23 June, 2017
Indian Pickles, Achar the Mouth-Watering Condiment
The word “Pickle” may be used to refer to the soup you may be in or the condiment that you eat!
But the foodie in me prefers to think of the condiment.
So what are pickles?
Pickles are made to preserve seasonal foods and are generally preserved with salt, oil, lime or vinegar. Many a time all three are used.
But let’s head to Wikipedia for some gyan…
- “Pickles, a name for pickled cucumber in the US and Canada.
- Pickle sweet, vinegary pickled chutney popular in Britain, such as Branston (brand) Pickle, also known as “sweet pickle” or “ploughman’s pickle”.
- Any vegetable that has undergone pickling.”
Let add one more category that is popular in the Indian Subcontinent Aachaar, Achar (Hindi), uppinakaayi (Kannada), loncha (Marathi), lonche (Konkani).
I want to talk about the Indian subcontinent pickles right now…
Pickles are a mouth-watering variety that is made from certain varieties of vegetables and fruits. These vegetables or fruits are chopped (if they are big) and salted and marinated in salt, oils and, of course, the spices that bring out the best in the pickles. Some regions also specialise in pickling meats and fish( Bangdya che lonche or Mackerel pickles), Shrimp ( Prawns Balchao).
The common Indian pickles are made from mango and lime. But then we do have pickle made from cauliflower, carrot, radish, tomato, ginger, amla, garlic, green or red chilli peppers, kohlrabi, karonda, bitter gourd, eggplant, ivy gourd to name a few.
The spices used are generally hing/asafoetida, red chilli powder, turmeric, and fenugreek, saunf. Salt is generally used both for taste and for its preservative properties.
In the time when we were kids, the pickle was made at home under the eagle eye of Ajji or Granny and the preparations were elaborate.
For mango pickle, the season was of course summer and the bottles or barni as they are called were washed and rewashed then wiped and dried in the sun. Then the next day the mangoes were brought, washed and dried. Then they were cut on a clean and dry cutter. The keyword was clean and dry else the pickles will spoil.
The way the mangoes were cut is different from region to region. In the Vidharba where we stayed the hard endocarp was chopped up but Ajji discarded it. The mangoes are salted then the spices added, mixed. then oil that was heated to a smoking point was added after it had cooled thoroughly. Mixed well and were matured by exposing the bottles to sunlight for up to two weeks the pickle is kept covered with muslin while it is maturing.
Lime pickle is generally made in the month of December when lime is in abundance. Similarly, seasonal vegetables are made into pickles. If they are not sour then lime or vinegar was added.
The high concentrations of salt, oil, and spices act as preservatives in commercially produced pickles preservatives like citric acid and sodium benzoate are harmful to health.
The pickles in India will differ in tastes even using the same main ingredients, as the preparation techniques and spices differ. Like in Southern India Sesame oil is preferred. In Maharashtra and Karnataka groundnut oil but in Northern India rai/mustard oil is used.
Tender whole mango pickle is a traditional pickle recipe of Karnataka. This is preserved entirely by dehydrating tender whole mango with salt and is very salty and sour. A special type of this is midi prepared using special tender mango with a refreshing aroma.
Let us see the Health Effect of pickles:
Pickles made by traditional methods contain Lactobacillus, produced by fermentation in brine (salt and water). Lactobacillus makes traditional pickles probiotic.
Pickles made using vinegar do not contain Lactobacillus. Supermarket pickles which are not home-made are generally not fermented but preserved in vinegar, and thus don’t have the probiotic, enzymatic value of home-made fermented pickles. Vinegar, however, can help lower blood sugar levels by reducing the breakdown of carbohydrates so are absorbed less and not all converted to sugar.
Pickles are high in salt and preserved in oil or vinegar. Regular consumption of pickles can lead to high sodium levels in the body, which is not good for people with hypertension or for calcium absorption. Pickle oils contain unsaturated fats, which should be consumed in moderation, or trans-fats, which are bad for cardiovascular health.
The nutritional value of fruits and vegetables in pickles is low, as the process of drying pickles in sunlight causes nutrient loss.
So does that stop you from eating pickles?
Remember moderation is the keyword here.
These days instead of groundnut or sunflower oil I use rice bran oil and we have not found any change in the taste of our pickles.
These are the pickles that I have made and we have all enjoyed.
- Spiced Lime Pickle/Lemon Pickle without Oil
- Gor Keri a Raw/Green Mango Pickle made from Rajasthani Pickle Masala
- Mixed Pickle of Raw Mangoes, Cauliflower and Carrots
- Olya Haldiche Lonche or Fresh Turmeric Pickle
- Lime Pickle/ Limba che lonche/ Limbikai Upinkai
- Chilli Pickle/Phodni Chi Mirchi
- Star Fruit Pickle/ Kamarak che Lonche
- Preserved lemons or l’hamd MarakadMarakad
- Ranjka/Thecha ~ A Chilli Preserve
- Keri Ki Launjee/ A Raw Mango Preserve
- Raw Mango in Salt
- Amla Pickle
- Instant Pickle
- Mango Pickle| Mavinkai Upinkai|Kari che Lonche
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