Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In A Pickle


Pickles are serious business in India. Because quantities are huge and the room for error high, only the eldest women in the household take on pickle making. When my mother took on pickle making many years ago, it was with the combined consent of her mother and her mother-in-law. Recipes from both my grandmothers, closely guarded and never written down, were enhanced with experience and tips from friends over the year.

In my home, we make only two kinds of pickles. Mango pickle in summers and now, with the onset of winter, the gobhi gajar achaar - spicy, sour, sweet cauliflower and carrot pickle. I'd try and get you my favorite mango pickle recipe sometime. But even this one was hard to pin down, requiring translation from best guesses to measurements. But here it is:

Separate 1 kg cauliflower into florets. Cut 1/2 kg carrots into long fingers. Wash the vegetables, then dunk them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain, then spread out on a tray and let dry in the sun for an hour or so. If you live in a place where the whole sun-drying business is not possible, you can try leaving them in a very low oven for a bit.

Grind 100 grams fresh ginger to a paste. Separately, grind 10-12 cloves to garlic to a paste. Combine 5-6 black cardamom pods, 5-6 cloves, a tbsp of cumin seeds and a tbsp of peppercorns. Grind all these spices to a powder.

In a separate, preferably stainless steel pan, mix a cup of white vinegar (the industrial quality is fine here) and 2 tbsp of jaggery or your darkest brown sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the sugar melts completely.

Just to complete your mise en place and because you will need these in a rush later, measure out a tsp of rai (black wholegrain mustard), 3 tbsp of salt and a tbsp of red chilli powder.

Heat 1/2 cup oil in a really large pan and add garlic paste. Stir until it starts to brown slightly, then add the ginger paste and stir fry until it's browned. Reduce the heat and add the powdered spices, rai, salt and chilli powder. Turn off the heat and mix in the vegetables until they are completed coated with the spices. Pour over the vinegar-jaggery mixture. Let cool, then store in a glass jar.

Keeps for a month or so just like this, but I prefer to keep it in the fridge.

8 comments:

Aparna said...

I really love the sound of this. And frankly, the best pickles are those ones made by our grandmas amd moms! :)

fortheloveofyum said...

I always wanted to learn how to make such pickles. I'm a big fan of gajar ka achar. My desi plate is incomplete without gajar or hari mirch achar! Hopefully, I'll try your recipe soon!

The Purple Foodie said...

brilliant. I've always wanted a gobi gajar recipe but never bothered looking it up. I've ad it at nawab saheb at Renaissance and it is so so good. i like that they put so so many cloves of whole garlic too. I'm definitely going to try this. Thanks!

Sunshinemom said...

I love this pickle but depend totally on M aunty for it. Thanks for the recipe!

notyet100 said...

my mother prepares this every winters,.;-)lovely pic,..

jayasree said...

I love this pickle. Our hostel warden used to make this for us during winters. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Srivalli said...

That looks great simmy..will try it one of these days!

Laura said...

All of the Indian pickles I have had seemed not to have vinegar in them--which was a shock to my American self. :) I will try these--they sound fabulous.

And what a perfect submission, btw. That is so wild, that only an elder female gets the pickle secrets!