Friday, December 20, 2013

Recipe : Gujarati Style Fresh Turmeric Pickle - Kaccha Haldi / Amba Haldi Achaar (Vegan)

Come end November - December and the laaris (local hand carts) in the markets of Gujarat have a corner dedicated to Rhizomes -  kaccha haldi (tender turmeric) and amba haldi (literally- green mango turmeric - it looks white like ginger, but has the sour taste of green mango and a mild flavour of fresh turmeric).

Locals regularly buy these items through winter and serve it up as a pickle with every meal as these 2 spices are supposed to help keep the cold of winter from affecting your body, and builds immunity and resistance against winter infections.

In its simplest form, a small piece of tender turmeric or amba haldi is chopped/julienned and sprinkled with salt and lemon juice just before serving on the table, with chilli powder being optional.

In its fancier form, it involves drying, tempering etc.

I personally prefer the flavour of the simple one, but for 2 people it doesn't make sense to keep chopping up a tiny piece daily, so after looking online and speaking to a few Gujarati friends I created a recipe that I liked.

Please Note :
While my photos will show that I used some of the lovely fresh red winter carrots in the pickle, from experience, I would now say that don't use carrots if you plan to store the pickle for more than a couple of days, as it turns soft.

Also, we preferred the flavour of amba haldi to the regular fresh turmeric, so I've upped the quantity in the recipe below.

The recipe that follows is what I've fine tuned based on experience and taste, but my pictures will show what I actually used, so don't let it confuse you. Follow the recipe words and don't worry about the quantities in the pictures, they are for illustrative purposes only. Also feel free to play around with the quantities to evolve something that suits your families taste buds.

Ingredients :

100 gms kaccha haldi / tender turmeric
100 gms amba haldi
5-30 green chillies (depending on spiciness and your families spice tolerance. I like mine spicy, so I used 30 spicy green chillies, if you want a mild flavour 5 green chillies is fine. But use the thin crispy style chillies - Indian chillies and Thai Birds eye chillies work well)
20-30 limes (you need the juice to completely cover the turmeric, so quantity will differ based on juiciness of limes, don't use limes that are very sour or bitter)
salt to taste - at least a tablespoon

Wash clean any mud on the surface, then scrape clean the kaccha and amba haldi and julienne it to around matchstick length.
Slit the green chillies lengthwise into 2 or 4 slices depending on thickness.
In a clean, dry glass / ceramic jar layer the turmeric and chillies, sprinkling a little salt at intervals.
Once the jar is full, squeeze the juice of the limes into the jar (taking care not to get any seeds in)
Cover with a thin cloth or tissue with a string or rubber band holding the mouth closed.
Keep it in the sun for 2 days, then give a nice stir or shake and refrigerate.

Take out as required and serve as a side with meals (2-6 sticks per person per meal is normal consumption)

1. Make sure the bottle that you use has a plastic / glass or ceramic cover (not metal)
2. Make sure the bottle is completely dry before you use it and use a dry spoon each time you take anything out of the jar.
3. If a thin white film forms on top, it hasn't gone bad - its a normal phenomenon for pickling in brine (salt water), just bob the solid pieces below liquid level and give a stir and continue to use as normal.
4. Don't return pickle pieces back into the bottle once they have been exposed to air (if you serve it up for dinner in a plate and it doesn't get completely consumed), store it in a seperate box/bottle and use up before opening your main bottle again.
5. The fresh turmeric stains very very badly. My hands remained yellow and the nails looked jaundiced for at least 4-6 days. Watch out for your clothes. You may want to use gloves. I personally don't like to use gloves when prepping food, because my style of cooking enjoys the tactile sensations of the cooking process, If you do use gloves, use the thin ones that give you control and grip over the tiny turmeric pieces.
6. Choose the straightest and longest pieces of turmeric that you can find, it helps ease and hasten the skinning step.
7. I chopped off the tiny bumps and washed them and kept them in a little bowl in the fridge. I substitute one bump (smash before use) for powdered turmeric in my recipes, especially dhal.


Unknown said...

Hi, I am going to make this tonight. I have turmeric and "Thai" ginger - it is fatter and smells sweet/sour so maybe it is Amba haldi? I don't have fresh chills but I have dried and also lots of garlic. I plan to include garlic but what about the dried childish? Thanks.

Kim said...

Thai Ginger is Galangal. It is quite different from amba haldi.We normally discard galangal after cooking, (its only used like a bouquet garni) so I'm not sure if it will take well to being pickled / will be edible.

Dry and fresh chillies have very different flavours, but it is a passable substitute.

Garlic pickles well in sour agents, so it should go well.

But I'm definitely unsure about the Thai Ginger

MaxWiz said...

There are two types of galangal sold in our local Thai supermarket. Big galangal looks almost identical to ginger, both its shape and colour. Little galangal is very bright orange when cut and the roots are thiner. It looks much more like turmeric.

Both do pickle well using exactly the same recipe/method as the one here with a 50:50 mix of the two types of galangal. It gives a wonderful spicy and fragrant crunchy pickle that looks very similar to kacha/amba haldi pickle but tastes completely different.

eshita said...

Amba haldi is not available at my place...can i substitute with anything else...

Kim said...

Eshita, You can make the pickle with just fresh turmeric. But you will want to adjust for the sourness that the amba haldi provides by adding more lemon juice.


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