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Pickles form the base of all Indian cuisine, whether it is North Indian or South Indian. It is a predominantly vegetarian thing, though there are enough non-vegetarian pickle recipes out there. In this article, we give you step by step recipes for four authentic, classic pickles from the land of spices. Enjoy!

India is a land of exotic and spicy food, and no Indian cuisine is complete without the assortment of oily, aromatic pickles. In South India, pickle is considered to be an integral part of the meal, to be mixed with rice along with dal and ghee, or to be eaten alongside a big dollop of thick, creamy curd.

While there is no such thing as a definitive pickles list from India – Indians believe that a pickle could be made out of everything – we’re including here four of our favourites.

Tomato pickle
(As seen on

Though this is usually made with sun-dried tomatoes in order to facilitate long storage times (and long periods of eating), for those of you living in other countries where sunlight is not liberal or in high-rise apartment complexes where direct sunlight can be difficult to obtain, here is a quick recipe that will keep your pickle edible for a good three months.
What do you do after that? Why, make some more, of course!

Step by step recipe

  1. Wash tomatoes and set aside to dry. If you can dry them to sunlight for a few hours, nothing like it. But if your living arrangement is such that there is no sunlight whatsoever in your space (what are you doing in such a house?), then make do with the fan on full speed.
  2. Dry roast fenugreek and mustard seeds on low flame.
  3. Soak tamarind in warm water. Make sure that the water is clean and free of contaminants. To be doubly sure, you may want to boil the water first and cool it down.
  4. Make a powder from the roaster fenugreek and mustard seeds from [2].
  5. On a pan with a bit of oil, add tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Cook on a medium flame until the juices are all mixed and turn mushy.
  6. Mash up the soaked tamarind and add the mash to the cooked tomato mix. Discarding the tamarind pulp will probably be best because it comes in the way of eating.
  7. Cool down the tomato mix fully, and add chilli powder to taste. Add the fenugreek and mustard seed powder to this, and stir thoroughly. If you feel any lumps against your spatula, break them up.
  8. It’s now time for seasoning. Heat up a seasoning pan with about two tablespoons of oil. To that, add mustard and heat until they splutter, then add curry leaves and red chilli. If you like the taste of it, add garlic as well.
  9. Add this to the pickle mix and stir well once again. Depending on the consistency, add more oil.
  10. Store in a dry container in a cool place, and enjoy your tomato pickle.

Gujarati mango pickle
(As seen on

Mango is called the king of all fruits in India, and it’s no wonder that each of the twenty-nine (at last count) states of the country have their own version of the mango pickle. About the most famous of these is the pickle they make out of raw mangoes in Andhra households, called aavakaya. This recipe, though, is slightly different, and uses Gujarati flavours and spices.

Step by step recipe

  1. Fenugreek seeds form the base for this pickle too. Use the grinder to achieve a coarse, powdery consistency with the help of a grinder. Don’t allow the grinder to work on the seeds for a long time. Use the ‘pulse and grind’ technique three or four times, and examine the seeds after each ‘pulse’.
  2. Rinse the raw mangoes (the sourer, the better), and cut them into finger-sized pieces using a nice, sharp knife. Cutting raw mangoes is not as easy as it sounds, so if you’ve not done it before, you may be better off paying a professional to do it. Yes, there are professionals that do just mango-cutting for you. You will need to specify to them what size of pieces you need.
  3. Take all your mango pieces into the mixing bowl or pan, and add the fenugreek powder to this.
  4. Also add split mustard seeds straight from the grocery store to this mix. Add the same quantity of mustard seeds as fenugreek seeds.
  5. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, hing (asafoetida) and salt.
  6. Keeping the whole thing very dry, mix very well with a clean spoon until you see the colours of the spices mixing, and a nice golden orange colour emerges from the mixture.
  7. Add this mixture to a sterilized glass jar or an earthen pot. An airtight container of any material is preferable.
  8. Add oil to this jar. If you’re adding sesame oil, you can add it without heating it up. But if you’re using mustard oil as a base, heat it up to smoking point, let it cool down, and then add it to the mixture. If mixing the oil and the pickle is hard in the jar, you can do this mixing process in your mixing bowl and then transfer the pickle into the jar.
  9. Over a period of two weeks, keep the jar at a cool, dry place and stir it properly on a daily basis. You will see the spices really come through in the colour of the oil. Two weeks later, you can serve the pickle and wow your family members with its taste.

Coriander pickle
(As seen on

We all know coriander (also called cilantro) as a good flavour-giving, decorative agent commonly used in Indian food. But did you know that it stands quite well on its own as a pickle or chutney? Coriander pickle tastes great as a side dish with anything spicy, like a potato vada or a samosa. What’s more, it’s easy to make, too!

Step by step recipe

  1. Pick coriander leaves off the stems and wash thoroughly to remove sand and dust. Some people like to eat tender stems too, but if you’re not sure, err on the side of caution and pick just the leaves.
  2. Drain the water. You don’t have to get the leaves completely dry.
  3. Soak tamarind in a bowl with boiled and cooled water.
  4. Mix coriander, green chillies and salt and grind it into a fine paste. The consistency of the paste is left to your taste. Some people like to have it fine, but others like coarse texture. Experiment with both to find your comfort zone.
  5. Add tamarind pulp to this mixture, and run the grinder again so that the tamarind blends well with the coriander mixture.
  6. On a hot pan, bathe the base with oil. Add mustard seeds, cumin, hing, cloves and curry leaves. Garlic is optional. Fry till the smell of the spices fill the air, or until the cumin seeds splutter.
  7. Add the ground paste to this spice mix and stir well for 30-40 minutes on low heat. The oil will float to the edges.
  8. This pickle will stay edible for four to six months if stored in a cool place. If refrigerated, it should last for longer than that.
  9. You can serve it with just about anything. Most common choices are idlis and rice.

Gongura pickle
(As seen on

In Andhra Pradesh, there is a pickle made from sorrel leaves that is called gongura in the local language, Telugu. Telugu people love this pickle, and over time, its recipe has moved out of the state to other states, especially in cosmopolitan cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad. Now, gongura enjoys a prominent place in the famous pickles of India, having outgrown its Telugu roots.

Step by step recipe

  1. Wash the leaves and separate them from the stem. There is no need to chop them up because sorrel leaves tend to be tender and respond well to heat and oil.
  2. Fenugreek and coriander seeds form the base of this chutney. You can also add urad dal if you so prefer. It adds a nice aroma to the pickle.
  3. Roast fenugreek and coriander seeds to golden brown and make a coarse powder with them in the grinder.
  4. Add leaves to a pan with oil and sauté them until the oil oozes from the leaves and they change colour into a brownish tinge.
  5. Allow it to cool, and then grind the leaves completely into a paste, like we did with the coriander in the previous recipe.
  6. Now re-heat the pan, oil the base, add salt, chilli powder, a green chilli or two if you like it nice and spicy, and a few red chillies. Stir until the spices have all made their presence felt.
  7. Now add add the fenugreek and coriander paste and the gongura leaf paste. Stir this whole thing well on low flame for a good fifteen to twenty minutes so that the flavours all mix beautifully.
  8. Now all you need to do is transfer the pickle into an airtight container and enjoy its taste for the next few months. Try it with rice and ghee for best results!

Harshit Sinha

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