THEME: #196 IT’S PICKLE TIME
My mum use to make huge quantities of lemon pickle and other pickles and store it in those old fashioned ceramic brown and cream jars. The pickle would be served every Sunday along with khichdi and kadhi.
As for the lemon pickle which I love so much,she would leave the lemon pieces in a container, covered with muslin cloth for days in the sun till the lemon peel would become soft.
I never learnt how to make the pickle from her. A few years back Vibha bhabhi made the pickle and shared the recipe with me. Tips like leaving the lemon pieces to marinate in the fridge was my kaki’s valuable tip. I have tasted lemon pickle that is left in the sun and don’t really like it as it tastes like as though the lemon is about to rot. Perhaps they had left it for too long in the sun. I don’t remember my mum’s lemon pickle ever tasting like that.
I’d made the lemon pickle following my bhabhi’s recipe and following my kaki’s tip. However, twice when I made it I forgot to take photos. As I was clearing my kitchen and fridge as I was closing down my home for a year, I found a tin of lemon pieces marinated in salt and lemon juice. I thought I had used it up but surprise surprise, it was right at the back of the fridge.(A tip to remember is try and store things in the fridge in a clear box or tin so its visible). Decided to make the pickle and take it to Mumbai. Now packing pickle to travel with is another story.
I remember many years ago when I’d gone to Kodaikanal International School to leave my kids, we met a Gujarati parent whose clothes perpetually smelt of pickle! Very proudly she told me how many pickles she had made for son! Second story is when some years back when my younger son had come to Mumbai to visit us, he had to go back to Montreal with his friend’s gagra choli for the sangeet night. My sister in law wanted to send some pickle for her son in Montreal. The pickle was in a thick plastic bag. Hubby put it in the small pressure cooker that my son had bought and I thought OK that’s safe. However, while packing my son’s bag, he put the lid of the cooker upside down. When Neel reached Montreal, his friend’s outfit got stained with pickle and the whole bag was stinking of pickle. Thankfully, his friend’s cousin was traveling from Mumbai for the wedding and bought another outfit. The long protruding part of the lid where we insert the whistle, poked into the bag and thus the pickle oil and masala leaked out.
Remembering the above incident, hubby didn’t want me to travel with the pickle. Can’t leave it out in the humid air for over a year, so wrapped it up with cling film and newspapers and loads of sellotape.
Make this pickle when you get nice, juicy and thin skinned lemons. When in season, I usually marinate them in salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. After a month, the lemon peel becomes soft and that’s when I make the pickle. I use ready made pickle masala that my mother in law gets from Baroda. I rally like the taste of it.
Makes about 2 cups
3 medium lemons
1 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ cup lemon juice
For making the pickle:
¾ cup sugar or soft or grated gur (jaggery)
3 tbsp coriander cumin powder (dhana jiru)
2-3 tbsp ready pickle masala
1 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
¼ cup oil
- Wash the lemon and dry it with a cloth.
- Cut the lemons into quarters and each one cut into two. This way you should have 8 quarters. From 3 lemons you will get about 1½ cups of lemon quarters. With a sharp knife remove the seeds and the white part of the lemon.(pith)
- Mix lemon pieces, salt, turmeric powder and lemon juice in a bowl.
- Store the lemon mixture in an airtight container and put it away in the fridge.
- After a month the lemon peel will become soft. Remember to mix the marinate occasionally.
- When the lemon peel is soft, prepare the masala for the pickle.
- Put the sugar or gur in a bowl. Add dhana jiru, pickle masala and red chilli powder. Add the marinated lemon and mix well.
- Cover and leave the mixture at room temperature till the gur or sugar melts.
- Heat oil in a pan over low heat and add the lemon mixture.
- Stir the mixture constantly till it begins to bubble gently.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Cover the pan with a cloth and let it cool down completely.
- Store in a jar and keep in the fridge to maintain the freshness or leave it out but in a cool place.
- Remove the seeds and whit part of the lemon otherwise the pickle will taste bitter.
- For a more sweeter pickle, add 1 cup of sugar or gur instead of ¾.
- If the ready pickle masala is not chilli enough, add red chilli powder according to your taste.
- Over cooking the pickle will caramelize it. Remove the pan off the heat once the mixture begins to bubble.
- When half the amount of pickle is left, I marinate another lot so that it is ready to be made into a pickle when I need it.
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