meyer lemon pickle with indian 5-spices

February 3, 2013


it’s february and i’m up to my old tricks again. i have no idea if you peeps are as gaga over indian preserved pickles as i am, but i’m thinking like my absolute fave vegetable kohlrabi, if not today, it will eventually have it’s day.

meanwhile, i can’t help it if i’m ahead of the curve. my mouth puckers at the mere thought of an indian fermented citrus pickle. all at once they are hot, sour, salty and sometimes sweet. unlike your run-o’-the-mill north african preserved lemons, they should not be rinsed before eaten. and, unlike them, they can make a meal out of nothing more than yogurt and plain rice. but i like them most of all as an intense condiment served on the side of a curry or even a quick vegetable stir-fry. if you have an indian pickle in you fridge i guarantee your kitchen will be void of boring one-dish meals, they are so flavor packed they could most certainly perk up an old leather shoe.

not that i’m suggesting your cooking tastes like old leather shoes mind you.

i’ve settled on a basic recipe with which i play each winter. it contains equal amounts of salt and sugar (although the sugar goes unnoticed in the finished bite) turmeric for color and earthiness, and a quarter cup of ground chiles. i grind up my homegrown and dried cayennes, which if truth be told i grow specifically for indian pickles. they of course render my pickles mouth-explodingly hot, but you could be a bit more subtle with yours and use a milder chile powder or lighten up the load. i do suggest you go somewhat hot though to get the full effect.

i’m particularly excited about this batch because i’m using meyer lemons from the lovely lemon ladies, and a typical bengali spice combo which is sometimes referred to as indian 5-spice. and with good reason, it’s ubiquitous in eastern india where it’s enjoyed in all manner of fish, vegetable and legume dishes. back home, i’ve found it hits all the right notes of exotic and familiar when introducing someone to indian flavors. it’s simply one part each of whole fennel, cumin, fenugreek, black mustard, and nigella seeds.

if i have peaked your interest over the last couple of winters, dear readers, with my endless roaring about indian fermented pickles but you have not quite taken the leap, i say, give this one a try! i think you’ll love it.


Comments Closed

  • Kathryn says:

    Sounds delicious!!!

  • nancy says:

    this spice combination sounds amazing! i made a batch of your preserved lemons (adapted from the madhur jaffrey recipe) on Jan 1st and they’re finally ready. i’ve been putting them on everything. these are next on my list, yum.

  • betsyohs says:

    I’m hesitant about pickled lemons, after tasting a commercial brand just once. But KOHLRABI! Please, I’d love to hear what you do with it. The only thing I make is a kohlrabi salad dressed with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and vinegar, and I love it. But I’d like something more to try – I get lots of big, stored ones in my CSA box this time of year.

    • tigress says:

      if you are hesitant about pickled lemons after tasting them, then they may not be for you. they are a very strong taste so perhaps other pickles are in your horizon instead. like these quick pickled kohlrabi pickles. very easy to make and i think you will enjoy them!

  • These are the best, the absolute best Indian pickle I have ever tasted. Partly it’s the absence of the asafetida, but this is just a perfect balance of flavors. What do you think about processing them for longer storage or for putting into the hands of other people…gifts, fund-raiser, stuff like that? To my mind, they are already a good embalming compound and probably only need to be protected from mold, but seriously…

    • tigress says:

      hi jane, i am so glad you are enjoying them! i really think if you store them in a fridge or a cool place they will last for a very, very long time. in india people make vats of pickles and have them for years. i’ve had my indian lemon or lime pickles last for over two years in my fridge and they are as good as ever. my recommendation would be not to water bath process, no need. the biggest protection from mold is to keep the spoon clean that you use to take the pickles out of the jar – don’t double dip! :)

  • Ah, Madam Citrus, help me with Lime pickle. I made fabulous, FABULOUS lime chutney from the recipe in Brennan’s Asia book, and I repeated it once successfully, but then the bitter problem took over every subsequent attempt. I understand that salting is meant to take the bitterness out of the peel, but it seems too random and unmeasured as a treatment for something to process and sell. What is you experience with lime rind? If you have it written somewhere else, just point me. I would love to make lime chutney again!

    • tigress says:

      I have not had issues with bitter lime peels in pickles, and I do make a lot of them. I am not familiar with the recipe you are referring to – does it include sugar? even in non-sweet fermented citrus pickles you must have sugar to balance the bitterness.

  • The chutney most certainly did contain sugar, and I had salted and slow-ovened the lime slices before cooking them, which I now assume was part of getting rid of the bitterness. The recipe was in Jennifer Brennan’s Cuisines of Asia. Many Indian lime recipes I have consulted since also use some kind of salting process before making a cooked condiment. I’m going to follow your pickle recipes and stop struggling with the chutney for now. Maybe later I’ll have achieved enlightenment and the bitterness will be gone, replaced by serenity and universal love. Thanks very much for your help.

  • Savannagal says:

    I have heard of preserved lemons before, but I am not familiar with them. What do you do with them? Do you eat them as is? Or are they used as ingredients in other recipes? I just can’t get my head around eating a chunk of lemon.

    • Dorothy says:

      I can’t WAIT to try these! I had a neighbor from Nepal that used to make pickled lemons & limes and they were little wedges of yummy spicy goodness. I’ve searched the internet over the past 10 years and not found any recipe that “looked” like hers did.. but yours does! I’m so excited! :)

Trackbacks / Pingbacks