Some veggies or meats, and seafood too, along with some whole spices and vinegar is all you need to make an amazingly fresh and deliciously mouth craving pickle. And, I doubt you’ll find anything better than a nice homemade pickle.
Welcome to #THEHOMEMADEPICKLESERIES exclusively at Delicious Cravings At Vania’s Kitchen.Yours’ truly, Vania Cotta
THE IMPORTANCE OF PICKLES IN OUR LIVES:
Pickles or achaars are a must-have side dish in most of the Indian households. It is one of those preparations you’ve definitely eaten at least once in your lifetime if you are Asian especially from the Indian subcontinent and it’s neighbouring countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. For some people, it is a must with all their meals. It mainly comprises of fish, meats, veggies, fruits, or anything you like; pickled with spices and preserved for later use.
PICKLES IN GOA
MONSOON SEASON AND THE FISHING BAN
Back home in Goa pickles are generally made before the monsoon season commences. Pickles come in handy during the monsoon season and especially during the fishing ban.
Every year Goa and some other costal states in India observe an annual ban on fishing. This helps the fishes to spawn, multiply in numbers and it also protects fishermen from the rough seawaters and storms.
IMPORTANCE OF SEAFOOD TO GOANS
For most Goans, seafood is one of the major staple foods. If you’re travelling to Goa and if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan then you definitely have to taste the Goan Prawn Curry with some steamed rice and some nice rawa fried fish or recheado fried fish… Some of my favourite fish: recheado mackerels, rawa fried bombil, recheado modso, recheado chonak, and rawa fried lepo.
People in Goan villages sometimes even greet each other saying, “Kes ha, aiz nusteak kit hailem?” This simply means “How are you? What fish did you eat today?” That’s how important seafood is to people in Goa… So, imagine their lives during the ban… So, that’s when pickles like prawn balchao, para, fish molho, tendli pickle, etc. come in handy.
If you’re Goan and a lover of seafood reading this post, go ahead comment down below and let me know if you agree. I would love to know…So, a lack of fresh seafood urges people to turn to other sides as a accompaniment to rice and curry. Here, pickles or achaars play a major role.
THE SUMMER HEAT IS THE BEST TO DRY PICKLING INGREDIENTS
The April-May summer heat is the best to naturally dry some of the pickling ingredients to remove their excess moisture. Ingredients like brinjal, salt fish, etc. are salted adequately and left in the sun to naturally dry for at least a day or two prior to making the pickle.
Homemade Pickles in Goa generally have a robust flavour of homemade toddy vinegar. Other vinegars like malt vinegar, white-wine vinegar, palm vinegar, apple cider vinegar, etc. can be used too. for different pickling methods and recipes. White vinegar shows off the colour and texture of pickles while malt vinegar enhances the flavour. But, as a Goan, I prefer my homemade pickles made with toddy vinegar.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE HOMEMADE PICKLES TO ME?
PRESENT LIFE IN LONDON
Being miles away from home; homemade vinegar, homemade wine and homemade pickles are something Nigel and I both love so much and crave for… That includes Goan sausages too. However, we aren’t allowed to carry sausages back to the UK from Goa so that leaves us with a choice of getting back a lot of pickles…
COLLEGE DAYS IN MUMBAI
Secondly, I have fond memories of pickles from the past…
Since Nigel & I have been together (that’s almost 5 years now), he’s mum has always been feeding us with amazing pickles.. I remember when I used to study in Mumbai and leave in the hostel, she always packed some of my favourite homemade pickles like brinjal and tendli pickle for me to savour while being away. She never failed to send a bottle or two with whoever came from Goa to Mumbai.
Another homemade pickle memory I have was when we used to have group projects in college and I stayed over at Naila’s (my college friend) place in Kandivali. I remember her nani (mum’s mum) made this amazing Mooli (raddish) ka aachar with Mooli ke parathe for all of us as breakfast.. It was such an amazing breakfast… Loved the pickle so much so that now years later, I had to pester Naila for the recipe to share it with you guys… its definitely a must try pickle and I’ll share it on the blog too during this #thehomemadepickleseries.
CHILDHOOD MEMORIES AND SCHOOL DAYS
Going back to my school days, specifically when I was in the 9th standard I remember a group of us friends called ~INNOCENTLY CORRUPTED used to get some raw mango with chilli powder and salt and we used to snack on it in between lectures secretly. We’ve cut the raw mangoes with geometric tools and also by placing it between the classroom door. Those were the days, my friend!!!
As a kid I used to love eating mango lonchem and I still do. Mango pickle stuffed in a bread was my fav, something my mum loves too.
Why did I decide to start #thehomemadepickleseries.
I took a little break from alternate day blogging for sometime..
Life happened.. But now I’m back with a bang…
I had planned in advance about this series but unfortunately it got delayed by weeks. As I love pickles and you guys are a part of my family now, I had to share these important recipes with all of y’all. So for those in India and Goa, y’all can make these recipes which I’ll be putting up on the blog soon, before the rains. For those of you in the west it’ll be summer time soon, so y’all can make these pickles at home and enjoy too. For the next few weeks, there are a lot of pickle recipes coming up…
I would like if y’all request for some recipes too, so that I can work on recipe development and it’ll be nice for me to try out some new pickles this summer time in the UK. Do let me know.
HOMEMADE PICKLES VS STORE BOUGHT
I prefer homemade pickles to the store bought ones mainly for the following reasons:
- One being that I can be in total control of where I source the ingredients from, their freshness and a number of other factors.
- I can also control the level of spice (as I am one of those who cannot tolerate a lot of spice in food) , acidity of the vinegar, and also the freedom to exclude the use of preservatives.
- They are quick, easy and simple to make.
- You can control what goes into making it, mainly the ingredients used. I don’t like asafoetida (hing) in my homemade pickles.
- Also, you can add a lot of prawns to your homemade prawn balchao rather than having 5-6 tiger prawns in a packet of store brought prawn balchao.
GENERAL PICKLING METHODS:
THE HOMEMADE MASALA PICKLES
The vegetables or fruits are generally washed, cleaned and dried before being used in pickling making. If meats or seafood is used the same process is to be followed.
Then, the next step is generally to adequately salt the ingredient. It is normally sprinkled with coarse salt which allows excess water to be drawn out. This is done so that the natural water content present in the ingredient is removed. This is an important step because the salt also acts as a type of natural preservative. If the water isn’t removed properly, it will dilute the taste of the vinegar.
The third step is mainly to prep the chilli paste or masala. You can use the recheado masala too for making pickles. Kashmiri Chillies are generally soaked in vinegar and then ground of other whole spices like, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, etc. Ginger and garlic is used too for some pastes for certain pickles.
The paste is then fried in a lot of oil. You can also use any vegetable oil or sunflower oil for making pickles as they don’t have a very strong taste. However, some even use mustard oil for certain pickle preparations.
These pickles should then be cooled and preserved in air tight containers. Some can be eaten on the same day, specially the cooked pickles, while some are eaten after few days.
This gets us to another pickling process.
THE HOMEMADE BRINE OR VINEGAR BASED PICKLES
Every year around this time, my avozinha (grandma) makes water pickle. She makes a solution of coarse sea salt and water with some green chillies and allows raw mangoes to steep in the brine. This is then enjoyed throughout the year and fondly known as AMLI. I can these type of pickles as water pickles not because of water in it but only because it has a liquid base in which it is stored. That liquid need not always be brine, it can sometimes be spiced-vinegar too.
Store-bought water pickles are generally sold in jars and sometimes even decoratively arranged. It’s best not to store pickles in metal container.
Few different veggies which can be pickled are cauliflower, cucumber, different cabbages, squash, baby onions, green chillies, courgettes, mushrooms, etc. These are sliced if necessary and soaked in brine or cold water. They are later rinsed and stored in jars filled up to the brim with spiced vinegar.
Different fruits can be pickled too. Fruits like raw mangoes, unripe tomatoes, plums, cherries, apples, peaches, pears, etc. are normally cut into smaller pieces and cooked for a short time so that they soak up the vinegar. Eggs and walnuts can also be pickled.
The best salt to use for pickling is coarse sea salt as it enhances the optimum flavour of the pickle. For vinegar, you can use malt, cider, wine or spirit vinegars. The vinegar long with some spices act as a preservative besides enhancing the flavour.
The classic water pickle formula is:
THE SPICED-VINEGAR PICKLE RECIPE
- Mixing Bowl
- Glass Jars or ceramic jars for storing
- 1 litre Vinegar any type of your choice
- 2 inch Cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Cloves
- 2 tsp Fennel seeds
- 1 tsp Black peppercorns
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 2/3 nos Bay leaves
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then steep for 3 days.
- The vinegar is strained and used either cold or hot.
- 1 litre vinegar is equal to 1 3/4 pints or 4 1/3 cups of vinegar.
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds can be replaced with 5 teaspoons of whole pickling spice of your choice.
- The cold spiced-vinegar is used for vegetables, which should remain crisp.
- The hot spiced-vinegar is generally used for fruits, which should be a little softer.
Mixed pickles may contain any number of vegetables such as chillies, carrots, onions, bell peppers, cucumber, french beans, etc. But there are some fruits and vegetables which are pickled on their own. Beetroot with dill, red cabbage with white wine vinegar, sweet peppers with thyme and bay leaf, lime with pepper, etc. just to name a few. You can get creative and just create your own if you’d like to.
For immediate use, spiced vinegar can be prepared by a quicker method. Put the spices and vinegar into a bowl, cover and let it stand in a pan of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, remove the pan from the heat, and leave the spices in the warm vinegar for about 2 hours. Keep the bowl covered so that no flavour is lost. Strain the vinegar before using it.
So for the next few days and weeks I will share with y’all some of my favourite pickle recipes. I hope y’all enjoy this series. This is my first ever series on the blog so please do not forget to show some love. Whenever you post any of the recipes made or anything related to homemade pickles please do not forget to use the hashtag #thehomemadepickleseries .
Please do not forget to check out my other pickle recipe on the blog: