A Sour Introduction
Pickles to me are like salt is to food. If the rice happens to be saltless, or the aloo tikkis bland, or there’s no sabzi to wrap your chapatis with, there’s the quintessential pickle that comes to my aid. The pickles that have all my heart are “kachhi keiri” and “nimbu” achaar. And when the source is from a generation apart, its value doubles. None other than that of Helen Ferraz whose recipes have been a sure-fire hit. Helen is based in Malad, Mumbai with no blog to document her recipes which I thought worthy of replicating on mine.
As far as I can reminisce from my school days, there was always a green mango, red chilli powder and salt wrapped in a paper in my “dabba”. Not to forget the classic “half blade” used to chop the mango into shares for my classmates and me. We’d go crunching into the mango slices ignoring the squint that appeared when sour grates enamel.
Am not sweet-toothed, so chunda wouldn’t fascinate me because of its sugar content and so this article will talk just about sour lemons and how to make a lemonade, oops an achar out of it.
100 lemons (small) or limes, preferably thin-skinned. Halve the amount if preparing for a small family. This goes for the other ingredients too.
110 grams salt
28-30 grams saffron/turmeric
15 grams cumin seeds
15 grams fenugreek seeds
70 grams sugar
500ml oil (peanut/sunflower/canola/rice bran)
220 grams ginger
220 grams garlic
60 grams Kashmiri chillies/powder
2-3 cups vinegar (Goan/Apple cider/Filipino Datu-Putu)
- Chop the limes/lemons into cubes, deseed if possible.
- Apply salt and sundry for a couple of days.
- Roast fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds in a non-stick pan.
- Grind the above seeds along with red chillies/powder, turmeric/saffron, ginger and garlic in vinegar only.
- Heat oil in a deep non-stick pan/utensil.
- Fry the masala paste on low-medium heat/flame for 5-8 minutes.
- Add the sugar and 1 cup vinegar. More sugar may be added if the limes are sour.
- Fry for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the sun-dried lemons/lime pieces, draining off any excess water. Add salt if required.
- Cook for 20 minutes or more if lemons are thick-skinned on medium heat/flame.
- Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Cool and empty in glass/suitable jars.
A Pickle for your Thoughts
My preference is for wide-mouthed glass jars which I am ever happy to shop for. Pickled jars sit prettily on my kitchen platform beckoning me to remember them every now and then.
Some would say that pickles aren’t good for health but it isn’t as if we consume it daily or in large portions. If eaten proportionately, its high sodium content wouldn’t affect you. In fact, the salt in the pickle could actively support the formation of good bacteria. As with all edible foods, however, balanced eating is a key factor.
The above recipe is a tried and tested recipe, which has come down from the able hands of my sister’s mother-in-law, Helen Ferraz. That she has a natural flair for all her experiments in the kitchen is common knowledge, to her family and mine. I am indebted to her for this recipe which made it easier on me to not work out one of my own through trial and error.
Write back a feedback about this pickle recipe if you chance trying it. If you’ve licked your fingers, well you owe me one. And Helen too.