The Humble Indian Pickle

From choosing the exact raw materials to carefully arranging the ingredients, from gathering the pickles to putting spices and then allowing the pickle to be finally prepared – an eternal reminiscence of childhood vacations is that of helping our grandmothers prepare āchār. Those big pottery jars packed to the edge with fresh pickles sitting under the sun on terraces stir up memories of relaxed holidays. Indeed, no meal is absolute without a dollop of the sweet, sour, spicy, and delectable Indian pickle. 

Mango pickles are considerably the most admired Indian pickles, and there are hundreds of kinds of mango pickles in India. It is believed that roughly anything could be pickled – from vegetables, berries, fruits, and gourds to leaves, roots, and shoots, and even chicken, fish, and prawns.


Numerous parts of the globe preserve seasonal produce as pickles – cucumbers, olives, beetroots, and eggs – except in India, pickling is an often elaborate method that involves weeks, engaging spices and oils rather than just brine. Customarily made by women, each pickle has a distinctive method with exact instructions that ought to be followed.

There is a set procedure implicated. Generally, it starts with placing out chopped fruits or vegetables to dry in the sun. The most frequent spice mix generally comprises mustard oil as a base, which when mixed with salt, operates as the preservative.

Just as the fruit or vegetable is dry, it is mingled with the other ingredients and arranged in a container to pickle, till everything is merged and the rawness of the spices and fruits has vanished. 

Thieving children or hungry adults who approach these with wet or unclean hands often get an echoing wallop from the women on watch.

Every Indian region has its own customs when it comes to pickling, to guarantee quality and an accurate balance of flavors.

The Kashmiri pickle prepared with knol khol vegetable is flavorful, whilst the Punjab mixed pickle prepared using turnips, cauliflower, and carrots renders a sweet and pleasant taste with a tip-off of tartness. In some southern states such as Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, fish and prawns are pickled and preserved, whilst the North Eastern states pickle pork, beef, and dried fish with bamboo shoots to produce a spicy condiment to serve with their meals.

Although the spices and oil tend to be the same throughout India, the proportions are exclusive to each culture. Unquestionably, Pickles are a vital part of how people characterize their food culture and each region is extremely zealous about its pickles.

Not just this, there is a certain reminiscence to the practice of preparing pickles. Be it any season, it is not rare to find terraces of households throughout India plastered in cut fruits and vegetables placed out on clean cotton bed sheets, left out to dry beneath the sun.