Lime Pickle

Lime Pickle

Across the Indian subcontinent, nimbu or naranga achar –
made with salt, mustard oil, ground chilli and spices – is
not just a condiment, it’s the cornerstone of every meal.

Indian lime pickle is an attempt to preserve summer. Limes are harvested during the cool rainy season, and ‘pickled down’ to provide that vivid, citrus tang all year round. The initial salting takes two weeks, and you can add another week for the pickle to mature once cooked to bring out the spicy goodness. Every Indian family has a carefully guarded recipe, but pickling is a tradition that dates back to at least Vedic times (1700 BC–150 BC).

You’ll need
12 limes, cut into eight
segments, then in half again
½ cup of salt (ideally a mix
of white sea salt and black
rock salt)
6 tsp mustard seeds, ground
6 tsp fennel seeds, dryroasted
then ground
6 tbs ground dried chilli
2 tsp turmeric powder
2 cups (500mL) mustard oil
2 tsp whole mustard seeds
1 tsp asafoetida

Cooking Method
1 Take a sterilised pickling jar and add the chopped limes and salt, then mix together and seal the jar. Keep in a light place for two weeks for the salt to do its work.
2 Add the ground mustard and fennel seeds, chilli and the turmeric.
3 Next, heat the mustard oil to smoking point, add the mustard seeds and the asafoetida, then turn off the heat. Pour the hot mixture over the limes.
4 Allow the pickle to cool, then leave it to mature for at least a week before serving.

Tasting notes
Forget everything you know about Indian pickles from eating poppadoms in Indian restaurants overseas. Mango chutney is just glorified jam; the real deal is lime pickle – the oily red condiment that appears on the side of almost every plate served in the subcontinent. This is not just a dip – locals will eat it with papad (the real Indian poppadom), with rice, with vegetables, with curry, with just about anything. But be warned, it packs a punch. The combination of hot chilli, salt and tart lime is vibrant and immediate, like a defibrillator applied to the taste buds. It sometimes contains large chunks of lime – it’s wise to chop these into smaller morsels or the flavours can be overwhelming.

Post a Comment