If you know Indian cuisine, you would know how every meal is incomplete without the addition of an accompaniment. The role of chutneys and pickles in an Indian meal is one indispensable one and we just cannot deny. And with a vast country like India, which has a different language, topography and culture in different states, the cuisine also changes and so does the accompaniments. No wonder we have a range of chutneys and pickles, from many different cuisines! Not only do they take your meal experience a notch higher, but many of them offers a range of health benefits too. Don’t you have those days where a simple aam ka achar or dhaniye ki chutney makes the majority of your meal and take your bowl of dal a notch higher? 

And let’s be honest, making chutneys and pickles in Indian culture have always more like a tradition at home. Remember our dadi-nanis making it from the scratch- drying up the spices, grinding it with several ingredients and finally serving up over delectable dishes. In case of pickles, they would patiently wait for days for it to ferment on the terrace in the sun, before the perfect tang! The whole process used to be extremely satisfying. But now with canned chutneys and pickles, the joy of homemade treat has diminished besides the fact that they might not be healthy and full of refined products.  

Chutney is one accompaniment that is staple across all states. From north India’s mooli ki chutney or pudina chutney, Gujarat’s favourite garlic chutney, Maharashtra;s tilkoot made with black sesame seeds to south India’s range of coconut to onion or gongura, one cannot stop drooling. No matter which state you are in India, its staple chutney will always accompany you. Did you know about Nagaland’s famous fish chutney? Yes, you read that right! It boasts of one of the hottest chillis in the world- bhoot jholakia, and well, stay away if you have a mild taste palate!

 

Pickles (achaar), unlike chutneys, are mostly tangy and are a celebration of spices and herbs! The process of making pickles is what the western world describes as fermentation or preservation, and no Indian home is complete without jars of freshly made pickles sitting on a sunny window shelve or kitchen cabinet. The idea behind days of preservation is to develop the flavours and letting them mature. The process of making pickle might be long, but the reward is truly worth the wait. Salt and oil play a huge role in making pickle. While salt adds to the flavour, lends moisture and prevents bacterial growth, oil prevent the ingredients from becoming dry and retains the moisture for longer time. The variety of pickles itself will tell you the love it has from the masses! Mango, lemon and mixed veg are some of the most popular but people have made pickles out of literally everything- onion, cauliflower, carrot, garlic, gooseberry (amla) and many more! 

No matter how our palate or cuisine changes from traditional to fusion, chutney and pickles are two accompaniments that are never going to find a replacement.