Arinelikkai Thokku| Instant Star Gooseberry Pickle

Arinelikkai Thokku, an instant pickle made using star gooseberries, is one of my most favourite of all times. It is a simple pickle to make, requiring the most basic of ingredients. It is absolutely delicious, though, a brilliant side to curd rice! Today, I’m going to share with you all our family recipe for Arinelikkai Thokku, the way in which we make it.

Delicious Arinelikkai Thokku or Instant Star Gooseberry Pickle

A closer look at Arinelikkai or star gooseberries

Star gooseberries are a close relative of the Indian gooseberry, but they do have a distinct personality all of their own. The Indian gooseberry has a round shape, like that of a lemon, while these are quite small. Star gooseberries get their name from the star-like shape the fruit has (these aren’t the same as starfruit, in case you were wondering!). They usually grow in clusters, and are a whole lot more tart than the Indian gooseberry.

The star gooseberries, washed and dried, ready to go into the pickle. Step 1 in the recipe, here.

Star gooseberries go by several names like Malay gooseberries, small gooseberries, Sri Lankan gooseberries, country gooseberries and starberries. In Tamil, they are referred to as ‘Arinelikkai‘ or ‘Arainelikkai‘. Their mouth-puckering sourness makes them the perfect candidate for jams, pickles and chutneys. They are also quite a popular munchie in South India, soaked in salt and drizzled with red chilli powder.

Star gooseberries are low on Vitamin C, unlike the Indian gooseberry that is packed with it. However, these berries also contain various nutrients and do have several health benefits. They are said to help cure cystic fibrosis of the lungs, purify blood, improve digestion, lowers blood pressure, improve appetite, and have antioxidant properties.

#BestOfBerries At Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. This week, the theme is ‘Best of Berries’, wherein the members are showcasing a variety of recipes made using berries. I decided to use star gooseberries to create our family favourite, Arinelikkai Thokku, for the theme.

Poonam, the hugely talented chef and blogger at Annapurna, was the one who suggested the theme for the week. Do check out the winter immunity booster Amla Murabba that Poonam has shared. I have fond memories of dad buying the murabba every winter, while I was growing up, and I would love it so. Poonam’s murabba looks so amazing I’m definitely going to attempt making some at home this year!

How to make Arinelikkai Thokku

Like I was saying earlier, Arinelikkai Thokku is a very easy thing to prepare, with everyday ingredients from the Indian kitchen. There is no fancy stuff going in there, and yet this pickle manages to be absolutely, finger-lickingly delicious. This is a pickle that takes bare minutes to make (once you have the gooseberries prepared and ready!), and it can be used instantly too.

Here is how we make the Arinelikkai Thokku.

Ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

  1. About 300 grams of star gooseberries (arinelikkai)
  2. 3 tablespoons sesame oil (nalla ennai)
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  5. A sprig of curry leaves
  6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds (vendhayam)
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. 2 teaspoons red chilli powder or to taste
  10. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste


1. Wash the star gooseberries well under running water, to remove any traces of dirt from them. Pat dry using a cotton towel, then allow them to dry under the fan for at least half an hour. Make sure they are completely dry, without any trace of moisture on them.

2. Once the star gooseberries are completely dry, use a knife to make small slivers out of them and to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds. Collect the slivers in a bowl.

3. Now, we will start making the Arinelikkai Thokku. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Then add in the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves, and allow them to stay in the hot oil for a couple of seconds.

4. Now, add in the slivered star gooseberries to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.

5. Add in the salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about a minute.

Top left and right: Steps 2 and 3, Bottom left and right: Steps 4 and 5

6. Add in the red chilli powder at this stage. Mix well and continue to cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till the gooseberries get tender. Stir intermittently.

7. Now add the jaggery powder to the pan. Mix well.

8. Continue to cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes more or till the gooseberries are completely cooked. The ingredients will start coming together as a homogenous mixture at this stage. Switch off gas at this stage. Your Arinelikkai Thokku is ready. Allow it to cool down fully before transferring to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle.

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

Tips & Tricks

1. Use sesame oil (nalla ennai) for best results. If you don’t have it, any other oil of your preference can be used. Sesame oil works the best, though.

2. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for best results.

3. Adjust the quantity of salt, red chilli powder and jaggery powder as per personal taste preferences.

4. You may keep the star gooseberries whole, instead of de-seeding them and chopping them up like I have done here. That makes the proceedure all the more simple. The task of de-seeding and chopping these little berries is, indeed, time-consuming, but I would say the end result is every bit worth the effort.

5. You may add powdered mustard and fenugreek seeds to the pickle, too. We usually don’t.

6. Make sure the washed gooseberries are completely dry, before you use them in the pickle. Ensure that there is no trace of moisture on them. You may sun-dry them if you have access to ample sunlight.

7. You can use the bigger, round Indian gooseberries to make the pickle, exactly the same way as suggested above. However, the smaller star gooseberries are more tart and make for a more flavourful pickle.

8. Allow the Arinelikkai Thokku to completely cool down, before you bottle it. Store it refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and use a clean, dry spoon only.

9. This pickle stays well for up to a month month, even more if you have used a generous amount of salt and oil. However, we make it in small batches only and use it within 15 days or so.

10. The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

11. To make this Arinelikkai Thokku gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the recipe. Most Indian 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, I would not recommend that – the asafoetida does add a beautiful fragrance to the pickle, and I simply cannot imagine making it without. Any pickle without asafoetida is a no-go for me, actually.

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


11 thoughts on “Arinelikkai Thokku| Instant Star Gooseberry Pickle

  1. This instant star gooseberry pickle sounds absolutely flavorful without any fancy ingredients. I love tje simplicity of the recipe. I am sure the tartness from the berries , the hints from spices and the mild sweet taste from jaggery must be making this pickle a flavorful treat for sure.
    Wish I could get hold of these berries here. But as you have mentioned in the notes, I will follow the same recipe and use amla instead.


  2. Arainellikai thokku sounds very yummy .. this and thachi mammam will be a super combo ..I make thokku with regular nellikai on the same lines ..I must try with Arai nellikaai too.


  3. Star gooseberry Thokku is so irresistible. Love your quick recipe Priya. I have very fond memories of having these star gooseberry as munchies during my stay at Karwar. I am yet to see them here. Would love to try this instant thokku recipe . Lovely share .


  4. Star gooseberry instant pickle looks very inviting with awesome presentation. I just love to have this with some hot steamed rice and ghee. Loved the way you added jaggery in this pickle.


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s