Chambakka Uppillittuthu: Rose Apple Pickle With Kerala Spices
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Rose Apple Pickle

One of the main and most basic condiments accompanying any Indian food is the humble pickle. When talking about pickles in India, the instant picture that comes to mind is that of mango or lemon pickle. While there are other varieties of pickle that comprise red chillies, radish, carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger, down south in the state of Kerala there is a pickle made with Rose Apple. Right from the ingredients used in the pickle to the masalas and the preparation style, this Chambakka Uppillittuthu - as known locally – is unique to its origin.

From Trees In The Jungle To Jars In The Kitchen

Spongy on the outside, dry and sweet on the inside, Java Apple is also known by the names of Java Apple, Love Apple, Water Apple, Watery Rose Apple, or Wax Apple. A fruit grown in abundance in the tropical lands of Kerala is rich in fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin C.  This bright red colour fruit is crunchy in texture and has never been sour.     

As per the ancient Sanskrit scriptures, the fruit has great significance in terms of its association with the land of India. By the ancient Indians, the land has been referred to as Jambudvipa, wherein jambu means rose apple and dvipa mean land, hence Rose-apple-land.

Source: Shutterstock

As for the history of pickles in India, they have had a place on the table since BCE 2030. As per the New York Food Museums' Pickle History, cucumbers native to India were first pickled during this time. And the word pickle comes from the Dutch word pekel or northern German pókel, meaning salt or brine. And Achar has been a part of the Indian food culture and history for over 4,000 years.


    1 kg chopped rose apple or java apple

    1 big-size ginger

    14-15 garlic cloves

    4 green chillies

    3 sprigs of curry leaves

    1 tbsp vinegar

    1 tsp asafoetida

    3 tbsp Red chilli powder

    ½ tbsp turmeric powder

    1 tbsp fenugreek powder

    1 tsp mustard seeds




1.    Over medium heat add oil to the pan. Let it heat then add rose apple and sauté until the colour lighten. Keep aside.

2.    In another pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Let them crackle and then add ginger, garlic, green chillies, and asafetida. Mix all and sauté for 5 minutes.

3.    Then add red chillie powder, turmeric powder, and fenugreek powder. Mix well and sauté for another 5 minutes.

4.    To this add curry leaves and add the rose apples. Combine all well and then add vinegar. Keep stirring well till the vinegar comes to a boil.

5.    Now add some salt, mix well and turn off the flame. Serve.

Yes, the content is more unusual than the ones we are used to but this tropical apple is just as great as the mango pickle. With the addition of vinegar, one can store this pickle for days and relish it over meals. Also, not just with the serving of Paratha or Poori, try dipping the soft Dosa into the pickle for authentic Kerala flavours.