chilli pickle

This is not a recipe for those of you who are chilli-intolerant. This green chilli pickle, or hari mirch ka achaar, is hot and intensely chilli flavoured. The pickle is a feature of the cuisine of Assam, and is sometimes used as a cooking ingredient, instead of fresh or dried chillies. Our recipe for dal with egg is an example of how it is used.

Choose the freshest possible chillies to make this pickle. Fresh chillies are thick, and their stalks should be green, not brown or black.

Pickles made in sunlight have a long shelf life, provided you exercise diligent hygiene in preparation. This pickle should keep for about one year if stored in an airtight container.

There is not much point in making large quantities of this pickle, even though it will keep for a long time. You don’t use too much of it, either cooking with it or serving it as an accompaniment.

As mentioned above, you must practice stringent food hygiene when preparing this pickle. Do not allow any water into the preparation, as this will encourage mould to form. You must sterilise the containers to prohibit any bacterial growth. The spices and acidity in this dish act as natural food preservatives, but don’t rely on them alone.

You need to start this pickle several weeks before you want to eat it. As it is cooked in the sun, you need to make this when you have plenty of sunlight, and for most of us that means summer. We tend to make batches of this, and some of the other sun-cooked pickles at the start of summer in Sydney so we have stocks of them year-round.

This pickle really lifts simple dal dishes.

the recipe

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to temper


  • Wash the fresh green chillies, dry them with a clean cloth, and remove the stalks. Cut the chillies into 2cm pieces.
  • Place the chillies in a glass bowl, add the salt and lemon juice and mix well. Cover bowl, and place in the sun for five days, or until the chillies have started to take on a yellow tinge.

to temper the pickle

  • Place a small frypan on medium heat and add the fennel, cumin, coriander and fenugreek seeds. Toast the spices until they become aromatic then remove from the heat. When cool enough to handle grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
  • Turn the chillies into a clean glass bowl. Heat the oil gently in a pan, and when hot, but not smoking, add the mustard seeds and peppercorns. When the seeds start to sputter, remove from the heat and add the ground fennel, coriander and fenugreek seeds, the asafoetida and turmeric powders and mix well.
  • Add the spiced oil and vinegar to chillies and mix well.
  • Allow to cool, then place pickle in a sealable pickle jar. Place in a sunny spot and leave for one week. After this time it is ready to serve.


  • Make sure that you dry the chillies after washing. You do not want to introduce moisture into this dish for such pickling to work safely.
  • This recipe takes two weeks from start to finish, minimum.
  • Always remove pickle from the jar to serve. Remove enough to serve and place into a serving bowl.
  • Once opened, refrigerate the pickle. It will last several months if stored this way.
  • Allow pickle to come to room temperature before consuming.

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Serving: 30 g | Calories: 47 kcal | Carbohydrates: 1 g | Protein: 0 g | Fat: 4 g | Saturated Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 326 mg | Potassium: 25 mg | Fiber: 0 g | Sugar: 0 g | Vitamin C: 3.9 mg | Calcium: 12 mg | Iron: 0.3 mg

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