Bhavnagari Marcha Nu Athanu|Instant Red Chilli Pickle

On this blog, I have often waxed eloquent about just how abundant and beautiful winter produce is. Our recent visit to Ahmedabad happened to be in the middle of winter, when the vegetables and other seasonal produce was all over the markets, at their glorious best. We had our fill of them, of course, and even managed to bring some back home to Bangalore.

Some beautiful winter produce stacked on a street-side cart in Ahmedabad
Look at those big, fat beauties, will you? These make for delectable bharta!

I picked up some gorgeous, bright red chillies while in Ahmedabad, locally called ‘Bhavnagri marcha‘. These chillies are believed to have their origin in the city of Bhavnagar, Saurashtra, and are available in both green and red variants. These chillies are fat and long, which makes them perfect candidates for pickles, especially those of the stuffed variety. They are typically found in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi, in the winter months.

I picked up some of these gorgeous bright red Bhavnagri chillies!

Though these chillies are largely used to make stuffed pickles, I didn’t do that. Instead, I used them in a North Indian-style pickle, Bhavnagari Marcha Nu Athanu ,something that Amma used to make off and on. The family loved it to bits! The pickle disappeared within mere days of the making, and I am pretty sure I’m going to be making it many more times!


Here is how I made the Bhavnagri Marcha Nu Athanu.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup of pickle):

  1. 10-12 fresh big red chillies
  2. 1/3 cup mustard oil
  3. Salt, to taste
  4. 2-3 teaspoons turmeric powder
  5. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder (optional)
  6. About 1-1/2 tablespoons rai aka mustard seeds
  7. About 1-1/2 tablespoons saunf aka fennel seeds
  8. About 1-1/2 tablespoons kalonji aka onion seed
  9. 1 teaspoon methi daana aka fenugreek seeds
  10. Juice of 1-1/2 lemons or to taste


1. Wash the red chillies well under running water. Pat dry using a cotton cloth.

2. Remove the stems from the chillies, the seeds, and the inner ribs. This will remove most of the heat from the chillies. If you want a spicier pickle, let some of the seeds and ribs stay. Chop the chillies into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add salt and turmeric powder to the mixing bowl. Add in red chilli powder, if using. If you are letting some of the seeds and ribs from the chillies stay, you might want to skip the red chilli powder altogether. If you have removed all the ribs and seeds, adding the red chilli powder would be good.

4. Take the mustard oil in a pan and heat it till it smokes.

5. Meanwhile, grind the mustard seeds, fennel, onion seeds and fenugreek seeds together. Add this powder to the mixing bowl.

6. When the oil reaches smoking point, pour it over the chillies and the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well, using a clean, dry spoon.

7. Allow the pickle to cool down completely, and then mix in the lemon juice. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together. Store in a clean, dry, air-tight container.

8. Let the pickle stay out, at room temperature, for about 2 days, during which time the chillies will get soft and absorb the spices and lemon juice well. Then, you can refrigerate it, removing it from the fridge as and when needed. Ensure that you use only a clean, dry spoon to consume the pickle, and it stays for 15-20 days.


  1. I used kacchi ghani mustard oil to make this pickle, because we absolutely love it in our pickles. You can use ordinary mustard oil or any other type of oil to make this pickle, too.
  2. You can add a mix of lemon juice and amchoor powder to the pickle too. I prefer using only lemon juice.

You like? I hope you will try out this Bhavnagri Marcha Nu Athanu too, and that you will love it as much as we did!

8 thoughts on “Bhavnagari Marcha Nu Athanu|Instant Red Chilli Pickle

  1. Sounds wonderful. I really love authentic Indian food – it’s quite hard to replicate here, though I’ve now been introduced to a great Indian supermarket in Bricklane that air freights in all the specialist ingredients I’d need to make your Instant Red Chilli Pickle. Does it keep well?


    1. @Fiona Maclean

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you’d like to try out this instant red chilli pickle! Please do, and don’t forget to let me know how you liked it. It’s awesome!

      It keeps for 10-12 days, more if refrigerated.


  2. You are definitely a traveller after my own heart, I too am drawn to a great abundance of fantastic local produce and love visiting food markets that sell all kinds of great locally produced food to cook at home, or enjoy as it is. Your chilli recipe looks fiery fantastic!


    1. @Kavita Favelle

      Well, in that case, we certainly are one of a kind! 🙂 I love exploring local produce and food whenever I’m travelling, and often bring some back home with me.

      Thank you! The chilli pickle tastes fantastic – you must try it out some time. 🙂


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