Mamta's Kitchen

Lemon Pickle 5, Traditional North Indian With Carom Seeds

Neembu ka Achaar

Yashoda Gupta (Mamta,s mum)

EasyFree From GarlicFree From GingerFree From OnionFree From TomatoIndianSideVeganVegetarian

Note from Mamta: This recipe comes from my mother. It is one of the easiest pickle to make and it is fat free. Once ready, it lasts for years. What is more, it tastes better as it gets older. I have some that is more than ten years old! In India, it is made from lemons that have a 'kagzi' or 'paper thin' skins.

Recipe edited June 2024.


  • 6 lemons (nimbu) or limes (thin skinned ones are better)

  • 2-3 tbsp. salt

  • 1 tsp. coarse black pepper or fine chilli powder(optional)

  • 1 tsp. carom seeds (optional)

  • For larger quantities;

  • 2 kg. lemons

  • 200 gm. salt

  • 1 tbsp. fine or coarsely ground black pepper or chilli powder

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. carom seeds (optional)


  1. Wash and dry limes thoroughly by rubbing with a towel. Drying is important, as any hint of water will make the pickle go mouldy.

  2. Slice into small wedges. Leave the sliced lemons in a sunny place or on a towel overnight.

  3. Place in a bowl and mix well with salt, pepper/chilli and carom seeds, if used.

  4. Pack tightly in a sterile jar.

  5. Leave on a sunny window sill for a week or two. Turn the jar up-side-down every day, so all the pieces get equal soaking in the collecting juice at the bottom.

  6. Lemons slowly change colour and becomes light brownish and the skin becomes soft. When the pickle is ready, the skin breaks easily when pressed with a finger. This takes 6-8 weeks or longer. Pickle is now ready.

  7. Older the lemon pickles, better it tastes. It can be served with all kind of foods, Indian and non-Indian, in sandwiches, in cooking vegetables Bhajis of all kinds.


  • * Kagzi Nimboo are Indian lemons that look like limes and have papery thin skin.

  • For a Sweet and Sour Pickle: You can add 2-3 tbsp. (adjust to taste) fine sugar or brown sugar or grated jaggery, if you like it sweet and sour pickle. But add sugar only after lemons have softened.

  • For heat , you can add more black pepper or 1 tsp. chilli powder if you like it hotter.

  • Adding both sugar and chillies together gives you a hot and sweet pickle, really nice.

  • Some people add a tsp. of carom seeds.

  • Ready-made varieties usually have some oil too, but traditional lemon pickle of North India does not have any oil.

  • Preserved lemons in stir-fries and bhajies: Chop a jar of preserved lemons in a food processor, place them in a sterile jar and cover with olive oil. You can use a teaspoon or two of this in various stir-fries and vegetable bhajies or even in sandwiches. See last picture.

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