The one condiment, forever food, comfort food and the easiest replacement for fresh food is the very tangy pickle in an Indian household. With a dedicated TV serial to its name, Pickles in every state of India have their own story and history to tell. Preserved along with natural preservatives like Oil and salt, Pickles in India are a century old tradition passed down like heritage through generations, some of which still continue to sell that delicious knowledge for people to relish. Made with fruits, vegetables, meat and even sea-food, these pickles are the versatile partner of every food and cuisine there is.
A spoon of pickle makes a rainy day brighter and you can pair it with a variety of foods right from the original pickle partner Khichdi to Roti and rice as you move from north to south. Pickles have evolved over the years too and these evergreen taste bud-ticklers aren’t going out of fashion anytime soon. We’ve scoured through jars and jars, and have curated a list of some of our funkiest favourites you should lay your hands on as soon as you possibly can.
I. Bhut Jolokia Pickle by Gitikas Pakghor
Gitika Saikia is adamant to tickle our pickle craze. Using her mother-in-law’s pickle recipe from Dibrugarh, Assam, Saikia has created a unique space for north-eastern pickles in the heart of Mumbai. She can pickle anything from silkworms, pigeon meat, red ant, goose intestines and many more north eastern delights. Bhut Jolokia is said to the hottest chilli in the world, even been featured in a Google doodle, and Saikia’s is a must have for lovers of spice. If anyone is to be hailed champion of Assamese cuisine in Bombay, it has to be her.
Cost- The price of ‘I can’t feel my tongue’ @Rs.250 for 100 grams.
II. Amba Halad Pickle by Goosebumps
Neither made of mangoes nor ginger, this Amba Halad pickle it is actually a curiously-spicy blend of turmeric with an added punch of tamarind juice and an “exclusive fenugreek” flavour as mentioned on their website. This Gujarati recipe has been quaintly packaged by Pinank Shah who has taken his mother-in-law’s recipe online to a very eager crowd. Initially serving only to family and friends, the joint family venture has been making us drool for more than 13 years now and. Other than the reddest Amba Halad pickle you’ll see, is their olive and jalapeno pickle is delicious and a must-have as well.
Cost- Not hair-raising @Rs.280 for 500 grams
III. Lemon Pickle by Pickl’ed
Train travellers in India are all too familiar with the lemon pickle the IRCTC serves. Lemon pickles and Indian meals are a match made in heaven and giving it a 21st century twist are the people at Pickl’ed. All their pickles are natural and with no added preservatives are meant for all age groups. There’s nothing like some good ‘ol lemon pickle to turn us into a tongue-tingling mess and Pickl’ed hits you in all the right places.
Cost- Jaw-dropping @Rs.175 for 250 grams.
IV. Tender Mango Pickle by Poppadum
Poppaddum is a Kerala Sadhya catering service by Sneha Nair and her sadhya is complete with a dozen meat and fruit-based pickles. Sourcing her mango ginger tuber from her grandfather’s estate in Kerala, Nair’s pickle is the perfect mix of salt and spice. For fans of meat-based pickles, Nair uses pork, Kallumeka (mussel) and fish in her treats, attempting to popularise meaty achaars. If you prefer a more traditional taste, you need to get your hands on her lime and brinjal pickles when she hosts food pop-ups on weekends at her house.
Cost- More tantalising than Katrina’s mango ads @Rs.180 for 200 grams and Rs.250 for 250 grams. The Sadhya costs Rs.800 per head. email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to be a part of her culinary experience and place orders on her Facebook page.
V. Kolambi Pickle by Soumitra Velkar
Soumitra Velkar was featured in an article about the cosmopolitan ways of cooking traditional Maharasthrian fare when one belongs to the Pathare Prabhu community. One of the oldest residents of Mumbai, they even have a recipe book called Gruhani Mitra from the 1920. Velkar though is also famous for his Kolambi(Prawn) pickle besides his traditional food pop-ups. His grandmothers recipe includes Kolambi, karandi (tiny shrimps), bombil (Bombay duck), gaboli (fish roe), ghol or pomfret among other indian spices. The spicy and sour pickle has additional crispy fried seafood to rid it of moisture, and they’re truly delightful.
Cost- less noisy than the fish market @Rs.200 for 100 grams and he makes it for friends who have had a taste of it. Reach out to him at soumitravelkar.wordpress.com and you might just get lucky. (It is aptly titled Prawnickles of Velkar)
VI. Hyderabadi Mutton Pickle by That Food Company
Hyderabadi spices come to create their own little paradise in a bottle with boneless mutton chop pickle. Made with onion, garlic, ginger, vinegar, oil, salt and lemon juice that blanket every mutton piece, this delight sadly lasts only for a few days. Their website encourages you to try it with sandwiches, canapés, tarts, lamb burgers and yours truly, dal khichdi.
Cost- preferred pickle of two-states @Rs.299 for 190 grams
VII. Raw Turmeric Pickle by The Food Samaritan
Amrita Iyer takes the traditional turmeric tuber and transform it into a culinary dream by grating it and mixing it with red chilli powder, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, ginger powder, asafoetia, jaggery and lime juice. This food samaritan promises that the shelf life of her pickles is three years but it may take a month to deliver. If her experiments are anything to go by, we bet our money on this low-on-heat and high-on-taste drama.
Cost- Ask her at email@example.com as she hasn’t begun commercial sales yet and visit thefoodsamaritan.com website for her varied experiments with Indian cuisines.
VIII. The Chicken Balchao Spread by The Pickled Chick
If you think you are a chicken connoisseur and haven’t tasted this pickle, you need to reconsider your title. William Pinto and Manini Rane have a bottle packed with chicken done four ways. Their drowned and outed chicken balchao spread definitely does justice to their Goan inspiration. The pickle will blow your mind with its tomato and chilli spice and these people have travelled not just Goa but Kerala, Andhra and even made a Punjabi chicken pickle. Their pickles are versatile enough to be added to vegetables, eaten just like that with rotis and rice, or made into a curry. Beware! They last only three months.
Cost- Kombdi Kombdi come come @Rs.250 per bottle
IX. Fish Roe Pickle by Zinobia Schroff
Zinobia Schroff is no stranger to the list of pickle queens and kings as she tops most of them. Famous for her tiffin services that pushed her to open her own business, this Parsi caterer has had her pickles sent all over the world from Iran, Israel, Russia, Canada, Japan, Australia, UK, and more. The one that sends most people in a food coma is her fish roe pickle. This Parsi signature is made with a salt water fish called ‘Bhing’ that is only available in August. She also uses the roe of Rohu fish, and they’re made in mustard oil which Schroff absolutely adores. A mustard loyalist, she uses mustard sauce alongside chilli-garlic paste and vinegar, which is also organic, and like most pickles, this also lasts a year if not refrigerated.
Cost- roe roe roe my pickle boat @Rs.550 for Bhing and Rs.350 for Rohu for 250 grams.
Read more about pickles at burrp.com
Words: Preksha Malu
Research by Meharunnisa Moula Sahib