Tuesday, March 8, 2011

lime and chilli pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

lime and chilly pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

The aam ka achaar recipe invites a lot of hits on this blog and a lot of queries too. It is tough to believe that this recipe of achaar is so forgiving.

No fungal contamination (spoiling the pickle) even when the achaar is made without sun exposure.

The spice mix is hot and tangy and can be used for achaari vegetable and fish recipes too. I make the lime pickle with the same method too, the same blend of spices works well for the lime and green chillies pickle.... 

Nimboo ka achaar, nimboo mirchi ka achaar or mixed pickle, the recipe will be the same if you want this spice blend. Only you need to steam the vegetables if you are using fresh vegetables like cauliflowers, carrots, green peas or lotus stem etc. For mimboo and mirchi ka achar there is no need to parboil them.

So the first step is to chop the lime in 8 pieces each, discard the pips and chop the green chillies* in convenient size pieces. I make this achaar in large quantity so a large bucket size plastic container is used to keep the mix. Tossing the pickle ingredients will be convenient is a larger container is used.

lime and chilly pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

 *The chillies I use is the variety called 'Bangalore torpedo', it is a long (about 4-6 inches) tapering chilly, labeled as 'bajji chilly' on the shelves, this chilli is mild hot, lighter in color that the regular hot green chilly. A single regular hot green chilly can be seen in the picture for comparison. A mild hot green chilly is recommended for this pickle as a lot of red chilly powder is used in the pickle spice mix*.

green chillies

The green chillies and limes are to be washed properly and drained before chopping them.

Now add the turmeric powder and salt, mix well to coat everything. This mixture can be kept till you have prepared the spice mix, for days or even for weeks. I do it as and when time permits.

Chopping the lime and chillies is the most troublesome part of this pickle, all else can be done in steps, as time permits in your schedule.

lime and chilly pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

This step results in some water release from the limes although it is much less that the water released from mango pieces. The reason is the lime, due to it's pectin content probably has a tendency to make a gel along with salt (as well as with sugar if making sweet pickle), so most of the water stays inside the pieces for gelling...

This is the stage of pickle preparation, as is said earlier, that can be extended. If kept in the airtight container for a couple of weeks or even more. This mixture otherwise needs to be rested for at least two days, allowing time for maximum water release.

Now is the time for the spice blending.

The basic achaari spices are the ones used in panchphoron, nigella seeds or kalonji  bishop's weed or ajwain seeds, fenugreek or the methi seeds, fennel seeds or saunf, and mustard seeds or sarson.

For 3 kilo of the lime and chillies mixture (I used 2 kilo of lime and 1 kilo of chillies) you need

100gm of yellow mustard powdered
pickling spices or achar ka masala
100 gm of fennel seeds coarsely powdered
75 gm of fenugreek seeds coarsely powdered
50 gm ajwain seeds coarsely powdered 
50 gm of kalonji or mangrail seeds coarsely powdered

apart from this...

100 gm of red chilly powder
100 gm of turmeric powder 
1 tsp of powdered hing 
600 gm salt
500 ml of mustard oil

All the spices are processed separately,and are to be kept ready at the time of mixing.

Heat the mustard oil till almost smoking, switch off the flame. Now add the asafoetida, it floats on the surface immediately.

Then add the methi powder, fennel powder and ajwain and kalonji in that order, stirring after every addition. This allows the flavors to infuse into the oil and evaporation of any leftover moisture. The spices need to be completely dry by the way.

Now this mixture is poured over the lime and chilly mix. The chilly powder and mustard powder are also added to the mix and given a good stir. The achar is ready to eat immediately although it may be a bit bitter if the lime n chilly has rested just for a couple of days but it improves with time.

This achaar keeps well for a couple of years, becoming more jell like as it ages.

lime and chilly pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

Here is a jar which was gifted to someone. I usually do not eat much pickles but invariably I make them a lot. Many of my friends and family keep demanding them and most of the time I eat these pickles when someone calls to tell how yummy they are  reminding me to reach for them in my next meal...

lime and chilly pickle | nimbu hari mirch ka achar

Making pickles is considered a forte of grandmothers, and I am one grandmother material. I like almost everything homemade as I prefer to do everything my way. So making the amchoor at home is not old fashioned any more. Nor is making marmalade, be it lemon, orange or any other citrus fruit.

I don't mind being a granny material , modernity is into my head , the heart prefers everything old fashioned.


  1. I've never made a pickle in my life. But then I had never ever made marmalade either. You're teaching me a lot of things

  2. Thanks Ritu... meet this granny here :)
    check out the amchoor,that you can do i am sure .

  3. yummmy hey sorry to ask but anychance you know how to make Pickle of MEAT :) I would really like to make some ... my email is mannbik@gmail.com if you can ..

    THank you

  4. Bikram ...i never made a meat pickle as i am more into vegetarian food. Checked out a few recipes on the net but don't know how they work. Will let you know once i do it ..... will ask my Dad , he likes meat pickles and has made some .

  5. Sangeeta am drooling here!
    Thankyou for sharing the recipe!

  6. That looks fantastic, yum yum

  7. I have a weakness for pickles since my girlhood days, I admit. And now you are tempting me much with your recipe and pictures!

  8. These pickles are gorgeous.. I think there is one more granny in the making, all credits to u ;-).

  9. this blog has so many food items that are so familiar !!! I love trying lots of different varieties.. and thrive on tasting different food but that deshi videshi blog gave me a complex... I had not heard of so many dishes there !!!!!

  10. Ha ha ...Hitchwriter gets a complex from food ?
    Desi videshi one has so many desi recipes too . Glad that you liked this one..

  11. Hey Sangeeta, awesome work... Could you please tell me How much salt and turmeric is required to marinate the lemons and chillies before making the rest of the spice preparation?

    1. Salt is about 15-20% by weight (of the vegetable being pickled) for all Indian pickles to preserve them and turmeric about 12-15% depending on what quality of turmeric you use. Hope that answers your query Kav Kush.

    2. Thanks a bunch Sangeeta, let me try a batch and will update you how it turns out. :)