As the hot winds are making their way for the season of mangoes, this is a quiet reminder that this is also the season of pickles. Growing up in a Punjabi household, my grandmother would make the most lip-smacking aam ka achaar every summer and store it on the topmost shelf of the kitchen; regulating my access to it. I would only get a wee bit once in a while until I was 16 to make sure my skin was always flawless. In retrospect, it was a great decision, dadi!

Here’s a quick recipe for you try at home with your kids at home!

The sunny afternoons are reminiscent of the pickle being dried out on the terrace for days before storing. This is something that kids today with their Sriracha and hot sauce will never understand. Pickles, in all their glory, were the OG hot sauce. They were popular in summers because our bodies needed the higher sodium content to beat the tropical heat. And so, to discuss some special achaar memories, we have a guest writer, Forum Chaya Pathak to discuss her favourite bits about summer and the art of pickle making.

A food journalist and author, Forum Chhaya Pathak
A food journalist and author, Forum Chhaya Pathak

The onset of summer brings back many memories – of that of summer vacations, mango delicacies, and of course, the making of PICKLES! Huge pickle jars are a common sight on nearly every Indian kitchen shelf, and quite tantalising at that! Team up any variety of pickle with aloo paratha, sambhar rice or the humble khichdi, and it will surely make for a satiating, soulful meal. 

Every year, I get jarful of different varieties of delicious pickles made by my mother or mother-in-law despite me repeatedly saying a clean NO. Such is the love of Indian mothers, you know! They have unique ways of displaying love for their children… preparing sumptuous food is one of them. This year, however, I think would be different… for obvious reasons. 

I remember, there was a time when making pickles strengthened the family bond. Come summer, all the women of the house got together and made pickles of different tastes and styles, with the senior-most member delegating instructions & tasks, gradually revealing her secret recipe. Each household garnished its pickles with a unique, magic ingredient which made it stand out from the rest! 

Come to think of it, many friendships and relationships, mainly in the neighbourhood have come into existence after exchanging pickles; the famous ‘vataki vyavahaar’ being extended to pickles saying, “Aa season nu pehlu athaanu, tamne chaakhva maate”. I remember bonding with this particular girl in school only because she got differently delicious pickles in her lunch box every day! (Yes! I can be mean when it comes to good food 😉 ) 

PICKLES, just like relationships, are sweet, sour, and sometimes bitter too, adding the right amount of spiciness and tanginess to our platter… And rest assured no meal, no matter which part of the world you are in, is complete without a dollop of tasty, tangy pickle on your plate! 

Chatak! 😉 

What is your best memory about pickles? We would love to read about it. 

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