India Recipes – Pickles

Mango Chutney by Pittaya - Flickr Commons


Pickles form an integral part of an Indian meal and pickling is one of the oldest methods of preserving food – some believe the history of the pickle goes back 4,000 years. In the West, the Romans turned it into a fine art and the Egyptians in the Middle East also contributed to this culinary art. In India various seasonal fruits, vegetables and sometimes meats are pickled to provide a good supply fruit and vegetable flavours through the year. Indian pickles are quite different from the European variety in that the pickling is usually done in oil rather than using vinegar. Pickles are typically eaten in small quantity served as a flavour enhancer.

Food in Tamil Nadu is divided up into 6 tastes: sweet, salt, bitter, sour, pungent and astringent. Traditional Tamil cuisine recommends that you include all of these 6 tastes in each main meal you eat. All this is thought to give complete nutrition, minimise cravings and balance the appetite and digestion. Pickles provide the sour component to the meal, but can also be sweet, salt, and bitter too, making them a complex and subtle blend.

There are a wide variety of different pickles but green mango is by far the most popular. Others include lemon pickle, lime pickle, mixed pickle, onion pickle, and garlic pickle. South Indian pickles are usually made with sesame, gingelly or peanut oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chillies, with tamarind, yogurt and lime used as souring agents.

Pickles are considered to have many health benefits – for example ginger and turmeric aid digestion, whilst red chillies are antiseptic.



  • 4 medium size raw mangoes
  • ½ tsp black mustard powder
  • 4 tsp red chili powder
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tspn coriander seeds
  • 200g gingelly oil (sesame seed)
  • 4 tsp salt

Method: 1. Cut the mangoes into 4 and leave the pieces to dry in the sun for a day. Cut them again into pieces of 1.5 to 2 inches. Discard the seed / stone and the onion type layer on the pieces. 2. Mix the mango pieces with the red chilli powder and the salt. Set it aside for a day. The next day, mix the rest of the spices – black mustard powder, fenugreek, cumin and coriander seeds together in a big bowl, fry them for a couple of minutes, then grind them. 3. Mix the spices with the mango, red chili powder and salt mix, and fry them for another two minutes. Then put them in a ceramic jar. Tie a neat thick cloth over it and store it. Taste it after a couple of days and if needs salt, it may be added at this stage.



  • • 500g cauliflower, beans, green peas and carrots
  • • 1 tsp garlic
  • • 1 tsp ginger
  • • 4 pieces of green chilli
  • • ½ tsp cumin
  • • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • • ½ tsp fenugreek
  • • 5 tsp red chilli powder
  • • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • • ½ tsp Jaggery (raw sugar)
  • • 200ml lemon juice
  • • 5 tsp of salt
  • • 250 ml oil

Method: 1. Cut the vegetables into small pieces. Warm some oil and fry the black mustard seeds, when brown add the garlic, ginger and green chilli pieces. After a couple of minutes add the vegetables and fry for another two minutes. Then, add the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric. 2. Make fresh lemon juice and add to the mix in the frying pan. Switch off the hob and add the jageree powder, fenugreek and cumin. 3. Mix everything well and put in a ceramic jar. Tie a neat thick cloth over it and store it. Taste it after a couple of days and if needs salt, it may be added at this stage.



  • 1 cup of coriander
  • 1 small piece ginger
  • 4 pieces garlic
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 onion
  • a little tamarind
  • ½ tsp black gram
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp oil

Method: 1. Heat the oil and fry the black gram until it is brown. 2. add the coriander leaves, garlic, onion, chili, tamarind and salt for two minutes and grind.* *NOTE: Grinding can be most easily accomplished using a food processor.



  • 2 tsp peanuts
  • 4 pieces garlic
  •  a little tamarind
  • ½ tsp salt
  •  4 chillies
  • ½ tsp oil

Method: Fry all the ingredients and grind them.



  • ½ tsp black gram
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 4 pieces garlic
  • 3 red chilies
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black gram
  • ½ tsp oil

Method: Heat the oil and fry the black gram, chilies, onion, tomatoes and garlic for two minutes.  Add a bit of salt and then grind