History Of Indian Pickles: A 2000-Year Old Desi Heritage

India has a rich history of pickling and preserving food in various ways. Pickling is the process of preserving food by the controlled fermentation of a food in a brine (i.e., a solution of salt in water). The process causes the food to become anaerobic, inhibits the growth of spoilage microorganisms, and reduces the food's ability to spoil.

The word pickle is derived from the Dutch word pekel and the German word pökel, both of which mean "salt" or "brine," two crucial ingredients in the pickling process.

In different parts of the country, it is called different things: Uppinakaayi in Kannada, Pachadi in Telugu, Urkai in Tamil, Uppillittuthu in Malayalam, Loncha in Marathi, Athanu in Gujarati, and Achar in Hindi.

A Brief History of Indian Pickles

"The Lingapurana of Gurulinga Desika”, a Kannada work from CE 1594, describes no less than fifty kinds of pickles," noted the late food historian KT Achaya, demonstrating the long and storied history of Indian pickles.

Pickles were mentioned by Ibn Battuta, the traveler and writer who wrote about Muhammad Bin Tughlaq's life. To paraphrase Ibn, "If a mango falls to the ground while still green and unripe, the locals will salt it to preserve it, much like how we do with lemons. They also pickle green ginger and peppercorn pods, both of which they eat with their meals.”

The Pickle History Timeline, made by the New York Food Museums, says that the first-time pickled cucumbers were used was in the Tigris Valley in 2030 BCE.

Varieties of Pickles in India

Sweet and sour pickle: This is a pickle with a sour and sweet taste. The best and most popular sweet and sour pickle is the mango pickle.

Spicy pickle: This is the most common type of pickle made in India. Almost any vegetable or fruit can be pickled in this way.

Raw pickle: This is a mild pickle made by salting and sun-drying vegetables such as mango, carrot, beetroot, etc.

Ginger-garlic pickle: This is a very special pickle made by combining fresh ginger and garlic with vinegar.

Mango Pickle

This is the most popular pickle from India, and each household usually makes it during the mango season. While the taste and smell of this pickle are divine, it has many health benefits. Mango pickle is made by cooking unripe green mangoes with spices and salt. The mangoes are cut into small pieces, boiled, and then left to dry in the sun. Later, they are placed in jars with added spices and salt. The pickle is ready to be served after a month.

Ginger-garlic pickle

This is another common Indian pickle, made with fresh ginger and garlic. The minor ingredients added to this pickle are turmeric, red chilies, and vinegar. Ginger is good for the heart, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps in digestion, relieves joint pain and arthritis, and is also a good remedy for coughs and colds.

Hot and spicy pickle

This pickle is made with fresh and green coriander seeds and is generally green in color. This pickle is very famous in Gujarat, where the locals consume it with their daily meal. The major ingredients used to make this pickle are turmeric, coriander seeds, red chili powder, and salt. Coriander seeds are rich in minerals and vitamins and, when combined with spices, are very good for digestion. They are also known to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Tamarind and mustard seed pickle

This is a very traditional pickle made with tamarind and mustard seeds. The major ingredients added to this pickle are tamarind, mustard seeds, and red chili powder. Tamarind is a tropical tree native to tropical Africa. It is a popular flavoring in Indian cooking and is used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is very rich in vitamin C and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Mustard seeds are rich in minerals and are good for your health.

Tender ginger and green mango pickle

This is very common in India and is made with tender ginger, green mangoes, and green chilies. Ginger is known to have many health benefits. It is good for the heart, has anti-inflammatory properties, helps in digestion, and relieves joint pain and arthritis. Mangoes are rich in vitamins and minerals and are very good for health.

Pickles are a great way to add flavor and variety to your meals, and they make a great snack when you're craving something salty!