The most popular vegetarian appetiser in Punjabi cuisine is Achari Paneer Tikka. In Hindi, achar means “pickle.” An aromatic, flavorful party snack is paneer cubes marinated in an Achari marinade. The marinade contains a blend of pickling spices, which gives the paneer a distinct flavour.
Achari Paneer Tikka
For fresh Pickle Masala Or Achari Masala
- 2 teaspoons of split yellow mustard (राई की कुरिया) or 1.5 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds (सौंफ)
- ½ teaspoon nigella seeds (कलौंजी)
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (मेथी दाना)
- 2 to 3 dry whole red chilies (सूखी साबुत लाल मिर्च) - deseeded and broken into small pieces
- 250 to 300 grams of Indian cottage cheese (पनीर) - sliced into cubes or squares
- 1 medium capsicum (शिमला मिर्च) - red or green or yellow - diced
- 1 medium onion (प्याज) halved, and layers separated
- 1 medium tomato (टमाटर) diced (optional)
- 7 tablespoon hung thick curd (लटका गाढ़ा दही)
- 2 tablespoon gram flour (बेसन) or corn starch (corn flour)
- 1.5 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste (अदरक-लहसुन का पेस्ट)
- ½ teaspoon dry mango powder (आमचूर पाउडर) or lime juice to make it tangy - add as per taste
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (हल्दी पाउडर)
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder (धनिया पाउडर) - optional
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (लाल मिर्च पाउडर)
- ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (कसूरी मेथी) -crushed
- 1 pinch asafoetida (हींग) hing - optional
- 1 teaspoon mustard oil (सरसों का तेल) preferred or any vegetable oil
- salt to taste (नमक स्वाद अनुसार)
- 1 small to medium thinly sliced onion (पतले कटे हुए प्याज) or sliced thinly into roundels
- 1 lemon (नींबू) sliced or quartered
- few pinches of chaat masala powder (चाट मसाला पाउडर)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander leaves (ताजा काटा हुआ धनिया पत्ती) or mint leaves (optional)
How to make fresh Dry Achari masala
- First, combine all of the spices in a dry grinder or coffee grinder, including crushed mustard seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, and dry red chillies.
- To make a fine powder, grind all of the spices together. It's also fine if the texture is slightly semi-fine. It's time to make the dry Achari masala.
How to make Hung Curd
- Place about 1 cup curd/yoghurt in a muslin cloth or a cotton napkin.
- Tie it tightly and set it over a bowl in a strainer.
- Please refrigerate it until all of the whey has collected in the bowl.
- Make use of the thick yoghurt in the muslin cloth.
How To Make Achari Paneer Tikka
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the hung yoghurt or thick yoghurt until smooth.
- Add the powdered Achari masala, red chilli powder, gramme flour/corn starch, ginger-garlic paste, asafoetida, red chilli powder, dry mango powder or lime juice, salt, and mustard oil to the whisked curd.
- Instead of grinding fresh spices, you can use ready-made achar masala or pickle masala. However, the flavour of freshly ground masala is irresistible. Add about 2 tablespoons of dry achar masala to the marinade if using store-bought achar masala or pickle masala.
- Mix everything very well into the beaten curd. Taste and season with more salt or seasonings if necessary.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the bell peppers, onions, and paneer cubes.
- Then add the paneer cubes and vegetables and gently mix them until they get evenly coated in the Achari marinade. Refrigerate the bowl, covered, for at least 1 hour. Keep it overnight for the best results. I kept it for the night.
- Mix the marinated cottage cheese cubes and vegetables gently again the next day.
How to Make Achari Paneer Tikka on the Grill
- Using a bamboo or metal skewer, thread the vegetables and paneer cubes together. You can also use toothpicks.
- Before grilling the tikkas, preheat your regular oven to 200 degrees Celsius/390 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes. Heat both the top and bottom elements on a traditional range, and place the pan in the centre or top rack.
- Brush 1/2 to 1 teaspoon mustard oil, or any other oil of your choice, over the marinated paneer.
- In a preheated oven, place the tray on the top or middle rack.
- Keep the top and bottom heating elements both turned on. Preheat the grill to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for 15 to 25 minutes (depending on the oven temperatures). Because I have a traditional oven, the paneer cubes took 25 minutes to grill and turns brown on the edges. Keep an eye when the paneer is getting grilled in the oven.
Cooking Achari Paneer Tikka in Micro Oven
- Use the convection mode and preheat the microwave oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking tray with aluminium foil. When grilling paneer, avoid using butter paper because the paneer will stick to it.
- For grilling the Achari paneer tikka in a microwave oven with convection mode, set the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius.
How to Make Achari Paneer Tikka in a Pan
- In a nonstick pan, heat about 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Place the threaded paneer cubes with the skewers over the pan once it has heated up. You can also fry the marinated paneer cubes and vegetables without the skewers.
- When one side of the skewers is crisp and browned, gently rotate them. Continue turning until all sides are brown. If necessary, add more oil while frying.
- Fry until golden on all sides. Because the marinade browns quickly, pan-fry on a low flame. Set aside the fried Achari paneer tikka.
- Serve with mint chutney, onion slices, and lemon wedges. While serving, sprinkle the Achari paneer tikka with chaat masala and lemon juice. You can also garnish it with chopped coriander or mint leaves.