Lal Mirch ka Achaar or lal mirch ka bharwa achaar is red chili pickle stuffed with homemade spice mix soaked in mustard oil. This pickle takes 2 – 3 days in warm winter sun rays to get ready for consumption and has a shelf life 1 year if stored in a sealed jar at room temperature and handled with great care. This recipe is adapted from extremely talented food writer and consultant Sangeeta’s blog called Banaras KaKhana with her due permission.
For a country that is obsessed with food and everything to do with food, pickles are an integral part of our food culture. Spicy, tangy, sweet, sour, bitter are some of the defining words for Indian pickles, our pickles range for every season, from every region and of all the local produce. Over the years, pickles have become a kind of an essential item on our plates and an inseparable part of our tradition. If we peep into the history we could easily find traces of pickle in the royal kitchens, even the greatest of emperors could not resist the temptation of evoking their taste buds with the slug of a pickle. A small spoonful of pickle in the plate provide the additional punch of flavors, it brings even the dullest of meals to life, such is the magic of pickle.
Since I got married pickling is one technique in the kitchen which I never attempted maybe I was too content with yearly supply of pickles from my mother-in-law and it is human nature not to make efforts towards something which is easily accessible. While I was busy plunging into the gifted pickle jars words of my mother always ring a bell in my ears, “Pickling is an art which only few can master.” And now I can comprehend the depth of her words with much more seriousness when I made my first genuine attempt towards grasping the science of pickling, unlike other dishes pickling cannot be learnt by blindly following the recipe, at each and every step of pickling one need to apply some amount of wisdom, basic knowledge of ingredients behavioral science and observant culinary senses.
When I first spot these light airy deep red chilies in the supermarket my reflexes could only think of stuffed red chili pickle, which my palate was craving from a long time. Back home the chilies were tucked in the fridge for few days while I was desperately searching recipe for a naive pickling enthusiast like me. Once I found the recipe the pickling marathon began, somewhere deep within there was a desperate urge to prove that pickling is my cup of tea, which simply magnified my attention to detail syndrome. After waiting for the preferable weather mood finally, the day was marked when quite winter air in the house was filled with pickle masala drenched in deep golden mustard oil with nervous fingers when I stuffed chiles with the masala my senses were shaken up from deep slumber with the rustic aroma of chilies and the masala. For three days, I kept my fingers crossed and a hawk eye on the pickle jar my routine chores included shifting the pickle jar as per the sun rays during different hours of the day. After so much work of patience and uphill battle when we first tasted the pickle my heart was filled with pride and eyes were moistened on the success of my first step towards the art of pickling.
Lal Mirch ka Achaar (Stuffed Red Chili Pickle)
Yields 8 - 10 Chilies
10 medium size thick red chilies
1/4 Cup mustard oil
For the stuffing masala
2 tbsp mustard oil
2 tbsp amchoor powder
1 tbsp red chilly powder
3 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp ajwain seeds
2 tsp kalonji seeds (nigella seeds)
2 tbsp salt or to taste
To prepare chilies for the pickle wash, wipe with a kitchen towel and sun dry for 1 – 2 hours to completely dry them.
While chilies are sun drying prepare the masala. Add all the masala in grinder jar except mustard oil and blend to make a coarse powder. Once masala is powdered mix in mustard oil and mix nicely with a spoon.
Wear surgical gloves or kitchen gloves if your skin is sensitive to chilies.
With a sharp knife cut off the crown of the chilly and slit in between lengthwise half way through leaving intact from the lower end. Using knife hollow out the innards of the chilies, including all the seeds and the veins.
Now stuff each chilly with the masala. I filled masala with my fingers to evenly stuff the chilly with masala.
Arrange all the chilies in clean, dry jar. Drizzle mustard oil from top over the chilies in jar.
Seal the jar with lid and keep in the sun. Pickle takes 2 – 3 days in bright sun to get ready.
You can drizzle some more oil into each chilly everyday.
Once ready pickle can be stored at room temperature for 1 year.
Always keep water away from pickles even a single droplet of water is enough to spoil the entire pickle.