12 achaars so good, you'd be in a pickle if you had to pick one
From Jammu and Kashmir to Sikkim - the very best India has to offer.
Pickling is not only a grand affair inside, but also synonymous with the Indian kitchen. Historically, pickles are as old as 4,000 years in India, when they were used to preserve and increase the shelf life of fresh produce. Seasonal offerings would be cured with salt or sugar, immersed in brine, and then left out to ferment. It is believed that the first vegetable to be pickled was a cucumber. Native to India, it grows in the foothills of the Himalayas. In her excellent piece about the tradition of pickle-making in India, Vidhya Balachander, a published food and travel journalist writes, "no matter what gulfs might separate the culinary customs of the country, pickle acts as a bridge between them". From the sweet, velvety chhunda of Gujarat, pork and bamboo shoot pickle from Arunachal Pradesh and lingri (fiddlehead fern) ka achaar in Himachal Pradesh to the maahali oorugai in Tamil Nadu, India's pickles are as diverse and far-reaching as her languages.
Here are 12 of our regional favourites from the length and breadth of the country.
Kala nimbu ka achaar, Punjab
Kala nimbu ka achaar is a sweet, tangy, and spicy pickle prepared from the greener and juicier kaagji/kaagzi lemons found in Punjab and Rajasthan predominantly. The zero-oil pickle is aged for several years and it comes with carom seeds and black pepper, which gives it a dense black colour. Store it in a spot with ample sunlight to prevent it from getting spoilt.
Sundakkai oorugai, Tamil Nadu
Sundakkai oorugai is a rare berry, better known as turkey berry pickle, native to Tamil Nadu. It has medicinal properties and is extremely bitter, making washing and de-seeding essential steps. This pickle is flavoured with red chilli powder, asafoetida, mustard seeds, fenugreek and salt and tamarind water (optional). It is best to eat it after two to three days of refrigeration and with a plateful of curd rice.
Chemmeen achaar - Kerala
Chemmeen translates to prawns in Malayalam and the special Kerala-style prawn pickle is extremely popular down south. Parallels can be drawn between the Goan prawn balchao and the Kerala-style chemmeen, where prawns marinated in spices are cooked and then pickled. With a shelf life of eight to10 months, this one packs a punch and is best served with curd rice.
Chintakaya pachadi- Andhra Pradesh
The usage of raw tamarind is quite significant in Andhra and Telangana cuisine so it is only natural that they have a pickle with raw tamarind. Chintakaya pachadi is made with lightly fried tamarind, dry red chilli and spices. High on dietary fibres, this unique pickle is tempered with curry leaves and served with hot rice and ghee.
Our favourite homegrown pickle brands from India
Native tongue: Tuck into handcrafted preserves made locally sourced and all-natural condiments in quirky flavours like Alu Bukhara and strawberry with Kerala vanilla. Order here: https://nativetongue.in/
Maa's pickles: With a range of chutneys and pickles, this mother-daughter duo from Uttarakhand is on a mission to put homemade Indian pickles on the global map, with familiar flavours like khatta meetha amla, pyaaz ka achaar, and teekhi lehsun ki chutney. Order here: https://bit.ly/2NrhXtG
The Little Farm: The Little Farm is your one-stop-shop if you are in the mood for some simple and wholesome Indian pickles like, green chilli, lemon, or mango. Order here: https://thelittlefarm.co.in/
Bloom Foods: From handpicking the spices and locally sourcing the meat, to using zero preservatives, a jar of their non-vegetarian pickle is all you need on your kitchen shelf today! Order here: https://bloomfoods.co.in/
Pickle-Shickle: Theatre kids turned pickle connoisseurs, the sisters behind Pickle Shickle have curated an array of intriguing veg and non-vegetarian pickles in unique flavours, living up to their motto of "meat and off-beat veg pickles." Order here: https://www.pickleshickle.com/