Lemon Pickle/Naranga Achar – Kerala Style
It’s pickle time guys ! I am a huge fan of pickles. I eat pickles with rice, chapathis, dosa, bread, anything and everything. My hubby who is not very fond of pickles (good for me coz I can have it all ;-)) keeps reminding me of the health hazards I would have to face later ! But still it’s difficult to control that craving for pickles. I know many would agree with me on this.
One thing I miss here in Seattle is the home-made pickles. I came here carrying lots of pickles but everything was finished in a month. I started buying pickles from the stores but the store-bought ones were not as tasty as the home-made pickles. Also they were a way too salty to consume so i resorted to preparing pickles. I pestered my mom for her pickle recipes. And soon my refrigerator started getting crowded with pickles(kaduku manga, lemon, prawn, cranberry to name a few).
Biryani without lemon pickle is unimaginable for me! Back home my mother used to make different kinds of lemon pickles – with or without oil, sweet lemon pickle and white lemon pickle using garlic and fiery green chilies(kanthari mulaku).
Lemon – 6 (Wash and pat dry)
Garlic – 6 – 8 small cloves
Chilly powder – 1.5 – 2 tbsp (Use kashmiri chilly powder to make it less spicy)
Fenugreek powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida/hing – 2 pinches
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilies – 2
Curry leaves – 1 sprig (optional)
Gingelly/sesame oil/Nallenna – 2 – 3 tbsp
Salt – To taste
1. Steam the lemon for around 10 – 12 mts or until soft. The lemons should not break.
2. When it cools down, cut each lemon to around 8 pieces. Mix it with enough salt and 1/4 tsp sugar. Keep aside for 1 hour.
3. In a pan heat gingelly oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Add dry red chilies, garlic and curry leaves. Saute until the garlic turns golden-brown. Lower the heat.
4. Now add chilly powder, fenugreek powder and hing. Saute for a few seconds and add 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil. When the gravy is thick, switch off.
5. When it cools down, add the lemon pieces. Mix well. Check for salt. Transfer to an airtight container. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil / nallenna in a small pan. Cool completely. Pour the cooled oil on top of the pickle. Keep for at least 2 – 3 weeks for the flavors to set in. Store this lemon pickle in refrigerator if you are planning to keep it for long and always use a clean, dry spoon while serving.
1) You can add more or less chilly powder depending on your spice tolerance. I usually add less chilly powder to my pickles since I consume them daily. Even if you add more chilly powder it wont be spicy since the sourness of the lemon will compensate its heat. Same is the case with salt.
2) You can also opt not to cook the lemons but the lemons available here are thick-skinned than the ones available in India so it would be better if you steam or cook them. You can also add ginger(add 1 tbsp thinly sliced ginger along with garlic) if you wish.
3) Adding water is optional. If you do not want a gravy, just add the spice powders, stir for a few seconds and switch off. Cool down this mixture and add the lemon pieces.