Winters are the perfect time of the year to celebrate life with food. The ample fresh produce, vibrant vegetables and the joy of connecting with the extended family while soaking in the sun make this season my favourite.
Since childhood, I was a keen observer of the way my grandmother and aunt, worked hard to prepare varieties of pickles. At that time, I barely had any understanding of any of the spices being used. However, my strong sense of smell was my guide. In my mind, even at the age of 5 -6 years I was making mental notes of how the ingredients smelled at every stage of their preparation.
I know, you must be wondering why didn’t I put my sense of taste to use, after all, it is the taste that really matters. Isn’t it?
The simple reason behind that is, we weren’t allowed to taste till the pickle was ready and had been first offered to the Almighty.
As a result, even today, the aroma of the food in its various stages of preparation is my guide to determine if the ingredients are well complimenting each other (especially for the recipes I recreate from my childhood memories). Though today, I do taste along the way to be sure of the taste of the food I serve to my family and friends.
One of my favourite wintertime recipes is the Nimbu ka Khatta Meetha Achar. Its tangy flavour paired with the mouth-watering flavoursome juliennes of ginger makes it a multi-sensory delight. The biggest plus point is the simple, forgiving nature of this recipe that doesn’t call for any expertise and always rewards with a lip-smacking treat in the end.
Nimbu Ka Khatta Meetha Achar:
Difficulty Level: Easy
- Lemons – 1kg
- Ginger (finely chopped into juliennes) – 200 g
- Black Salk (Kala Namak) – 50 g
- Carrom Seeds (Ajwain) -20g
- Black Pepper (whole) -50 g
- Black Cardamom (Badi Elaichi) – 10 g
- Cinnamon (Dalchini) – 10g
- Cloves (Laung) – 10g
- Jaggery (Gur) – 300 g (you can also use sugar 400 g)
- Red Chili Powder – 20 g (optional)
- Salt – 100 g
- Glass jar to store the pickle
- Thoroughly wash the lemons and ginger and let them dry on a piece of cloth or you can even dry them by wiping with a soft cloth.
- Once completely dried, slice each lemon into four pieces/wedges. You can even let these pieces stay connected at one end to give the lemons a flower like an appearance. I cut the pieces through to get wedges that are easy to serve and save wastage in the long run.
- Gently squeeze the lemons and collect the juice in a bowl, leaving half the juice within the lemons. Take care to remove as many seeds you can, though if a few slip into the pickle, they do not alter the final taste.
- Grind all the whole spices in a dry grinder and mix them well with salt, red chilli powder (if using) and the finely chopped juliennes of ginger.
- In a deep bowl, mix the prepared spices and ginger with the wedges of lemon to coat the pieces of lemon well. If you’ve decided to keep the wedges connected at one end, make sure you thoroughly rub the spice mixture onto the wedges.
- Before placing the prepared pickle mixture in the glass jar, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Place the prepared pieces of lemon, in the glass jar and pour the squeezed juice over them. The juice should cover the pieces well. If the juice isn’t enough to cover, you can squeeze a few extra lemons and pour the juice to cover the pieces well.
- Tightly close the lid of the jar, wrap a muslin cloth over it and leave it on the terrace or your balcony at a spot that is exposed to direct sunlight for almost a month. The lemon wedges should get tender over time.
- Test the lemon wedges for tenderness. Once you’re satisfied with their texture, add coarsely chopped jaggery or sugar and mix well. Leave the jar in the sun, with a muslin cloth covering the lid for another 20-25 days.
- Once all the jaggery has melted, shake the jar well to mix the sweetness uniformly.
The pickle is now ready to be enjoyed with snacks and as a side dish during meal times. It also makes a great accompaniment with paranthas in lunch boxes.
Find other recipes From My Kitchen here.
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