The tradition of ‘pickling’ in Bengal could get a tad overwhelming to decipher for those who have not observed it closely. Did you know the mustard sauce Kasundi that you love to relish with your mutton chops and Mughlai paratha, is actually a pickle? And not just any kind of pickle, a pickle that was once the privilege of only the upper class? With time of course, Kasundi reached the shelves of local stores and every big and small eatery of Bengal. With time we are also wishing for other intensely flavourful Bengali pickles to obtain similar stardom. Because something as sensational as kuler achaar remains criminally underrated. 

What Makes Kuler Achaar So Special

The Kuler achaar is a pickle made of Indian jujube or Indian plum, also known as ber in Hindi and kul in Bengali. Since the fruit is available only for a particular season, the timings of setting a pickle with kul or ber are also non-negotiable. Kul or ber are popular offerings to deities in spring festivals like Saraswati Puja and Shivratri, that is how important this seasonal fruit is to Bengalis. Another very important facet of pickle-making in Bengal is the chronology, which is in tandem with the harvests. Since kul arrives early and leaves even earlier, it is one of the first fruits to be ‘pickled’, it is followed by tamarind achaar, mango achaar and finally Kasundi before monsoon.  

We absolutely adore the sweet and sour flavour of the pickle that is truly one of a kind. This berry that is typically a spring fruit, is ripened, and then sundried. Post this they are mixed with the pickle masala, lots of jaggery/sugar and then exposed to sun again, so that the pickle that you get is absolutely pakka. Each figment is replete with flavours that is almost inconceivable and even more difficult to put in words.

 Translucent and dark brown in colour, the skin of the jujube attains this lovely paper-y texture, and the granular chunks of masala further makes it a memorable medley of textures.  You can pair kuler achar with any dal, sabzi, meat or fish preparation. If nothing else, it goes very well with just a handful of cooked rice too.  

Here is an easy version of kuler achaar you can try making at home. Do let us know how you liked it.