All About Achaar : The Story of The Indian Pickle

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Indian Pickle

Indian Pickles have always been a part of Indian cuisine. In fact, the variety and history of Indian pickles are well recognised by many of the countries across. Pickling also forms a source of income for many of the households in rural India.

No summer holidays at Grandma’s home were complete without those big white ceramic jars sitting out in the sun on the terrace, filled to the brim with mouthwatering pickles.

That excitement of helping mom and grandma in the kitchen, the careful preparation of the ingredients, the addition of assorted spices, chatpata masalas and aromatic oils, our childhoods are instantly revisited every time we taste even one spoonful of the humble “achaar”.

Pickles have been an integral part of the Indian food culture for centuries and are known by different names across India; Loncha in Marathi, Achaar in Hindi, Athanu in Gujarati, Urukai in Tamil, etc.

The earliest known record of pickling dates back to BCE 2030 in the Tigris Valley, which was made by preserving cucumbers in brine.

The word pickle is derived from the Dutch word “pekel” which means brine.

Its Indian counterpart “achaar” however, has its roots in the Persian term which means “powdered or salted pickles or fruits, preserved in salt, vinegar, honey or syrup”.

There are 3 main types of pickles; preserved in vinegar, preserved in brine or salt and preserved in oil. Indian pickle brands are mainly of the last variety, with different types of aromatic and flavourful oils being used for preservation.

The type of oil used varies from region to region, for example, mustard oil is a popular medium used in Northern India, whereas the Southern region prefers the more subtle flavour of sesame oil.

Homemade pickles have always shared a special place in the hearts of many Indians. The authenticity remains intact and you become nostalgic of having the crave for an old ginger lemon pickle or for that matter mango pickle recipe as well.

Main Types of Pickle

There are 3 main types of pickles; preserved in vinegar, preserved in brine or salt and preserved in oil. Indian pickle brands are mainly of the last variety, with different types of aromatic and flavourful oils being used for preservation.

The type of oil used varies from region to region, for example, mustard oil is a popular medium used in Northern India, whereas the Southern region prefers the more subtle flavour of sesame oil.

Indian food traditions have a firm belief that almost anything can be preserved through pickling, from fruits, vegetables, berries, leaves, roots and even some meats.

There are several popular pickle flavours that are highly sought after in India including thin-skinned limes, green chillies, ginger, carrots, gooseberries (amla) and more.

However, despite a plethora of ingredients used for pickling, by far the most popular flavour across the country is the mango pickle or as it’s fondly known, “aam ka achaar”. Mango pickles are widely available across the country as numerous pickle brands in India have created different versions of this national favourite.

Pickles are and continue to be the most popular condiments set in the hearts and minds of Indian folks everywhere. The acidic punch offered by the humble pickle clears the palate and adds a touch of drama and complexity to an otherwise boring dish with minimal effort.

Due to the changing times and fast-paced lives today, however, pickle making in homes has seen a decline. To keep this grand tradition intact and to preserve the memories and flavours of our childhoods, many pickle companies have picked up the mantle and continue to recreate and maintain the exotic, authentic flavors and make them readily available so that people across the country and some even abroad, can taste and revisit the flavours of their past with every meal.

Hope you have enjoyed the story of Indian pickle history, Do love to share your valuable feedback in the comment section or share the piece of content with everyone surrounding you.

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