Achari Chicken Handi

Achari Chicken Handi is such a royal meal. For me, it was always something we ordered at restaurants, it was much too complicated to make at home, right? Wrong. I was so completely wrong! That luscious red masala, the succulent cubes of chicken, it all seemed so daunting. When I moved to Germany I craved it badly. We were in a remote city sandwiched between a gorgeous valley, which is great, but there were no desi restaurants in a 50 mile radius, and the closest Pakistani grocery store was an hour train ride away. But I needed my chicken achari handi, so I called my mom. She told me about the golden trio (I’m laughing, but also serious about this trio) of whole spices that gave the chicken handi it’s achari flavor. In my head I thought you just dump a jar of Achaar(pickled vegetables and whole spices) into your chicken and be done with it, but clearly I was wrong.

So over the months I played with the ratios, the masala, and eventually I created this recipe. And it’s a recipe I’m so proud of, because I transformed that Royal Achari Handi to a simple weeknight meal ready in less than 30 minutes, and I did it without compromising on flavor. This packs all that goodness into a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes of your day. All you need is a pack of defrosted chicken and a pack of frozen naan, and you are minutes away from a delicious meal that is better than takeout from your favorite restaurant!

A few notes:

I always have fried onions ready to be used, but if you don’t, just thinly slice 1 onion and fry till light golden brown.

One step to make this even shorter is to use a chopper/blender. Blend your tomatoes, fried onions and the yogurt. Blend till smooth, then sauté in oil with the spices for a few minutes before adding your chicken. It saves time, but You will have to wash your chopper, so you do you!

Here’s what you’ll need:

3-4 Tblspn oil

2 pounds boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

3 tomatoes, chopped

2 Tbsp yogurt, whipped

3/4 cup fried onions (or 1 onion sliced and fried)

2 Tbsp ginger garlic paste

1 tsp salt (add more to taste)

1 tsp red chilli powder/cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp haldi/turmeric

1 tsp crushed coriander seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp kalongi/nigella seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

3-4 whole green chillies

Start off by heating the oil in pan and adding your fried onions, chopped tomatoes and ginger garlic paste. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Once they’ve broken down, lower the flame and add the whipped yogurt. This prevents it from curdling. Once the yogurt is mixed in turn the flame back up to medium and add all the spices and seasoning.

Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chicken cubes and mix well. Add the green chillies and cook covered for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing burns. After 10-12 minutes remove the lid and sauté until most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep some to create a creamy masala. Check for seasoning, then serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander and naan.

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[…] ingredients, and I find myself making it on it’s own, with a bowl if raita, or as a side with Chicken Handi or Chicken Jalfrezi. Either way it’s delicious, and it’s the perfect simple meal that […]

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[…] back to good old Pakistani food. It truly hits the spot and reminds me of being home. I love making chicken handi, but sometimes, if I want something a little more decadent, I’ll go for something more […]

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