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Lemon and green chili pickle

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Pickles are an essential part of tables all over the world, and I love them all. From spicy Korean kimchi to subtle Japanese burdock root to Persian purple turnips, to German sauerkraut to American dilly cucumbers, their flavour and scope are unlimited. Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preserving foods, and today it has become an art form. Āchār in Persian is defined as ‘powdered or salted meats, pickles, or fruits, preserved in salt, vinegar, honey, or syrup.’ More on the history of pickling here.

Pickles or achar as they are fondly referred to, in India is probably the most complex and elaborate. Some scholars argue that pickling started in India with a recorded history of over 4000 years. Today almost everything you can think of is pickled, meats, vegetables, fruit, and everything else, but the most favoured and consumed is the mighty mango pickle. These pickles range from simple brined vegetables to sweet pickles to fiery pickles with loads of spices and chillies. Every meal is graced by a lovely pickle that compliments the flavours and dishes served by the host. My larder boasts about 10 open bottles at any given time allowing me to pair the pickle perfectly with the food.

This simple-to-make pickle is wonderful. The soft brined lime adds a tartness that is closely followed by the spice from the green chillies and the pop of pepper. This pickle is beautifully tart followed by the kick of heat, making it perfect for those blander dishes that need help. I love pairing it with dals, pan sautéed vegetables and light curries.

This is a specialized cookbook from the Syrian Christian community in Kerala, India.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


12 lemons

1/4 cup salt

6-8 green chillies, sliced in half longitudinally

8 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

12 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 cup dried green peppercorns

1/4 cup lemon juice

Wash the lemons and dry thoroughly. Cut the lemons into half horizontally and then each half into 4 wedges. Toss the salt in a container, preferably glass with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the lemons to pickle for 10 days. During this period, toss the lemons about twice a day.

After the week, Heat the oil in the pot and add the green chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and stir in, followed almost immediately with the green peppercorns. Coat the peppercorns with the oil and cook for 30 seconds. Add the salted limes and mix in well, and cook for 30 seconds.

Cool slightly and transfer to sterilized bottles. Store in the fridge for 2 weeks for the flavours to come together before eating.

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