Gujarati Cuisine is never complete without a athanu/achaar/pickle and/or sambharo of any kind. Sambharo is nothing but a few veggies stir fried in light oil along with mustard seeds, turmeric and asafoetida, but I shall not be talking about that right now… will post a few sambharo recipes later.
Today I shall be talking about Pickles, there are so many pickles in gujarati cuisine that a whole blog can be dedicated to it… well I don’t intend to do that literally but I’m just making a point to the number of variety of pickles. P loves Lahsan nu athanu (garlic pickle) and I prefer Keri nu Khattu athanu(Mango Pickle). Every household has its own way and recipe of each kind of pickle may it be garlic pickle or mango pickle; mix veg pickle or carrot pickle and these range for spicy to sweet to just tangy…
In old times each pickle was made painstakingly by roasting and grinding each and every individual ingredient and then concocting them to make a wonderful aachaar/pickle, reminds of Egyptians and the Mummification process …. giggles. But during these times of hi-tech age, pickles too have gone hi-tech, proof…. just visit any supermarket isle of Indian food and you shall find ready made bottle pickles, made with preservatives and added vinegar etc…. authentic pickles never had any of these. Won’t admonish those ready made pickles more coz I myself have a couple of them adorning my fridge… :)
P and I have never been much of a sweet pickle persons but ever since my mother in law prepared a lovely oil free limbu nu athana a few years back during my visit to India, the mere process of making it made me fall in love with it and the oil free tag was even more attractive than ever before. My mom too made this pickle and in a way by very similar method but you know we kids how we ignore and underestimate our own mom, I literally used to avoid contact of any sort of that pickle and so did my siblings … sorry mum mi :)
So talking about the lemon pickle, this pickle has the potential of adding some zing to any regular boring meal. Prepared with just 4 ingredients and placed in sun to bake under pure solar heat, one of the easiest and tastiest pickle I’ve ever made. This pickle tastes much better with jaggery but I didn’t have it in my pantry, so had to settle for sugar instead.
Take 1 1/2 kg lemons, wash them and MAKE SURE TO WIPE EACH LEMON DRY INDIVIDUALLY, after wiping them off let them sit in open air on a counter top or any driest place possible, this will make sure that there is no damp spots on lemons. Cut each lemon into 8 wedges, if you are taking smaller sized limes (kind of those we get in India) cut them into 4 wedges.
Take a large transparent air tight glass jar (make sure its thoroughly dry) big enough to fit in all the lemon wedges and stack the wedges in it.
Add 1/3 cup salt and close the jar and shake well. (This process was done on 23rd april)
Place the Jar in sun for about 20 to 25 days, make sure to shake the jar atleast twice a day. After 20 days check if the lemon wedges for the softness, apply pressure with you thumb and index finger and if they give away the wedges are ready for the next step. If the wedges don’t break off then close the jar and keep them in sun for a week more. The baking of wedges totally depends on the sunlight it receives and the atmospheric conditions, here in Riyadh, which is a middle of dessert there is no scarcity of sun and hence my pickled lemon wedges were ready in just 18-19 days.
Now add in 750 grams or 3 cups white sugar (added on 12th may) close the jar and shake well, keep it in sun for couple 6-7 days or till the sugar has melted and wedges duly marinated in it. Mean while make sure of that shaking the jar twice a day. Keeping in sun at this stage helps to slowly cook sugar and gives it a nice caramelized flavor and texture.
Now on the brink of completion just add in 3 tbs red chilli powder/kashmiri lal mirch (added on 18th may), close the jar and shake well.
Now you can enjoy this pickle whenever you want. What I usually do is that after adding red chilli powder, I let the pickle rest for couple of days in the big jar and then transfer them into smaller individual jars and place them in fridge, this way most of the pickle will remain air tight and fresh while I have just one small jar out for daily consumption.
The best thing about this pickle is, as it ages its nutritional value increases. You can expect it to change into a bit darker shade after a couple of months but it is suppose to happen, so don’t sweat.
This pickle has a self life of upto 5 years in an air tight container and about 9 months to 1 year once its opened, but then it won’t last that long. :)
Forgot to take snaps of the big jar (the one in which I prepared the pickle) so this is one of my 4 individual smaller air tight jars.
You can add equal amount of Jaggery instead of sugar for additional benefits of avoiding refined sugar.