Mamta's Kitchen

Lemon Pickle - 4, Traditional North Indian (Preserved Lemons)

Neembu ka Sada Achar

Mamta Gupta

This is one of the pickles I remember most from my childhood. It has no chillies, so it is very child friendly. We often had it with Khitcheri, especially when we had a stomach upset. It helps to overcome nausea.

It is one of the easiest pickles to make, very tasty and lasts for ever. In fact, older the lemon pickle, more it is valued. Indian lemons are similar to limes here and the best ones have paper thin skins, hence the name ‘kagzi neembu’. You can buy them from some Indian grocers. Some people add extra juice to the lemons, but I have never found it necessary. In fact, if you extract juice for some other purpose, you can still pickle the skins in salt. Makes two 500 ml. jars.

You can add this pickle to various vegetable bhajies. Simply crush a piece of lemon and add it towards the end of cooking.


  • 12 seedless lemons. Indian ‘kagazi’ or paper skin ones are best, but any variety will work. Try to find un waxed ones

  • 3 tbsp. salt (2+1)

  • Optional 1 tsp. coarse black pepper

  • Sterilized jars


  1. Scrub lemons under hot running water. If they are waxed, soak in hot water and scrub with a potato scrubber.

  2. Allow to towel dry overnight. Any water left on skins makes the pickle go off quickly.

  3. Remove top and tail of each lemon. Cut them into small pieces. Size is your choice, I cut mine into roughly 8 pieces. If there are too many seeds, remove as many as you can.

  4. Place in a bowl, add 2 tbsp. salt and mix.

  5. Pack the lemons tightly in the jar/jars, pressing them down a little. This makes some of the juice come out.

  6. Close the lid tightly. In UK I leave them on the window sill to get maximum sun. In hot countries, you can leave the jars out in the sun.

  7. Turn the jar upside down every couple of days. It will take 3-4 months for lemon to soften, more in colder weather without sun. Remember, longer you leave it, tastier it gets. I have some that is 10 years old!

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