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.
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.
Nimbu da AcharCourse: Condiment, Lunch, Dinner, BrunchCuisine: Punjabi, Pakistani, IndianDifficulty: Easy
12 inches of ginger
3 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp asafoetida
2 cup sesame oil
3 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp sugar
Salt, to taste
- Sterilize and dry a large glass jar.
- Wash all veggies thoroughly and leave out to dry.
- Cut the lemons into large pieces (approximately 1 inch pieces) and remove the seeds.
- Peel and chop the ginger into small pieces (approximately 1/4 inch pieces).
- Cut the chilies into small pieces (approximately 1/2 inch pieces).
- Dry roast fenugreek seeds, until they’re a dark golden brown.
- Let the seeds cool and then grind into a coarse powder.
- Mix the ground fenugreek with asafoetida powder.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Add mustard seeds and saute till they start to crackle.
- Add in ginger, green chili, and sauté for two minutes.
- Stir in lemons, turmeric powder, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in fenugreek and asafoetida powder and remove from heat.
- Cool, pour into sterilized jar and store in warm sunny spot.
- Shake the jar (vigorously) for the first two weeks at least once a day. This is to ensure that all of the lemons are covered in the spices and oils.
- After two-three weeks taste a small piece to see if the lemon has softened and has lost it’s bitter edge. If it’s still not done, leave it in the sun for a few more days.