Recently, while visiting one of our local towns, I was drawn to buying a bag of fresh limes from a market stall-holder. Here they are known as lemons, but to me they are just like the small green fruits with thin skins that in UK we would call limes.
Some I used to make salad dressing while the majority I turned into a very successful Lime Pickle. If you are a frequenter of Indian Restaurants or enjoy experimenting with spicy recipes at home you will likely have come across this fiery accompaniment, (Pataks make a very good one).
Since popping down to Sainsbury’s is now no longer an option I either have to lug things across The Pond in my suitcase, or make them myself. I have come to appreciate that making things from scratch, that at one time I always bought ready made, brings much more pleasure and satisfaction, despite the work involved. Having said that, there really was very little work involved in making this pickle.
Traditional Lime Pickle contains fenugreek seeds, not having these to hand I used Garam Masala instead. And rather than making it with 2 1/2 tablespoons of chilli powder I used just 2, so my pickle is less likely to set the house on fire, but still packs a punch.
As with all recipes there are no hard and fast rules, so for those that prefer a sweeter taste sugar could be added, as could other favourite spices or flavours like grated lemon zest.
Here is what I did:
Into a large screw-top jar put the following:
8 Limes cut into chunks
7 teaspoons Salt (I used pink Himalayan Rock Salt)
1 1/2 teaspoons Turmeric
2 teaspoons White Vinegar
Shake this every day until the lime skins soften. This can take up to 4 weeks if conditions are cold. If you can keep this on a sunny window sill all the better. Mine took just 8 days to soften, but then I wouldn’t want to go on too much about the wonderful sunny weather we have here.
Next stir in the following:
50 grams of crushed Fenugreek seeds, if you have them, or I used 25g Garam Masala, about 2 tablespoons worth.
1/2 teaspoon Asafoetida (available in the spice section of the supermarket – don’t be put off by the smell)
2-2 1/2 tablespoons of Chilli Powder (go steady on this one if you don’t like things too hot)
125 grams Yellow Mustard Seeds, lightly crushed (use a coffee grinder or small blender to do this)
1 cup Oil (ideally cold pressed)
Since we like the smell and taste of roasted spices I gently roasted the above in a frying pan before stiring into the limes. This can be done by dry roasting or as I did by using some of the oil to roast the spices.
Now all you do is wait a few days for the flavours to season and then serve with your favourite Indian food, or add to a plate of cold meats to give them that extra kick, not forgetting to put a large mixed salad alongside to keep the meal alkaline.
Additional note: I would advise against buy the large quantities of spices, that are required to make this recipe, in the small glass jars or boxes that the supermarkets sell since it would really put the cost of the pickle up to luxury level. I stock up on loose spices every time we return to UK and buy from a local independent store that sells herbs and spices that you bag-up yourself, eBay is also a good source as is Julian Graves – I bought a bag of their mustard seeds half price in Holland and Barrett recently.