Fanciest to simplest, Indian meals are incomplete without achaar aka pickle

Any hearty, tummy-filling desi meal is incomplete without some achaar. Not only do they instantly spruce up the simplest meals but also make for the yummiest way to eat more veggies and fruits. Over the years, Indians have learnt how to pickle just about any ingredient. The North mostly pickles turnips, cauliflowers and carrots, the South pickles prawns and fishes, and even bamboo shoots, while the North Eastern states have further experimented with the pickling process with beef, pork and dried fishes. When it comes to pickles, if it fits into a jar, then it's probably fit for pickling. Be it meetha, teekha, chatpata or a mix of all these flavours – there’s a pickle to suit every palate and meal.

The West may regard pickling as an art of preservation or fermentation but for Indians, making pickles is an ancient household tradition loved, followed and passed on by our grandmothers since time immemorial. Before diving into the world of pickles, here’s a small class in history. The word 'pickle' is derived from the Dutch word 'pekel'. However, the process of pickling is believed to have originated in India. During the summer months, when food production remained below average due to the shortage of water, women started experimenting with the pickling process to ensure the longevity of fruits and vegetables. They experimented with different spices and flavours, thus extending the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Since then, the art of pickling went on to earn a place of importance for itself in almost every kitchen.

How to Make Pickles at Home
Agreed, the high sodium and high oil content in store-bought pickles make the spicy and oily achaars among the first items you would want to get rid of. But when had in moderation or best, when made at home, this accompaniment to your meals has more benefits than harm. Since there is no heat involved in the preparation of pickles, it can preserve the nutrition of vegetables. Moreover, vinegar used in the pickle-making process aids your body's metabolism.

When you make pickles at home, you have control over the amount of oil, salt and spices used. You can also experiment with seasonal vegetables and fruits. When it comes to the basics of pickle making, salt and oil play an important role. Salt helps to bring out all the flavours, absorbs moisture and inhibits bacterial growth. Oil prevents the ingredients from drying up, keeps them moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Different oils and spices render different characteristics to the pickles, so you are free to experiment accordingly.

Making pickles requires patience as you need to sun-dry the ingredients first, then soak them in oil and spices, and finally let them age under the sun for a few days, sometimes even months, to develop deep intense flavours.

Mango Pickle Recipe
While classics like limes, chillies and carrots steal the culinary limelight during the pickling season, the most popular star ingredient will always be the mango. Of course, each region and each household has its own version of the mango pickle recipe. In north India, a mango pickle recipe calls for the addition of mustard oil, while in south India, sesame oil is most preferred when it comes to making pickles. In Gujarat, mangoes are treated with sugar to give us what we call chunda, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, they are pickled with saunf or aniseed, and in Andhra Pradesh with fiery chillies.
Here’s an easy homemade mango pickle recipe enough to last you the whole year. Make sure you’ve got some big jars handy!

Ingredients for Mango Pickle Recipe:
5 kg raw mango, chopped
½ kg mustard seeds, without skin (keep aside 100 gm)
200 gm fenugreek (methi) seeds, roasted
3½ glasses Kashmiri red chilli powder
200 gm cumin seeds (divide in 2 parts and roast)
1 kg salt
250 gm garlic (divide in 2 parts)
50 gm turmeric powder
1½ kg refined oil (sweetened)
For tempering:
1-part (100 gm) garlic
1-part (100 gm) cumin seeds
100 gm mustard seeds
1½ kg oil (sweetened)

Method for Mango Pickle Recipe:
1. Start by sun-drying the mustard seeds. Next, grind them into a fine powder and keep aside for later use.
2. Next, grind the roasted cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds together into a fine powder and keep aside.
3. Remove the skin of the garlic pods and crush them. Divide them into two equal parts.
4. In a big vessel, add cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chilli powder, salt, mustard seeds, turmeric powder and the prepared cumin and fenugreek powder. Mix this masala well and keep aside.
5. Wash and then clean the raw mango pieces with the help of a clean damp towel.
6. For the tempering, heat the oil in a saucepan and add 100 gm of cumin seeds and 100 gm of mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, add 100 gm of garlic, and give it a nice stir.
7. After a few seconds, switch off the flame and allow the oil mixture to cool down.
8. Add the prepared masala to the oil mixture and then carefully add the raw mango pieces into it and mix well.
9. Transfer the pickle into a sterilised jar.
10. After 5 days, mix the contents of the jar well.
11. Make sure that the pickle is completely submerged in oil when you store it.

Other Must Try Pickle Recipes
If you’re looking for other ways to spice up your meals, apart from the classic mango pickle recipe, you could get experimental in the kitchen and up your cooking game with the addition of these achaars to your dining table:

Beetroot Pickle Recipe
Just a few ingredients go into this easy sweet-and-sour beetroot pickled eggs recipe, which even makes for a great side dish. Chef Ranveer Brar shows you how to add a nice, unique and colourful twist to your eggs, perfect to serve in your kid’s lunch box or at your next party.
Learn to make this with the help of this recipe video: 
jwplayer

Apple Pickle Recipe
We know that an apple a day helps keep the doctor away but having the fruit everyday may get boring. So instead why not give an achaari twist to your apples? Chef Gautam Mehrishi shows you how you can make the most of your apples. Happy pickling!

Watch this recipe video for a step-by-step guide:
jwplayer

Shalgam Gajar Gobhi Pickle Recipe
If your kid is a fussy eater and you’re looking for ways to make them eat all their veggies, then this turnip, carrot and cauliflower pickle recipe could be your answer. Serve a dollop with their favourite pulao recipe or simply spread a generous amount on a plain paratha, stuff it with cheese and other toppings, roll and watch them enjoy this on-the-go snack.

Watch this recipe video to learn how to make this easy-peasy achaar at home:
jwplayer

Kohlrabi Pickle Recipe
Chef Ajay Chopra shows us how to transform a simple comforting meal into a yummy affair with this achaar recipe and delectable potato gravy. Best part, this won’t take you more than 30 minutes to prepare!

Watch this Hindi recipe video and follow the simple instructions:
jwplayer


Image: Shutterstock

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