Lemon Pickle - 1, in Oil
Neembu ka Tel (Tael) Walla Achaar - 1
This pickle is more like the ready made lime pickle that you buy in jars. It contains oil and more spices than the traditional, north Indian lemon pickle, which is sometimes known as ‘preserved lemons’ in UK. *In India, it is made from lemons that look like limes and have a paper thin or 'kagzi' skin. Western lime skins are tougher and take longer to soften/mature so use lemons.
500 gm limes (nimbu) or lemons *
50 gm. salt
1 tsp. fennel seeds or sonf/saunf●
1 tsp. cumin seeds●
1 tsp. coriander seeds●
1 tbs. mustard or rai seeds● (do not wash seeds)
1/2 tbs. fenugreek seeds●
1 tsp. nigella seeds or kalaunji/kalownji (leave whole)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. chilli powder, adjusted to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup mustard oil*. You can use other oils but this is the oil traditionally used in Indian pickles. It has the lowest saturated fat content of all the edible.
*Mustard oil should always be heated to smoking point first and allowed to cool completely, before adding it to the pickle.
●Grind all these seeds together, coarsely.
Wash and dry limes thoroughly. Drying is important, as any hint of water will make the pickle go mouldy. I leave them in a sunny place for a day or on a towel overnight.
Slice into small wedges. Add and mix salt and leave them in a bowl overnight. Do not discard any juice that seeps out.
Heat mustard oil to smoking point. This gets rid of the pungent smell of mustard oil. Allow it to cool.
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Adjust salt/chillies/black pepper according to taste.
Transfer to a sterile jar.
Leave on a sunny window sill for a month or two. Turn the jar up-side-down every few days, so all the pieces get equal soaking in the collecting juice at the bottom. Lemons slowly change colour and becomes beige in colour, their skin softens and breaks easily when pressed between fingers. This takes 6-8 weeks. Pickle is now ready, but older the lemon pickle gets, better it tastes.
It can be served with all kind of foods, Indian and non-Indian, in sandwiches, added to vegetable bhajies (dry curry) of all kinds to add 'zing' to them.
Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.
Tip from reader Jevman; add a little jaggery to the pickle makes it "absolutely delicious better than any shop bought stuff". Note from Mamta; Add it after the lemon skin has softened, otherwise it will take longer to mature.