While walking in the terrace of your home amid the current blazing hot weather in India, spotting rows and rows of vegetables like lemons, garlic pods, raw mangoes, green chillies being left to dry in the sun is not at all an uncommon sight. Well, summer season in India, which occurs in all regions from March to June, is synonymous with not only refreshing cool drinks like sharbat, chaas, jigarthanda, lassi, aam panna, thandai, but also zesty homemade pickles or achaar. No doubt, pickles, though taken in small quantities, uplift the flavour of staple Indian main course dishes like roti, upma, paratha, rice, dosa, pulao, idli, along with yet another favourite desi side dish of chutneys. But these spiced oily sauces are also chock-full of essential nutrients that enhance complete wellbeing.
Health Benefits Of Pickle/Achaar:
Homemade pickles are a treasured age-old condiment whipped up every summer in India since ancient times, as a way to preserve food during long travels, usually prepared with mustard oil in the northern parts and sesame oil/gingelly oil in the southern states. They are a great source of probiotics that balance gut microbes for regulating digestion, as they are made by fermentation processes. Moreover, being imbued with antioxidants to thwart free radicals from oxidising healthy tissues, pickles also boost immunity and supply vital vitamins, minerals for overall wellbeing. And let’s face it, savouring those warm aloo parathas/potato-stuffed flatbreads or soothing thayir saadham i.e. curd rice sans some tangy pickle on the side feels incomplete for us true-blue desis.
Nourishing Homemade Indian Pickle/Achaar Recipes:
So now that you have some extra time on your hands what with partial lockdowns and staying indoors to prevent COVID-19 infection, without further ado, get set making some spicy achaar. We bring you two customary desi recipes of Avakaya Pachadi or raw mango pickle and Nimbu Ka Achaar i.e. lemon pickle, packed with beneficial components, for an irresistible fiery-flavoured dose of health and nutrition.
7 – 9 medium-sized raw mangoes, finely chopped
½ cup mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 cup red chilli powder
¼ cup rock salt
2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 cup sesame oil
Rub the raw mango slices in some rock salt and turmeric powder, lay them out on a clean sheet or plate to dry in the sun for 4 – 5 hours, then put them in a clean dry bowl indoors.
Likewise, dry the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds under the sun for 4 – 5 hours to remove all moisture from them.
Pulse the warm mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds in a mixer to a fine powder and then add it to the dried raw mangoes.
Next, add the red chilli powder, rock salt and turmeric powder to the blend and mix well using a large spoon.
Pour in the sesame oil, transfer the raw mango mix to a clean, dry ceramic jar and seal it with a lid.
Let it ferment over 4 – 5 days at room temperature in a warm environment like the kitchen counter, making sure to mix well each day and close the jar properly to prevent any moisture from entering.
Once the mango bits have become soft, oil floats on top and pickle has completely formed, pour a bit of sesame oil, close the jar tightly and refrigerate.
This yummy tangy Avakaya Pachadi stays good for at least 3 months and can be relished as an accompaniment for curd rice, dosa and roti.
Raw mango is a storehouse of vitamin C to bolster defence mechanism, safeguard the body from infections, seasonal cough, cold, fever and other disorders. Laden with vitamin A, red chilli powder promotes healthy eyesight and averts vision-linked disorders like glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Sesame oil supplies calories, healthy unsaturated fats for instant energy and heart wellness.
Nimbu Ka Achaar
7 – 9 small lemons
5 tbsp red chilli powder
3 tbsp rock salt
2 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp fenugreek powder
½ tsp hing/asafoetida
½ cup mustard oil
Wash the lemons in hot water to remove all dirt, then place them under the hot sun to dry for 2 – 3 hours.
Chop the sundried lemons into small pieces, squeeze out the juice into a clean bowl and set aside.
Add the red chilli powder, salt, fenugreek powder and asafoetida to the dried lemon slices.
Heat mustard oil in a pan on medium flame, add the mustard seeds and once they begin to sputter, turn off the stovetop.
Pour this sauteed mustard seeds and oil into the spiced lemon blend along with the lemon juice and mix well with a clean dry spoon.
Transfer the lemon pickle into a dry tightly-lidded ceramic or glass jar, allow it to sit for 2 days in a clean warm area in the kitchen, stirring a little daily, so the lemon pieces soften and absorb the flavours of the spices.
Store this lemon pickle in the refrigerator for up to 3 months and enjoy the tangy condiment with paratha, pulao and upma.
Lemon is low on calories, fats, with zero cholesterol and rich in citric antioxidants, which aid in weight loss and detoxifying the body of harmful free radicals. Bestowed with laxative and carminative traits, rock salt is an ultimate remedy for all digestive disorders of bloating, constipation, while the probiotic qualities of lemon pickle promote optimal gut microbial flora. Mustard oil is abundant in valuable omega-3 fatty acids, which avert cardiac ailments and improve heart functions.