I keep saying we are not a pickle consuming family but we do appreciate a good pickle once in a while. And sometimes when someone mentions a pickle that was made back home with much ostentation, I feel like making that pickle just for my memory's sake.
This sooran ka achar was one of those pickles that I made after my brother was remembering this pickle made my our grandmother.
We used to take second and third helping of this pickle whenever it was placed on the table. I remember this was one of the pickle that was used to show off the varieties of pickle that my parents used to hoard. And we were lucky to have a grandmother who used to find great pleasure in seeing such pageantry around the food she made.
Making sooran ka achar is not difficult once you get the vegetable grated and ready. A food processor or a handy house help and you can easily breeze through making this Elephant yam pickle. Peeling the muddy skin and grating this hard tuber is the most difficult thing, but once it is done you just have to toss it like a salad.
Salad? Do we have salads in India? Check this article I wrote for my column in Indian Express.
Coming back to this sooran ka achar, it is actually a balanced mix of the yam, ginger, garlic, chillies and of course the pickling spices. It looks more like a chutney and tastes somewhere between an Indian tart chutney and a pickle resplendent with pickling spices. Ginger plays a very good role in this pickle.
300 gm peeled, rinsed and grated sooran
200 gm cleaned and grated fresh ginger root
100 gm garlic peeled and minced (or chopped roughly if you like the bite)
50-60 gm dry red chilly powder (coarse preferably)
150 gm salt
100 gm pickling spice mix
50 gm turmeric powder Or 100 gm fresh turmeric root grated
200 ml pure cold pressed mustard oil (a little more to top up)
1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida)
100 ml vinegar of your choice (I use home made jamun or apple cider vinegar)
Take care to clean the chopping board and grating equipment thoroughly. Grate and chop the ingredients as required and mix with salt and turmeric. Keep aside for an hour or so. No need to sun dry anything.
Heat the mustard oil, add the hing powder and wait till it froths. Add the remaining spices at once and take the pan off the stove. Add this infused oil along with the spices in the sooran mix and give it a good stir.
Add the vinegar, mix well and immediately fill into a sterilized jar, press it down to remove air gaps. Pour some additional mustard oil if the pickle looks too dry, the top layer should be submerged in a thin layer of oil.
This pickle will be ready to eat in 2-3 days and keeps well for a whole year. The taste keeps getting a little more tart as this pickle ages.
Sooran is also known as Zamikand, Oal or Ole in other parts of India but this pickle is probably a recipe belonging to eastern UP and Bihar. I haven't come across this sooran ka achar in any other regions till now.