Achar or pickle is something that everyone who has eaten at an Indian Restaurant would have tasted it. In the UK it is even brought with Papadums while you wait for your main meal.
Pickling (achar is the name given to Indian version of pickle) is a way of preserving and keeping the vegetables, fruit and even meats, for when that particular ingredient is not available. I would think that every country would have their own recipes and favoutites. People use various ways to pickle, but in North India one uses Mustard oil as the chief ingredient. Besides preserving and eating a vegetable in off seasons, in India achar is eaten as an accompaniment with main meals. It is usually sour but can also be sweet and sour, which enhances the taste of already spiced up dishes that one eats in India.
Being in Delhi where one meets with people from all parts of India, I have been lucky to learn from different experts new ways of making achar. In the following few posts I will bring to you several off beat achars. Achar is easily obtainable from any Indian grocery store, but it is fun to prepare your self. Lots of people get scared of attempting but most recipes are quite simple, though most achars need several days of sunlight to pickle. In India one gets lot of sun but in countries like the UK I may suggest that you keep the achar to mature in the sunny windowsill or a conservatory.
There are a few simple rules which prevents the achar being spoilt. One is ensure you do not add any water, therefore pat dry all the vegetables and use glass containers to mature and keep it after it is ready. Lastly, do share it with your friends and neighbours they would love it and to be honest that is what Indians do!
My first recipe is simple and different to most chilli pickle that I have had. My thanks to Mrs.Bhargava who is an expert snacks and pickle maker to show me how to make this achar.
- 250 gms red large chillis cut into round pieces
- 5 tbsf Mustard oil
- 1 tsf Asafoetida (Hing)
- 2 tsf Salt
- ½ tsf Turmeric (Haldi)
- 3 tbsf crushed Fennel seeds (Soonf)
- 3-4 tsf Jaggery (gurdh)
- 2 tsf Tamarind paste
- 2 tsf White Vinegar.
- Heat the oil in a heavy wok.
Pickle being cooked
- When the oil is hot add Asafoetida (Hing).
- Add the chopped chillis fry for a minute on high heat.
- Add salt and turmeric powder and mix well.
- Add fennel seeds and mix well again. Lower the heat.
- Now add the jaggery and let it melt and mix for a minute.
- Add Tamarind paste and mix well. Stop the heat.
- Now add 2 tsf of white vinegar.
The achar is ready but traditionally keep it for 2-3 days in a warm sunny position. In colder countries one can put it in the conservatory.