Indian pickles consist of a large variety of pickled fruits and vegetables which are marinated in oil or lemon juice and different Indian spices and salt. Some regions also specialize in pickling meats and fish.
Pickled items include mango, lemon, lime, cauliflower, carrot, radish, tomato, onion, pumpkin, palm heart, lotus stem, rose petals, ginger, Indian gooseberry, garlic, green or red chili peppers, kohlrabi, gunda, kerda, zimikand (purple yam), karonda, karela (bitter melon), jackfruit, mushroom, eggplant, and turnip.
Homemade pickles are prepared in the summer and kept in the sun during daytime for at least three weeks before use. They are stored in porcelain or glass jars with airtight lids. The acidic nature of the marinade retards bacterial growth, and oil acts as a preservative. Pickles retain their freshness and flavor so long as they do not come into contact with moisture. Commercially produced pickles use preservatives like citric acid and sodium benzoate.
Indian pickles come in a wide variety of flavors; thus, a mango pickle from South India may taste very different from one made in North India. In the southern states, sesame oil is preferred, while mustard oil is preferred in northern states for making pickles.
Local Name for Pickles
The term for pickles in Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali is pronounced as achār, and written in their respective scripts as अचार">अचार, اچار, and আচার.
The Kannada, Telugu and Tamil words for pickles are respectively pronounced as uppinakaayi (ಉಪ್ಪಿನಕಾಯಿ), pachchadi (పచ్చడి), and oorugai (ஊறுகாயஂ).
In Marathi it is known as loncha.
The Malayalam word for pickles is pronounced as uppillittuthu, each type of pickle being given its own name, such as maangaacurry for mango pickle and ingicurry for ginger pickle.
The Kannada, Marathi and Gujarati words for pickles are respectively pronounced as uppinakayi (ಉಪ್ಪಿನಕಾಯಿ), lonache (लोणचे (page does not exist)">लोणचे), and athāṇũ (અથાણું).
Tamil Nadu State have a typical p mango pickle, maavadu, which is usually made early in the summer season when mangoes are barely an inch long. The preservation process uses castor oil, giving the pickle its unique taste. Another pickle from Tamil Nadu is narthangai, which consists of unripe citrons cut into spirals and stuffed with salt.
Tender whole mango pickle is one of the traditional pickle recipes of Karnataka. This is preserved entirely by dehydrating tender whole mango by salt and is very salty and sour. A special kind of it is jeerige midi (ಜೀರಿಗೆ ಮಿಡಿ), which is prepared using special tender mango with a refreshing aroma.
Raw mangoes, lemon, green chilis, gunda (Cordia) and kerda are commonly used as key ingredients in Gujarati cuisine. Varieties of pickled mango commonly found in Gujarati households include salted mango pickle, made with groundnut oil and spiced with fenugreek seeds, and red chili powder; hot and sweet mango pickle, made with groundnut oil, and jaggery, fennel seeds, dry dates (kharek), mustard, and red chili powder; and hot and sweet mango pickle, made using sugar syrup, cumin, and chili powder.
In South Africa, Indian pickles are called atchar, and are sometimes eaten with bread.