Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lemon Pickle-South Indian/Nimbu ka achar/Elumichangai Urukai

Vegetables that are seasonally available are preserved in the form of pickles just so we can relish them all around the year. We South Indians are very notorious about the taste, flavor and the ingredients that go into the pickle.
When rest of the world calls the veggies cleaned and stored in brine a pickle we have an obnoxiously addictive habit of adding loads of spices/chilies to it to make sinfully spicy and teasing every taste bud making it mouthwatering. We Indians are obsessed about our pickles. M never accepts gherkins and capers in brine as pickled.. yeah!!! But I like them and I like Moroccan whole lemon pickles. Its just versatile just produce –driven! But a greedy Indian inside me always wishes to see a bright red colored pickle, shiny with loads of oil sitting pretty on my kitchen shelf. It kinda gives me a sense of comfort and inner peace should I say that I have something to go with curd rice, bread, rotis anything to satiate the out-of –nowhere hunger pangs that peeps in at unusual timings. Even though lemons are available at all times pickling should be done when the sun is high and hot. So this is my version!

Lemons-10, almost equal sized
Red chili powder- 3 tbsp
Salt-as needed
For Tempering/Tadka:
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
Asafoetida- 2 big pinches
Gingelly oil-1/4 cup
How It Happened:
1. Sterile the jars, spoons and bowls you use for pickling.
2. Wash the lemons well pat dry them using a clean cloth and remove any moisture.
3. Cut the lemons into halves and if they are big, quarter them. remove the seeds as  many as possible.
4. Take a sterilized dry jar; layer some of the lemon pieces at the bottom of the bottle.

5. Generally sprinkle a layer of salt. Then top it with some more lemon pieces and cover it with salt. Follow the procedure until the jar is filled 2 inches below its neckline.
6. Now take a clean piece of cloth big enough to cover mouth of the jar. Place it on the mouth of the jar and tie it securely with a kitchen twine.
7. Place this in direct sunlight. Shake them well twice a day/use a clean spatula to stir them.
8. On the first day after sun-drying the lemons would have given out all their juices and will have a lot of liquid.

9. Continue to sun dry them for 5 continuous days. After 5 days all the liquid would have been sucked back and by now the lemons will be macerated, the skin will be slightly brownish and pale, almost cooked by the sun-drying process.
10. On sixth day, add red chili [powder and around 1 tbsp of salt, mix well and sundry for another 2 days.
11. On eighth day, heat gingelly oil in a kadai add mustard seeds and asafoetida and when they pop, add the oil to the pickle and mix well.
12. Store in a cool, dark, dry place and serve with curd rice.
* If you are not sure about the sun light for consecutive five days then do not start the process else if they are not properly sun dried they may spoil soon.
* I didn't mention the amount of salt as it totally depends on your taste and the sourness of the lemons. If the lemons are extremely sour then more salt may be used.
* If you are using a clip-top jar, then you don’t have to line the mouth of the jar with a cloth.
* I added store bought red chili powder. But you can dry roast red chilies grind them to a fine powder and add them.
* After 5 days of sun drying the lemons may look dry but do not panic. When you add red chillies and salt they will leech out some liquid.

* While doing tempering you can add curry leaves. If you are going to add them , wash them, dry them well, and fry them in oil until they are completely crisp. If they retain any moisture they may end up spoiling the whole pickle.

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