Now, if you've not ever had a South Indian pickle, it's quite a bit different from the North American pickle- baby cucumbers pickled in a vinegar/sugar/salt brine. The Indian pickle is a super spicy, hot, condiment that we eat with pretty much anything. Rice? check. Rotis? check. Upma? check. It's also submerged in a oil bath and is extremely salty. But that's what makes it a "tasty" condiment. The pickles come in so many varieties- baby mango, mixed vegetable, lime, Gongura leaves... the possibilities are endless.
The average store-bought spicy pickle is not something I'm a huge fan of.. sure I'll eat it every once in a while with my favorite thachi mum (plain yogurt rice) but normally I steer clear because of the intense heat and saltiness. So imagine the look on my face when mom tells me she's going to make lime pickle here. And then she goes on to tell me it's "solar". hahahahahahahahaaaahahaa... I thought she was mocking Dallas weather. This was when we were in our bazillionth day of over 100 F temperature and it was really getting old. Or I thought she was losing her mind because a) she's not a pickle person either and (b) she knows I'm not so why would be make it? But she had found this recipe in her online search and convinced me that it would not be terrible spicy and it has very minimum oil to help with the marination.
The heat from the sun would essentially be "cooking" the lime as it was marinating outside.
Still with me? Read on...
- 6 limes
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1/4 cup chilli or cayenne powder
- 3 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp hing (asofaetida)
- 6-7 thin julienned fresh ginger strips
- 1/2 cup olive oil or sesame oil.
1. Wash and thoroughly towel dry the limes; it should not even be slightly damp.
2. Dry roast the mustard seeds, hing and methi seeds until methi turns a light brown. Allow to cool and dry grind to a fine powder.
3. Cut limes into tiny cubes.
4. Mix all the above ingredients in a glass jar (or mix in a bowl and transfer to a jar) and add juice of one lime for some acidity.
5. Keep the jar in direct sun on your patio or balcony with the jar closed for 10 days. The hotter the temperature outside, the better :) . Out here, it was 100F+ but if it's not as hot, it might need more time in the sun.
6. After 4 days, add a half cup of olive/sesame oil to help with the marination.
7. Make sure to give the pickle a good mix every day until you bring it back inside. This helps with the spice distribution and even cooking.
You can follow its progress as it's cooked in the sun and feel the lime pieces getting tender and releasing the wonderful aroma!