Indian pickles are a vibrant flavoursome aromatic delicacy. Everyday meals in India are accompanied by pickles which can be sour, sweet, hot, slightly bitter, or a mix of all the flavours. They are mostly home-made, where the recipe has been passed on through generations. Unlike reading the recipe from books/online video tutorials, the charm of learning the step-by-step process of pickle making from mothers and grandmothers is still prevalent in many Indian households.
What goes into the making of Indian Pickles?
Indian Pickles are special recipes as they are customized according to personal preferences and ingredient availability! They are made with specific spices and seasonal fruits/vegetables found in a particular geographic location. Although maximum pickles are vegetarian, non-vegetarian pickles made of fish and meat pickles are also quite popular in cold regions. Fruits like mango, olive, tamarind, and vegetables like carrots, cucumber, lemon, chilli, drumsticks, ladies finger, lotus stems, ginger, garlic, etc. are frequently used in pickle making! Sea fish pickles made of prawns, etc. & meat pickles are exclusive and rarely made. The spices that are used in pickles vary from culture to culture. Fennel seeds, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, red dried chillies, cinnamon, and, turmeric powder are the common spices that give the pickles its texture & rich aroma. Spices may be applied raw; dry roasted or fried in oil as per the recipe requirement. The pickles are most widely sweetened with jaggery or regular white sugar.
Pickles: Are they healthy?
Pickles contain a high amount of oil, salt, and spices. Yet, ancient Indian scriptures reveal that pickles were added to become a vital part of the Indian day meals for multiple healthy reasons:-
- Pickles are consumed in small portions about 1 or 2 spoons, along with a meal platter thereby elevating the probiotic substance in the meal.
- The spices, fruits/vegetable, along with other ingredients work together to give the body its daily dose of vitamins & minerals. The core ingredient (fruit/vegetable) used to make the pickle can prove to raise or lower the nutritional value. For instance: Cucumber pickles contain a high nutritional value.
- The salt aids to balance the sodium level.
- Vinegar used for preserving the sugar-free pickle boosts haemoglobin count and helps the diabetic patient to lower blood sugar levels.
Different Ways People Enjoy Pickles
Pickles in India are most commonly served alongside steamed rice and curry. It is also devoured with diverse varieties of flatbreads such as chappati (oil-free), paratha (shallow fried), luchi (deep-fried), and tandoori roti (cooked in wood-oven). Pickles are also added in curries, used as salad dressings, and had in sandwiches.
The sweet, salty, hot and tangy savoury pickles are enjoyed by everyone be it a child, teen adult, or elderly person! Watching the preparation of pickles- where the ingredients are washed, sun-dried, peeled, chopped, mixed/cooked with fragrant spices over a span of days is a pleasant experience. The anticipation to taste the finished pickle heightens its taste and flavours which a market bought bottled pickle can never offer.