My pickling career began late, in my late 30s, with a couple of carrot pickles whose recipes were posted on the Another Subcontinent cooking forum (R.I.P) many years ago. Later, I branched off into green chilli and lime pickle as well. I have already posted the recipe for a lime pickle from the almighty Usha’s Pickle Digest. After finally getting my hands on my own copy of that book last year, however, I’ve become an all-around pickling fool. I currently have seven home-made pickles on the go. The greatest beneficiaries are friends who get 50% of my production. It is, you see, easier in some ways to make pickles in larger quantities than smaller; and if you have as many pickles on hand as I usually do, it’s better to give a big chunk of your production away than to risk it going bad on your countertop or in your refrigerator.
This particular carrot pickle is neither one of the Another Subcontinent recipes nor from Usha’s Pickle Digest. I first improvized this some weeks ago as a turnip pickle. It came out well and I thought it might be even better as a carrot pickle. I think that’s true (though a carrot-turnip blend might be better still). Here is the recipe. This will make about two pints. I would suggest you keep one pint for yourself and give two half-pint jars away. Or if the thought of cutting up 3 lbs of carrots doesn’t appeal to you—or you’re a mean bastard—just halve the recipe.
A key ingredient in this recipe is rai kuria—sometimes known as mustard dal—or hulled and very coarsely ground/crushed Indian mustard seeds. It adds a certain je ne sais quoi to Indian pickles (I don’t know of any other use for it, which is not to say there might not be one) and can’t be substituted. When you go looking for it buy some mustard oil as well.
- 3 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into thick 1-2 inch strips
- 1 head garlic, minced
- The following whole spices: 1 tblspn cumin seeds, 1 tblspn fennel seeds, 2 tblspns rai kuria, 1/2 tspn fenugreek seeds
- The following ground together: 1 tblspn cumin seeds, 1 tblspn fennel seeds, 1 tblspn coriander seeds, 1 heaped tblspn hot chilli powder
- 1 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
- 3 tblspns jaggery or brown sugar
- The juice of 5 limes
- 4 tblspns salt
- 1 cup mustard oil, divided into 3/4 cup + 1/4 cup
- Heat 3/4 cup mustard oil till just beginning to smoke, reduce heat and add the whole spices.
- When the cumin seeds split add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so till it just begins to brown.
- Add the carrots, mix in thoroughly and saute for 5 minutes or so.
- Add the haldi, the ground spices and the salt, mix in thoroughly and saute for 7-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Add the jaggery/brown sugar and lime juice, mix in and cook, stirring often till the oil separates.
- Spoon in two four 1/2 pint jars.
- Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of mustard oil over medium heat till just beginning to smoke; let it cool a bit and then add to the top of each jar.
- Let the jars cool and then cap tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator and eat within a month (as an accompaniment with dal and rice or with anything else you think it will go well with).
- As noted above, the rai kuria is an important and un-substitutable ingredient. Go to an Indian store or order it online.
- I like mustard oil for this but if you don’t have any you can use sesame oil. Make sure though that it is light sesame oil, not the dark “finishing” oil made from roasted sesame seeds. In a pinch any neutral oil will do (avoid olive oil).
- You’re cooling the jar down uncovered because you don’t want condensation on the lid: water is the friend of mould. Relatedly, as always, use a dry spoon to serve your pickle and cap the jar tightly after use.
- You can add more or less chilli powder (or less hot chilli powder) if you prefer but leave everything else the way it is. Certainly do not reduce the amount of lime juice or salt.
- When our current stash runs out in another 7-10 days I’m thinking I’ll make a version of this with turnips and cauliflower and ginger added. If it turns out well/different enough I may post a separate recipe for that.