Talk to me about Indian pickles..

Any fans of Indian pickles in here? On the surface it tastes absolutely horrible but it keeps calling me back for more… I can’t think of any other food I simultaneously hate and am drawn to at the same time like this.

The problem is that when you go to Indian markets there are SO. MANY different kinds of pickles, I can’t tell which one to get, I just get overwhelmed and give up. One of the Indian markets here used to have a pickle bar where you could pick whatever you want and put it in a deli container which was great, but with covid such things are no more.

I picked up a mixed pickle jar a few days ago and it tastes more or less the same as what I’m used to eating at Indian restaurants (hooray!).

Any suggestions on what to have it with? Are certain kinds better than others (mango, garlic, chili, etc)

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I feel the same way about Indian pickles. I hope someone has answers about this. We have a market here in New Orleans that has tons of them and I can never decide what to get

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I’ve never had Indian pickles. I’m going to have to research that. Thanks for the search topic!

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I’m not knowledgeable about Indian pickles but I am a fan of Indian mango pickle. A local chaat restaurant serves it as a condiment with cholle bhature, which is a deep fried puffy bread that puffs up like a balloon, alongside garbanzo beans. The sour spiciness of the pickle cuts through the fat of the fried bread nicely.


See fourth paragraph:


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Pickles and chutneys are pretty much essential accompaniments to South Asian food.

I wish we had a pickle bar as mentioned in the OP. That’d be great but I’ve never seen one in the UK, not even in the shops in the Asian communities.

I tend to make my own chutney and pickles which we eat with Asian meals. I currently have a mango chutney, a tomato/lime/chilli chutney and a beetroot & onion pickle. Whether shop bought or homemade, I think the eating follows the same basic principles. They are there to complement the rest of the food. So, at home, if I was eating a dish that had a lot of chilli, I might want to balance that with a sweetish chutney like the mango. On the other hand, something like a chicken dish might need perking up with the tomato/lime/chilli one. Like any food, it’s really just a matter of what you enjoy eating - so that should lead what you might buy in an Asian shop.

Of course the OP seems to have found an answer in buying a product that’s similar to what’s been served at an Asian restaurant.


Chole bhature is one of my favorites! Love that fried bread. The shops in my area don’t serve it with pickles but maybe you just have to ask? It’s on my short list of things to learn to make at home.

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Wow that’s a lot of chutney and pickles you have going on! Would you happen to have a recipe for the beetroot & onion pickle?

If certain kinds really were better, wouldn’t the worse ones soon be cancelled? :slight_smile:

Not just about pickles but every type of food, there’s a huge variety of things that someone, somewhere obviously likes, and there are always items in that variety that make me think “Really? Why? This is terrible!”. But “Mr. Someone Somewhere” keeps on eating it anyway. :grinning:

I do. And I’ve had the recipe for so long that measurements are in imperial not metric.

2lb beetroot
1lb onion
1.5lb apple
1lb raisins
2 pint malt vinegar
2lb sugar
6 tea spoon ground ginger

Grate or finely shred the beetroot. Finely chop the onion and apple . I tend to do both these processes by hand but using a processor is fine. Put everything into you pan, bring to the boil and simmer. Probably take a couple of hours until it’s become quite thick.

This is one of those pickles that are designed for storing long term, even once opened (no fridge needed). My current batch of this is a 2018 vintage.


Thanks for the recipe! Is that also a style of Indian pickle? It sounds delicious but the stuff I’m talking about has tons of spices and is super funky/pungent. Today for lunch I made a fusiony burrito (taco meat + indian chickpeas + basmati rice + usual burrito stuff) and had it with some of the funky Indian pickles… got my usual reaction of “that tastes awful but I love it.”

I think this stuff is SO strong that it doesn’t actually “go with” anything. On the flip side it’s just as good with everything.


Yes, it’s in the style of a South Asian pickle/chutney.

If you’ve not already done so, it’ll possibly be a good idea whn you’re next at a restaurant and come across one you enjoy, to ask what it is. You can then look out for it at your local Asian food shop. For example, most restaurants where I am in the UK will have a lime pickle. And this is readily available in the supermarkets (not that I buy it, as I find there’s usually too much chilli in it for me).

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Just ran into a madman on the fermentation reddit who made his own gouda and paired it with Indian lime pickles! I have a gouda I’m about to crack open and I’ll definitely be giving it a try. :slight_smile:

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Really? It does not look like the recipes I recognise for South Asian pickle – not that they are uniform, but fenugreek, mustard, salt and oils are prominent-- not vinegar and sugar.
But then, I wouldn’t be treating chutney and pickle as interchangeable either. Chutneys are more likely to be made with sugar and vinegar, but pickle (Indian) no.

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Sorry I missed this post, yeah that Patak’s pickle is the kind I was talking about, that’s the only kind of Indian “pickle” I am familiar with. There are so many brands! I’ll try the Patak’s lime next time.

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What about the pickles you’re referencing tastes horrible to you?

Asking because there are many types, some with specific strong flavor agents, and others that don’t have those. Fenugreek is one possibility - bitter, strong. Asafoetida is another. Mustard oil too. And so on. You can avoid those things - they are not in everything.

How Indians eat pickles explains why they taste the way they do. They are meant to be eaten in tiny quantity, as a flavor enhancer for an otherwise mildly flavored meal. So no one would have a plate of highly spiced food, and then put pickle on that. One would, however, have a regular daily meal of rice, dal (or those combined into khichdi), chapati/paratha, and then either no vegetable but pickle to bring some spice and flavor to the meal, or an everyday vegetable (that’s not too heavily flavored) and a bit of pickle on the side. Or a simplified meal of khichdi (rice and dal cooked together) or pulao or stuffed parathas - always served with yogurt and a little pickle.

Here’s a pic off the internet for context - the pickle is in the middle.


Among Indian pickles, there are the salty/sour/spicy style and the sweet/tangy style. Some ingredients are used in both styles (mango, lime/lemon), others only in the former (garlic, certain herbs, tomato, etc).

Jarred pickles have come a long way, and are inexpensive for you to put together a tasting for yourself.

Bedekar is a solid Indian brand choice. Mothers is another. MTR and Priya have a better range of South Indian pickles - yes, there’s a lot of regional variety, as with food. Some expat brands (like Pataks) may be skewed to foreign palates, others were developed for the immigrant community and are pretty true to the original (Deep, Swad). Often what is referred to as pickles and chutneys in Western parlance has little to do with actual Indian pickles and chutneys.

If you’re looking for some easy hits to get started:

FWIW - I use my pickles (usually spicy ones) in many non-Indian applications too - as a marinade for grilled chicken or fish, as a mayo or yogurt mix-in for a spread or dip, alone as an intense sandwich spread, added as a flavor boost for any braise or gravy dish, and so on. Think of it like a magic ingredient - how people use gochujang these days, or anchovies, or fish sauce, or chilli oil - it’s powerful, and a little goes a long way.


Agree with everything Saregama wrote. Indian pickles are eaten in small quantities to help flavor whatever you’re eating (unless you’re my daughter, who will eat 3 pieces of mango pickle in one sitting). Flavors and styles vary by region too.

We like Shan or Ahmed brand mixed pickle with our Punjabi foods like stuffed parathas or dal/roti. For South Indian foods, like sambhar/rice or yogurt rice, we like the Priya mixed pickle or the red chilli pickle. I sometimes make a cauliflower, turnip and carrot Punjabi style pickle at home in the cooler months (probably going to make some this weekend).

Indian pickles definitely don’t taste “horrible”, but you have to pair the right kind with the right foods to get the best flavor.


There are sweet Indian pickles without those savory spices, but I’d agree with you that that’s not in the style of a south asian pickle, but rather a western chutney.

I wouldn’t treat them as interchangeable either.

BUT, what you describe as a chutney is what is recognized in the west as “chutney” - not indian / south asian chutney. The latter is most often savory, sometimes sweet and sour, and very rarely just sweet. Most often made with fresh ingredients and meant to be consumed within a couple of days (though there are cooked instances too).

Cilantro chutney, mint chutney, tamarind chutney, and coconut chutney are probably the best recognized and most popular. Then regionally there are tomato chutney and onion chutney in the south and the northeast both, some vegetable peels are repurposed as chutneys, and so on.

Vinegar does not appear in most indian preserving or cooking. Goa is the obvious exception, plus a smattering of other places. So you wouldn’t find vinegar in an Indian chutney. Sour would most likely come from lime, tomato, tamarind, or a combination.

Sugar in Indian pickles is not uncommon either. There are many sweet Indian pickles - mango and lime are probably the best known.


My favourite Mumbai street food restaurant serves three chutneys & pickles, as well as a raita. There’s a sweet mango chutney, coriander & mint chutney and a very fiery lime pickle. I think my favourite is the coriander & mint one - very fresh from the use of the leaves from both herbs.


I love these pickles too. They have such a unique taste. I can’t have a curry without them. I love mixed pickle (or “Achar”) and lime pickle.
Patak’s is good for jarred.

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