Kachri is a small cucumber that grows wild by the fields in the end of summer season. Some smaller kachris keep growing till early winter and that is how I found them when I went to Tijara farm couple of weeks ago. I love kachri ki chutney made with dhaniya patta and garlic etc and another kachri ki chutney with sesame seeds and keep making it frequently.
I had heard about the kachri ka achar from my house help and the farm workers at Tijara so I gave it a try this season. I was not very hopeful because I always preferred the chutney more.
But as soon as the pickle got 3 day old and I tasted it I had to change my opinion. This was the most unusual pickle I had ever tasted. The slightly tart and very mild bitter flavour of kachri responded really well to the north Indian pickling process, though I had tweaked the pickling spices to suit the kachri.
Note that kachri grows at ground level and sometimes it get buried after rain or slush caused by irrigation water. Some of the kachri may be covered with a thin layer of dirt so soak it in water and rinse well before chopping it.
400 gm kachri cleaned and quartered lengthwise
45 gm salt or 1 tbsp and a little more
1.5 tbsp turmeric powder
1.5 tbsp red chili powder
2 tbsp mustard powder
200 ml mustard oil
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsp nigella (kalonji) seeds
1 tsp Bishop's or ajwain seeds
2 tsp coarse fennel powder
Toss the first mix together in a glass bowl and mix well. Keep it in sun for a day or two till it dehydrates a little.
Heat mustard oil to do the second mix once the first mix start looking a little dry and tip in the spices together. Take the pan off heat immediately and pour into the first mix. Stir and mix well.
Fill in sterilized jars.
The pickle gets ready to eat in 2 days though it can be eaten at any point during the mixing process. After 2-3 days the kachri becomes soft and the taste is very unique and pleasant.
Since I made this pickle for the first time I will wait to see how it behaves and how well it preserves. Now after about 2 weeks the pickle has not changed at all so I conclude that the texture will remain the same for a long time.
I will definitely update here about the shelf life as and when I see changes in the pickle jar I kept for myself. The other jar was sent to Tijara as a gratitude gesture.
Some of the kachri I brought is being dehydrated. Since winter sun is not enough for sun drying I am keeping it in refrigerator for cold drying that may take some time.
Kachri is a nutritious wild food and should be used frequently in everyday food. If the pickle doesn't suit your taste you can always depend on the chutney. Some people say the taste of millet rotis gets enhanced when eaten with kachri chutney and white butter. I have tried that combination and can vouch for that.
Let the kachri ka achar be for bajre ki khichdi or any khichdi we make during winters.