So keeping the band wagon of winter pickles going – how about gulgul ka achaar. Some of you might be familiar with it and some might be thinking – what is “gulgul”. And quite frankly, I won’t blame you. Before writing this post, I did some reading on gulgul and took some notes. I found that gulgul is not a very well-known member of the citrus family and is known as Hill Lemon. It is indigenous to north western states of India.
I remember gulgul suddenly starts appearing in the sabzi mandis (farmer’s markets) or on the carts of your sabzi wala (street vegetable vendor) around November in Punjab, right around when the cooler weather sets in. All the aunties in the neighborhood would surround the sabzi wala and negotiate the price of gulgul and talk about how they were thinking about making gulgul ka achaar for the season. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face – small parts of my childhood sewn all along the fabric of our cuisine – the food we cook, the food we eat, and the food we share with our children along with passing down stories about what it was like for me and their daddy to grow up in India. That’s why I always say that food is just such an incredible part of what we are, who we are, and what we aspire to be.
Coming back to the pickle, just like gaajar gobhi shulgum ka achaar (recipe here), this achaar is also traditionally made during winters and enjoyed with paranthas (stuffed flat breads), saag (recipe here) and makki ki roti (yellow corn masa flat bread). Citrusy gulgul comes together with slightly pungent and warm taste of fresh ginger and spicy hot green chilies. Ginger is very good for you, specially in colder months (and flu season), as it helps to ward off cold and flu, warms up the body, is anti-inflammatory, lowers blood sugar, and helps in digestion. The additional spices in this pickle are very simple – fenugreek seeds (anti-inflammatory, helps in digestion), some turmeric (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-booster) for color and warmth, salt, and sugar to cut the sourness of gulgul. Since pickles are high in salt, moderation is the key!
Why a cheater’s version you ask? That is because we cannot gulgul here in the United States and my understanding is, in most parts of India other than the north. So we use lemons – thick skinned, yellow colored – just like a gulgul, almost identical in looks and very similar in taste. So a little bit of cheating but I promise it’s all good!
Lemons – 4 large, washed, pat dried and cut into bite-size pieces
Ginger – ½ lb or 200 gm, peeled and sliced into small pieces (see picture)
Thai green chili – about 10 - 15, washed and dried (feel free to use serrano or jalapeno peppers – Thai chilies are HOT)
Mustard oil – 2 tablespoon
Fenugreek seeds/ Methi dana – 1 tablespoon
Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
Salt – 3 tablespoon
Pink salt – 1 tablespoon (optional, if not using increase regular salt to 3.5 tablespoon)
Sugar – 2 tablespoon
Set a heavy bottomed skillet or kadhaai on medium heat and bring the mustard oil to smoke point. Turn the heat off and let the oil cool down. Turn the heat back on to medium low and add the fenugreek seeds to the oil, cook for 30 seconds or until the seeds turn a light golden. Add turmeric powder and mix. Now you can add the ginger, stir around and add the lemon pieces along with salt(s). Stir around once and let the mixture come to a boil, lower the heat and cook for five minutes without stirring much. Too much stirring will cause all the pulp from lemon pieces to break down and when you take a piece of lemon out from your pickle jar to enjoy, you will only end up with lemon skin and that would be slightly disappointing. So please do not stir too much..:P.
After about 5 minutes add the green chilies and sugar. Give it a one big mix and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the pickle cool before storing in clean glass jars. This pickle is ready to eat right away so enjoy!
Love – Vaishali.
Store in refrigerator
Knife and chopping board
Heavy bottomed skillet/kadaahi
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