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types of pickles in India

Types of Pickles in India | List of The Delicious Top 10

India, a country known for its diverse culture, languages, and cuisines, offers an equally varied and rich tradition of pickles. Indian pickles, or ‘Achaar,’ as they are locally known, are not just condiments; they are a blend of flavours, spices, and traditions that have been passed down through generations. 

In this Article ’Types of Pickles in India’, we will embark on a flavorful journey to explore the diverse and delicious types of pickles found across this vast country.

Types of Pickles in India

The tradition of pickling in India is ancient, with roots that stretch back millennia. Indian pickles are much more than just a side dish; they are a celebration of the country’s agricultural diversity and its ingenious culinary practices. 

These pickles are made from a variety of ingredients including, but not limited to, fruits, vegetables, and even meats, all preserved in oils, vinegar, or lemon juice mixed with a plethora of spices. Each region in India has its unique take on pickles, with recipes that reflect the local climate, soil, and culture.

The process of making pickles in India is considered an art form, one that requires patience and precision. It’s a practice that is often undertaken during specific seasons, especially summer when the sun’s heat aids in the fermentation and preservation process. 

Indian families pride themselves on their secret recipes and traditional methods of pickling, which are often passed down through generations.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Indian pickles is their variety. From the tangy and spicy to the sweet and sour, there is a pickle for every palate. These pickles not only serve as a testament to India’s rich culinary heritage but also offer numerous health benefits, thanks to the use of spices like turmeric, fenugreek, mustard, and asafoetida, which are known for their medicinal properties.

Regional Variations in Indian Pickles

India’s vast geographical expanse and varied climate conditions have given rise to a multitude of regional pickle varieties. Each state, and sometimes each household, has its unique version of pickle, made using locally sourced ingredients and traditional methods. 

This regional variation is not just limited to the type of ingredient used but extends to the method of preparation, the spices added, and even the oil used for preservation.

In the northern regions, where the climate ranges from extreme cold to moderate warmth, pickles made from carrots, cauliflower, and turnips are popular. These pickles often have a robust flavour profile, with a strong presence of mustard oil and spices. 

Moving south, the pickles take on a tangier and often spicier note, with extensive use of tamarind and green chillies. The coastal regions, on the other hand, introduce a delightful array of seafood pickles, alongside traditional vegetable and fruit pickles, each with its unique taste and preparation method.

The eastern part of India, with its tropical climate, is renowned for its sweet pickles made from exotic fruits like mangoes and jackfruit, often combined with jaggery and spices. Conversely, the western regions, which encompass desert and coastal climates, offer a variety of spicy and tangy pickles, with a significant use of dried fruits, vegetables, and even meats.

Popular Types of Pickles in India: The North

North India’s love affair with pickles is as vibrant as its culture. Here are some gems to tantalize your taste buds:

  1. Aam ka Achaar (Mango Pickle): A classic, made with unripe mangoes, mustard oil, and a fragrant spice blend for a spicy and tangy punch.
  2. Amla (Gooseberry) Pickle: This powerhouse pickle is packed with Vitamin C and offers a tangy, slightly bitter flavour thanks to turmeric, mustard seeds, and chilli powder.
  3. Gajar ka Achaar (Carrot Pickle): Shredded carrots pickled with spices like fenugreek, mustard seeds, and red chilli powder, offering a sweet, spicy, and crunchy experience.
  4. Gherkin Pickle: Small, tart gherkins pickled in mustard oil and spices for a delightful burst of flavour, often enjoyed with parathas.
  5. Lemon Pickle: Tangy and refreshing, made with whole lemons preserved in a brine or mustard oil solution with spices.
  6. Sattu ka Achaar: A protein-rich pickle from Bihar, made with roasted gram flour (sattu) and spices, offering a unique savoury and slightly nutty flavour.
  7. Sev ka Achaar (Crispy Noodle Pickle): Thin gram flour noodles (sev) deep-fried and then pickled in spices, resulting in a crunchy and flavorful condiment.
  8. Bhut Jolokia Pickle: Made with the fiery Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper (ghost pepper), this pickle is for the daring! It offers an intense heat alongside a tangy flavour.
  9. Methiya ka Achaar (Fenugreek Seed Pickle): Crunchy fenugreek seeds pickled with spices like mustard seeds and chilli powder for a unique and slightly bitter taste.
  10. Pachadi: A sweet and tangy pickle from Rajasthan, made with fruits or vegetables like mango, carrot, or gooseberry combined with jaggery and spices.

Popular Types of Pickles in India: The South

The southern states of India, with their hot and humid climate, have developed pickles that are not only a feast for the tastebuds but also a reflection of the region’s rich agricultural produce. South Indian pickles are known for their fiery heat and robust flavours. 

Made with unripe mangoes, fenugreek powder, mustard powder, and a generous amount of chilli powder, these pickles are a true testament to Andhra Pradesh’s love for spicy food.

South India is a land of vibrant flavours, and its pickles are no exception. Here are 10 must-try South Indian pickles to tantalize your taste buds:

  1. Aavakai (Raw Mango Pickle): The king of South Indian pickles, made with raw mangoes, fenugreek powder, red chilli powder, and mustard oil. It offers a complex flavour profile ranging from spicy to tangy to sweet.
  2. Pachchadi: A sweet and tangy pickle with a variety of fruits and vegetables as the base – mango, gooseberry (amla), or even banana blossom. Jaggery and spices add a unique touch.
  3. Narthangai (Lime Pickle): Whole or sliced limes pickled in brine or mustard oil with spices, offering a refreshingly tart and tangy flavour.
  4. Gongura Pickle: Made with sorrel leaf (gongura), this pickle boasts a unique sour and spicy flavour. It’s often enjoyed with rice or dal.
  5. Ulli Theeyal (Shallot Pickle): Pearl onions (shallots) pickled in mustard oil with spices like fenugreek and red chilli powder. The result? A flavorful and slightly spicy condiment.
  6. Tomato Pickle: Ripe or unripe tomatoes pickled in mustard oil with spices, offering a tangy and slightly sweet flavour profile.
  7. Kannamanga Achar (Kerala Mango Pickle): A Kerala speciality made with ripe mangoes, jaggery, and spices. It’s known for its sweet and tangy flavour with a hint of smoke.
  8. Garlic Pickle: Fresh garlic cloves pickled in mustard oil with spices, offering a strong and pungent flavour.
  9. Ginger Pickle: Ginger pieces are pickled in mustard oil with spices, providing a spicy and slightly sweet accompaniment to meals.
  10. Inji Puli (Tamarind Ginger Pickle): A unique pickle combining the tang of tamarind with the zing of ginger and spices. It offers a complex and flavorful experience.

Popular Types of Pickles in India: The East

East India, with its rich biodiversity, offers some of the most unique pickles in the country.

There isn’t a specific region called “East India” in the country. Eastern India consists of several states with distinct culinary traditions. However, to give you a well-rounded idea of pickles from this area, here are some  famous pickles from various states in Eastern India:

  1. Aam Pana (Odisha): This isn’t exactly a pickle in the traditional sense, but a tangy and refreshing drink made with raw mangoes, jaggery, and spices. It’s a popular summer cooler and digestive aid.
  2. Kancha Aamer Achar (West Bengal): Similar to the South Indian Aavakai, this Bengali pickle uses raw mangoes, mustard oil, and spices for a tangy and spicy flavour.
  3. Shorshe Bata Achar (West Bengal): This unique pickle features mustard paste (shorshe bata) as the base, along with vegetables like cauliflower or carrots. It offers a pungent and slightly bitter flavour.
  4. Pandi (Odisha): Made with sun-dried raw mangoes, jaggery, and spices, Pandi is a thick and sticky pickle with a sweet and tangy flavour profile. It’s often enjoyed with rice or dal.
  5. Tokha (Assam): A fermented and spicy condiment made with bamboo shoots, Tokha is a staple in Assamese cuisine. It offers a sour and tangy flavour with a slightly smoky aroma.
  6. Achars in Mizoram: Mizoram has a variety of pickled vegetables, including bamboo shoot pickles, pumpkin pickles, and fish pickles. Each offers a unique combination of spices and flavours.
  7. Bhut Jolokia Achaar (Assam & Nagaland): This fiery pickle features the Bhut Jolokia chilli pepper (ghost pepper), known for its intense heat. It’s a challenge for even the most spice-loving individuals!
  8. Lai Hara (Manipur): This Manipuri pickle uses fermented mustard leaves (lai hara) and offers a pungent and tangy flavour. It’s often paired with fish dishes.
  9. Thekua Chutney (Bihar): Not exactly a pickle, but a dry chutney made with flattened rice flakes (thekua) and spices. It offers a crunchy and flavorful accompaniment to meals.

Popular Types of Pickles in India: The West

West India’s pickle-making tradition is as vibrant and diverse as its landscapes. 

10 Famous Pickles in the West Indian Region

The western coast of India boasts a rich culinary heritage, and pickles are no exception. Here are 10 famous pickles from this region to tantalize your taste buds:

  1. Gherkin Pickle: Tiny sour gherkins pickled in mustard oil and a blend of spices like fenugreek, red chilli powder, and turmeric. This tangy and slightly spicy pickle pairs well with flatbreads like paratha.
  2. Kairi (Raw Mango) Pickle: A staple in Gujarati and Maharashtrian cuisine, made with unripe mangoes, mustard oil, and spices like fenugreek and red chilli powder. It offers a delightful balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavours.
  3. Keri Ghol (Green Mango Marmalade): A sweet and tangy condiment from Gujarat, made with unripe mangoes, jaggery, and spices. Unlike a traditional pickle, it has a jam-like consistency and is enjoyed with chapatis or puris.
  4. Limoni Pickle (Lemon Pickle): Whole or sliced lemons preserved in brine or mustard oil with a blend of spices. This tangy and refreshing pickle is a common condiment across western India.
  5. Aamla (Gooseberry) Pickle: This powerhouse pickle is packed with Vitamin C and offers a unique combination of sour, bitter, and spicy flavours thanks to turmeric, fenugreek, and chilli powder.
  6. Shengdana Chutney (Peanut Chutney): This is not a pickle in the traditional sense of preserved vegetables, but a dry and spicy chutney made with roasted peanuts, garlic, and spices. It’s a popular accompaniment to various dishes.
  7. Tokri (Cluster Bean) Pickle: Cluster beans (tokri) are pickled with mustard oil, fenugreek, and other spices. This crunchy and flavorful pickle is a Maharashtrian speciality.
  8. Kanthari Pickle: Made with the fruit of the Kokum tree (Garcinia Indica), this pickle from Goa offers a unique sour and tangy flavour. It’s often enjoyed with seafood dishes.
  9. Sukha (Dry) Aamchur Pickle (Dry Mango Powder Pickle): A unique pickle powder made with dried and ground unripe mangoes and spices. It adds a tangy and fruity flavour to curries and dals.
  10. Mitha Thecha (Sweet Chutney): A sweet and spicy chutney from Maharashtra, made with roasted peanuts, chillies, jaggery, and spices. It offers a delightful contrast to savoury dishes.

Health Benefits of Consuming Indian Pickles

Indian pickles are a taste explosion, but their benefits go beyond the tangy delight. The secret lies in the spices – turmeric, mustard seeds, asafoetida, and fenugreek. These powerhouses boast anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This translates to better digestion, a happy gut, and a stronger immune system.

But remember, moderation is key. Pickles can be high in sodium and oil. Don’t despair! There are oil-free and low-sodium pickle recipes aplenty. These allow you to enjoy the same burst of flavor without the added guilt. So, embrace the taste and health benefits of Indian pickles, but remember, enjoy them in a balanced way!

How to Make Homemade Indian Pickles

Making Indian pickles at home is a rewarding experience. The key to a good homemade pickle is the quality of the ingredients and the precision in the preparation method. Most Indian pickles follow a similar process: selecting and preparing the base ingredient, mixing it with spices, and then preserving it in oil or vinegar. The pickles are then left to ferment for a period, which can range from a few days to several months, depending on the recipe.

For beginners, starting with a simple lemon or chilli pickle is advisable. These pickles require fewer ingredients and have a shorter fermentation period. As you become more familiar with the process, you can experiment with more complex recipes and ingredients.

Conclusion: Exploring the Rich World of Indian Pickles

The world of Indian pickles is vast and varied, offering something for everyone. Whether you prefer your pickles sweet, sour, spicy, or tangy, there is a type of Indian pickle that will satisfy your taste buds. 

By exploring the diverse types of pickles from different regions of India, we not only get to enjoy their delicious flavors but also gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s rich culinary heritage. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, consider adding a spoonful of Indian pickle to your plate – it might just be the burst of flavor you didn’t know you were missing.

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