Friday, March 30, 2012

Nellikka (Amla) Achar/Gooseberry Pickle.....step by step.

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An update:
My friend Jay of Tasty Appetite has prepared this pickle and posted on her blog.

Summer is the best season for making pickles; Kerala Lemon Pickle is easy to make and my favorite, my other personal favorites are fish pickle, irrumban puli pickle, ginger pickle, carrot and bittergourd pickle, green chilly pickle.

Amla (nellikka) has so many health benefits and is also used in Ayurveda medicines and tonics. It is supposed to have the highest concentration of vitamin C, improves eyesight etc. Though it is slightly sour at first when you have it raw.....slowly the sweetness of the gooseberry tingles your taste buds. During my childhood, my cousins, my brothers, and myself used to put it in salt water for a day or two....and used to have it in between our out door games.

This nellikka achar is very simple and easy to make.....there is no garlic or ginger in it....if you like you can add....but I like it plain....the story behind this pickle is that, my amma came to Trivandrum as a young bride 40 years ago....and she, having lived in boarding school and hostel was not very much acquainted with cooking. She used to have a neighbor, who to helped her out in her daily cooking.....this recipe is from amma's old neighbor and friend.....they are Brahmins and did not use garlic.

Nellikka should be washed nicely and put in a steamer for 10 min (just like I steamed lemons for my Kerala Lemon Pickle)....when you open the lid of the steamer you can see that the nellikka has slit open on its own and the flesh has become soft and fall away from the seed. Just allow it to cool and with your fingers take the seed out and split it into 4 or 6. Then just heat up little gingelly oil and follow the rest of my instructions. This achar can be used after 3 days and will keep in room temperature for about 2 weeks and more in fridge.

Note: I used Kashmiri red chilly powder which is not store-bought, I buy whole dry Kashmiri chilly from the market, sun dry it for a day and powder it in the local mill. Kashmiri chilly powder has a fiery red colour and not very spicy.
Gooseberry/Nellikka/Amla: 500 gm/1/2 kg.
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Fenugreek seeds: 1/4 tsp.
Kashmiri red chilly powder: 4 to 5 tbsp.(increase or decrease according to your spice tolerance)
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Whole dry red chilly: 2 or 3, broken.
Asafoitida powder: 1/4 tsp.
Vinegar: 1/2 cup.
Curry leaves.
Salt: About 1 1/2 tsp or to taste.
Gingelly oil: 3 to 4 tbsp.
Sugar: 1/2 tsp.


Wash the nellikka and put it in a steamer. And steam it for about 10 min.

Open steamer and allow the nellikka to come to room temp. You can see that when it is cooked, the flesh has become soft and it has split open on its own.

Simply de-seed and split into 4 or 6 with your fingers.

In a kadai, heat 4 tbsp of gingelly oil, put in mustard seeds and allow it to crack, simmer the fire and add the fenugreek seeds, dry broken red chilly, 4 tbsp of red chilly powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, curry leaves, salt. Lightly fry the spices in the oil till the raw smell diminishes, careful not to burn the chilly powder, so put the gas on low. Add 1/2 cup vinegar and allow it to boil. Add sugar...this is to balance the spices.

Switch of the fire add the nellikka and mix well. ( I made this at night and the reason for the bad picture)

Bottle and use after 3 days.

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