Lime Pickle Recipe | Nimbu ka Achar

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Lime Pickle, or “Nimbu ka Achar” in Hindi, is a cherished condiment in Indian cuisine, renowned for its bold flavors and unique preparation process.

Made from fresh limes, aromatic spices, and a touch of heat from Kashmiri red chili powder, this pickle undergoes a month-long fermentation, resulting in a tangy, spicy, and intensely flavorful delight.

Lime Pickle

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Lime Pickle, known as “Niboo ka Achar,” is a highly regarded condiment in Indian cuisine, celebrated for its bold flavors and distinctive preparation method.
  • The pickle is crafted from fresh limes, a blend of aromatic spices, and a hint of heat from Kashmiri red chili powder.
  • The recipe provides a detailed step-by-step guide with images, from washing and salting the lemons to the fermentation process and the final cooking steps.
  • The content includes professional tips for making the perfect lime pickle, such as emphasizing the quality of lemons, proper sanitation of equipment, even salt distribution, and the importance of shaking the jar during fermentation.
  • Comprehensive information on storing the pickle, serving suggestions (including pairings with various dishes), and alternatives such as other pickle options is provided.

How to Make Lime Pickle? (Step by Step Guide with Images)

Step 1: Start by thoroughly washing and wiping 400 gm of lemons.

400 gm of lemons

Step 2: Slit the lemons lengthwise, removing any seeds.

Slitting the lemons lengthwise and removing seeds

Step 3: Add 1 tablespoon of salt to each lime.

Added 1 tablespoon of salt

Step 4: Place the lemons in a jar and close the lid tightly. Store the jar in a cool, dark, and dry place for 30 days. Shake the jar twice a week.

Lemons in a jar

Step 5: After 30 days, the limes will change color and texture, and there will be no more salt. The salt aids in the fermentation process.

limes changed color and texture

Step 6: Transfer the fermented limes into a bowl and cut them into small pieces.

Transferred the fermented limes into a bowl and cut them into small pieces

Step 7: In a frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida. Dry roast these for 1 to 2 minutes on low flame.

Dry roasting 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida

Step 8: Let the spices cool, then coarsely grind them.

Coarsely grinding spices

Step 9: In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons of oil, add 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and sauté 5 to 6 crushed garlic cloves for 1 minute.

Heating 3 tablespoons of oil, and adding 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and sauté 5 to 6 crushed garlic cloves

Step 10: Add the cut limes and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.

Added the cut limes and frying

Step 11: Mix 3 tablespoons of Kashmiri red chili powder until well combined and add it.

Step 12: Stir spice mix well, and turn off the heat. Let it cool.

Stirring spice mix

Step 13: Store the lime pickle in an airtight jar and preferably serve it from the next day.

Storing the lime pickle in an airtight jar

Pro Tips for Making Lime Pickle

Quality of Lemons: Choose fresh, firm lemons with smooth skin for the best results. The quality of the lemons greatly influences the final taste of the pickle.

Sanitize Your Equipment: Ensure that the jar, knife, and any other utensils used are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. This helps prevent any unwanted bacteria that may affect the fermentation process.

Salt Distribution: When adding salt in Step 3, make sure to distribute it evenly among the lemons. This ensures a consistent flavor throughout the pickle.

Fermentation Environment: Maintain a consistent temperature and darkness in the storage area. A stable environment is crucial for successful fermentation. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight.

Shake Vigorously: During the 30-day fermentation period (Step 4), shake the jar vigorously. This helps distribute the natural juices of the lemons and salt evenly, aiding the fermentation process.

Experiment with Spices: Adjust the quantity of fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, and asafoetida (Steps 7 and 8) based on your taste preferences. These spices contribute to the unique flavor profile of your pickle.

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Choose the Right Pan: Use a non-reactive pan when heating oil and spices (Steps 9 and 10). Stainless steel or enamel-coated pans are ideal to prevent any metallic taste in the pickle.

Garlic Infusion: Allow the crushed garlic (Step 9) to infuse its flavor into the oil. This enhances the overall taste of the pickle. Be cautious not to burn the garlic, as it can impart a bitter flavor.

Kashmiri Red Chili Powder: Kashmiri red chili powder not only adds vibrant color but also imparts a mild heat. Adjust the quantity based on your spice tolerance for a perfect balance.

Cooling Process: Allow the spice mixture (Step 12) to cool gradually before adding it to the fermented limes. This ensures that the flavors meld together seamlessly.

Storing Tips for Lime Pickle

Airtight Container: Use a high-quality, airtight glass or ceramic jar for storing your lime pickle. This helps prevent air and moisture from affecting the pickle’s shelf life and flavor.

Dark and Cool Storage: Keep the sealed jar in a dark, cool, and dry place. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight, as it can alter the color and taste of the pickle over time.

Refrigeration Option: While traditional lime pickles are often stored at room temperature, refrigerating the pickle can extend its freshness. If you choose to refrigerate, ensure the jar is airtight to prevent absorption of odors from the fridge.

Use a Clean Spoon: When serving the pickle, always use a clean, dry spoon to avoid introducing moisture or contaminants into the jar. This helps maintain the pickle’s quality for a longer period.

Top Up with Oil: If you notice that the pickle is not completely submerged in oil, top it up with a layer of oil. This creates a protective barrier that helps preserve the pickle and prevents spoilage.

Check for Spoilage Signs: Regularly inspect the pickle for any signs of spoilage, such as an off smell, mold, or unusual texture. If any of these are present, discard the entire batch to ensure food safety.

Maturation Continues: The flavors of lime pickle continue to develop over time, even after the initial preparation. Allow the pickle to mature for a few weeks in storage for a richer taste.

Avoid Cross-Contamination: Store the lime pickle away from other strong-smelling foods to prevent cross-contamination. Pickles can absorb odors, affecting their own flavor.

Label and Date: Label the jar with the date of preparation and a brief description. This helps you keep track of its freshness and ensures you use the oldest batch first.

Consume within a Reasonable Timeframe: While lime pickles can have a long shelf life, it’s recommended to consume them within a reasonable timeframe, typically six months to a year, for the best quality and taste.

What to Serve with Lime Pickle?

Indian Breads: Serve lime pickle with traditional Indian breads like naan, roti, paratha, or chapati. The tangy and spicy flavors complement the bread’s mild taste.

Rice Dishes: Pair lime pickle with plain or flavored rice dishes such as biryani, pulao, or even simple steamed rice. The pickle adds a zesty kick to the rice.

Curries and Gravies: Lime pickle can be a delightful accompaniment to various Indian curries and gravies. It provides a burst of flavor and can cut through the richness of the dishes.

Snacks and Appetizers: Use lime pickle as a side for snacks like samosas, pakoras, or bhajis. Its bold taste complements the deep-fried or savory elements of these snacks.

Grilled Meats: Lime pickle can be served alongside grilled or barbecued meats, adding a tangy and spicy element to the smoky flavors.

Salads: Mix lime pickle into salads for a unique twist. It pairs especially well with salads featuring hearty greens, chickpeas, or lentils.

Fish or Seafood: Lime pickle can be paired with grilled or pan-seared fish and seafood dishes. The acidity cuts through the richness of the fish.

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Vegetable Stir-Fries: Stir lime pickle into vegetable stir-fries for an extra burst of flavor. It works particularly well with robust and earthy vegetables.

How Does Lime Pickle Taste?

Tangy: Lime pickle is characterized by a prominent tanginess, resulting from the fermentation process and the acidity of the lime. The sourness provides a refreshing and zesty kick to the palate.

Spicy: The addition of spices such as Kashmiri red chili powder, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, and asafoetida contributes to a robust and spicy flavor. The level of spiciness can vary based on personal preferences and the quantity of spices used.

Salty: The salt added in the initial step not only acts as a preservative but also enhances the overall taste of the pickle. It provides a savory element that balances the tanginess and spiciness.

Umami: The fermentation process and the combination of spices contribute to the development of umami flavors in lime pickle. This savory depth adds complexity to the overall taste.

Aromatic: The dry roasting of fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, and the sautéing of garlic infuse the pickle with aromatic notes. The fragrance of these spices enhances the sensory experience.

Bold and Intense: Lime pickle is known for its bold and intense flavor profile. It can be a sensory explosion of tastes, making it a standout condiment that pairs well with a variety of dishes.

Textural Variety: The pickle offers a textural variety, especially after the limes are fermented and cut into small pieces. The combination of the softened, fermented lime flesh with the crunchiness of spices adds interest to each bite.

Rich and Matured: Over time, as the pickle matures during storage, the flavors continue to develop and intensify. This maturation process contributes to a richer and more nuanced taste.

Lime Pickle Featured Image

Lime Pickle Alternatives

Green Chili Pickle (Mirch ka Achar) : If you enjoy the heat of chili peppers, a green chili pickle can be a fiery alternative. It provides a spicy kick that complements various dishes.

Cucumber Pickle (Khira ka Achar): Cucumber pickles, whether sweet or savory, can offer a refreshing and crisp alternative. These pickles can be a great accompaniment to sandwiches or salads.

Garlic Pickle (Lehsun ka Achar): Garlic lovers may enjoy the bold and pungent flavors of garlic pickle. It adds a distinctive taste to meals and pairs well with rice dishes.

Tomato Pickle (Tamatar ka Achar): Tomatoes can be pickled with spices to create a flavorful and tangy condiment. This alternative provides a different texture and taste compared to lime pickle.

Carrot and Radish Pickle (Gazar Muli ka Achar): Pickling carrots and radishes together can create a crunchy and colorful alternative. The combination of these vegetables with spices offers a unique twist.

Tamarind Pickle (Imli ka Achar): Tamarind pickle offers a sweet and tangy flavor profile. It’s often used in South Indian cuisine and can be a delicious addition to various dishes.

Recipe Card

Lime Pickle Featured Image

Lime Pickle | Nimbu ka Achar

By Mita Mondal
Lime Pickle, known as "Nimbu ka Achar" in Hindi, is a special and tasty sauce widely loved in Indian cooking. It has strong flavors and a special way of being made.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Condiments
Cuisine Indian
Servings 16
Calories 39 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 400 grams Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Fenugreek seeds
  • tsp Black mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida
  • 3 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 5 pieces Garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder

Instructions
 

  • Begin by thoroughly cleaning and drying 400 grams of lemons.
  • Cut the lemons lengthwise, ensuring removal of all seeds.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt to each lemon.
  • Place the salted lemons into a jar, tightly sealing the lid. Store this jar in a cool, dark, and dry spot for 30 days. Remember to shake the jar twice a week.
  • After the 30-day period, the lemons will transform in color and texture, and the salt will be absorbed, aiding the fermentation process.
  • Move the fermented lemons into a bowl and cut them into small pieces.
  • Take a frying pan and add 1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds, 1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon of asafoetida. Dry roast these on low heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Allow the roasted spices to cool, then coarsely grind them.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan, add 1/2 teaspoon of black mustard seeds, and sauté 5 to 6 crushed garlic cloves for 1 minute.
  • Introduce the cut lemons into the pan and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Combine 3 tablespoons of Kashmiri red chili powder thoroughly and add it to the mixture.
  • Stir the spice mix well, turn off the heat, and let it cool.
  • Store the prepared lime pickle in an airtight jar and preferably serve it starting the following day.
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Notes

Ingredient Quality: Always use fresh, firm lemons with smooth skin for the best results. The quality of the lemons greatly impacts the final taste of the pickle.
Sanitization: Ensure thorough cleaning and sanitation of all equipment used in the pickle-making process. Cleanliness helps prevent unwanted bacteria that may affect fermentation.
Even Salt Distribution: When salting the lemons, distribute the salt evenly among them. This ensures a consistent flavor throughout the pickle.
Fermentation Environment: Maintain a consistent temperature and darkness in the storage area. A stable environment is crucial for successful fermentation. Avoid direct sunlight exposure.
Vigorous Shaking: During the 30-day fermentation period, shake the jar vigorously twice a week. This helps distribute natural juices and salt evenly, aiding the fermentation process.
Spice Experimentation: Adjust the quantity of spices based on personal taste preferences. Fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, and asafoetida contribute distinct flavors to the pickle.
Choosing the Right Pan: Use non-reactive pans when heating oil and spices. Stainless steel or enamel-coated pans prevent imparting any metallic taste to the pickle.
Garlic Infusion: Be cautious not to burn the garlic while sautéing. It adds a unique flavor, but burnt garlic can make the pickle bitter.
Adjusting Chili Powder: Kashmiri red chili powder not only adds color but also mild heat. Adjust its quantity based on your spice tolerance for a balanced flavor.
Cooling Phase: Allow the spice mixture to cool before adding it to the fermented limes. This ensures flavors meld together seamlessly.
Storage in Airtight Containers: Use high-quality airtight glass or ceramic jars for storing the lime pickle. This prevents air and moisture from affecting its shelf life and taste.

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Lime Pickle | Nimbu ka Achar
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
39
Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
3
g
5
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.3
g
2
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Sodium
 
26
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
73
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
4
g
1
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
1
g
2
%
Vitamin A
 
451
IU
9
%
Vitamin C
 
13
mg
16
%
Calcium
 
14
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

In conclusion, Lime Pickle stands as a testament to the rich culinary heritage of Indian cuisine.

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Its vibrant blend of tanginess, spiciness, and aromatic spices creates a sensory experience that complements a variety of dishes.

The meticulous steps involved in its preparation, coupled with the pro tips for optimal results, ensure that each batch is a masterpiece.

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