Spicing the Reunion with Mirchi Aachar

Spring is in the air. The winds are blowing, the sun is shinning and the flowers are blooming. I could prolong my hibernation for a few days more, just till this last sweater is off too.

But. It is February! And I have to get to Bombay!! For my school reunion!!!

I am beginning to get so emotional and excited about what seems to be becoming an annual ritual. Hopefully. The intimacy of being there in person is always above any other interaction, whether it be mobile, mail, social media, chats, video calls and what not.

Everyone from last year is coming. And some new faces too. Such nostalgia! Sigh!

I’d been thinking what I should take, when someone asked for a pickle. How can you not trust and love anyone who loves pickle? This condiment gets along with any food, just like we get along with each other. Among other similar parallels I came across, pickles make us happy, just like we make each other happy. While the former is scientifically proven, I can prove the latter.

Lime, meat, mushroom. And chilly. I just love the challenge these chillies pose. And I tell you, pickling them is taming them! That challenge to balance its heat with all your ingredients, to bestow upon it saltiness, sweetness or sourness. It is art that becomes a tradition.

I warn you, I am not perfect, but I do not let go so easily either.

1/2 kilogram of Green Chillies
250 gram of Ginger
250 gram of Ginger
3 tablespoons of Fennel Seeds
2 tablespoons of Dry Coriander Seeds
2 teaspoons of Fenugreek Seeds
1 teaspoon of Sugar or 2 teaspoons of Jaggery
1/2 cup of Vinegar
2 cups of Mustard Oil
Salt to taste – Bit more infact

– Roast the fennel, coriander and fenugreek seeds for about a minute and then dry grind them to a very powder.

– Grind or grate the ginger and garlic. You could use the commercial mix of this, but it does not taste the same. Fresh is recommended.

– Heat about 5 tablespoons of mustard oil till it smokes. Decrease the heat and the ginger garlic paste. Stir this around till your senses overcome the aroma and then add the ground seeds, along with salt. I stirred this for about 10 minutes on a low flame. Then, add sugar or jaggery and the vinegar. Keep it on the heat till you feel its all come together and mixed well into a paste. Turn off the heat and let it cool.

– Cut the tail ends of the chillies and hollow them completely. Stuff this paste gently and generously into the chillies. They can tear completely if you rush!

– Now heat the remaining mustard oil till it smokes. Turn off the heat and let the oil come to room temperature.

– Put the stuffed chillies in a glass jar and pour the mustard oil over them. Cover this with a muslin cloth and keep it in direct sunlight for 3 to 7 days, depending how warm your place is.  Every day or two, turn the chillies in the oil with a wooden spoon.

Pickles have to be kept in glass jars because glass does not react with the brine. Metal and plastic are thus a strict no no. Just ensure the jars are dry so that the pickle does not become a hot bed of fungus.

Your pickles are in the sun now, the weather here is being gracious enough.
I have to warn you again – I ran out of as much fennel seeds as was required,
but I compensated that with a lot of my love.

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