No winter is complete without a jar of pickled vegetables. Crunchy, tangy & spicy, these appear as a side to all my winter meals. While most of you are euphoric about holiday baking, in our house, it’s all about soups and pickling at this time of the year. Mornings are colder, sun is lazy to show up and nip in the air is here to stay. When I am not stirring pots of stews, I love to steer around the house with jars of pickles, chasing sun light.
As far as I m concerned, all meals are better with pickles, I have a soft spot for them. Hot & oily ones in particular. If the pickles are sun cooked, even better – which is how my family usually does it.There is something incredibly priceless about what solar cooking does to concoction of spices & mustard oil – the heat from the former and pungency of the oil lend them a distinct flavor & aroma.
The vegetables I use in this recipe are available all round the year, but back home, we get first batches of those red, juicy carrots, fibrous sem phalli (indian broad beans),earthy tasting cauliflowers and subtly sweet indian radishes and turnips – that’s when you know its time to bottle up!
In all honesty, I will either eat homemade pickles or have none at all. Lets just say that I m too picky about my pickles.I am clingy about my grandma’s pickle recipes and seriously wish I could replicate her taste each time. Sometimes, its not the recipes but the magic of hands which brings in the taste. Her pickles certainly fell in that category.
This pickle is typical to northern parts of India during winter months – you will find almost all road side dhabas (diners) serving it as a condiment alongside meals.Honestly, the real joy in eating these pickles is when you pair them with flatbreads and curry on the side or drizzle few extra teaspoons of that flavored oil atop your bowl of rice & lentils – a taste which cannot be defined, just devoured.
You can pick your own mix of vegetables here or pickle just one kind. Remember to prepare/trim the vegetables in such a way that they are mostly of the same size. Mustard oil is the main flavor but if you cannot get it, olive oil or sesame oil (if you like the taste) can be used. You will need to buy rai seeds (easily available in indian stores) to make this pickle. These are a variety of mustard seeds, tiny and light brown in color, they taste bitter on their own but after fermentation with oil in the sun, lend the pickle inexplicable tang. I am not too fond of pickles which are sitting in jars for months, so I usually make a small batches of 1- 1.5 pounds or so but the recipe can be doubled or tripled if you wish.
Ingredients ( Yields 1 pound of pickle)
- 1 lb mixed vegetables (cauliflower florets, sem phalli (indian broad beans), mooli (indian radish or daikon), carrots, turnips)
- 4-5 cups of water + 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1 + 1/4 tsp rai ( tiny brown mustard seeds, no substitute)
- 1/2 tsp hing powder (asafoetida)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1.5 tbsp red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar/ jaggery powder (optional)
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup mustard oil
Also needed :-
- Kitchen Towels
- Glass bowls
- Plastic Wrap sheet
- Clean, dry Wooden Spoons
- Wide-Mouthed, Sterile Canning Jars (preferably with plastic or glass lids).Click here to see how you can sterilize the jars.
Prepping the vegetables :- Thoroughly wash all the vegetables under stream of running water to remove all dirt & grit.
Since 50% of the carotene content of carrots is in the skin, I don’t peel them if it looks clean, cut the carrots into thick 2″ long batons. Peel the skin of turnips (if using) and slice them. Scrape the skin of the radish and cut them into 2″ long batons. De-vein the broad beans. If any of the beans have tough seeds,discard.Cut off the cauliflower stems and cut medium size florets.
Bring 4-5 cups of water to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add the salt and take water off the heat. Add the prepared vegetables to the hot water and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Drain and spread the vegetables on a kitchen towel till they completely dry out.
Making the pickle :-
Using your coffee grinder, coarsely grind the rai seeds. Transfer to a small glass bowl and add the hing, turmeric, red chilli powder, sugar and salt to it. Combine the spices with a dry spoon. Lightly warm up the mustard oil. Transfer the dried vegetables to a large glass bowl.Sprinkle the spice mix over the vegetables and pour 1/4 cup of oil. Using a clean, dry wooden spoon or your hands, mix well so that all the vegetables are well coated with the spices & oil. At this point, if you taste, the pickle will be very bitter. But don’t worry, it will be okay after sun cooking.
Transfer the vegetables to canning jars.Top up with the remaining 1/4 cup of warm mustard oil. Don’t fill till the top of the jar but at the same time don’t leave a lot of room for bacteria in air to get moldy. Leaving 1/2″ space from the top is okay. If you are using jars with metal lid, you will need to cover the mouth of jar with plastic wrap to avoid the contact between pickle & metal. Let the jars sit in sun. The pickle is ready when the spices taste sour and you see vegetables releasing their juices at the bottom of the jar but still remaining crunchy. You would want to check the salt of the pickle after about 3-4 days and adjust.You will need to shake the jars periodically. In Las Vegas winter sun, it took about 8-10 days to get that stage.
There is no need to refrigerate.Sun-cooked pickles normally last at room conditions. Always use a clean spoon to serve the pickles, they keep for months together.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!