Instant Lemon Pickle/Relish (Vadukkapuli Achar)

Over the past 18 years since I got married, I have cooked and baked like crazy.  Curries, Stews, Chutneys, Breads, Cakes, Desserts.  Indian, American, South Asian, Mexican, Italian – you name it, I have tried it!  You just have to browse through the recipe categories on my home page to see what I mean! However, one category that I have not really ventured into a lot is that of ‘pickles’. And by pickles, I mean ‘Indian’ pickles which are an altogether different class of foods as compared to what pickles mean to the western world.  A pickle in India is usually something that is a relish – something that is either extremely sour or extremely spicy or in most cases both 🙂 The very mention of the word ‘pickle’ gets my salivary glands into hyperactivity! And I can confidently say that it does the same for most Indians 🙂

These pickles are meant to be consumed in very tiny quantities in a meal and is thought to tickle your palate thereby improving your appetite and aiding digestion. In fact, the way to enjoy these pickles is by dipping your finger in it and then licking it between eating portions of rice or rotis! The best pickles – the ones that I grew up eating were all home made! By my grandmas and my various aunts. Yes, my mom for some reason too did not make pickles.  But after I got married, I started getting pickles from my MIL regularly. That could very well be the reason why I never tried to make pickles. And the fact that it just seemed like a lot of hard work. Which is true in most cases since the pickled object for example the lemons or the green mangoes etc have to be washed, wiped and sun dried completely for one. Second of all, once the pickle was made, it needed to be sealed appropriately and stashed away for a few months before it was ‘ready’ to be consumed! Now who has the patience for that?

For the past two years being on a Paleo and AIP diet I have cut down considerably  on the quantity of pepper from my diet. I now only use kashmiri chill powder which is very mild – it gives the hot red color which I crave for without the added heat that I can do without.! So I had very much given up the hope that I could be eating pickles anytime soon.

However, last month while I was visiting India, my elder sister made the Kerala traditional Vadaukkapuli achar for Onam. God bless her! Vadukkapuli is the name of a variety of lemon that is much bigger than regular lemons and they have a thicker rind. The pickle made using these lemons are a side dish for the Onam sadya. makes sense right considering what I mentioned before about palate and digestion 🙂

Gosh, I very hesitantly tasted it telling myself that I was just going to have one tiny bit – a little indulgence since it was onam! What I didn’t realize was that this innocent tasting would open up the floodgates of pent up ‘pickle cravings’!  Having tasted it now, there was no stopping me. Luckily my sister had not made it too hot or spicy. I loved it so much that I begged her to tell me the recipe. I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that she had made it that very morning. Meaning this was an instant version of pickle. She had peeled the skin off making the lemon pieces soften instantly. What a neat trick! I couldn’t wait to get back home and try a version that suited my needs – less hot and spicy and completely paleo friendly.  I used lesser quantity of all the spices and also used apple cider vinegar instead of synthetic vinegar and used regular organic lemons since I couldn’t find the large Meyer lemons.

Presenting to you a milder version of the traditional Kerala Naranga Achar!.  I have been currently enjoying this lemon relish with boiled yucca (kappa). Yum O!

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Instant Lemon Pickle (Naranga Achar)
Author: 
Recipe type: Relish, Pickle
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Spicy and tangy lemon relish made with lemon pieces sautéed in sesame oil along with spices like mustard, fenugreek and cayenne pepper.
Ingredients
  • 3 large lemons (I used regular organic lemons)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Peel the lemons (removing the yellow rind) and then cut into small bite size pieces. Discard the seeds. Place in a strainer that is placed over a dish. Collect the juices and reserve.
  2. Heat a small pan or cooking pot and add the oil. When hot add the mustard seeds and the fenugreek seeds. When they splutter, add the lemon pieces and saute for 2 mins.
  3. Add all the spices and salt and sautee for 1 more minute. Turn heat off and add the vinegar and stir to mix.
Notes
Although I used regular lemons, you can use same recipe to make vadukka puli (Meyer lemons)achar

Pan fried Salmon with a Coconut Dill Chutney

Dill is one herb (the only one perhaps) that I took a long time to appreciate. May be because it was not available in western India where I grew up. And Dill being so different from some of the other herbs that I was used to like cilantro and mint, it took a while before I started appreciating its fragrance and flavor. One of my close friends is originally from Iran and she makes a delicious Lima beans Pilaf where Dill flavor is predominant. That was my first exposure to Dill and that first time I wasn’t crazy about it.  But over the years I slowly started to like its strong flavor and smell.

I started first appreciating it in pickled cucumbers. I absolutely relish pickles. And now I have grown to be quite fond of it 🙂 I still won’t use it that liberally since it can be too overpowering if you overdo it but every now and then I like to get a fresh bunch and use it sparingly in salads and baked potatoes etc. A few weeks ago I found a large bunch in our local farmer’s market and was tempted to pick it up. At that time I didn’t know what I would make with it but it somehow had such a fresh and refreshing smell that I had to bring it to my kitchen!

And then the next day as I got the Salmon out of the freezer, the idea of making a sauce popped in my head. And knowing me you won’t be surprised that I decided to make a coconut based sauce, kind of like a chutney using coconut, lemon juice and dill. So glad I did! I was thinking of baking the salmon but last minute decided to just do a quick pan fry. The dish was just perfect – the crispy salmon and the creamy coconut dill flavored chutney was like a marriage made in heaven! Mmm…Mmm good!

Pan fried Salmon with a Coconut Dill Chutney
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course, seafood
Cuisine: Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Pan fried Salmon, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, served with a delicious creamy coconut and dill chutney
Ingredients
  • 2 salmon filets (about 6-8 oz each)
  • About 2 tbsp Coconut or Olive Oil for pan frying
Marinade for salmon:
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper pow (I used kashmiri chill powder which is mild)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the coconut dill chutney:
  • ½ cup grated coconut or coconut pieces(fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • 1 green chili (optional)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt (or per taste)
  • ¼ cup hot water
Instructions
  1. Thaw the salmon and remove any scales from the skin side. Pat dry using paper towels.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients.
  3. Apply marinade paste to the salmon filets and keep aside for 15-30 mins.
  4. In a food processor, blend all the chutney ingredients until creamy and fine.
  5. Heat a frying pan and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the marinated salmon pieces. Cook for about 2 mins on medium high heat. Flip and cook on the other side for about 2 mins more. Transfer to a dish.
  6. Serve Salmon with coconut dill chutney on top!
Notes
For AIP version, skip cayenne pepper and green chili.

Green Chilli Thecha (Mirchi Cha Thecha)


DSC_0195The first time I heard the word ‘thecha’ was from my dear friend Manisha who is from Nagpur and is an awesome cook. Her authentic Maharashtrian dishes are all fiery and simply spectacular just like her 🙂 I like to call her a Pataka….a firecracker! Lovingly, of course 🙂

Thecha is Marathi for ‘smashed or pounded’.And in Maharashtrian cuisine, it refers to a spicy relish/chutney made with chillies and garlic mainly along with some other ingredients. For example, there is red chili thecha and green chili thecha. Peanuts are also added sometimes. Having made so many different kinds of chutneys over the years, I appreciate the good old pounding method. As Manisha says, for some reason, a thecha won’t be a thecha if you make it in a food processor. The pounding works to release all flavors in a way that a food processor is unable to. And the consistency of the chutney – the coarse texture can only be achieved by pounding. So you absolutely need to bring out your mortar and pestle for this one. Or at least use a chopper so that you get a coarse consistency.

IMG_1765Now that I am following a diet restricting all sour foods, I yearn for my ‘pickle’ jar during meals. That’s when I thought of Manisha’s thecha. I needed something to spice up my meals even if I couldn’t eat any pickles or sour chutneys. And Manisha, the kind soul that she is, was quick to share her recipe. Oh the joys of ‘whatsapping’! She uses lime juice too in the end to kick it up a notch further but for me this was perfect even without the lime.

DSC_0194Mind you, this is one fiery chutney…definitely not for the ‘faint hearted’. Actually, ‘thechas’ are meant as a relish and just a tiny bit in your tongue can get your tastebuds to go on a mad frenzy! The pleasure is so intense that you could also sob. yeah…this one can bring tears!  So here is the recipe – Try it at your own risk! Keep a glass of cool milk or yoghurt by your side!

Green Chilli Thecha (Mirchi Cha Thecha)

  • Servings: makes about 1/2 cup
  • Time: about 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp light olive oil (or peanut oil)
  • 8 green serrano chillies (use less for less hot)
  • 4-5 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, washed and pat dried
  • about 1/4 tsp salt or to taste

For tadka:

  • 1 tsp olive oil or peanut oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida)

Method:

In a frying pan add the oil and when hot add the green chillies, garlic and the jeera. Roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat off and transfer the mixture to a mortar and pestle. Add the cilantro leaves. Pound with pestle until you get a coarsely ground mixture. Add the salt and mix. Transfer to a serving bowl/container.

In a small tadka pan, add the oil and then add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the hing powder and turn heat off. Pour this oil mixture over the pounded chutney.

Serve with chapatis/bhakris /dosas or rice and daal.

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Green Chili Thecha(Mirchi Thecha)

 

 

 

Peanut and Curry Leaves Chutney

DSC_1376I had been meaning to make peanut chutney for the longest time now. A co-worke had brought this ‘lip smacking’ peanut chutney into work one day and ever since I had been pestering him to get the recipe from his wife. He did oblige shortly (or rather his sweet wife did) and then somehow between this and that, I never got a chance to making it. Then as it so happened I saw the recipe for a curry leaves chutney in a Facebook group which I was attracted to instantly too. So finally the last time I made idlis, I decided to mix up the two and make this fabulous chutney with the two awesome ingredients – peanuts for the nutty smooth taste and fresh curry leaves in a good proportion to give it a really lovely and healthy dose of flavor!
DSC_1384Needless to say, this chutney went fabulously with the idlis. But I continued relishing it for the next day or two as an accompaniment to rice also. I have a feeling this will go well with pretty much anything – tortilla chips,pita chips, toast etc etc. Without further ado, here is the recipe. Enjoy!

Bringing this to Fiesta Friday where the wonderful Jhuls is the co-host this week who blogs at  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook. Also Linking to Throwback Thursday this week.

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Peanut and Curry Leaves Chutney

  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup
  • Time: about 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium size clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp roasted chana dal (futana or dalia)
  • 20-25 fresh curry leaves, washed and dried, stems removed
  • 2 dry red chillies (or per your taste)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • Tiny piece of tamarind(seed removed) or 1 tsp of Lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

Method:

In a frying pan, sauté the curry leaves and the garlic on low heat for about 2-3 minutes till they turn crispy. In the same pan add the dry red chillies and roast for about 1 minute till you get the roasting smell. Transfer the curry leaves,garlic and red chillies to a food processor and add the peanuts, chana dal, onions, tamarind piece (if adding) or lime juice and salt. Add the warm water and grind to a fine paste.

Transfer to a serving bowl.

In a small tadka pan, heat the oil and when hot add the mustard seeds. when they splutter, turn heat to low and add the curry leaves. turn heat off. Pour this oil garnish over the chutney.

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Ginger and Tamarind Chutney (Inji Pulli)


DSC_0710A Kerala sadya (feast) is not complete without the ‘Inji Pulli’ (also called Pulli Inji) which is a sweet,sour and hot chutney made using fresh grated ginger,tamarind,j aggery and chillies. Just the mention of the ingredients makes your mouth water, right? Yum. This chutney actually is very beneficial to the digestive process and enables you to finish the sadya without feeling stuffed and bloated 🙂

This dish along with some other pickles etc are made usually a day or so in advance of the actual sadya since it stores well. In fact you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. When we have our friends over for our Onam sadya, this chutney is in much demand and any leftover chutney is snatched by them. 🙂 And many have asked me for the recipe.

So here I am finally posting it. My version of this recipe is a slightly easier version than the traditional version which requires frying and then grinding the ginger first and then cooking it for a longer period of time to really get a thick chutney. My easy version skips some steps but believe me you still end up with a finger-licking chutney/pickle.  This is a great accompaniment/side dish with paranthas and or just with some dal and rice.

The color of the chutney will vary from light brown to dark brown depending upon the color of the jaggery and the tamarind. Here I used a light brown jaggery hence the light brown color of the chutney.

I am sharing this tantalizing, rejuvenating and lip-smacking ginger chutney to Fiesta friday this week.

Ginger and Tamarind Chutney (Inji Pulli)

  • Servings: Makes about 1 cup chutney
  • Time: about 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup ginger grated
  • 2 green chillies chopped fine
  • 5-6 fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 /2 cup water
  • Golf size ball tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup warm water( or about 2 tbsp store bought tamarind pulp)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery shredded or cut into small pieces

Method:

Grate the ginger using a grater and keep aside.

Heat a medium size wok style pan (Kadhai). Add the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, lower heat to medium and then add the ginger and the green chillies and the curry leaves. Saute the ginger,chillies and the curry leaves for about 3-4 mins. Add all the spices and the salt and stir for another 1 minute. Add the water. Cover and cook for about 10 mins on low heat.
From the soaked tamarind, take only the pulp out and filter out seeds and the flesh. Add this tamarind pulp and the jaggery into the ginger mixture. Continue to cook on low heat for another 7- 10 mins stirring frequently until you get a thick pasty consistency.

Let cool and transfer to a tight fitting container.  This chutney can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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