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


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!


50 thoughts on “Pahadi Nimbu Ka Achaar|Sweet & Spicy Himachali Lemon Pickle

    1. @Niranjana

      Yes, this is quite different from our Tamilian lemon urugai. It is beautiful, with a sweet and spicy and sour flavour, fragrant with the spices that go into it. Do try it out some time. I’m sure you will love it too. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I am drooling here just going through your post dear; lemons and pickles; a sure fire winner in my book! Such an easy recipe dear with very few steps; love it; my kinda recipe! Got to try this pickle; with all those beautiful and aromatic spices, I am sure it is going to be finger licking good!


  2. Hi Priya , dekhte hee muh mey Panaji aagaya . Had to say it in Hindi. You mentioned in the procedure don’t add water so how do we pressure cook them won’t the cooker burn ? Thanks


    1. @Rk

      Thank you!

      What I meant is – keep the lemons whole in a wide vessel, do not add any water to them. You’ll be adding water to the pressure cooker base, placing a stand inside, then placing the vessel over it. Make sure the water doesn’t enter the vessel with the lemons. So, technically, there is water in the pressure cooker but not in the vessel used to cook the lemons. I hope I’m clear now. Will edit the post to make it more clear.


  3. Loved this pahadi style spicy, sweet and tangy lemon pickle. With so many spices, can imagine how flavorful the pickle must have tasted.


  4. I hope everything is back to normal now. Disturbances to the family as fever can be really disturbing and depressing… I am not a fan of achaars and especially lemon achaars, but yours looks so good, so well made… A definite treat for achaar lovers…


  5. My mouth is watering as I love lemon pickle. I’m not a pickle person but love the lemon one. This recipe is so similar to the quick version of the Gujarati style lemon pickle. Wish I could grab the whole bowl from the screen. Super tempting.


  6. I love sweet and tangy lemon pickle!! This one is surely an easy and quick recipe that will love to try soon. Some dal rice and lemon pickle and I am a happy person!! Looks so tempting!!


  7. This lemon pickle is tempting , we make it in a quite a similar way what we call Gujju lemon pickle. The instant version to make pickles in jiffy. Full of flavors this pickle is delicious.


  8. Hope you all are feeling better now. That sounded like quite a bad phase with regards to health and like your husband puts it, sometimes everything happens suddenly and you just have to deal with it. Thankfully, on the other end, this pickle was waiting for you all to be savoured. Beautiful flavors, great uses of spices esp clove which I have never added in a lemon pickle. I would totally grab that bowl and wouldn’t look back Priya. Lol!!


    1. @Vidya Narayan

      Thank you, Vidya! The bub and I are slowly recovering – we’re almost ok now. Now it’s hubby who is suffering. 😦

      Anyways, about the pickle – it’s brilliant. You should totally try it out. There are loads of spices which go in, but in little quantities. They uplift the pickle without overwhelming it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wishing speedy recovery to your hubby and hope he feels better soon. The pickle is inviting, shall give it a try soon Priya. You know I am a pickle girl all the way.


  9. Loved this pahadi style of sweet and tangy lemon pickle with so many flavourful spices. I remember my granny used to make lemon pickle, which is sweet tangy in taste. This post refresh those memories. Your pickle looks really inviting, will try this one. Bookmarked!!


  10. Lemon pickle is the one that my family prefer to pair specially with curd rice. I always get the pickle from my mom. Somehow I always felt making pickle is one time taking task with multiple complicated procedures involved, so I never even attempted to make any pickle. But your version sounds simple and easy I’m so tempted to try this. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe Priya.


    1. @Flavours Treat

      Oh, I put off making pickles for the longest time, just because I thought it would be a very complicated affair. I was so mistaken! πŸ™‚

      You should definitely try this one out. It is such a flavourful pickle, yet so simple to make.


  11. Drop-dead gorgeous pickle, oooo i can literally feel it from so far away. i have never added cardamom to mine, I will try it in the lime season next.


  12. I am drooling over the pics again and again and have lot of memories around lemon pickle. As you said this is quite different from we prepare in South Indian homes. Usage of spices like cloves, cardamom, nigella and carom seeds will give unique flavor.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s