Anyone remember those meals ordered in the pantry car of any trains in India?
I was fascinated by the lemon pickle (1 pieces!!) in the small packet that was served as a side dish for the curd rice.
This is not a very spicy pickle, it has a more tangy taste to it. Quite easy to make and has a good shelf life when prepared without wet hands. I prefer using green limes to make this pickle, because they have lot of juice and more tangy and thin skin compared to lemons.
50 Green Limes
2 cups Red Chili Powder
1 cup Fenugreek seeds – Menthulu
A little less than 1 cup Mustard seeds
1½ cup Salt
3 cups Oil – preferably Sesame/Gingerly oil
2 tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Asetifodia /Hing – preferably crystal hing for more aroma
Wash, wipe and let air dry the limes for some time before working on them. This method needs an approximate eye balling; depending on the size of the lemon the spices should be adjusted. The spicey/karam of pickle normally reduces in a few days. Prepare the spice mix only after sun drying the lemon pieces. The quantity of the pieces will shrink after drying.
For this variety of lime/lemon pickle we would need half and half of lemon pieces and juice. so, divide the lemon into 2 halves. Cut the edges and make small pieces of one half of the limes and squeeze juice from the other half, remove seeds if any and mix both in a glass bowl. Add salt, turmeric and mix well and store in a warm place for 2 – 3 days. Once a day, mix well and store it back. If you taste a piece, it will be really salty, do not worry, it will settle when the other spices are added. Please refer to photo tutorial of Lemon pickle for pictures.
On the 3rd day, use a strainer and separate the pieces and the oota/juice, using your hand/palm to squeeze out any juice remaining. Sundry them separately. Spread the slices on a basin/plate/cover and the juice/oota in a bowl. Dry them till the pieces become dry for about 2 – 3 days. Meanwhile the oota/juice will become concentrated and salt will sediment on the side of the bowl.
Do not start mixing the pickle when the slices are hot from the sun, let them come to room temperature.
In a skillet heat 3 cups of oil on low/medium flame and when hot add 1 tsp of mustard seeds and a handful of broken/split red chilies. When mustard seeds splutter remove from flame and when oil settles down, add hing and let cool. Bring to room temperature.
Take 1 tsp of oil in a skillet and add fenugreek seeds and fry them till nicely done and then add the mustard seeds and fry till they splutter. Remove and let cool. Dry grind the mix to a smooth powder, this is called menthi powder.
Mix the dry menthi powder and red chili powder in the oota/juice and then, the dried lime pieces. Once that is all thoroughly mixed then add the previously made oil tadka and mix well. Leave it in the same bowl for 1 or 2 days and keep mixing thoroughly. Then transfer into an air tight container and store in a cool place.
A good side dish with plain rice and curd rice. Use dry hands and keep away from water for a good shelf life.