Achari comes from the word “Achaar” which means pickle in Hindi.Â Tikka is any kind of boneless meat or vegetables baked or roasted on skewers. Pickles in India are a serious business involving lots of spices, lots of oil & lots of solar energy. Achari is a method of using the pickling spices to make curries. The spice mix is pungent and resonant with bold flavors from fenugreek (methi dana), mustard (raai) & nigella(kalonji) seeds.These spices are not hot, rather they are pungent, quite bitter and have a very strong aroma.In pickles, they ferment over a period of time & give a tangy taste. In curries, they lend a really unique & piquantÂ taste.Â AchaariÂ preparations donâ€
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
- 400 gms /14 oz paneer ( Indian cheese, pierced with a fork,cut into 1” cubes)
- 1 medium orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 10-12 grape tomatoes, whole
- 1 medium red onion,diced
- Oil for brushing
- Lemon Wedges, Cilantro for garnish
- 10-12 bamboo skewers
- Paneer is easily available in Indian stores under different brands.
- Paneer can be replaced by extra firm Tofu or Halloumi /Any cheese which can withstand grilling or roasting without melting.
- You can use any vegetables of choice here – zucchini,mushrooms work great. Just ensure that the cooking times of vegetable dont vary much.
- Dice the vegetables smaller/thinner than paneer, coz it takes less time to cook than veggies.
- For the Non vegetarian Version– Use boneless & cubed lamb, mutton, beef, chicken(dark portions) or shrimp.
For the Marinade:-
- 1/2 tsp each of cumin, fennel, coriander & brown mustard (raai) seeds
- 1/4 tsp each of nigella & fenugreek seeds
- 4-5 dry red chillies or red pepper flakes (adjust to tolerance)
- 2 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 3 tbsp plain, thick greek yogurt, slightly sour
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp mustard oil (preferable for better taste, can be substituted with canola/olive/corn oil)
- Salt to taste
- If using bamboo/wooden skewers soak them in water for atleast 2-3 hours.
- Soak the cubed paneer in enough warm water seasoned with salt for about 15 minutes.Once soaked, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
- In a small sauce pan, on high heat, lightly dry roast all the seeds under the “For the Marinade”.Roast for about 20 seconds or till you smell the aroma.Remove into a small bowl and let cool.
- Next, in the same pan, roast the whole red chillies for about 20 seconds.
- Tip the cooled, roasted spices along with red chillies into mortar or coffee grinder. Grind to a smooth powder to get a achari spice mix.
- In a bowl (big enough to hold the marinade & ingredients), combine the yogurt, achari spice mix, ginger, garlic,oil,lemon juice & salt.Whisk well to mix.
- Combine the paneer with the achari marinade,toss gently, cover the bowl with a cling film and set to marinate for 30 minutes,refrigerated.
- Add the vegetables to the marinade 5 minutes before ready to cook the skewers. This is important to keep the moisture of vegetables intact.
- Once marinated, thread the marinated paneer & vegetables on soaked bamboo skewers. Brush with oil on all sides.
- Cooking the Tikka :- I grilled the skewers on high for 4 minutes each side. You can cook them in my broiler till the paneer edges started to turn brown.About 10-12 minutes.You will need to flip them sideways to cook on all sides. Alternatively you can cook them in a skillet/griddle (about 8-10 minutes)
- Serve warm with green coriander-mint chutney and flatbreads or rice.
- If using red meat or chicken for making this recipe, marinate the meat overnight or atleast 6 hours to get better flavors.