Sauerkraut and kimchi, with their distinctive sour and fermented flavours, may have become fashionable accompaniments on our plates now, but what's an Indian meal without a dash of lip-curling achaar. On days when there's nothing more comforting than a simple bowl of dal-chawal, all you need is a side of homemade pickle to rev up your meal.
While ready-made pickles are aplenty in local markets, there are many who still take pride in making a big jar of home-made pickles. Often a seasonal or annual activity at homes, making pickles is an art and science. For those, who find the process tedious, get your friends and family to join in, and dish out these easy recipes. Too many chefs does not spoil the achaar!
Pickles should be made with vegetables and ingredients of the season, said, our elders. There is truth in this. After all, traditionally, people would 'save the season' by pickling and preserving the summer and winter harvest to ensure they would last the year. Dried vegetables and fruits, packed in sterile jars with salt, oil, sugar and a blend of other ingredients, put out in the sun for a month or more, results in lip-smacking pickles.
If you thought pickling is just a summer activity, think again. Each region In India follows its own traditions and although most of the ingredients are common, there are some minor variations and sometimes, techniques differ too. From the galgal or large lemon pickle in Uttarakhand to the hari mirchi ka achar in Rajasthan and the sweet and spicy kuler achaar in Bengal to the Kashmiri kamal kakdi ka achar, there are a plethora of pickles made in winter across India.
Check out these winter pickles recipes that you can make at home:
Monj is a winter vegetable from Kashmir, also known as knol khol or gaanth gobi. A simple vegetarian haak saag is what Kashmiri households prepare using this. A monj achaar, made with basic Kashmiri spices—mustard seeds, Kashmiri red chilli, whole fennel seeds, hing, sund, in mustard oil—is delicious.
Home chef Jasleen Marwah feels that Kashmiri pickles are more like kimchi, crunchier than most other Indian achaars. The controlled use of masalas allows the vegetables to shine through effortlessly.
Gobi, gajar, shalgam da achaar
Ask any Punjabi what they love about winter and pat comes the reply: Makki di roti with sarson da saag, kale gajar di kanji and gobi, gajar te shalgham da achar. Indeed, winter is incomplete without these delicacies and to prolong the experience through the year, this veggie-rich achaar comes handy. Every Punjabi home has its own recipe but the pickle at Punjab Grill restaurant lingers in your memory, long after the taste fades away. With these winter vegetables, lightly blanched and mustard seeds, saunf, ginger, garlic, chili powder, rock salt, tempered in mustard oil, along with a dash of jaggery and vinegar, this tart, tangy, sweet and spicy pickle, gives an unparalleled zest to your palate.
Gobhi Gajar Shalgam Da Achaar Recipe by Punjab Grill
500 gm Cauliflower
500 gm Turnips
500 gm Carrots
250 ml White Vinegar
300 gm Jaggery, grated
50 gm Ginger, crushed
12-15 Garlic pods, crushed
1 tbsp Mustard seeds, split
1 tsp Saunf
250 ml Mustard oil
1.5 tsp Degi mirch powder
2 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp Garam masala
1½ tbsp Rock Salt
- Wash cauliflower, carrots and turnips well. Cut cauliflower into medium florets and peel and cut turnips and carrots lengthwise.
- Blanch the veggies in boiling water.
- Strain and leave them in air for veggies to dry well. Moisture reduces the shelf life of the pickle.
- Cook vinegar and jaggery to a ½ string consistency syrup. Keep aside.
- Heat oil to smoking point in a kadai, add crushed ginger and garlic, saute till light golden.
- Add crushed mustard seeds, saunf, red chilli and degi mirch, saute for a minute
- Add vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes over low flame, salt and garam masala.
- Take kadhai off heat, stir in jaggery-vinegar syrup and mix well. Let it cool completely.
- Store pickle in airtight jar at an ambient temperature.
The Ker shrub and the Sangri tree are synonymous with Rajasthan. The fruit of the khejri tree is the sangri and although commonly used in the popular preparation, ker sangri. Ratnadevi Mohta from Nagpur prefers to make a tangy achar with sangri which her family loves. She soaks the cleaned sangri in grated raw mango for few days, till the sangri becomes fluffy. She then mixes it with a masala, made with mustard seeds, fennel seeds, black cumin seeds, red chili powder, turmeric, asafoetida, salt and sautéed in mustard oil, to add that sharpness to the pickle.
Matar ka achaar
Juicy green peas are everyone’s favourite during winter and are generally added to give a pop of colour to most dishes. Anuradha Joshi of Charoli Foods goes a step further and makes a delectable fuss-free pickle using boiled green peas. Joshi opines that the sweetish flavour of the green peas juxtaposed with the punch of mustard is what imparts a unique flavour. Although seemingly easy-to-make, this pickle made with basic spices and oil, must be well-balanced, only then can it add that zing to your meal.
Matar ka achaar recipe by home chef Anuradha Joshi, Charoli Foods
1 kg De-shelled green peas
150 ml Mustard oil
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 tbsp Red chilli powder
2 tbsp Yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp Mango powder
Salt to taste
- Boil the de-shelled peas for about 10 minutes and drain.
- Spread the cooked peas on a cotton fabric for around 2-3 hours, to soak any excess water
- Heat the mustard oil on a high flame till it reaches its smoking point and turn of the gas. Let the oil cool down.
- Take a small part of the room temperature oil in a separate pan and add yellow mustard, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt, and mix well.
- Add the peas to the masala oil to thoroughly coat the peas.
- Add the remaining oil to the peas and transfer in an air tight glass utensil. Keep the vessel under the sun for 3 days.
Jolphai or Indian olives are the sought-after fruits from Assam and are relished even more in the pickled version. Joyee Mahanta of O’Tenga Mumbai makes it a point to prepare a batch whenever she misses home. Jolphai is washed and dried, cut into small pieces. Salt and turmeric are added and it is left out in the sun for a 2-3 days. Fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and onion seeds are roasted and ground. The sun-dried jolphai and the ground masala, along with red chilli powder and chopped green chillies, are then added to heated mustard oil in a wok. Upon cooling, this is placed into a container and kept in sunlight for 3-4 days to mature.
In Bengal, you know Saraswati Puja is round the corner, when boroi or kul, also known as jujube, begins to make an appearance in the local market. Made with sundried kul or ber, along with coarsely ground dry roasted spices, chili powder, palm jaggery, this kuler achaar is the perfect blend of sweet, spicy and sour that is sure to tantalise your taste buds.
Amla, adrak and haldi ka achar
Ginger and turmeric are spices much needed and oft used in winter for their immunity boosting properties. Sangeeta Khanna, a nutrition consultant, whose passion is to develop healthy recipes, makes an amla pickle, but also integrates haldi and adrak in it, to add extra flavours and health quotient. According to her, the mix of mustard, red chillies, turmeric powder and salt is medicinal, as most of these have anti-inflammatory properties, help in blood circulation and act as an antiseptic too.
Amla adrak and haldi ka achar recipe by food and nutrition consultant Sangeeta Khanna
2 amla cut into wedges
12 large sized green chillies, preferably mild hot (Bhajiya mirchi works in India, you can also use Jalapeno, Anaheim or Banana peppers)
150 gms Ginger root, cleaned and sliced
150 gms Fresh turmeric root, cleaned and sliced
3 tbsp Mustard powder (yellow or black)
1 tbsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
Salt to taste
- Slice and chop everything as desired and mix with all the ingredients in a glass bowl. Give a good toss and fill in clean jars.
- This pickle is ready to eat in about 3 hours and keeps changing in taste for 2-3 days. In Indian summers we keep it only for 2 days at room temperature and then refrigerate. The pickle keeps maturing slowly and get sharper in taste by time.
- If refrigerated, it lasts about 4 weeks.
Methi dana pickle
Replete with health benefits, the tiny yellow, angular, bitter methi or fenugreek seeds are adroitly combined with other spices and jaggery to make a delicious pickle. Soaked in water for a few hours, the seeds are then wrapped in a moist muslin cloth for 3-4 days. The dry roasted and coarsely ground, red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and black pepper corns, heighten the spice levels. The addition of jaggery and vinegar, imparts the right balance.
- Always ensure, vegetables are completely dry and not moist when pickling them
- Use sterile jars only for pickles, preferably glass or ceramic
- No wet spoon should ever be use to remove a pickle
- For kuler achar, the ber must be cleaned, washed and sun-dried for at least 5-6 days before being pickled
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