Do you remember the IKEA ad "the people are coming". I think about it and it makes me panic a little now. First of all there is the idea of other people in my space, something that hasn't happened in a year. Then the idea of being able to fit into the clothes I wore before this past year. It's all a bit daunting. Instead of giving in to the overwhelm I have decided that this year I will do the things I need to do to clean up my eating. This Achari Chicken Bake is right up there.
How Do You Make It?
Easily is the short answer. All you need to do is marinate the chicken for optimal flavour - I do overnight because prepping the chicken in advance makes the next day easier for me. You can also marinate it for an hour and then bake it. Then when you are ready to bake slice an onion, puree some tomatoes (or use a store bought passata) and throw in some chopped vegetables. Bake covered half the time then uncover for maximum tenderness and flavor!
What Makes this Achari Chicken Bake Healthy?
- Less Oil - Usually when I make this scrumptios Achar Chicken I saute the onions off in oil to get that nice bhunna masala. However, that sauteeing requires oil. Here I lightly grease the pan and am good to go.
- Adding Vegetables - Throwing in some of our favorite healthy vegetables (not potatoes my friends) gives the dish a flavorful good for you addition. I use broccoli because we like it, but you can use others as well (see below).
- White Meat - using boneless breast meat makes this dish nice and light, the marinade helps the chicken to not dry out.
- Yogurt - not only is yogurt a great tenderizer but it is also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin d, etc.
What Vegetables Can I Use?
I said earlier not potatoes, but let's be honest and admit that potatoes are just love. If you want to throw in small pieces I won't judge. Here are some other ideas
- Green Beans (lightly season these before adding)
- Cauliflower Florets
- Peas (add these in after uncovering the chicken)
- Eggplant cubed
Can I Make My Own Achari Masala?
Absolutely. Here's how - this makes enough for this Achari Chicken Bake
- 1 tbsp saunf/ anise coarsely grind, a few seconds in the spice grinder or some good grinds in a mortar and pestle
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds coarsely grind, a few seconds in the spice grinder or some good grinds in a mortar and pestle (can do this with the saunf)
- ¾ tsp chili flakes
- ¾ tsp chilli powder
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
- ½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana)thi
Looking for More Healthier Desi Dishes?
Here are some of our favorites
- Instant Pot Tandoori Chicken (feel free to switch the potatoes out for other vegetables!)
- Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- Stovetop Lemon Chicken Roast
- This Easy Karahi Chicken
- 1.25 lb boneless chicken breast cut into 1.5 inch cubes
- 2.5 tbsp Achar Masala (or make your own above)
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- ½ cup yogurt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
- 1 onion, sliced
- ½ cup tomato puree (I used passata)
- 1.5 cup broccoli
- 5-6 green chilies (whole)
- oil for greasing the pan
Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and set aside to marinate, two hours is good, I usually marinate overnight
When ready to bake pull the chicken out of the fridge to bring to room temperature and preheat the oven to 350F
Lightly grease an oven safe casserole dish then sprinkle on the onions, then tomato sauce (spread with a spoon), then scatter the chicken and broccoli over top and finally the green chilies
Cover and bake for 20 minutes then pull it out, flip the chicken over, add a splash of water if it looks dry and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until it breaks easily with a fork.
Scatter over with fresh cilantro leaves and serve as is or with your carb of choice (brown or white - no judgments here!)
- In this recipe the onions when they bake are slightly softened but not the way they would be in a curry, the resulting masala is light and almost brothy. If chunks of onions bother you a fine dice works too.
- I first tried this recipe with chopped tomatoes and didn't love how they fared. If you are a cherry tomato fan you can certainty use those otherwise I prefer a pureed tomato