Chef Kunal Kapur tells us about five unique pickles found across India.
1) Avakkai (Mango pickle in water) from Andhra Pradesh: This pickle is a miracle pickle as it is pickled in water; the common belief is that a drop of water can ruin a pickle. No vinegar or oil is added and yet this pickle survives more than a year. The secret is the addition of “chunna” or limestone, that keeps the mangoes and masala mixed in water intact for an year. This pickle is never left out in the sun, it has to be kept in a cool dark place.
2) Akhuni Pickle from Nagaland: Akhuni is a bean that grows abundantly in the north east. The people of Nagaland use this bean to flavour their food and its pickle form is also prevalent in the entire north east. Beans are carefully fermented and smoked and spiked with bhoot jholakia. It is best eaten with rice.
3) Mahali Pickle from Tamil Nadu: Mahalo is a wonder root. It is pickled by the Tamilian Brahmin families in India. The root itself smells of strong vanilla, cinnamon and bitter almonds. It is also said to have medicinal properties. The root is pickled in buttermilk without use of oil or vinegar and it survives for over two years.
4) Gajjar Gobhi Shalgam Achar from Punjab: The best of winter produce is combined with home-made jaggery vinegar. It is said that kids who hate these vegetables love the taste of the same vegetable in this pickled avatar. The addition of cardamom and clove powder makes for a strong-smelling achaar.
5) Sundakkai Pickle from Tamil Nadu: Sundakkai is pea aubergine and only the best quality ones are used for making this pickle. It is salted and kept for some time till it matures. Just before eating, it is tempered and served. The best pairing of this pickle is with curd rice. The pickle is eaten during lunch and avoided at dinner time as it acts as a detoxifying agent.