Sweet Gooseberry Pickle| Nelikkai Sweet Urugai

This Sweet Gooseberry Pickle is one of the most delicious things ever! A mix of sweet and tangy, with a little spiciness thrown in, it truly is a flavour bomb. Try it out when gooseberries (aka ‘amla’) are still in season, and I’m sure you will love it too. It makes for a beautiful accompaniment to rotis and parathas, and my bub loves it on toasted bread as well.

Absolutely delicious Nelikkai Sweet Urugai (Sweet Gooseberry Pickle)

Other gooseberry recipes on the blog

Enough has been said about the health benefits of amla already, so I won’t reiterate that. However, if you want to read up, this article by Healthline speaks about them in great detail. The very nutritious gooseberry is in season right now, with cartloads of them being sold in the markets.

There are a few other recipes that use gooseberries on my blog, which you might want to look at: Spicy Gooseberry Pickle| Gajar Amla Salad| Arinelikkai Thokku or Instant Star Gooseberry Pickle| Nelikkai Sadam or Amla Rice| Gajar Amla Salad

What goes into this pickle

Gooseberry is the major ingredient used in this pickle, of course. The sweetness in the pickle comes from jaggery powder, while the spiciness comes from red chilli powder. There’s some tamarind paste going in too, which gives it an added flavour boost. The usual suspects like salt and turmeric are used, too.

This is a South Indian version of Sweet Gooseberry Pickle, made using sesame oil. Freshly powdered mustard and fenugreek elevate the taste of this pickle to a whole new level.

How to make Sweet Gooseberry Pickle

What I’m about to share now is our family’s recipe for Sweet Gooseberry Pickle or Nelikkai Sweet Urugai. Considering just how delicious it is, it is quite a simple thing to prepare. This is an instant pickle that can be used immediately after preparation.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup of pickle):

1. 8 big gooseberries

2. 3/4 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

4. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons sesame oil

5. 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida

6. Salt to taste, about 3/4 teaspoon

7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

8. 1 cup jaggery powder

9. 2 tablespoons tamarind paste or to taste


Top left and centre: Steps 1 and 2, Top right: Step 4, Bottom left: Step 5, Bottom centre and right: Step 6

1. Wash the gooseberries well. Then, place them in a small pressure cooker and add in enough water to cover them completely.

2. Cover the pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Place on high flame. Allow 4 whistles on high flame, and then let the pressure release naturally.

3. In the meantime, dry roast 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds in a pan, on medium flame for a minute or so. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked gooseberries out. Drain out the water from them – this can be used to make rasam later. We will be using only the cooked gooseberries here. Allow them to cool down.

5. When the gooseberries have completely cooled down, gently separate the segments using your hands. Discard the seeds.

6. Once the roasted mustard and fenugreek seeds have cooled down, grind them together coarsely in a small mixer jar. Keep ready.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 7, 8 and 9, Bottom left and centre: Steps 10 and 11, Bottom right: The pickle, cooled and ready to be bottled

7. Now, we will begin making the Sweet Gooseberry Pickle. Heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil in a pan. Add in 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Now, add in the asafoetida and let it stay in for a few seconds. Next, add in the gooseberry segments and turn the flame down to medium.

8. Add in the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes.

9. At this stage, add in the tamarind paste and the jaggery powder to the pan. Mix well.

10. Continue to cook on medium flame, stirring intermittently. The jaggery will first melt and become liquid-y, then it will start to thicken up. This should take 4-5 minutes. Ensure that the mixture does not burn or become too thick. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened but not overly so.

11. At this stage, add in the ground mustard-fenugreek powder to the pan, along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Mix well. The Sweet Gooseberry Pickle is ready.

12. Allow the pickle to cool down completely, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep refrigerated and use a clean, dry spoon only.

Tips & Tricks

1. Fresh gooseberries in season are best for this pickle. Use large ones that do not have any blemishes or cuts.

2. I have used a 5-litre pressure cooker to cook the gooseberries.

3. The water the gooseberries were cooked in can be used in rasam or any other dish you prefer. Do not discard the water, as it is full of nutrients.

4. Adjust the quantity of salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and tamarind paste as per personal taste preferences. The above measurements are perfect for us. They yield a pickle that’s moderately spicy and mostly sweet.

5. Do not overcook the pickle. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened, but is still a bit runny. Overcooking will render the pickle too hard.

6. Lemon juice can be used in place of the tamarind paste I have used here. If using lemon juice, add it at the very end, after the gas is switched off.

7. Sesame oil works best in this pickle. However, if you don’t have it, you may use any other variety of oil that you prefer.

8. Remember to add the ground fenugreek and mustard powder at the end, after the gas has been switched off. Otherwise, the pickle can get bitter.

9. Do not use too much fenugreek or mustard, as this can also make the pickle taste bitter.

10. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the pickle. Remember to cook the pickle on low-medium flame to prevent sudden hardening of the mixture, burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

11. This pickle stays well for about 2 months when refrigerated in an air-tight bottle and used with a clean, dry spoon. However, it is best used sooner rather than later.

12. If you want the pickle to be completely sweet, with no hint of spiciness, skip the red chilli powder entirely. However, we prefer making it as per the above recipe.

13. Instead of pressure-cooking the gooseberries the way I have done here, you could even steam them in a steamer or idli stand.

14. You may use jaggery pieces in this pickle too. I prefer using jaggery powder.

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


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