I really love food from Asia, especially Indian & Pakistani dishes. One of my friends once said to me that she doesn’t enjoy curry because every mouthful is the same. I felt really sorry for her because I figured she just doesn’t know how to eat it.
Frankly, I can eat a good curry on its own. However, with a couple of chutneys and pickles every bite can be a wonderful variety of flavours and textures. I like to have at least something hot, something sweet and something cool & creamy like a raita. This Achar is often my something hot. It is also crunchy so adds another texture dimension.
I am sharing this recipe now because I reckon this is a great time of year to have something like this in the fridge. If people call round for nibbles & drinks it will add an exciting dimension. Also there is always loads of leftover cold meat around which is excellent with pickles. I don’t just eat this with Indian food, it can brighten up a sandwich, a piece of cheese or a potato.
Achar is the name for pickle and can be found all over India, Pakistan and other parts of Asia. It is basically any foodstuff preserved in oil and salt. The process involves a little bit of cooking but is really quick and the results are extremely tasty. I got this recipe from a Madhur Jaffrey book and make it regularly. I think she used turnip but I am not a fan. You could also add other vegetables such as onions.
175ml cider vinegar (or any strong vinegar)
3 tbsp sugar
3-4 cloves garlic
1″ fresh ginger
2 tsp black mustard seeds (ground)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp salt
1. Chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces and grate the garlic and ginger.
2. Heat the vinegar and sugar to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
3. Heat a good amount of oil in a wok or large saucepan and add the ginger and garlic for about a minute to release the flavours into the oil. Keep the heat high and work fast. The aim is to keep the vegetables crunchy, practically raw but they should take on some of the flavours of the spices.
4. Add the carrots and any other harder vegetables you may be using and continue to fry on a high heat for a couple of minutes stirring all the time to avoid burning the garlic and ginger.
5. After a couple of minutes add the other vegetables and continue to stir-fry for 3 minutes.
4. Now add the spices and salt and fry for a minute or so mixing them into the vegetables and releasing their flavour.
5. Last thing is to add the vinegar and sugar solution and bring them to the boil. Keep stirring everything to coat the vegetables in the spicey vinegar. Once boiling take it off the heat and quickly transfer the pickle to a sterilised glass jar.
This needs to be kept in the fridge and should be used within a month, it is not a proper long-lasting pickle.