When life gives you lemons definitely make nimbu da achar (lemon pickle).
The best part about any pickle is that there is no season or meal pairing to be done. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you just pop it on the table and it’s the perfect condiment. I’ve been known to consume pickle more as a side dish than a condiment, but that’s just me. Nimbu da achar is no exception to that rule. It’s tart, spicy, savory, and perfect in every way.
Indian pickles are quite different than American pickles because they are mostly oil based, whereas American pickles tend to be vinegar based. The other big difference is that you par cook the vegetables for Indian pickles. This helps to reduce the bacteria growth, helps to soften the vegetables, speeds up the pickling process, and gives it a richer flavor since all of the spices are cooked.
There’s no big secret as to how this should be made. Every family has their version. Those versions range from sweet and sour, to extremely spicy. So there is no right answer, but rather do whatever sounds and feels natural. Which I know may not be the greatest answer when you want a rock solid recipe. But for me, I like my nimbu the achar a bit tart, savory, and spicy, and my recipe reflects that. For those that love sweet pickles, this ain’t it.
That said – there are do’s and don’ts.
- NEVER put a wet/dirty utensil in a pickle jar, it will cause it to mold.
- If you’ve taken pickle out of your jar, do not put it back in, more mold.
- Do not re-salt or spice without cooking the spices first. Heat 1-2 tablespoon of sesame oil and saute spices for 2 minutes before adding to the jar. Even if it is just salt.
- If in 4 weeks your pickle is still hard and bitter, heat a 1/4 cup of sesame oil, salt, to taste, and 1 tbsp sugar, and re-cook your pickle for 15 minutes. Then return it to the jar, shake vigorously, and let it sit in the sun for another week.
Wondering what goes perfectly with nimbu da achar? Definitely aloo de paranthe.