Pickles are an Indian favourite worldwide. This fiery-red creation bears no semblance to the ‘pickled’ (vinegar-soaked) cucumbers, carrots, onions, etc. that usually accompany a deli meal.  And yes, unlike their Western namesake, they are spicy…terribly spicy. The redness meter varies depending on the ingredients that make up the pickle. 

Mango pickle, lemon pickle, red chilli, green chilli, ginger, garlic, gooseberry pickle, mixed vegetable, tomato, onion, potato, bitter gourd…the list is almost endless.

A must-have with your Indian meal, Indian pickles could leave you sniffing, sweating, or perhaps even drooling for more!  If you find yourself in a traditional Indian restaurant, they are usually served with your meal or placed alongside the yogurt raita, salad and chutney dips in a buffet.

Avakkai mango
My earliest recollections of eating pickles take me back to my grandparents’ house in Chennai. My grandmother kept huge ceramic jars filled with homemade pickles, particularly mango avakkai and vadu tender mango.

Vadu or tender mango - my fav
 One afternoon, I caught sight of my eldest sister (then a teen) sneaking into the kitchen and helping herself to a piece of pickle. It was only an hour after lunch and she had decided to maximize her enjoyment of the book she was reading by having something chatpata or lip-smacking to snack on.  And as I discovered that day, there was nothing better than a succulent piece of mango pickle to go with the mystery book I had been reading.

Thayir saadum or curd rice with pickle

After that day, there was no stopping. I tried pickles of all kinds. Spicy red pickles, sweet pickles, sour pickles, salty pickles. 

Pickles with paratha, pickles with bread, pickles with  rice, pickles with anything, pickles by themselves.

I still enjoy pickles with my meals. Pickles with thayir saadum or yogurt rice is my preferred combo just like for a majority of people from South India who usually end their meals with this cool favourite.


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