Pickle making is always something I have associated with grandmum’s. I have always wanted to learn how to make the Methiya nu Achaar (Mango Pickle) and the Gajar Mewa nu Achaar (Carrot & Raisin Pickle) that we Parsis predominantly eat but when it is available so easily in Mumbai stores why bother, right?
However, now that I have moved back to NZ I don’t have access to a grandma who can make me some pickle, I can’t buy some from the local store and there’s no Parsi wedding that I will be invited to in the near future where I am likely to get to taste some.
With most of us around the world heading or already in lockdown thanks to all this COVID-19 nonsense, I thought now was the perfect time to spruce up my non-existent pickle making skills and productively occupy my day. I didn’t think through how trying to cook for two hours with two kids would quite work but that’s a story for another day!
It’s taken me some hunting to find a Carrot & Raisin Pickle recipe that worked for me. There is a great one in Bhicoo Maneckshaw’s book but I am too lazy to dry carrots for 3 days and I didn’t have half the ingredients it called for. The one I mostly went with was Firoza Printer’s version from the Parsis Exchange Recipes group on Facebook. I made my own tweaks to the recipe like increasing the spice and trying to weigh everything so that it’s not quite so much ‘andaaza’ but full credit to her post for inspiring me to try making this in the first place!
For the uninitiated, the Parsi Gajar Mewa nu Achaar (Carrot & Raisin Pickle) is traditionally served at the start of a Parsi wedding feast. Wedding guests sit in rows of tables with fresh banana leaves laid out on the table. The waiters then come with trays full of Sariya (sago popppadums) and bowls of the pickle. You’re meant to have the pickle either with some roti or the way I like to enjoy it is actually with the crispy Sariya.
The day I made the pickle we decided it was time to stop talking about COVID and find a reason to celebrate. So I also made Patra ni Machchi and some Gosht no pulao. The only thing missing was Lagan nu Custard which I was too pooped to make. Here’s hoping you all stay safe during these crazy times. Personally, I am spending these days trying to cook up as much Parsi food as I can and hopefully blog way more often!
As we Kiwi’s say, Kia Kaha (stay strong). And as we Parsis say, now is the time for Khavanu, Peevanu and Suvaanu
Gajar Mewa nu Achaar (Carrot & Raisin Pickle)
- 1.5 kg carrots
- 400 gram jaggery
- 300 gram raw sugar. If you don't want to use sugar, add 300 gms more of jaggery.
- 150 gram seedless dates
- 250 gram raisins, any colour will do
- 1 liter malt vinegar
- 8 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tbsp red chilli powder
- 1 tbsp salt
- 20 cloves of garlic
- Roughly chop the dates. Soak both the dates and the raisins in half the vinegar. Leave this to soak preferably overnight. If that's not possible then allow to soak at least for two hours.
- Peel the carrots and grate them on the thickest setting on your grater. You can grate it fine as well but this will lead to your pickle not having that much texture.
- In a large flat bottomed pan add in your grated carrots and the jaggery. Start sautéing this on medium heat until the jaggery melts and the carrot is about half cooked (about 20 minutes). If you're using only jaggery and not sugar then only add half the jaggery now and adding the rest when the recipe talks about sugar.
- Add the cloves, star anise, chilli powder, garlic cloves, salt to the carrots. Turn down the heat to low. Mix in about 250ml of the balance vinegar. Mix everything, cover and allow to simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Your mixture should be getting a jammy texture by now.
- Now add in the sugar and the date/raisin mixture along with the vinegar it was soaked in. Cover and allow to simmer for another 30 - 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
- When the carrot is completely soft, add in the balance 250ml vinegar and mix well. Allow to simmer for a final 15 minutes. In case the pickle tastes too sour for your taste, add in a bit more sugar and salt. You will need to balance the sweet and sour based on what works best for you.
- Ensure you do not add any water (aside from the steam of your lid) at any point to the pickle. If you like your pickle to be spicy you can add in a bit more chilli powder. Do note that the primary taste of this pickle is sweet, the spice is just there to balance things out.
- Allow the pickle to cool completely. Fill into sterilised glass jars and store at room temperature. This stays well outside for almost six months. However, you can also refrigerate it if you stay in a hotter than usual climate.