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Spiced Chicken Skewers with Pickling Spices, Mustard and Chilli

Spiced Chicken Skewers with Pickling Spices, Mustard and Chilli
May 2023
Reading time 1 Minute
I'm such a fan of achari spice mix that all my books include recipes that celebrate it. Achari Murgh Tikka has always been a family favourite. I first ate it as a young girl when our family visited Khyber at Fort in Mumbai, where it always feels like a special evening and the food is delicious. The decor is old school with painted murals on the walls that are dimly lit by decorative chandeliers from the '80s. Ghazals play in the background with chatter from the tables. It's like going back in time to your safe space. The menu is limited and focuses primarily on the cuisine from the north-west frontier of India. The achari spice mix includes fennel, cumin, mustard and nigella seeds, all coarsely crushed, but the secret is definitely using mustard oil. I recommend keeping a small bottle in your store cupboard. The pungent, savoury flavour lends an intense taste to the tikka.
  • You will need wooden skewers soaked in cold water for 30 minutes
  • 640g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp mustard oil
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • Salt, to taste
  • Melted butter, to baste
  • Juice of ½ lime, to garnish
  • For the marinade
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 5cm ginger root
  • 1 heaped tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or mild chilli powder)
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • For the spice mix
  • 1½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds

To make the marinade, grind the garlic and ginger with a splash of water in a blender to a smooth paste. Put this paste in a large mixing bowl with the chilli powder and lime juice, then add the chicken. Mix well and leave to marinate for 20 minutes.

Heat a small, dry frying pan over a medium heat. Put all the spice mix ingredients in the pan and toast for two minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Transfer the toasted spices to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Using the same pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and then add the chickpea flour. Stirring well to get rid of any lumps, roast the flour for about two to three minutes, or until it has a nutty aroma and changes colour.

Once cool, grind the toasted spices to a coarse powder in a pestle and mortar. Add the toasted spice mix to the marinated chicken along with the roasted chickpea flour mixture, mustard oil and yoghurt. Season to taste. Leave to marinate in the fridge for two hours, or preferably overnight.

Preheat the grill to a medium-high heat. Line a baking tray with foil and place a wire rack over the tray. 

Thread the chicken pieces onto the soaked wooden skewers and place them on the wire rack. Place the tray under the grill and cook for 16–18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking and basting with the melted butter, until the chicken is lightly charred around the edges and cooked through.

Take the chicken off the skewers and serve on a large platter with the lime juice squeezed over. 

Serve with roti, pickled chillies and green chutney.

Tandoori Home Cooking by Maunika Gowardhan (Hardie Grant, £25) Photography ©Issy Croker

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