Monday, November 22, 2010

Spicy, Yet Simple, Lemon Pickle

For the first time I made something that took two weeks to complete. Two weeks! Not shocking, then, that the thing is a pickle, though not "pickled" in the way of a cucumber. In case the lemons above didn't give it away, I made a simple lemon pickle. After boiling, slicing and coating with salt you're left with a hefty bit of rind (though the recipe does encourage you to use thin-skinned lemons, but how are you supposed to check for that?) and I admit I was cautious on taking my first bite, but was fairly surprised. Yes, you still taste lemon, yes, it's a powerful taste, but nothing bitter or overwhelming. I served it with spicy chicken tikka masala and the lemon power cut right through the chili and helped make the chicken a tad more calm.

Just a tad, though - this pickle is quite spicy in itself, so I would recommend toning it down a bit. I also recommend you make it. C'mon, pickled lemons! Two weeks may seem like a long time (and I suppose it is) but that's waiting time which means this pickle is basically a "set it and forget it" recipe. Once made it will last for a couple of months in your fridge, waiting to be eaten alongside some lentils, chickpeas or maybe some spicy chicken of your own.

30Apr11 - Did you you know that the preserving power of salt is what makes this recipe a pickle recipe? Now you do.

Lemon Pickle (makes about 2 cups)
The Food of India

1lb thin-skinned lemons (I used 4)
1/2tsp ground turmeric
2tbsp salt
1/2tsp fenugreek seeds
1tsp yellow mustard seeds (I only had black and they seemed to work fine)
1/2tbsp chili powder (feel free to cut way back on this, especially if your chili powder is particularly spicy)
1tbsp oil

1. Wash the lemons, place them in a saucepan with 2 cups of water and the turmeric and bring slowly to the boil, skimming off any scum which rises to the top. Boil for 8  minutes, then remove from the heat and drain well.

2. Cut each lemon into 8 sections and removes any seeds. By this time, the lemon flesh will have turned to a pulp. Sprinkle the lemons with the salt and pack them into a 2-cup glass jar which has been sterilized (wash the jar in boiling water and dry in a warm oven.) (I commandeered my cinnamon stick jar.) Put the lid on tightly and keep the lemons in a jar for 1 week, turning the jar over every day (you can also turn it on its side and roll it over every day.)

3. Place a small frying pan over low heat and dry-roast the fenugreek and mustard seeds until aromatic and starting to pop, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent them burning. Grind the roasted seeds to a fine powder with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

4. Tip lemons into a bowl and mix in the ground spices and the chili powder. Clean the jar and sterilize it again. Put the lemons and any juices back into the jar and pout the oil over top to act as an air barrier and stop the top layer from discoloring. Store in a cool place or in the fridge after opening.

*- I recommend waiting a week after adding the spice before chowing down.


  1. i love lemon pickles! i am so excited that you tried this..i eat this every time i can, usually with chickepeas

  2. I am, too. They surprised me with their tastiness.

  3. i just made the pickle, with a slight variation, since my husband doesnt like spicy too much , i skipped the red chilli powder and added 3 tbspn sugar instead.. smells fab. and hardly took me half an hour to make. thanks a lot . much love.
    P.S. i got married six months back , this is the first ever pickle i made in my life. m sure it will be a delicious surprise for my husband as well.. thanks a lot.