So-called because it contains pickling (achari) spices common to Northern India, this curry is one of my favourites.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Atul Kochhar’s Simple Indian.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 – 1.5 hours


4 tbsp vegetable oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 tsp onion seeds

5 dried red chillies

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 inch piece ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp tomato puree

200ml water

500g chicken thighs, skinned (I like to cook the chicken with the bone in but if I’m making this for people who don’t like chicken on the bone I will de-bone the chicken thighs but put the bones in the pan along with the chicken so that I still get the flavour they impart)

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp lime juice

1 heaped tsp lime pickle


1/2 tsp cornflour

200g natural yoghurt (choose a yoghurt which isn’t reduced fat or a thick Greek yoghurt to help prevent splitting)

chopped coriander leaves for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a casserole or saute pan. Add whole garlic cloves and cook until they turn golden brown on all sides.
  2. Add the whole spices and allow to crackle before adding the onions. Cook the onions gently until they soften and turn golden brown.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the garlic fumes have dissipated.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree then pour in the water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer.
  5. Add the chicken, coat in the juice and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, longer if you have the time.
  6. Stir in the sugar, lemon and lime juice, lime pickle and salt to taste.
  7. Lightly whisk the yoghurt and mix in the cornflour before taking the pan off the heat and stirring the yoghurt into the sauce. The whisking, cornflour and taking the pan off the heat combined with a non-low fat yoghurt should ensure it doesn’t split when added to the hot sauce.
  8. Warm through without boiling and serve sprinkled with the coriander leaves, pilau rice and some ginger and cumin vegetables.