Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Uraippu elumichchai oorugai - Indian Lime Pickle
I hardly eat my curd rice with pickles. Not that I do not like pickles, but the fact is, when you cook for just two people, you invariably have some vegetables or the gravy remaining for another helping. In order to avoid left overs, I tend to eat my kuzhambu/ sambhar/ rasam vandal or the vegetable with the curd rice. I have never seen my husband to try having rice with pickles. So I do not put in any effort to make them or store them.
Having said that, one must be wondering if I pickled these limes just for a post. I made these to entertain guests who were invited for lunch during the navrathri festival. I did not want to buy a bottle of 'ready - to - use' pickle just for few guests. The limes I found with the vendor were very good that I purchased them to make some juice concentrate. When I visited a friend, she offered me to partake some sweet lime pickle that she had made at home. That was reason enough for me to make pickle at home.
I made them with just six medium size limes and after the navrathri lunch party, I have very small portion left, which I hope to be able to finish all by myself!
The recipe is basically what my mother makes at home. The one variation I opted for was to keep the salted pieces of lime in the sunlight for a few days, curing them before adding the spices and oil. Also I have used olive oil.
6 medium to large Indian limes (choose those with a tender skin)
4 teaspoons red chilli powder (adjust according to the sourness of the limes and the heat required)
1 table spoon salt (again adjustable as with the sourness of the fruit)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 cup gingely oil ( I have used olive oil in this recipe)
Wash the limes well. Pat them dry with a towel.
Cut each of the fruit in eight portions. Remove the seeds as many as possible.
Take the cut wedges in a clean and dry jar.
Dry roast the salt for a few minutes. Add this salt to the wedges in the jar. Toss the pieces in the salt. Cover the mouth of the jar with a clean cloth and leave the jar in a dry sunlit area.
Every morning just give the jar a shake to toss the limes within.
Though leaving in direct sunlight is desirable, owing to the dust and pollution, I opted to leave it on the window where the limes were getting good sunlight and thus heat.
In about five days, the limes would have cured well in the salt. The skin colour would have paled to a light brown and the pices will be soft to touch.
Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and the asafoetida powder.
If using gingelly oil, heat the oil to almost smoking. Drop the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Switch the heat off and add the fenugreek seeds.
Allow the oil to cool to room temperature and pour it well over the pickled limes in the jar.
mix well and store.
I have used olive oil for two reasons. The primary being that the gingelly oil i get in this country is not so good and flavoursome as I might get in India. Secondly, reading so much on the goodness of olive oil made me want to try the same. I did not heat the olive oil beyond just about hot, because I read somewhere olive oil is best had without heating.
The usual procedure that my mother will follow is to drop whole limes in warm water and allow it to boil for a few minutes. This softens the limes. She would allow this to come to room temperature and cut the slices before adding the salt and other ingredients.
Usually the pickle matures within a week and is ready to use soon after. The shelf life is easily few months to a year, provided it is stored well and handled carefully.
This pickle, had with curd rice makes a very comforting combination. I recall the many times that my mother would have packed our lunch boxes with thick home set curds mixed with rice and a piece or two of this pickle to carry to school!
Nowadays, though I hardly have pickles, I feel at ease to store a small jar of one pickle in my refrigerator, for there may be a day when I am just plain lazy to cook something up and will want to have curd rice with a small wedge of pickle to go with it.