Here's A Little Something About Our Beloved Achaar!




There's nothing like homemade pickles straight from Grandma's kitchen. Thinking about those big ceramic jars filled to the brim with mouth-watering pickles makes us nostalgic for the summer holidays spent at her home. We enjoyed helping Mom and Grandma in the kitchen, preparing the ingredients before adding the spices, chatpata masalas, and aromatic oils to the recipe. Every time we taste even one spoonful of the humble "achaar,” it takes us back to our childhood.

Originally, pickle came from the Dutch word pekel (salt) and the German word pökel (brine), two crucial ingredients in making pickles. Achaar is a Persian term that means “powdered or salted vegetables or fruits preserved in salt, vinegar, honey, or syrup.”

Various methods have been used in India to preserve food for centuries. The pickling process is the controlled fermentation of food in brine (a solution of salt and water). Fermentation makes food anaerobic, inhibits the growth of spoilage microorganisms, and reduces its spoilage potential.

Pickles are an essential part of Indian food and are known by various names; Loncha in Marathi, Achaar in Hindi, Athanu in Gujarati, Urukai in Tamil, etc. A brine-based pickle was first recorded in the Tigris Valley around BCE 2030, made from cucumbers. In Indian culinary traditions, it is believed that almost anything can be preserved by pickling, including fruits, vegetables, berries, leaves, roots, and even meat. India is home to several popular pickle flavors such as lemon, mango, green chilies, ginger, carrots, gooseberries (amla), etc.

There are fifty kinds of pickles described in “the Lingapurana of Gurulinga Desika,” a Kannada text from CE 1594, according to late food historian KT Achaya. In traveller and writer Ibn Battuta's account of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq's life, pickles are mentioned. "If a mango falls to the ground while still green and unripe, the locals will salt it to preserve it, much like we do with lemons. They also pickle green ginger and peppercorn pods, which they eat with their meals,” writes Ibn.

It's easy to add flavor and variety to your meals with pickles, and they're a delicious snack when you're craving salt or something tangy.