In Indian culture and cuisine, pickles reserves a special class of condiment, an all-around condiment that you can literally put on anything and it will taste great. It has that special power to enliven the most dull and boring bowl of dal-chawal (rice). Winter is my favourite pickling month especially for vegetable pickles and tomato pickle. The sun is bright and shining, these days and I consider the leisurely hours spent watching over your jar of pickles in the afternoon, basking in the warmth of winter sun is sheer luxury of modern life.
Today I am going to share one of my new family favourite pickle – carrot – chilli pickle. This one is almost instant pickle that you can start eating right away, requires no ageing or maturation time.
In my growing up years I have watched intently how my mom used to make mango and lime pickles through out summer, thanks to big mango and lime tree in our backyard. So making pickle is nothing new to me, only the constraints of modern life keeps me busy for elaborate pickle making techniques. Hence, this instant version of carrot pickle comes very handy and is a hit in my family.
Mom used to make this pickle with red carrots and cauliflowers with sliced gingers and whole green chillies. Keeping the essence same, I took some liberty to suit the needs of my busy life.
This instant carrot pickle can be made two ways – by blanching the carrots or by quick frying the carrots in spices and hot oil. You can also make this pickle with raw carrots, that is without blaching or frying. In that case, you need to let the carrot pickle mature for atleast a week, before opening it.
How I make this instant carrot pickle –
I start with washing and peeling the carrots in clean water, followed by cutting them into baton size pieces. Then blanching the carrots in water and then again let them dry till all the moisture is gone.
For pickles I use only mustard oil, because it is the tradition in my family, but you can use other flavoured oil like sesame also. Spices are very basic here – mustard seeds both yellow and black, fenugreek seeds / methi dana, fennel seeds and bengali panch phoron spice mix. My pickles always contain a large pinch of hing or asafoetida and a souring agent. In this instant carrot pickle I have used fresh lemon juice but you can use vinegar too. But keep in mind that, this carrot pickle is highly flavoured one and overuse of vinegar will mask both flavour and taste of this carrot pickle.
As a general rule of thumb I use sendha namak (as seen my mom doing it, she never uses table salt to make pickles) because of its low sodium content than the table salt. And in homemade pickles, you are going to need lots and lots of salt as salt acts as a preservative here. Also the pickles need to be soaked in enough oil as that will acts as a barrier to prevent microbial growth. So do use this two ingredients liberally.
This instant carrot pickle goes exceptionally well with roti , paratha, bowl of staples like dal-chawal and also kicks up any regular sandwiches.
- Orange / Red Carrots : 500 gm
- Green Chillies : 8-10 pieces cut into halves
- Ginger cut into thin strips, use new ginger with pale pinkish skin : 50 gm
- Turmeric Roots , grated or cut into thin discs : 20 gm
- Turmeric powder : 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder : 1 tsp
- Salt, Rock salt crushed into powder form : 3-4 tbsp or as required
- Sugar : 1 tsp (optional)
- Mustard Oil : ¾ cup +
- Lemon : 1 or alternately can use vinegar also
- Fenugreek seeds / methi dana : 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds, yellow : 2 tbsp
- Ajwain / carom seeds : 1 tsp
- Asafoetida : 1 crystal in powder form
- Bengali Panch phoron spice mix : 1 tbsp
- Wash, cut and peel the carrots in baton size.
- Now any of the two you can do -
- ) generously apply salt all over the carrots and green chillies, leave aside for an hour.
- ) blanch the carrots in salted water for 5 minutes and then drain it.
- Next, drain out all the liquids from the carrots and spread out the pieces on a wide plate and leave to dry completely for 5-6 hours inside the home.
- If you sun dry them, carrots will shrunk and wont taste good in pickles.
- After making sure that not a drop of moisture remains on carrots, you can proceed with the pickling process.
- First start with sterilizing a glass jar in hot boiling water for 15-20 minute. Let the jar dry out completely.
- Heat a pan and lightly roast the yellow mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds for 2-3 minutes.
- Grind it in mixer to a coarse powder.
- Gently dry roast ajwain and panch phoron separately and keep aside.
- Heat a pan, add the oil and let it warmed up on low heat. Do not heat the oil to its smoking point. It will give a bad taste to the pickle and also oil will lost all its preserving properties.
- Once the oil is sufficiently warmed up, add the carrots, grated turmeric pieces, ginger, green chillies.
- Add the coarsely powdered mustard and fenugreek seeds, follwed by turemric and red chilli powder..
- Give everything a nice stir.
- Switch off the heat.
- Next add the remaining ingredients - ajwain, panch phoron, and sugar if using.
- Keep mixing it with a clean spoon.
- Taste the pickle - it should taste very salty. If not, that is if the salt content is like in your daily cooking, then add more salt. See the note on salt too. Pickle should taste salty when you are preparing it.
- Once you check the seasonings, lastly add lemon juice. Give everything a nice vigorous stir.
- Keep the pickle pan in a clean place , if you want lightly cover it, but do not cover it completely.Condensation from the warm pickle may generates water droplets.
- Once it is cooled completely, pour it in your sterilized jar.
- If the jar becomes completely filled with the pickle upto the brim, then no need to add extra oil.
- If the jar is half filled or there is spme space remaining between the top of the jar till the level of the pickle, then pour some oil (heat the oil, then cool it) just enough to cover the pickle.
- You can taste the pickle right away but few days later, say after 2-3 days once the spices and carrots, chillies soaked up all the flavours, it will taste better.
- This pickle can be stored at room temperature till 3 months, provided the pickle is covered with layer of oil. and also if you keep the pickle jar in hot sunshine for a week.
But if you are using table salt, then reduce the amount of salt to 3 tsp.
Rock salt contains less sodium level and is less salty than the table salt. Hence you need larger amount of that in pickles.