|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 6g||8%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||2%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 11g||38%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 62mg||309%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Lime pickle, or nimbu ka achaar, is a popular dish served in India alongside many offerings, from rice to dal, samosas, or parathas. Despite the name, there's not a cucumber in sight; what's pickled is the lime itself. Each family has a favorite take on the dish; however, it's fair to say that all lime pickles are delicious, with varied characteristics stemming from the use of more or fewer spices, chiles, sugar, salt, and sometimes jaggery (dark brown sugar).
Lime pickle is surprisingly easy to make, but waiting is the hardest part—it takes patience and time for them to come out just right. This recipe requires putting a lime mixture in a pickling jar and leaving it for two weeks so it can ferment. Some recipes use four-week fermentation, and others serve the limes right away, but time is the most important ingredient. Allowing proper fermentation is what gives these limes their distinct essence.
When it's all said and done and the limes come to the table, you'll have a dish that holds the complexity of Indian cuisine, a perfect balance of sour, tart, and salty, with hints of aromatic spices. Because the limes come out fairly salty, keep an eye on the seasoning of dishes you're going to pair these limes with, as this pickle can be the salty component. Before you start, be sure you have asafetida (or asafoetida), an Indian spice, which you can buy online.
24 medium to large limes, quartered and seeded
3/4 cup white sea salt
1/4 cup black rock salt
8 teaspoons fennel seeds, roasted and coarsely ground
8 teaspoons mustard seeds, coarsely ground
8 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons turmeric powder
2 cups mustard oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon asafetida
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Sterilize and dry one or two glass pickling jars.
Place the limes into the jars, cover with the white and black salts, and mix well. Cover the jar tightly and keep it out in the sun for two weeks. The limes turn a pale brown color during this time.
Mix the fennel seeds, ground mustard seeds, chili powder, and turmeric powder together in a small bowl. Add the spice blend to the limes and mix thoroughly.
In a pan, heat the mustard oil to the smoking point and add the whole mustard seeds; be careful as they will splutter. Mix well, and quickly add the asafetida. Turn off the heat immediately.
Pour the hot oil over the limes and carefully mix everything well with the help of a long utensil.
Allow the pickles to rest for one additional week before eating.
A Word About Mustard Oil
Mustard oil is illegal to sell for human consumption in the U.S. and Canada, as it has been tied to health warnings because the erucic acid in it is said to be toxic when ingested. You can, however, still find mustard oil in some stores being sold as an essential oil or massage oil. It has a nice flavor, and the allyl isothiocyanate gives it a pungent aroma. If you'd rather skip this oil, use peanut, rice bran, or sunflower oil.
How to Store
Because lime pickles are fermented, they will last for a long time. Unopened, the achaar will be good for at least two years; once opened, they will keep for one year in the refrigerator. If you want to keep them at room temperature, the lime pickles will only last about a month. When storing, make sure there is a layer of oil on top of the pickled lime.
Are Lime Pickles Healthy?
Fermented foods have been used in traditional cuisines around the world because of their health benefits, such as boosting the immune system and improving digestive health.
Şanlier N, Gökcen BB, Sezgin AC. Health benefits of fermented foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(3):506-527.