Pickling, as we know, is a process of preserving food in a way which completely changes the way it tastes. We as Indians have grown up seeing a lot of pickles around the house, to be had with parathas or daal-bhaat or with good old muri-makha. Those pickles, be it everyone’s favourite raw mango pickle or the masala stuffed chilli pickle, invariably involved a lot of spices. There the basic ingredient, be it chilli, mango, ginger, berries or anything, was doused in salt, spices and oil, and was left to cure in the Sun in glass jars for days. Or there were simpler ones like the jarok lebu, where whole lemons were preserved in salt till they turned all mushy. However, all these took weeks or even months to cure.
But as much as I love traditional Indian pickles, I also love the simple no- ground spice, no-oil pickles a lot. They are so handy when I want to add some tang and twist to a sandwich or a salad. And at times, I even have them on their own. And this is the kind that I make very often.
This is the simplest method ever, and can be done with a string of non-mushy, non-leafy, non-starchy vegetable. I mostly use root vegetables like carrot, radish, onion and ginger for this. It also works well with cucumbers, cabbage etc. Here I have used cucumbers. To add another layer of flavour, I use some whole spices. In this particular recipe I have used cloves and whole peppercorn. Cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, star anise etc are excellent for the purpose too.
- Cucumbers – 2 large
- White Vinegar – 3/4th cup
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 5-6
- Peppercorn – 5-6
- Cut the cucumbers. I took off the skin. But you can very well leave them on. They can be cut into slices or sticks. If you are using baby cucumbers, you can even leave them whole. I used two big ones.
- In a thick bottomed vessel, take 3/4th cup white vinegar, and 1&1/4th cups of water. There should be double the liquid needed to submerge the vegetable.
- Add the clove (5-6) and whole peppercorn (5-6), vegetable and salt & sugar.
- Let it simmer on low heat for thirty minutes. For the slices I made, this was enough time.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool.
- Store it in the fridge in a sterilized, air-tight jar.
And my pickle was ready 😎. Yes, that’s how easy it is. It stays well in the fridge for two weeks, easily. A few points to keep in mind:
- The cooking time may vary with the size of the vegetable pieces to be pickled.
- You can take out the whole spices before storing or leave them in.
- Do not drain out the pickling liquid. It helps the preservation. And can be added to salad dressings
- Make sure the storing jar is absolutely clean and sterilized, otherwise the pickle may go bad sooner.
So let’s get pickling. The options are endless. Experiment with the kind of vinegar, the vegetable or the spices. And let me know how it went 😊