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Indian Pickles (Achaars)

Indian pickles are an essential part of any traditional meal. They are unique in that they are pickled in oil instead of vinegar. They come in a wide variety of flavors and combinations and their tastes range from fiery hot to sweet and sour and everything possible in between. The possibilities are endless.

I absolutely love lemon pickle; it’s a wonderful combination of sweet, sour, tangy and spicy all in one bite. In India, they use these lovely small thin-skinned little lemons which are very hard to find here in the USA. If you have access to an Indian store that carries them, considered yourself blessed and take advantage of this lucky find. If not, I suggest using limes or any other thin-skinned lemon variety you can find. I also suggest using pickling salt (instead of standard table or kosher salt) as it helps to extend the shelf life of the pickle. When making homemade pickles, always remember to use a sterilized cutting board, knife and glass jars. Also, never introduce water of any kind during the pickling process as that will result in quickly spoiling your finished product.

For a quick and easy homemade Indian pickle, you can use always use a store bought pickle masala which is readily available at any Indian grocery store. Always remember that home made pickles have a much shorter shelf life than readymade store bought pickles; they should be refrigerated and eaten quickly.

The recipes I have provided below are a few of my personal favorites. These family recipes have been passed down through generations and enjoyed by all. They are easy to make and very delicious. I encourage you try making them; you will be well rewarded.


Lime Pickle (or Lemon Pickle):

Yield: 2 medium glass jars

Ingredients:

1 dozen limes (or thin-skinned lemons)
½ cup pickling salt
2 tbsp red chili powder (to taste)
2 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp fenugreek or methi seeds (coarsely ground, best method is by using a mortar/pestle)
½ tsp mustard seeds
6 tbsp of oil (vegetable or canola), more if needed

Method:

Wash the limes and dry thoroughly, any hint of water or moisture will quickly spoil your pickle. Using a clean and sanitized cutting board and knife, cut the limes in quarter wedges and set aside until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt with the red chili powder and turmeric. Add the lime wedges and coat thoroughly. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minute to allow all of the flavors to mingle properly.

In a seasoned wok on medium high, heat the oil and carefully add the mustard seeds. Be careful as the mustard seeds have the tendency to splatter and pop. Once the mustard seeds have stopped “popping”, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek seeds. Stir and remove the wok from the heat. Set aside to cool until needed.

When thoroughly cooled, add the seasoned oil mixture to the marinated limes. Mix well to combine and store in sterilized glass jars. This pickle will be ready to eat in a week. Refrigerate and enjoy as a tasty accompaniment with any Indian meal.

*Variations: try adding some green chilies (sliced lengthwise) or a few pieces of ginger (peeled and finely chopped). If you prefer a sweeter taste, add 1 tsp of sugar along with your chili powder and turmeric.
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Carrot Pickle:

Yield: 2 medium glass jars

Ingredients:

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in long thin strips (1½ inches in length)
1 tsp ginger, peeled and finely minced
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
2 small dried red chilies (no stems)
1 tsp pickling salt
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (coarsely ground, best method is by using a mortar/pestle)
½ tsp mustard seeds
4 tbsp oil (vegetable or canola)
juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
pinch of asafetida (hing)

Method:

In a seasoned wok, heat the oil on medium high and add the mustard seeds. Be careful as mustard seeds have the tendency to splatter and pop. Once the mustard seeds have stopped “popping”, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek seeds, turmeric, red chili powder, asafetida and dried red chilies. Stir and remove the wok from the heat. Set aside to cool until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots with the ginger and garlic. Add the salt, cumin and coriander powders. Mix well and add the lime juice. When the seasoned oil mixture has thoroughly cooled, add it to the marinating carrots. Mix well to combine and store in sterilized glass jars. Refrigerate and enjoy as a tasty accompaniment with any Indian meal.
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Mango Pickle:

Yield: 2 medium glass jars

Ingredients:

6 large green mangoes
½ cup pickling salt
2 tbsp red chili powder (to taste)
2 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp fenugreek or methi seeds (coarsely ground, best method is by using a mortar/pestle)
½ tsp mustard seeds
juice of 1 lime
6 tbsp of oil (vegetable or canola), more if needed

Method:

Wash the mangoes and dry thoroughly, any hint of water or moisture will quickly spoil your pickle. Using a clean and sanitized cutting board and knife, cut the mangoes into bite size pieces and set aside until needed.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the salt with the red chili powder, turmeric and lime juice. Add the mango pieces and coat thoroughly. Cover and set aside for at least 30 minute to allow all of the flavors to mingle properly.

In a seasoned wok on medium high, heat the oil and carefully add the mustard seeds. Be careful as the mustard seeds have the tendency to splatter and pop. Once the mustard seeds have stopped “popping”, reduce the heat to low and add the fenugreek seeds. Stir and remove the wok from the heat. Set aside to cool until needed.

When thoroughly cooled, add the seasoned oil mixture to the marinated mango pieces. Mix well to combine and store in sterilized glass jars. The pickle will be ready in a week. Refrigerate and enjoy as a tasty accompaniment with any Indian meal.

*Variations: try adding some green chilies (sliced lengthwise). You can also use this method to make a wonderfully delicious green apple pickle (my personal favorite).

Pickles

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This content was written by Sadhana Ginde. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sadhana Ginde for details.



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