Lamb has a subtle sweet character that marries well with tart-tasting things. Achari means ‘pickled’ in Hindi, and achari lamb is a classic curry that melds sweet and tart components magnificently for a festival of flavour in the mouth. You may have also heard of it being called ‘achari gosht’.
My BIR version is a medium hot, savoury, piquant curry made with Indian pickle and optional potato chunks. The texture and slight sweetness of the potato works very well with lamb and the tart pickle flavours.
It’s also a good way to bulk a curry out to go further, so you can expect this to feed up to two people if you use the extra potato chunks.
You can of course use a different main ingredient in an achari curry if you wish. It will still taste great, but in my opinion lamb is the superior option.
This recipe is from my second book, Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2.
- 3-4 TBSP (45-60ml) Oil
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds, ¼ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- ½ tsp Black Cumin Seeds (see Notes)
- ½ tsp Kalonji seeds (aka Nigella Seeds)
- 75-100g Onion, sliced into thin semicircular rings (approx. half a medium sized onion)
- 1½ tsp Ginger/Garlic Paste
- 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
- 1½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder or ¾ tsp ‘regular’ variety
- 1½ tsp Mix Powder, ¼ tsp Salt
- 5 TBSP Tomato Paste (see Notes)
- 1 TBSP each of chopped fresh Coriander Stalks and Leaves
- 330ml+ Base Gravy, heated up
- Pre-cooked Lamb (or other main ingredient)
- 75g Pre-cooked Potato chunks, about 5 or 6 in number (optional, see Notes)
- 1–1½ TBSP Indian Pickle, for example Mixed, Mango, Lime, Brinjal, Chilli, or Garlic (see Notes)
- 3 TBSP (45ml) Natural Yoghurt
- 3-4 Segments of fresh Tomato
Watch the Video
- Add the oil to a frying pan on medium high heat.
- Throw in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, black cumin seeds and kalonji seeds. Stir and cook for 30 seconds or until the mustard seeds start popping.
- Next add the onion slices and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently, until they soften and turn translucent.
- Now add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for 15-30 seconds until the sound of the sizzling turns to a light crackling.
- Add the kasuri methi, mix powder, chilli powder, and salt.
- Fry for 20-30 seconds initially, adding 30ml base gravy to help prevent burning. Stir diligently.
- Now in with the tomato paste. Turn up the heat to high while stirring constantly until the oil separates and tiny craters appear around the edges of the pan.
- Then add the pre-cooked lamb and coriander stalks. Mix well into the sauce.
- Stir in 75ml of base gravy then leave to cook on high heat until the sauce has reduced a little and the craters form again.
- Now stir in a second 75ml of base gravy and leave to cook again as in the previous step.
- Pour in 150ml of base gravy, the Indian pickle of your choice, and the pre-cooked potatoes (if you are using them). Stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to mix all the thick bits back into the sauce.
- Leave to cook on high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the curry has a nice medium-thick consistency. Add a little extra base gravy to thin the sauce out if desired. Avoid stirring or scraping unless the curry is showing signs of imminently burning.
- Add the fresh coriander leaves and fresh tomato segments.
- Turn the heat down and add the natural yoghurt.. Stir in and leave to cook for a further 1–2 minutes.
- Give the curry a taste, and adjust with extra pickle, salt or sugar as desired.
- Spoon off excess oil from the top of the curry if you want to be health conscious.
- Garnish with more fresh coriander and an extra tomato segment.
- All spoon measurements are level, i.e. 1 tsp=5 ml, 1 TBSP=15ml.
- To make life easier, you can use 2½ tsp of panch phoran instead of all the other spice seeds added at the start for a close approximation.
- There are many types and brands of Indian-style pickles. For a mild but tasty one I suggest brinjal (aubergine) pickle, or for a fruity hot tang, try mango, lime, or satkora (Bengali lime) pickle. For a more aromatic flavour use garlic pickle, or for extreme heat use a naga pickle (use with caution). You can experiment with combinations for added layers of flavour. Mixed pickle varieties are commonly available to buy.
- Pickles can be salty, so I have reduced the amount of salt added to compensate. You may want to add a little extra after tasting.
- ‘Tomato Paste’ is either a) double-concentrated tomato puree mixed with 3 parts water, b) Blended tinned plum tomatos, or c) Passata.
- The pre-cooked potatoes can be made simply by peeling and chunking potato, then simmering in water for 15 minutes with a pinch of salt and turmeric, until they are cooked but still firm.
- I have tweaked the recipe from that shown in the accompanying YouTube video. Precooked potatoes have been added as an option, the mix powder is reduced from 2 to 1½ tsp, and the onions are now cooked for 1-2 minutes instead of 45-60 seconds.