Simple Carrot Pickle
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Pickles, known as Achaar in Hindi, and Indian food go together like Hamburgers & Fries. A traditional Indian meal is truly incomplete without a serving of assorted pickles, ranging from mango, to lemons to any kind of vegetable. Pickling in India is close to nothing like how it is done in the US. An assortment of spices, both whole and powdered, along with copious amounts of salt and oil, are allowed to cook down vegetables or fruits, mostly in the presence of strong sunlight. Pickles can also be sweet, where salt is replaced with sugar. Pickles in India are popularly a big summer activity in a traditional household – a dwindling way of living as most urban Indian families adopt more western lifestyles.
Most Indian families today buy ready-made pickles available in stores.
Spending summer holidays at home in India, I remember seeing rows upon rows of pickles being allowed to cook in the sun, in our large balcony. My aunt’s specialty was lemon pickle. While she was also an expert at making raw mango pickle, her lemon pickles were why we had ample guests all day long, and mostly during meal times. She mixed raw lemons with salt and vinegar and let them cook in the strong sunlight of Mumbai summers.
After several days of cooking, mixing and remixing, the result was a delicious base pickle that went well with any dish made for lunch or dinner, but could also be mixed with other flavorings to make an assortment of other pickles. She added molasses to some batches of this base pickle, to make it a sweet / salty pickle, chili powder and other spices to a second batch to make it a tangy / spicy pickle, and so on.
While I really don’t have the inclination nor the patience to make a real pickle here in Minnesota, I do enjoy my pickles once in a while. What I enjoy most are mixed vegetable pickles that are low on spices and oil. My mother taught me a short-cut method of making carrot pickle. Replace carrots in this recipe, with any other raw, edible vegetable and you have your own Indian pickle to relish at home. Variations include cauliflower, peas, tender green beans, radishes, cucumbers, tomatoes or even a mix of all these veggies.
You will need:
- About 1/2 lb baby carrots, sliced to about 1/8 inch thickness
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp Cumin & Coriander powder – available as a blend in Indian grocery stores
- 1 tbsp salt or as per taste
- Juice of 1/4 lemon
- A handful of washed, finely chopped Cilantro
Mix all the ingredients in a glass bowl. You may add more Cumin & Coriander powder if you like the pickle to be spicier. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate for about an hour.
Enjoy with some Yellow daal & rice, or with your favorite Indian meal.