it to add a little more punch to my gravy, by sprinkling the powder on top of the gravy, and cook it for couple of minutes and then turn off the flame.
- 500 grams chicken cut into medium pieces
- 1 cup whisked curd
- 2 medium sized onions finely chopped
- 5 dried red chilies
- 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- ½ tsp panch phoran powder
- Mustard Oil
- 1 tbsp Natural Vinegar
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp nigella seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Heat 4 tbsp mustard oil in a pan. Add panch phoran ingredients and asafoetida in the oil and fry them until nutty aroma emerges from the oil.
- Add dried red chili and chopped onions and fry them until onions become tender.
- When onions become tender, add ginger-garlic paste and fry them till we get rid of the raw smell.
- When ginger-garlic gets cooked, add turmeric powder, red chili powder, curd and salt as per taste and mix them all well.
- Cook the masala for 2 minutes. Now add Chicken pieces and coat it well with the masala.
- Sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes.Searing: Cook chicken on high temperature till its surface turns brown.
- After chicken gets seared, lower the flame and add panch phoran powder and mix it well. Cover and cook the chicken till it gets completely cooked.
- Chicken should get cooked in 12 minutes.If you want achari murg to have thicker consistency, cook it uncovered for couple of minutes more.
- Turn off the flame and add vinegar and mix it well. This is an optional step that makes the gravy a bit more tangy. You can skip this step if you so desire.Serve hot.
- Enjoy Achari Murg with Lachha Parantha or steamed rice.
If you are a huge fan of Indian pickles, you are going to admire this recipe. This can be relished with steamed rice or lachha paranthas.
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