Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pickles & home made Chilli Pickle

You must have seen this rather bizarre advertisement that appears in our morning papers. This is for a new brand of pickle and to hook `health conscious’ wannabes, the manufacturer says the pickle is made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Not only that, the pickle is touted as being cholesterol free. Now that got my goat. Cholesterol free!! Really. Talk about up-selling and gullible customers.

Cholesterol is found only in animal products. Thus, meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products all have varying degrees of Cholesterol. No oil made from peanut, sunflower, rapeseed, mustard, sesame, palm or coconut has cholesterol. Unless you are making a non vegetarian pickle, which by itself is rare, you don’t have cholesterol in pickles. But here is a crafty manufacturer riding on gullible, innocent and uneducated customers whose instincts are triggered by buzz words and not their God - given brains.

Have you ever realised what pickling actually does? It is a process by which inhospitable conditions are created to prevent microbes from spoiling food. Just one of the ways to achieve this is by adding high proportion of salt or oil or both. Fermentation is another method.

While on the subject of pickles, you must have read about the kitchen garden we have. Last week, we had a lot of chilli that was ripe. After picking most of it, we had 200 grams of chilli. This was too much to use in daily cooking. So we decided to make a chilli pickle. I got a recipe from one of my favourite Aunts who, being from the old school, actually makes pickle at home. It was an extremely simple recipe. I was touched by the measurement. People don’t have weighing scales at home. Therefore things are measured by volume. The only ingredient measured by weight is the pickle, because the vegetable vendor has a scale! The other ingredients are measured by a `Wati’ or `Katori’ which is a small bowl. 1 `Wati’ should contain about 200 grams.

We adjusted the recipe to the 200 grams of chilli we had. We have a jar of chilli pickle maturing. I hope it turns out well. This one has no cholesterol and it’s organic, no chemical fertiliser was used in growing the chilli.    

Some of the Chilli

Clockwise from top left - Haldi, Hing, Salt, Fenugreek, Mustard Daal and Oil

The final pickle

Here is the Recipe

500 grams fresh green chilli
½ Wati or 100 grams of Mustard `Daal’. This is available at most Indian style grocers
2 Teaspoons Methi or Fenugreek seeds
1 Wati or 200 grams salt [I suggest you add about 200 grams at first and if needed add more later]
4 Teaspoons Hing or Asefotida powder
3 Teaspoons Haldi or Turmeric powder
1 Wati or 200 grams oil


Wash and thoroughly dry the chilli. Remove the stalks and chop into 1 cm lengths. Place in large heatproof mixing bowl. Not plastic.

Add the Mustard Daal, Salt and Haldi. Mix.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the Hing to the hot oil, add the Methi and give it a bit of a stir. Don’t let the Methi burn. Pour the oil into the mixing bowl and mix the chilli mixture well.

Once cool fill it in a clean jar and keep away in a cupboard for about 6 days to mature.

After 6 days give it a taste and you could adjust the salt and if you like add some lime juice. Once matured keep in the fridge.

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