Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni| Bengali Tomato, Dates And Mango Leather Chutney

Today, let me introduce you to a long-time favourite condiment of mine – Tomato Khejur Amshotter Chaatni. This is a Bengali chutney – chaatni in the local language – made using tomatoes, dates (khejur) and aam papad or mango leather (aamshotto). Like Bengali chaatnis are, this one too is a riot of flavours, sweet and sour and salty and spicy. Beauty!

Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni

My tryst with Bengali cuisine

I was introduced to proper Bengali food, including some amazing chutneys, on a holiday in Calcutta, a few years ago. Life hasn’t been the same ever since. The trip expanded my knowledge of Bengali cuisine, much beyond what I had tasted in Durga Pooja pandals in Bangalore. It was in the course of this holiday that I started loving the versatile spicy-sweet-tangy chutneys that the Bengalis prepare, and even learnt how to make some of them myself. It was my initiation into Bengali vegetarian cooking. Now, Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni, Anarosher Chaatni, Bhoger Khichuri, Aloor Dom and Bhapa Doi are as much a part of our meals at home as sambar, rasam, dosa, idli, phulkas, undhiyu, Gujarati dal and kadhi are. 🙂

West Bengal cuisine for Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

The Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers, who cook dishes from a particular region of India, every month. All the participanting members are paired up, and every pair exchanges two ingredients which they will go on to use to cook a dish belonging to that month’s region. Interesting, right?

This month, the members of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge are showcasing dishes from the state of West Bengal, a state known for delectable things like Rosogulla, Sondesh, Chhanar Dalna, Shukto, Dhokar Dalna, Puchka, Mochar Ghonto and Chorchori. I was paired with the talented blogger Seema of Mildly Indian this month, who assigned me the two ingredients of ‘tomatoes’ and ‘salt’. The ingredients were just right to prepare my favourite Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni, and so that’s what I decided to put up.

Seema’s blog, BTW, is a treasure trove of beautiful recipes from around the world, including some really unique dishes. Her Nadru Palak Sabzi, Bhindi Pulao and Jackfruit Rind Curry have been playing on my mind – can’t wait to try them out! Her blog is something you must definitely check out. While you are at it, do visit the lovely West Bengal dish that she prepared using the two ingredients I assigned her.

How to make Tomato Khejur Aamshotter Chaatni

Here’s how I prepare the chaatni, based on what I learnt from the kind staff at the hotel we stayed at in Kolkata, all those years ago.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those on a plant-based diet. It is a gluten-free dish too.

Ingredients (serves 6-8):

  1. 6 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
  2. 10-12 dates
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 2 big pieces of dried mango (aam papad or mango leather)
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. 1/2 tablespoon mustard oil
  7. 1 teaspoon panch phoron
  8. 2 small bay leaves
  9. 4-5 dry red chillies
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
  13. 6-7 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
  14. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
  15. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder or to taste

Method:

Top left: The ingredients needed for the chaatni, Top right: Step 1, Bottom left and right: Steps 2 and 3

1. Chop the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

2. Remove seeds from the dates and chop them into large pieces. Also, chop the mango leather into large pieces too. Keep aside.

3. Peel the ginger. Grate finely or cut into thin slivers. Keep aside.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

4. Heat the mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the panch phoron, and allow it to sputter. Now, add in the bay leaves and dry red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, along with a bit of salt. Reduce heat to medium. Cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes or till the tomatoes start turning mushy. Stir intermittently.

6. Now, add in the chopped dates and mango leather, the grated/slivered ginger, raisins, salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.

7. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes on medium flame, or till the chutney starts thickening and getting glossy. Switch off gas when it is thick, but still a bit on the runny side.

8. Mix in the lemon juice and roasted cumin powder. Your Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni is ready.

9. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Use as needed, and keep it refrigerated otherwise. The chaatni can be served with khichuri or as part of a complete Bengali meal. We love having it as an accompaniment with rotis or plain parathas too.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use the more flavourful and tart country or ‘Nati‘ tomatoes, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety to make this chutney.

2. If the tomatoes are too tart, you can skip using the lemon juice.

3. Sugar can be used instead of jaggery powder. I prefer using jaggery powder.

4. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder and jaggery as per personal taste preferences. Remember that you are also using raisins, dates and mango leather in the chutney, all of which have sweetness in them already.

5. In a traditional Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni, mustard oil is used, so I went ahead and used it too. You may use any other variety of oil if you so prefer.

6. Switch off the gas when the chutney is still runny. It gets thicker as it cools.

7. Slivers of cashewnuts can be used in the Tamatar Khejurer Chaatni too. Here, I haven’t.

8. Transfer the chutney to a clean, dry, air-tight container only after it has cooled down fully. This chutney is best refrigerated when not in use. Stored in a refrigerator and used hygienically, it stays well for 7-10 days.

9. To make roasted cumin powder – Take a couple of tablespoons of cumin and dry roast them in a heavy-bottomed pan till fragrant, taking care to ensure that it does not burn. Allow it to cool down fully and then coarsely crush in a small mixer jar. Store in a dry, air-tight bottle and use as needed.

10. ‘Panch phoron‘ – a mix of the five spices of mustard, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin and fennel seeds – is used for tempering in this chaatni. I buy the panch phoron ready to use, but you can mix the five ingredients yourself too, if you so prefer.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Kollu Rasam| Horsegram Rasam

Ever tried rasam made using horsegram? You must, if you haven’t already. Kollu Rasam or Horsegram Rasam, a heritage recipe from Tamilnadu, is not just very delicious but highly nutritious as well.

A bit about the humble horsegram

Horsegram – also called Kollu (Tamil), Kulthi (Hindi) and Hurali (Kannada) – is a legume, popularly used as food for horses and other livestock. However, considering just how nutritious these little things are, it wouldn’t be wrong to call them a ‘superfood’ for us humans too. Don’t let the size of the horsegram fool you – the beans might be small in size, but they are loaded with health benefits!

Several dishes are made using horsegram, across India. Poonam’s Horsegram Idlis, Kalyani’s Horsegram Chutney, Seema’s Horsegram Curry, Vidya’s Horsegram Podi and Sandhya’s Horsegram Sabzi are some examples. I prepare quite a few things using the legume too, one of them being this Horsegram Masala Usili!

Kollu Rasam or Horsegram Rasam

Horsegram is typically soaked overnight, then cooked with a lot of fresh water. The cooked horsegram then goes into various dishes, while the water it was cooked in goes into the making of Kollu Rasam.

The water in which horsegram is cooked is believed to be very nutritious too, and it would be a huge mistake to let it go down the drain. Using this water to make rasam is an absolutely brilliant move, I think. An ingenious use of kitchen ‘waste’ by our ancestors, I would say! In our family, a little of the cooked horsegram is ground and added to the rasam, to make it thick. Hence, there’s no need to add cooked toor dal in this rasam, unlike most other rasam versions.

Kollu Rasam or Horsegram Rasam tastes absolutely fab. Serve it with hot steamed rice and a poriyal of your choice, and there – you have an absolutely blissful meal!

#BestFromWaste recipe for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sure you guys are already aware of the fact that I’m part of this food blogger group called Foodie Monday Blog Hop. Every Monday, the members of the group showcase recipes based on a pre-determined theme.

This Monday, Archana of The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen suggested the theme for the group – #BestFromWaste. Don’t miss checking out her blog, btw – she has several traditional Goan foods and healthy dishes lined up!

So, Archana suggested we put up recipes showing how to make the best use of food ‘waste’, scraps generated in the kitchen which are very nutritious, but often end up going into the trash because of lack of awareness or a variety of other factors. Now, this is the need of the hour, and a topic very close to my heart. I try to run a zero-waste kitchen at home, reusing and recycling whatever I can – using vegetable peels to make chutney, converting leftovers into attractive food, using the water reserved from cooking lentils or vegetables in gravies, and such like. This family recipe for Kollu Rasam fit right into the theme.

How to make Kollu Rasam

Here’s the recipe for Kollu Rasam or Horsegram Rasam, from our family kitty.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable for those following a plant-based diet. Just skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, and this becomes a gluten-free dish as well. This is because most commercial brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a greater or lesser extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you are able to find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. About 2 cups of water left over from cooking horsegram

2. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind

3. 2 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped

4. 2 tablespoons cooked horsegram

5. 5-6 cloves of garlic

6. 1/2 tablespoon oil

7. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

8. 2 pinches of asafoetida

9. 2 dry red chillies

10. A sprig of fresh curry leaves

11. Salt to taste

12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

13. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

14. 3/4 tablespoon rasam powder or to taste

15. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

16. 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water

17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4.

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 15-20 minutes, or till it softens. When it gets cool enough to handle, extract all the juice from it, adding a little more water if needed. Keep the tamarind extract ready.

2. Peel the garlic cloves. Transfer to a small mixer jar. Add the cooked horsegram to the mixer jar, too.

3. Use a little water to grind the horsegram and garlic cloves together to a paste. Keep aside.

4. Keep the reserved water from cooking the horsegram ready.

Top left to right: Steps 5, 6 and 7. Centre: Step 8. Bottom left to right: Steps 9, 10 and 11.

5. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add in the chopped tomatoes, along with a little salt.

7. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or till the tomatoes turn mushy.

8. Now, add the tamarind extract to the pan, along with salt to taste and the turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes, or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

9. Add in the horsegram paste.

10. Add in the reserved water from cooking the horsegram, rasam powder, red chilli powder (if using) and jaggery powder. Mix well. Also add in 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water, depending upon the consistency of the rasam that you require.

11. Let the rasam come to a boil, then reduce flame to low-medium. Let the rasam simmer for 3-4 minutes, then switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Kollu Rasam is now ready to serve, along with hot steamed rice.

Tips & Tricks

1. I use home-made rasam powder. Head here for the recipe.

2. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the rasam that you require.

3. You may skip the jaggery if you don’t prefer it. We like using a little bit, as it adds a whole lot of flavour to the rasam.

4. I have done the tempering at the very beginning. You can do it at the end too, after the rasam is ready.

5. The rasam powder I use is only moderately spicy, so I have added a dash of red chilli powder to the rasam. If the podi you are using is spicy enough, you can skip the red chilli powder.

6. Ghee can be used to do the tempering, instead of oil. Here, I have used sesame oil. Avoid ghee and use oil for the tempering if you are following a vegan diet.

7. Here’s a detailed guide on how to soak and cook horsegram and reserve the water used in cooking it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Tomato Onion Gojju|Tamilnadu Style Tomato & Onion Relish

Let me tell you today about Tomato Onion Gojju, a beautiful accompaniment to idli, dosa, poori, rotis, parathas, pongal and the like. It is an easy-peasy thing to make, yet so flavourful – hot and salty and sour, with a hint of sweet, it’s easy to get addicted to this. 🙂

This Tomato Onion Gojju makes for a refreshing change when you are tired of the usual chutney, sambar and poriyal. I’m sure there are many different ways to make it, but here’s the way we make the gojju in our family. Do give it a shot!

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable to those on a plant-based diet. Skip the asafoetida used in the tempering, and it becomes gluten-free too. Please note that the home-made rasam powder I have used here does not contain any asafoetida – please do make sure of the same in case you are using a store-bought version.

And, now, without any more delay, here’s the recipe for Tomato Onion Gojju, our family’s way.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 5 medium-sized tomatoes, finely chopped
  2. 1 big onion, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds
  7. 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
  8. Salt to taste
  9. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  10. Red chilli powder to taste or 2-3 green chillies, slit length-wise
  11. 1/2 tablespoon rasam powder
  12. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 5, 6 and 7

1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves to the pan. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

2. Add the chopped onion to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.

3. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the onions start browning.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan.

5. Also add in a bit of salt and the turmeric powder. Add in the slit green chillies too, if using them. Mix well. Continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, or till the tomatoes start getting mushy.

6. At this stage, add the rasam powder, jaggery powder and red chilli powder (if not using green chillies). Adjust the salt. Mix well.

7. Continue to cook on medium flame for 1-2 more minutes, or till the mixture thickens up a bit. Switch off gas. Your Tomato Onion Gojju is ready. Serve it hot or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Use the tart country or ‘Nati’ tomatoes, rather than the ‘farm’ variety, for best results.

2. If the tomatoes you are using are not too tart, you can add in a little tamarind paste. I haven’t, as the country tomatoes I used were sour enough.

3. Don’t overcook the Tomato Onion Gojju. Switch off the gas when it is still a little runny, as it thickens up on cooling.

4. You can store leftover Tomato Onion Gojju in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle, refrigerated for 2-3 days. Use only a clean, dry spoon.

5. If kids are going to be consuming this gojju, it would be best to avoid using green chillies and use red chilli powder instead.

6. Sesame oil works best in the making of this Tomato Onion Gojju, but you may use any other variety of oil you prefer instead, too.

7. Use ripe, juicy tomatoes that are not blemished. While this gojju can be made any time of the year, it is best made towards the end of winter, when tomatoes are in season and at their flavourful best.

8. I have used home-made rasam powder here. You can use any store-bought version of your choice instead, too.

9. The rasam powder can be substituted with sambar powder, for a different-tasting gojju. I prefer using rasam powder, while my mom likes adding sambar powder to her gojju.

10. You can skip the onion, and use only tomatoes to make the gojju. In that case, you might have to adjust the quantities of the spices and jaggery suggested in the recipe.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Verkadalai Podi| Peanut Chutney Powder

I love how versatile peanuts are, how they add oodles of flavour to all sorts of dishes – everything from Palli Chutney and Gutti Vankaya Koora to Thai salads and fried rice. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Peanut Chutney Powder, another flavourful preparation using them.

Verkadalai Podi or Peanut Chutney Powder

 

What is Peanut Chutney Powder?


It is a fragrant powder in which peanuts are the main ingredient.

Mixed with some sesame oil, this podi makes for a lovely accompaniment to idlis and dosas. It also tastes great when sprinkled onto poriyal or sundal, or in wraps. It can also be eaten with hot steamed rice, with a dollop of ghee added in. You can also sprinkle a dash of this podi while giving leftover idlis or rice a makeover – making idli upma or tomato rice, for instance.

A closer look at the ingredients used


The star ingredient of this podi is  peanuts, which possess several health benefits. Peanuts are full of healthy fats and high-quality protein, along with being rich in folate, phosphorus, biotin, magnesium and Vitamin E.

Sesame seeds go into the podi too, which are a good source of B Vitamins, fibre and protein. The urad dal used therein is also rich in iron, potassium, folic acid, magnesium and calcium.

The peanuts, sesame seeds and urad dal together give this Verkadalai Podi a lovely, nutty flavour. The heat from two types of dry red chillies, the bit of tamarind and the little jaggery that go into it elevate the taste of the podi by several notches.

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suitable for those on a plant-based diet. For a gluten-free version, just skip the asafoetida used in the recipe. This is because most brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a greater or smaller extent, and are best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you do find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

Verkadalai Podi recipe for #SuperNutsAndSeeds


This Monday, Swati of Food Trails suggested that the members of the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group share recipes made using various nuts and seeds. I chose to prepare this Verkadalai Podi for the #SuperNutsAndSeeds theme.

Btw, Swati is an excellent blogger with exceptional photography skills. Her blog includes several traditional recipes from Uttar Pradesh, where she hails from, as well as many baked goodies, healthy snacks and delicious sabzis. The Matar Ka Nimona and Aloo Matar Ki Teheri from her blog have been on my to-do list for long now. I recently fell in love with her Basil Lemon Dressing too, and am now eager to try it out. You should definitely check out Swati’s blog, if you haven’t already!

How to make Verkadalai Podi or Peanut Chutney Powder


Here is how I make the podi.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 tablespoons urad dal
  2. 2 tablespoons brown sesame seeds
  3. 4-5 Salem Gundu dry red chillies
  4. 4-5 Bydagi dry red chillies
  5. 1 cup peanuts
  6. A small piece of tamarind
  7. 1/2 tablespoon salt
  8. 1-1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  9. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the urad dal. Dry roast on medium flame for 1-2 minutes or till the urad dal starts turning brown.
  2. Now, add the peanuts to the pan, along with the sesame seeds and dry red chillies. Dry roast on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or until the peanuts turn crisp. By this time, the urad dal and sesame seeds will turn nicely brown. Make sure the flame is on medium, and that you stir the ingredients constantly to ensure there is no burning. Add the tamarind at the very end, when the other ingredients are almost done roasting. It will turn crisp in about a minute. Switch off gas at this stage.
  3. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate when done. Allow them to cool down fully.
  4. When the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in the salt, turmeric powder and jaggery powder. Pulse for a couple of seconds, then stop and mix up the ingredients. Pulse again for a couple of seconds, then stop and mix. Repeat these steps till you get almost fine, just slightly coarse powder, and all the ingredients are well combined together. Your Peanut Chutney Powder is ready.
  5. Let the Peanut Chutney Powdercool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle.

 

Tips & Tricks

 

  1. Make sure all the seeds and impurities, if any, are removed from the tamarind before using it in making the podi.
  2. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences. I have used a mix of the not-so-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies and the hot Salem Gundu dry red chillies, here.
  3. I have used brown sesame seeds here. You may use white or black sesame instead, too.
  4. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery and tamarind as per personal taste preferences.
  5. Make sure none of the ingredients burn while dry roasting, as this might alter the taste of the podi.
  6. You may dry roast the ingredients one by one, but I prefer to do it as stated above. Make sure you follow the order of roasting as specified above, roast in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium flame, and stir constantly, to avoid burning. This will also ensure that all ingredients come in touch evenly with the heat of the pan, and get roasted evenly.
  7. Proceed to grind the podi only after all the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down.
  8. There is no need to remove the skins from the peanuts.
  9. Once all the roasted ingredients have cooled down, don’t try to grind the podi at one go. This will cause the peanuts to release oil, which will result in a lumpy podi. Instead, follow the pulse-stop-mix-repeat cycle, as mentioned above.
  10. A bit of dry coconut powder can be roasted and added in to the podi, too. Here, I haven’t.
  11. I prefer keeping the podi almost fine, just ever so slightly coarse. You can make it as fine or as coarse as you prefer.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

 

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar|Sweet & Spicy Himachali Lemon Pickle

I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I told you that a certain sweet, spicy and sour lemon pickle has been one of the very few bright spots in my life, in the last fortnight or so. I’m talking about the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachal Pradesh-style lemon pickle I made a few months back.

I’m not sure what type of lemon this is, but it was definitely a beauty, with its heady fragrance and juiciness.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar, a burst of flavours to brighten a dull life

Let me explain.

We’ve been dealing with a bad viral attack on our family, for over a week now. First, the bub fell sick with a raging fever, along with which came loss of sleep and appetite, extreme crankiness and clinginess. She just took a turn for the better, this last weekend, and I for the worse. Now, it’s me dealing with a raging fever, viral conjunctivitis that refuses to go, dead tastebuds, pain in the limbs, loads of tiredness and an achy throat. Oru udambu la oru kodi prachanai (One crore problems in a single body), as the husband, very kindly, puts it. I have been having a bit of Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar with one of my meals every day, and it has definitely helped my tastebuds come out of their stupor, somewhat.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle

How I made the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar

So, I spotted these beautiful big lemons at my vegetable vendor’s, a few months back. They looked like imported lemons, but were really fresh and fragrant, and weren’t very expensive either. I tried out one first, in a Lemon Coriander Soup With Vegetables, and the lemon turned out to be so good that I had to go back and buy a few more while stocks lasted. Sadly, the vendor had no idea what type of lemons these are – if you have a clue, please do enlighten me!

At about the same time, I came across this Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle recipe on Tikulicious. I made the pickle following the recipe, with a few variations of my own, and it turned out absolutely brilliant, even if I say so myself.

About this beautiful pickle

The pickle is delicious, the various spices – ajwain, kala namak, methi dana, sarson, dalchini and the likes – going into it making it all the more fragrant and irresistible. It is such an easy thing to make too!

This is an quicker, ‘instant’ version of the traditional Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar, which is left out in the sun to soak and for the lemons to get softer. Tikulli says this instant pickle loses some of its nutritive properties as compared to the traditional version, but hey, sometimes you need to take shortcuts depending upon your circumstances! That’s just what I did, and I’d say my life is richer for having discovered this beauty of a pickle. It still is an excellent digestive, I think.

Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar recipe

Here’s how I went about making the Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar or Himachali Sweet & Spicy Lemon Pickle.

I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group I’m part of. Hosted by Vidya of Masalachilli and Jolly of Homemade Recipes, the members of the group showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order, every month. The letter for this month is L, and I chose ‘lemon’ as my star ingredient.

Ingredients (makes about 1 mason jar):

  1. 4 big ripe and juicy lemons, the size shown in the first picture above
  2. 1 teaspoon black salt (kala namak)
  3. 1/4 tablespoon salt (namak)
  4. 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds (sarson)
  5. 1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  6. 1/2 tablespoon red chilli (lal mirch) powder
  7. 1/2 tablespoon turmeric (haldi) powder
  8. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing) powder
  9. 1/2 inch piece of cinnamon (dalchini)
  10. 1/2 teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
  11. 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
  12. 6-8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  13. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf)
  14. 4 cloves (laung)
  15. Seeds from 2 black cardamom (kali elaichi)
  16. 1 cup sugar
  17. 1/4 cup oil

Method:

1. Wash the lemons well, and pat dry using a cotton cloth. Take the lemons in a wide vessel, whole. Do not add in any water. Add a little water in the pressure cooker base, then place a stand inside, and place the vessel over this. Make sure no water enters the vessel with the lemons. Pressure cook them for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Take the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, ajwain, black peppercorns, saunf, cloves and black cardamom seeds in a small mixer jar. Pulse a couple of times, for a few seconds each, so you get a coarse powder. Keep aside.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked lemons out. Let them cool down fully, then cut them into large-ish pieces. There’s no need to pick out the seeds. A lot of juice will flow out while cutting the lemons – reserve it for use in making the pickle. Transfer the lemon pieces to a large mixing bowl, along with all the juice that has oozed out.

4. Add sugar, salt, black salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida, red chilli powder and kalonji to the mixing bowl. Give everything a good mix, using a clean, dry spoon.

5. Take the oil in a pan. Heat it well on medium flame, till it starts smoking. Switch off gas. Pour the hot oil evenly over all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix well. Your Pahadi Lemon Pickle is ready.

6. Let the pickle cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Let it stay out for a day, giving the pickle a mix 3-4 times, with a clean, dry spoon. The sugar will slowly melt to form a liquid, then it will start thickening. Refrigerate the pickle from the second day onwards, and use as needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. Choose ripe, juicy lemons that do not have any obvious blemishes on them.

2. The lemons I used were quite big, as shown in the first picture above. I used 4 of them to make this pickle. The small lemons shown in the second picture are for representational purpose only. You may use any other variety of lemons you prefer. If you are using regular Indian limes/lemons (the ones depicted in the second picture), you would need to use 16-18 of them for the above quantities of spices.

3. Do not add in any water while pressure cooking the lemons.

4. The lemons I used were not too thin-skinned, and neither was the skin very thick. The 3 whistles I gave them were just enough to soften them slightly. Adjust the cooking time and number of whistles as per the type of lemon you use. Don’t overcook them, as they might get mushy or turn bitter. Just cook them enough to soften them. You might want to do one whistle in the pressure cooker, then stop and check on the lemons, decide if they need more cooking.

5. I used regular granulated sugar. You can use it as is; there’s no need to make a syrup. It melts when it comes into contact with the acidity of the lemons, the salt and spices added to them.

6. Jaggery powder can be used in the pickle instead of sugar. You can use a mixture of jaggery powder and sugar too.

7. Adjust the quantity of salt, black salt, sugar and all other spices, as per your taste preferences.

8. I used refined oil to make this pickle. You can use any type of oil you prefer. Traditionally, mustard oil is used to make this pickle.

9. After keeping it at room temperature for a day, store the pickle in the refrigerator the second day onwards. Stored refrigerated and used hygienically, the pickle stays well for several months. I made this pickle about 3 months ago, and have been storing it refrigerated in a glass bottle – it’s still going strong! I didn’t sterilise the bottle before use, but you may if you want to.

10. If the lemons you are using have very thin skin, your pickle will be ready to use as soon as it is made. Mine had medium-thick skin, so they had to be marinated for about 2 days before I could start using the pickle.

11. Some people add heated and then cooled oil to their pickles. We add hot oil.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!