One of the favourite past times of an Indian household is the craft of making pickles and lime pickle is better known to Indians as nimbu ka achaar. The salting and fermenting – in this case using limes – with chillies and spices make for a fiery, tangy addition to a meal and your palate. The salting and fermenting of limes with chillies and spices make for a fiery and tangy addition to a meal.
So how do you choose the best limes for pickling? To find the juiciest limes, compare the weight in your hands – the heavier, the juicier. Limes are a great source of vitamin C. Limes taste great with fish, crab, prawns, chilli, avocado, coriander and fish sauce. Indian lime pickle is all about the intensely sour, hot, spicy, salty flavours, it refuses to be ignored. If you’re eating anything sort of bland or boring, like lentils for instance, just add some lime pickle and it is bound to add the life to the party in your plate and your tastebuds. Like most traditional foods of this type, there are endless variations to the classic Indian lime pickle recipe. Most entail slicing or quartering limes and packing them in salt to cure in the sun for a number of weeks until they’re brown and well fermented.
Try out this recipe from South African of Indian-origin, Jimmy Parthiben Moodley of Durban, who is an avid foodie enthusiast.
Step 1: Lime Preparation
Cut each lime into 4 – 8 wedges dependent on size. Place in a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt. Cover and set aside in a cool dry place, stirring occasionally, for 6 – 8 weeks. No drying or boiling required.
Step 2: Lime pickle spice mix
You may choose between Jimmy’s spice mix or our recommended spice blend.
Option 1: Jimmy’s Mixture
- 100 grams pickle masala
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cloves fresh garlic pounded lightly.
- 500 ml oil or alternatively virgin olive oil as a healthier alternative
Option 2: Indian Spice Mix
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons mustard seed oil (see note)
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water
- 125g (3/4 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 30 seconds or until the seeds start to pop. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander and chilli powder. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic.
Step 3: Finally
Stir in the lime mixture, water, sugar and vinegar and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thick. Spoon into sterilised glass jars. Seal and invert jars for 2 minutes. Set aside for 1 week to develop the flavours.
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