Pickles in India are not just about adding that extra zing to a simple meal but also about passing down memories and heirloom recipes. Year after year, summer afternoons are spent with our nanis and dadis, watching them mix spices and dry ingredients for their ‘world-famous’ achaar preserving the vibrant summer flavours of kairi or nimbu to last the year.
Get ready for some soul-warming nostalgia as you scroll through the delicious summer pickle recipes from our (and your) grandma’s kitchen. We’ve put together seven tried-and-tasted pickles that have been the heroes of households across India.
1. Mango Avakaya
A staple in Telugu households, this raw mango avakaya is a glorious mixture of mangoes, mustard, chilli powder, mustard powder, sea salt, asafoetida, edible lime, garlic cloves, and water. This fiery pickle is said to be as popular as Hyderabad’s Charminar – no kidding!
2. Kaala Nimbu Pickle
This Amritsari lemon pickle is best described in three flavours—tangy, spicy, and sweet. To make this, lemons are cut into wedges and cooked in a mixture of mustard oil, red chilli powder, asafoetida, cloves, black cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, black salt, jaggery vinegar and sugar. This aromatic and sweet-savoury spice mix is what gives the pickle its tell-tale dark colour.
3. Lasoora Pickle
Lasoora is an indigenous Indian berry common to the states of Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, lasoora akalesua, lasoda, and gunda. Also known as glue berry and Indian cherry, lasoora is best suited for pickles. Its slightly bitter taste is complemented with a spicy or sweet masala mixture to make pickles. Ensure that you blanch the berries in boiling water before you start pickling them. The lasoora pickle needs to be put under the summer sun for 10-15 days before you can savour it.
4. Tau Pickle
The funny name and funny looking fruit is one of India’s lesser-known indigenous varieties. Monkey jack is the fruit of an evergreen tree locally known as Barhar. It is known as baharwa or tau in northern India and dheu in the northeast. Reminiscent of a custard apple, Punjabi tau pickle is matured for three days in mustard oil with onion seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and salt.
5. Karonda Pickle
A summer staple in the households of north and north-eastern India, this pickle is made using a pink, wild berry-like fruit called karonda aka karvanda. Picking these berries from the thorny shrubs is a task but they were what summer holidays for many 90s kids was all about.
The fruit is known for its unique tartness and is one of the most popular ingredients for pickles in India. In Benaras, karondas are pickled with mustard oil, onion seeds, fenugreek seed powder and coarsely ground red chilli powder.
6. Bharwa Mirchi and Nimbu Pickle
Make the most of the chillies and lemons available in summer by turning them into this aromatic and spicy bharwa mirchi and nimbu pickle. To prepare this pickle, chillies and lemons are first hollowed out and then stuffed with a spice mix made from just the right amount of ginger-garlic, fennel seeds, red chilli powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, and a few other ingredients cooked in groundnut oil.
7. Aam, Kathal, and Sirka Pickle
Mango and jackfruit are two delicious bounties of an Indian summer—a pickle is a no-brainer! It is made with boiled raw jackfruit, raw mangoes, dried red chilli powder, fenugreek seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, carom seeds, onion seeds, and garlic cloves. The star ingredient of this pickle is the sugarcane vinegar, which lends a mellow flavour and is not as harsh as other types of vinegar.