Pickling Saga: How to Make that Perfect Pickle & Health Benefits
Rice, khichdi, roti and paratha have a common friend that enjoys a special place in Indian homes. Yes, a pickle! It enhances the taste of any meal in every season.
Pickling, a process that must have started for preserving certain foods to enjoy later, has become a culinary delight. Our forefathers preserved food more for health and scarcity reasons than for taste. A few years back, seasons dictated our diet. Today, most fruits and vegetables are available all year-round. Of course, the lack of taste hardly matters as human greed plays a huge role in our dietary habits. This practice of growing food in an artificial environment has snatched away the charm of waiting for seasonal delicacies.
Pickling, an art of preserving food is practiced all over the world. India has a great diversity of food and you are really spoiled for choice when it comes to pickles. Apart from the popular mango, chilly, and lemon pickles, there are dozens of pickles made in Indian homes. Winter is a great time to pickle a variety of vegetables and fruits.
Pickling is a great way to include fermented food, a probiotic, in the diet. When veggies are fermented naturally, it helps the lactobacilli present on the surface of the veggies to multiply and create lactic acid which pickles and preserves the vegetables and promotes health. Pickles transform plain everyday food into a delight by enhancing the flavour. Remember having a mixed vegetable pickle with aloo ka paratha or a lemon pickle with dal and rice or khichadi?
Well, known nutritionist, Rujuta Diwekar is all for homemade pickles. She shares on her Instagram, that our grandmas pickled available vegetables and fruits to enhance the nutritional value while ensuring that the seasonal produce is not wasted.
Ayurveda and Pickles
Ayurveda Wellness Expert, Avanti Kumar Singh suggests Ayurvedic ‘pickles’ as digestives to help kindle the digestive fire, or Agni, of the body. She explains to her patients and students that pickles are ‘fire-starters’ that can help improve and support digestion.
Ayurveda suggests, incorporating as many of the six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent) as possible in every meal to create balance and satisfaction. Pickles are often used to complete the six tastes of Ayurveda in a given meal, she explains. Different combinations of vegetables/fruits, spices, acid, and oil can be used to create various flavour profiles depending on the seasonal availability of the produce.
Avanti shares a recipe for a ginger pickle that is digestive. Mix ½ inch thick slices of ginger with lime juice and salt and store in a glass jar in the fridge. 1-2 small slices should be eaten 15-20 minutes before lunch and dinner.
Traditional Mix Vegetable Pickle Recipe
You can make instant pickles with carrots, radish, green peas, cauliflower, amla, ginger. These pickles do not need to be matured and can be relished as soon as they are made. Here is an easy mix vegetable pickle recipe.
½ cup each of cauliflower, carrots, radish washed, dried, and cut into small pieces
½ cup of fresh peas washed and dried
½ tsp chilly powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2tsp mustard seeds. Powder half of these seeds
1tsp fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp of asafoetida powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Mix all the vegetable pieces and peas.
Add chilly, turmeric powder, and salt.
Add 1 tsp of water to the mustard powder and whisk. Add it to the mixture.
Heat the oil, add asafoetida, and mustard seeds. Let it crackle.
Add fenugreek seeds.
Let them cook for 2 minutes and add the seasoning to the vegetable mixture.
Add lemon juice and enjoy.
It remains good for 3- 4 days in winters. Do store in the fridge.
Benefits of Pickles
Pickles can be either fermented or unfermented. Though fermented pickles have more even the unfermented ones are rich in certain vitamins and antioxidants. Pickles boost immunity, aid digestion, are good for the gut, and are low in calories but high in sodium. Pickles are eaten traditionally in bits and pieces and not by ladles. The quantity of consumption of any food is also based on traditional food wisdom. If we follow these rules, pickles can be beneficial.
Points to Remember
Pickling is not difficult, but you need to follow the given procedure to get good results. Here are some tips.
Select fresh vegetables and fruits
Wash and dry thoroughly
Roast spices on low heat to remove moisture
Use clean utensils and tools
Store pickles in clean and dry glass jars
Use a clean dry spoon to serve a pickle
Follow the recipe for boiling, fermenting, and sunning
Store the pickles as suggested (in the fridge or room temperature)
Try making pickles at home to ensure fresh, unadulterated, and chemical-free condiment. Pick up an easy recipe and make a small batch. Once you get the knack, you can pickle any vegetable or fruit. A fresh pickle adds a delicious temptation to every meal that is hard to resist by anyone, young or old.
Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting, and travel.)
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