Over the coming weeks, I will introduce some of my favorite South Indian recipes. These dishes always taste great with some basmati rice, a little pickle and some gunpowder.
Whenever I prepare a South Indian feast, I make a variety of dishes, like rasam, sambar, lemon rice, poriyal, masala dosai, idli with fresh coconut chutney, poppadoms, gunpowder, and homemade lemon pickle!
Nothing beats a homemade pickle. Indian restaurants in the US rarely serve them! They can be purchased at your local Indian grocery store or even online, but I’ve never found a store-bought pickle coming anywhere close to the homemade version.
I do buy a drumstick pickle and a Madras onion pickle now and then, but I like my lemon pickle best!
It does take a little time to make your own, but this recipe yields enough to last us for about 6 months. As long as it is kept refrigerated and you use only a clean and dry spoon in the jar, this pickle keeps for at least 6 months.
This lemon pickle is hot, spicy, salty and oh so yummy! It is eaten in very small amounts alongside other dishes. Whenever I make a new batch of pickle, I also put on a pot of basmati rice. It just wouldn’t seem right to not taste it properly!
Meyer lemons work best in this recipe, but regular lemons will work too. They just need to be cooked a little longer. I always use organic lemons for this, because the entire fruit is used and citrus crops are heavily sprayed with chemicals. And if the lemons don’t look good, try this with limes.
Here is the recipe:
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
- 6 to 8 lemons
- water to cover
- 3/4 cup regular (not toasted) sesame oil
- 4 teaspoons ground cayenne powder
- 6 fresh green chiles, finely chopped
- a 1 1/2″ piece of peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 8 tablespoons sea salt
Toast the fenugreek seeds and asafetida in a dry skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.
Cool, then grind into a fine powder in a spice mill. Set aside.
Wash the lemons well and put them in a saucepan in a single layer.
Cover with water and bring to a boil.
Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft.
Remove the lemons from the water and let them cool.
Save the cooking water!
When the lemons are cool enough to handle, cut them into bite size pieces.
Save all the juice and don’t worry about the seeds.
In a non-reactive large sauce pan heat the sesame oil over medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds. They will sputter and pop!
Add the cayenne powder, the chopped green chiles, ginger and turmeric.
Stir and sauté for two to three minutes.
Next, add the chopped lemon pieces and all of the juice.
Stir, and add about half the cooking water.
Continue to simmer the pickle.
Lastly, add the salt and fenugreek powder.
Stir and simmer for another 15 minutes until well blended.
If it seems to dry, you can add some more cooking water.
The pickle is going to be a little soupy.
Turn off the heat and cool the lemon pickle to room temperature.
Store in a clean glass jar with an airtight lid and keep refrigerated.
When serving, use a clean dry spoon as to not contaminate the pickle.
Put on a pot of basmati rice and enjoy!