I've seen a few lime pickle recipes and they do vary quite a bit. I had never tried to do this until I started this website, mostly because the traditional way of making lime pickle invovles a fair bit of sunshine and a couple of months, so it always seemed simpler to just buy jars of the stuff.
Lime pickle is very popular in the west - particularly the UK - and can be bought easily at supermarkets in both mild and hot versions. The hot version can be quite wicked and when I went to India on business a few years back my hosts were quite impressed that I liked their lime pickle.
Anyway I got round to having a go, and, despite having to wait a couple of months, I must say the result was really good.
It starts off very bright yellow and looking a bit weird; don't worry, it turns out ok!
Notes on Ingredients
Most lime pickle recipes are on a moderately industrial scale and I wasn't that brave. So the first point to note is that these quantities will make about 1 good sized jar of lime pickle. Now I know that it comes our well I will be making bigger quantities; maybe just 4 or 5 times as much or I may may loads of it.
Limes. I just bought standard limes from the supermarket and you cannot always choose the size and type. The limes I got were quite big and this makes for quite a chunky pickle (which I like) but it does take a bit longer. A chef friend of mine can get the smaller limes with really thin rind and these might be better; they do appear in the supermarkets - I guess it depend on seasons and their suppliers etc.
Vinegar. I have seen lime pickle recipes with wine vinegar,malt vinegar, some with lime juice and one with water(?). I chose to use both a little lime juice and white wine vinegar and this worked well.
Chilli. Ah now here's the thing. I deliberately avoided calling this a 'hot' or 'sweet' lime pickle recipe. Some lime pickles can be really very hot, and I guess that is sometimes expected. But a nice sweet lime pickle is also very nice. When I make the next (larger) batch I will be experimenting with different quantities of chilli. It is worth pointing out that the underlying pickle does contain quite a bit of sugar (from the limes). This will counteract the chilli and so you can use what might seem a fairly large quantity of chilli. I used a teaspoonful of very hot chilli powder in 1 jar of pickle; I expected it to be pretty hot but it turned out quite mild.
Oil. Some lime pickle recipes just use vegetable oil, some a mixture of mustard and vegetable oil. I really like mustard oil so I use that.
Cut 4 of the 5 limes into pieces - quarters or smaller.
M ix with the salt and turmeric in a bowl so that all the pieces are covered
Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime over this mixture
Now mix in the white wine vinegar and again mix well
Put in a jar and leave it in a sunny spot for about a month
Shake the jar every other day and maybe turn it upside down every week
After about a month crush some mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds with
a rolling pin (or grind for about 1 second)
Add these and the chilli powder to the jar and stir thoroughly
Add oil until it just covers the pickle
Leave for another week or so
Consume with pleasure
Notes on Method
If the limes are quite large with thicker skins they will take longer to break down and soften up. You can cut larger limes into smaller pieces which will take less time. Sunshine and temperature are also factors. But, if you can bear the suspense, there is no harm in leaving the lime pickle to marinate for a couple of months.
The last week is all about flavour and seasoning, and of course the whole thing will improve with age.
This is a traditional lime pickle recipe; there is a quicker way which involves cooking the limes and using more spices. I will try this at some point - it is meant to be quite good.
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