Nimbu ka Achaar (Lime Pickle)

Nimbu ka Achaar (Lime Pickle) Recipe

The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Fermentation Time: 504 hrs
Total: 504 hrs 35 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
114 Calories
6g Fat
18g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 114
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 14915mg 648%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 8g 27%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 30mg 150%
Calcium 122mg 9%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 329mg 7%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 dozen 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

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Nimbu ka Achaar (Lime Pickle) Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Sterilize and dry one or two glass pickling jars.

    pickeling jar and a bowl of limes

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  3. 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.

    lime wedges and salt in jars

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  4. 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.

    mustard powder, fennel, chili, and turmeric powders in a bowl, and jars with lime wedges

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  5. 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.

    asafetida added to mustard oil and mustard seeds in a pot

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  6. Pour the hot oil over the limes and carefully mix everything well with the help of a long utensil.

    hot oil poured over lime wedges in jars

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  7. Allow the pickles to rest for one additional week before eating.

    Nimbu ka Achaar (Lime Pickle) in jars

    The Spruce / Ahlam Raffii

  8. Enjoy.

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Şanlier N, Gökcen BB, Sezgin AC. Health benefits of fermented foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2019;59(3):506-527.