In pursuit of a perfect pickle!
In days of yore, pickle making was almost a community activity. People lived in sprawling, independent houses, and there were huge lawns and open spaces or verandahs . After the daily chores were done, women folk in colorful attires, from neighbourhood would come together on sunny afternoons. They would peel the vegetables, and pound the spices manually and sip ginger tea in yera glasses while also exchanging gossips as the kids played a home- invented game of gulli-danda, or fought over bantas or marbles .
Soon the vegetables would be neatly arranged, to be dried under the warm winter Indian sun, on an old cotton sari placed on a manji ( old-time wooden cot).
Alas, I was never a part of that talented pickle brigade. While they spiced up their lives, I was romancing with my Mills and Boon books. But, now when I look back , I wish I had picked up the nuances!
I have regrets that I never learnt the basics from our next door Punjabi neighbor, er who we lovingly addressed as bua ji (paternal aunt), while the rest came under a common nomenclature of bebe ji ( granny) in Dehra Dun. But a collage of memories of those pickling days continues to haunt me.
Fast forward, four decades later… I find myself in pursuit of a perfect pickle just to recreate some magic for my now phoren son’s desi palate..He is the only one in the family who has a sweet pickle tooth.
For days, I have been on a pickling spree, and this is my offering of sweet pickle recipe which left me satisfied and happy with my experiments.
Well, in an Indian kitchen, rarely would you find us( at least my generation) measuring and weighing the ingredients. All measurements are eyeballed or as we say, andaaj se, a pinch of this and a dash of that…
so you may adjust the spices to your liking.
There are no hard and fast rules, feel free to innovate and experiment with the basic recipe given below:
2 cups carrots
2 cups turnip
2 cups cauliflower
6 tb sp ginger
4 tbsp garlic
1 ½ tbsp mustard powder
1 ½ tbsp red chilly powder
1 ½ tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp salt
1 cup jaggery/gur ( sugar can also be substituted)
¾ cup white vinegar
½ cup mustard oil
Peel and chop the vegetables and wash well.
Remember the carrots to be cut into sticks, turnips as circles or semi circles, and cauliflower into small florets.
Blanch for a minute in salted water.
Drain the vegetables and let it dry completely.( Place in a cotton towel or sun dry to remove the moisture completely)
Take a pan, add the vinegar and jaggery and give it a boil till jaggery dissolves. Let it cool.
Take a wok, add some mustard oil, heat it to a smoking point and then switch off the gas.
Add some mustard seeds, ginger-garlic paste, and switch on the gas again. Add the spices, and vegetables and finally the vinegar-jaggery liquid. Give a stir, and switch off the gas.
After it has cooled down, transfer the pickle to a glass jar. It would be ready to eat in 3 to 4 days. Would stay good for at least 6 months.
Serve it with aloo paratha… and enjoy!
(source: a hand me down recipe, with modifications after innumerable spoon licking sessions in my kitchen)