This is a hot, sour and sweet lemon pickle, typical of pickles from Rajasthan. It is called khatta meetha nimbu ka achaar.
This pickle is made without oil.
You can use limes or lemons, or a mixture, to make this pickle. We prefer lemons. Select small, thin-skinned lemons to avoid large pieces of rind in the pickle. The rind you get from the smaller lemons or limes is perfect for this pickle.
Choose a jar that just contains the lemons, as you do not want too much air in the jar whilst it cooks in the sun. As described, this recipe makes enough to fill a 500ml pickling jar.
Once cooked, place into smaller jars for storage. We use 250ml jars.
I have said elsewhere in this book that some of the recipes in Indian cuisine lend themselves to making in large quantities and storing. Pickles, like this one, with a long shelf life, are good candidates. If you want to make more, just scale all the quantities equally – the cooking times won’t vary too much, if at all. I would recommend, however, that you store the pickle in smaller jars than what you used to prepare the dish.
You must practice stringent food hygiene when preparing this dish. 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.
The unusual ingredient in this is black salt. This can be found at good Indian grocers, and once again, buy as little as possible as you won’t use too much of it. The other recipe in this book that uses black salt is chaat masala. where it is one of the key ingredients.
This is a great pickle to have in your pantry, as it goes with just about everything and keeps for a long time.
- Thoroughly wash and dry the lemons. Cut each one in half, through the middle, then cut each half into quarters, so you end up with eight half wedges from each lemon. Remove the seeds.
- Place lemons in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat each wedge evenly.
- Firmly pack the lemon into a sterilised pickling jar and store in a sunny place for two weeks. Stir every two days using a sterilised spoon. This process will soften the skin on lemons.
for the syrup
- When the lemons are ready, prepare the syrup by placing the jaggery with one cup of water in a pan, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until syrup thickens to a consistency of cream.
- While the jaggery is simmering, remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and coarsely crush. Set aside.
- Once the jaggery syrup has thickened, add the chilli powder, garam masala, black salt, ginger powder and the reserved crushed cardamom. Mix well.
- Remove the lemons from the pickling jar and discard the liquid. Add the lemons to the syrup and mix gently.
- Return pan to a very gentle simmer, and cook for further ten minutes, or until the pickle thickens noticeably. Mix frequently.
- Once thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. The pickle will thicken more as it cools.
- Once cool, transfer to a sterilised jar, seal and store in a cool, dark place until ready to serve.
- Choose small, thin skinned lemons for the best result.
- Discard the pickling liquid – it is very salty and will overpower the taste of the pickle.
- Black salt is available from good Indian grocers or spice merchants.
- This recipe takes at least two weeks from start to finish, minimum.
- This pickle keeps good for up to a year if unopened, and stored in a cool dark place. Once opened it should be refrigerated and used within a week.
- Always remove pickle from the jar to serve. Remove enough to serve and place into a serving bowl.
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