Chicken Pickle or Achari Chicken

Chicken Pickle or Achari Chicken is an Indian Street food typically served in a Paratha, it is heady with garlic and ginger and has a wonderful astringent backnote.

Portrait close up image of a steaming black bowl of chicken pickle or achari chicken.

Achari Chicken.

My love of spicy food and particularly Indian spicy food is well documented here. I have been obsessed with this chicken pickle recipe for a long old time.

I had never heard of it but came across it in a recipe book by Rik Stein, Rik is pretty much my favourite food writer.

Also known as Achari chicken, chicken pickle is apparently an almost ubiquitous street food in Punjab, India.

The first time I made it I knew I would be making it over and over again.

I messed with the flavour profiles a little and upped the chilli content a lot to please my desire for something with a real punch of heat.

The addition of vinegar in the cooking method makes it reminiscent of two of my favourite curry recipes. Both my pork vindaloo and chicken pathia recipes explore sour elements in curry. It always works a treat!

The flavour is delightful and the chicken stays almost unbelievably moist and juicy.

Portrait overhead image of a steaming black bowl of chicken pickle or achari chicken, flour tortilla and shredded lettuce

How To Cook Indian Chicken Pickle.

I have never come across a cooking process quite like the one used in this recipe.

Everything is cooked in quite a lot of oil, in this sense it is almost similar to confit as a cooking method.

Then vinegar is added to the hot oil as a result of that you need to be very careful, ensure you use a large pan!

It is then cooked a little more allowing all the flavours to come together.

The spices are then cooked in the oil after the chicken. It is a very similar technique to the tempering of the spices I utilised in my chicken korma recipe.

It creates a fantastic dressing for the chicken and turns this dish all the way up to 11!

Traditionally this allowed the chicken pickle to be kept for a long time without refrigeration as it was preserved.

An achari chicken wrap using flour tortilla

Serving Suggestions.

As far as I am concerned chicken pickle is my dream filling for a wrap. I don’t even care what it is wrapped in, chapati, paratha or a plain old tortilla so long as it has chicken pickle I’m a happy boy.

Just add some crispy shredded lettuce and you are good to go.

However, it is not just a filling for a wrap or sandwich, it works fantastically well as a main course.

Served with something like Bombay potatoes or even spooned over plain rice and you have a fantastic Indian main.

If you are feeling really adventurous using this to replace the chicken mix in my biriyani recipe is heavenly!

Chicken Pickle or Achari Chicken Recipe

Chicken Pickle or Achari Chicken Recipe

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Marinade Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

Chicken Pickle is typically served in a paratha, it is heady with garlic and ginger and a wonderful astringent flavour.


  • 500 g Chicken Thighs
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 50 g Ginger, Grated
  • 10 Cloves Garlic, Ground into a paste
  • 1/2 Tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 300 ml Cooking Oil
  • 5 Cloves Garlic
  • 50 g Ginger
  • 1/8 tsp Asafoetida
  • 150 ml Cider Vinegar


  1. Cut the chicken thighs into strips around 5mm in profile and 5cm long.
  2. Peel and slice the garlic as thinly as possible.
  3. Peel and cut the ginger into batons as thinly as you can.
  4. Add the chilli, salt, turmeric ginger and garlic to the chicken and mix thoroughly and allow to marinade for 1 hour.
  5. Heat the mustard, fennel and fenugreek seeds in a dry pan until they become fragrant.
  6. Grind the seeds in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and mix with the garam masala and set aside.
  7. Heat the oil in a LARGE deep heavy-based pan until hot but not smoking.
  8. Add the onions and cook for 10-15 minutes until a deep golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  9. When cooked remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  10. Into the same oil batch fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes, be careful with hot oil if the chicken is a little wet it will spit.
  11. Remove each batch of chicken and set it aside with the onions.
  12. Add in the asafoetida and the spice mix we set aside in step 6 to the oil.
  13. Then add the garlic and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  14. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  15. Very carefully pour in the vinegar, if the oil starts to spit it is too hot and allow to cool a little further.
  16. Then add in the chicken and onions we set aside earlier and return to the heat and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 972Total Fat: 72gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 57gCholesterol: 320mgSodium: 1616mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 63g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

57 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. Would love to try this, is it meant for storing for long periods in the fridge? Also is Cider vinegar the same as Apple Cider vinegar?

    • Hey Priya… Originally it was a street food that would have been preserved to some extent by the vinegar. To be perfectly honest I would not treat it that way today and ensure that all chicken is kept refrigerated after being cooked.

      As for the vinegar, as I understand it yes they are the same thing. Although this works well with lots of different vinegars, so feel free to experiment πŸ™‚

      Enjoy Brian

  2. My mum did this growing up. She used to also do this with Fish. She would marinate the fish (firm white fish – monk fish is great) with turmeric, chilli powder & salt (very simple), fry in oil and keep aside. She would make the pickle masala, flake the fish into pieces and mix together. Whatever was left after the family started on it (which wasn’t very much), she would put into clean, sterilised bottles and in the fridge. We would then have it on toast or even like a condiment on the side with rice & dhal. Very, very yummy!!!

    • Holy crap, doing this with fish sounds incredible! Monkfish is a tough find here in rural landlocked Hungary but I think it would work really well with catfish which is in many ways similar and very meaty. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Oh wow, it’s not one I have heard of either but sounds delicious! I can see your description above of it being a bit like a quick confit with spices, I can definitely see that. And a great filling for sure!

    • It was a new one to me to but I love new techniques and ideas and of course Indian flavours, it really is a great filling for a wrap or sandwich.

  4. Interesting recipe Brian, especially since the chicken does not need to be refrigerated. We like to go for picnics and I love to bring wraps but if the day is too hot I cannot risk to make them with chicken. This sounds the perfect recipe for it, I love Indian flavours

    • Thanks Laura… It is a very unusual recipe but fabulous big flavours and can totally see the astringent sauce providing a degree of pickling and adding to the shelf life. Not that it ever lasts that long πŸ˜‰

  5. I can imagine this dish is really tangy with the vinegar and spices. It’s such an unusual combination and I can’t wait to try. I’ll be using tortillas as we love wrapping things up. It’s good to see how chutney should really be used – I was watching an Indian cookery programme and was surprised to hear that chutney is often served at the end of a meal and not at the start!

    • I’ve never heard of chutneys being served at the end of a meal, but India is a big old place with a population over a billion with a huge variety in it’s food so it would not surprise me.

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  7. Oh, sweet, Jesus! That looks amazing, Brian! So nice for you to partner with Whitney – sorry I missed the option to win. πŸ™‚

  8. This is the third time this week an Indian pickle dish has come up in life for me. Maybe it’s a sign from the universe? The photos are just stunning!

    • I cook Indian flavours all of the time, I guess that is down to the fact that I lived in an area of a City with a large Indian/Pakistani community and many of my friends at school were part of that community… So dinner at a friends was a glorious exotic treat that I loved!

    • It may take a little hunting but I am sure you will find it on a major City, I have to make a 320km round trip to Budapest to keep my spice cupboard stocked, but I love Indian food so it is well worth it for me πŸ™‚

  9. Brian this sounds amazing – I love how you recommend it as wrap filling … can I just tell you how much I’m craving this right now? And that steam shot is beautiful!

    • Thanks Paige… It is traditionally served in a paratha so it is traditionally a wrap filling, however I don’t care what it is wrapped in so long as I can have some πŸ˜€

    • THanks Derek, I am kicking myself to be honest for not getting a deeper DOF on the shot! The flavours in this dish really are amazing I love it πŸ™‚

  10. I’ve never tried Indian food before. Not even in a restaurant. I’m still kind of wary to step outside of my comfort zone but this looks so good! I’ll definitely have to take a leap and try it. Pinning!

  11. I am completely impressed with your lovely photos, as usual Brian! Indian cuisine is really new to me.I have never cooked anything Indian, except Naan bread. I don’t recognize some of the spices, but the Meat filling looks tremendous! I may have to find a shop around here that has those intriguing spices! I do love the ones I’m familiar with. A new taste adventure awaits!

    • Thank you so much Diane, I am glad to have inspired someone to play around with some new Indian flavours, I love Indian food as you can probably tell! My guess is that Asafoetida is a new one, it is certainly not required and it is very pungent and adds a whole level of depth of flavour at the back end of a dish, you only need a little bit of it so make sure you buy just a small packet, as with all ground spices they tend to loose flavour after a couple of months.

  12. Wow, looks incredible and sounds delish! Great photo catching the steam rising from the dish and the description makes me want to eat the picture! Thank you for introducing me to an Indian recipe I’ve not heard of. Can’t wait to try it!

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  14. I have never had this dish before, but it looks and sounds amazing! And I really love your “steamy” photos! Awesome! πŸ™‚

  15. I definitely have to try that dish and cooking technique. Don’t think I have ever had meat cooked this way. Does sound delicious!

  16. This looks and sounds amazing. One question, though – what is Asafoetida? I’ve never heard of it. Is it critical to the dish?

    • Thank you Lisa… Asafoetida is one of the spices that gives Indian food a deep back note of flavour, it can also be found under the name Hing and is a bright yellow powder and is very pungnet and you only need a little bit of it. It is certainly not essential for the dish and can be omitted, naturally part of the back end of flavour will be missing but it will still be delicious nevertheless.

  17. Oh this sounds FANTASTIC Brian! Hungry Hubby would most certainly approve too. Nom nom, I could eat a whole batch of that myself πŸ˜€

    • Cheers Jo… It is a stonkingly good recipe, I can not believe it is something that never made its way to the British Indian food scene! It’s fairly reminiscent of a traditional ‘vindaloo’ type of dish but the cooking method, whilst a little indulgent, makes the most incredibly juicy chicken, I eat this all the time!

  18. This dish looks absolutely stunning. My hubby adores Indian food. As a matter of fact, the other day he was talking about how much he missed the fabulous Indian food that was readily at his fingertips when we lived in Kenya (there is a large Indian population here). While we won’t be returning to Kenya for some time. . .I’m thinking this dish might just satisfy his cravings. Looking at the photos is making me very hungry (and it’s only breakfast time here!!!).

    • Thank you Lynn, I was bought up around Indian food in the UK too so when I moved to Hungary I had to bring it with me…This dish is fantastic, very ‘vindaloo’ in its concept but such a great way to fill a wrap… I love it!


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