Pick your pickle and tickle your taste buds
Pickle paired with paratha is like music to the soul. Uppinakayi in Kannada, Pachadi in Telugu, Urukai in Tamil, Uppillittuthu in Malayalam, Loncha in Marathi, Athanu in Gujarati and Āchār in Hindi, India’s tradition of pickle is thousands of years old. According to the New York Food Museums’ Pickle History timeline, cucumbers from native India helped begin a tradition of pickling in the Tigris Valley in 2030 BC. Picking is a process of preserving food through the process of fermentation. One can pretty much pickle any vegetable and fruit. The ingredients used in pickling help extend the lifespan of the vegetable/fruit/meat by lowering the pH level of the ingredients. Pickles also have health benefits as well, as they aid digestion. Fermented pickles are loaded with probiotics, the good bacteria called. Pickling is an art and one needs to adopt trial and error methods to learn it, say experts. Kundu Ranojit, chef educator, says, “Pickling is a simple art to master if we know how the climate behaves with reference to food, time, temperature and humidity.”
The Korean wave in the pandemic has popularised kimchi across the country, especially in the metro cities. It’s prepared with a desi twist in India and both- veg and non-veg have its own demand. “Seafood gives kimchi an umami flavor. If trying at home, non-veg lovers can use fish sauce, salted shrimp paste, oysters, and other seafoods, while vegetarians can opt for kelp powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water while making it,” says Ranojit.
Flavours of Jharkhand
Pickles in the eastern parts of India are generally prepared by using five types of seeds. “Amle ki launji, beetroot pickle, gular ( cluster fig) ka achar and karil (bambooshoot) ka aachar are most popular in Jharkhand. There are around 32 tribal communities in Jharkhand and they preserve pork meat with fermentation. In the homes of tribals, it’s consumed as a pickle,” says chef Nishant Choubey, whose hometown is in Jharkhand.
Mango, chilies, lemon and ginger pickles are used throughout the year in North. However, seasonal pickles include dheu (monkey fruit), gajjar-mooli-shalgam-gobi and green chillies pickles savoured in the winter. “There was another caterpillar type vegetable which grew in arid zones of Punjab, called Tital. Tital ka achar is a bit bitter yet unique in taste. I also remember my mother would age lemons until black, and that was used almost like a medicine for seasonal illnesses. Other interesting pickles are kabuli channa, karela and jungle mushroom pickles,” says Harpal Singh Sokhi, a chef from Punjab.
From the Kayasth Kitchen
It’s a popular belief that Kayasth women were traditionally known to be experts in pickle making. “Since kayasths are spread over different regions of India and have diff sub communities, there are micro regional achars in the community. The Delhi Mathurs are famous for Kaanji-bade, around holi, where moong dal pakori are “pickled” or left to ferment in kaanji, itself fermented carrots and mustard water. In UP and Delhi, Mathur-kayasths also have another disappearing pickle called lasode ka achar, made with highly seasonal small berries called lasode. My naani’s recipe which is at least 100-200 years old, comprises of lasode stuffed with a pulp of green mango, and pickled in oil,” says Anoothi Vishal, food historian and author
Kashmir ka zaika
In Kashmir, one thing that is common, popular and enjoyed is Kohlrabi (German turnip pickle), says Sanjay Raina, chef from Kashmir. “We call it maunj anchar in Kashmir. Kashmiris may also sometimes use other vegetables for pickles such as turnips, lotus stems, green chilli, cauliflower or carrot, but one would not associate those pickles as traditional Kashmiri pickles. What is interesting is that both Kashmiri Muslim as well as Kashmiri Pandits make the maunj anchar. Some ingredients and steps of making differ, but largely the recipe is similar. Muslims use garlic and green chillies in their making and use smoked mustard oil generally along with vinegar, while Pandits use unsmoked mustard oil, and use neither garlic nor vinegar,” he says.
The states in Southern India have a variety of spicy, zesty pickles to offer . “Some of the popular ones are avakaya (mango) pickle, kalule upinakai (bamboo shoot pickle), and thokku (cooked pickle). There is mango thokku, tomato thokku and prawn thokku. The coastal regions have fish based pickles. The tradition of pickles relates to ancient sanga kala samayal of different dynasties that ruled south India,” says Nageshwaran.K, culinary trainer in Tamil Nadu.
From the Northeast
Every corner of India has its own specialty in pickles. In north-eastern India, the most popular pickles are bamboo shoot pickle, bhoot jolokia pickle and meat pickles. “Apart from these, we also pickle Indian olives (jalpai), knol khol, mango and star-fruit. In non-veg, pork pickle and buff pickles are popular,” says Snehalata Saikia, a chef from Assam.
Shalgam aur Gajar ka achar
Cauliflower 150 gm
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1 ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds ¼ tsp
Fennel seeds 1 tsp
Mustard oil 4 tbsp
Asafoetida powder a pinc
Ginger garlic paste 1 ½ tbsp
Nigella seeds 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 3
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Salt 2 ½ tsp
Green chilli 3-4 nos
Jaggery 2 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp
1. Heat non-stick pan add cumin seed, mustard seeds , fenugreek seeds , fennel seeds dry roast it until mustard seed starts to crackle .
2.In a blender add the mixture and coarsely grind it, keep aside.
3. In same pan heat oil ,add asafoetida , ginger garlic paste , nigelia seed , saute it for a min.
4. Now add roasted mixture, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and mix well.
5.Now add carrot, turnip, cauliflower and stir well for a min.
6. Now add green chilli give it a stir then add jaggery allow it to melt.
7.Remove it from the flame , transfer it to the bowl , add apple cider vinegar and mix well .
8.Allow it to cool and transfer it to a glass jar, keep it for 6-7 days at cool place.
By chef Harpal Singh Sokhi
Pork and bamboo shoot pickle
Dry red chili
Wash the pork and pat it dry
Marinate with turmeric powder, vinegar and salt and leave it for 3 hrs
Make a solution with vinegar/salt and water and make a paste with the masala mentioned above
Boil the pork till its soft and then pan fry it till all the fat is released
Temper it with garlic, green chili , ginger and mustard oil
Add bamboo. Shoot and cook them together
Store in an air tight container
By chef Nishant Choubey
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