Preserve Tradition: New Pickle Brands Are Repackaging The Relish

PicklesEDITPickles, once the domain of industrious grannies, have a new vanguard – an emerging crop of young pickle makers committed to reviving traditional recipes and innovating the condiment.

Home cook Sneha Nair’s sadya catering service, Poppaddum, which she launched in June last year, has become a showcase for her vast repertoire of Kerala pickles, which she now retails under the same name. A Poppaddum meal is incomplete without the vibrant array of chutneys and achars made by Nair, who inherited her cooking chops and pickle recipes from her mother. During her sadyas, she offers a rotating menu of a dozen pickles, including kallumekka (mussel), pork and meen (fish) achars. Nair says that serving meat-based pickles is a waning tradition, one that she wants to preserve. Her non-veg pickles are vinegar based, while the regular ones such as the narengya (lime) achar; pavakka (bitter gourd) pickle; and vazhuthananga (brinjal) pickle are preserved in oil. To make them, she sources mango ginger, a variant of turmeric typically used in pickles, from her grandfather’s estate in Kerala, and everything else from Mumbai.
Our pick: Poppaddum’s tender mango is a zinger of a pickle with potent levels of red chilli and salt, not suited for the faint of heart. It can perk up a bowl of bland khichdi or a portion of sambar and rice.
Price: Rs180 to Rs250 for 200 to 250 gram bottles.
Orders have to be placed via the Facebook page.

In April 2012, website designer Pinank Shah used his skills to create Goosebumps, an online store that sells pickles made by his mother-in-law Mita Mehta. The spiffy website, which ships across the country, has helped elevate achar from something traditional and unglamorous to a rather hip product. The website lures you with appealing photos of bowls and martini glasses brimming with their resplendent pickle range that includes amba halad, kacchi kairi, carrots and chilli achar, jalapeno and olive pickle, and chunda.

The Goosebumps site currently lists 12 pickles, and by the end of the month they will add four more, including a garlic pickle, and a lime pickle that is sweet. Mehta manually churns out 700kg of each pickle every year. They’re made using spices grown and ground in Gujarat. Goosebumps is a family-run business; Mehta is assisted by her immediate and extended family – she has a permanent staff of three mothers and three daughters from the clan. In an attempt to grow the country’s tribe of pickle makers, Goosebumps recently hosted a contest inviting people from across India to send in their recipes, three of which were shortlisted (they will reveal the winners next week) and will be sold on the site under the Goosebumps brand from next week. The contributors will receive an annual five per cent royalty for their creations. The site will also soon stock spices such as Gujarat-style chai masala, methi masala, rasam masala and milagai podi.
Our pick: Their scarlet red and decidedly old-school amba halad pickle is the right amount of salty, spicy and has a hint of sweet from the addition of tamarind juice.
Price: Rs250 to Rs390 for half a kg.

For Mulund-residing William Pinto, a meal without meat is one not worth eating at all. Six months go, when he came home to a dinner of just rice and dal, Pinto decided to cook something that involved meat and could be preserved. Last month, Pinto and his business partner, food technologist Manini Rane debuted their pickle label, The Pickled Chick at the recently-held Bombay Local food bazaar organised by the Small Fry Co. The duo specialises in chicken pickles, of which they have four variants – the Andhra Swing, Kerala Mix, Punjabi Beat and Goan Twist – the recipes of which are an amalgamation of tips from their friends’ grannies and the internet. By the end of the month you will be able to purchase their range enriched with Goan coconut toddy vinegar, Kerala chilli and Andhra Guntur chilli to name a few ingredients, from the newly-launched specialised grocery store
Our pick: The pungent garam masala-infused Andhra Swing, and the sharp curry leaf and pepper flavoured Kerala mix are perfect to pair with appams or chapatis.
Price: Rs250 for 200grams.
Orders have to be placed via their Facebook page.

Pickle is integral to the meals at the home of the Joshis in Indore, and yet they’ve never purchased a jar of it. The family only consumes the pickle they prepare themselves. Thanks to Anuradha Joshi Medhora, who now resides in Mumbai, pickle fans here can also sample the family’s rich repertoire of pickles, the recipes of which have been in circulation for three generations. In April, Joshi Medhora showcased a selection of her pickles via her first pop-up meal that she catered under the brand Charoli, which is focused on the food of the royal homes of the Malwa Plateau in Madhya Pradesh. Each of her pickles is linked to a memory of her maternal grandmother, who was the chief pickle maker in the Joshi household. Aam ki launj, rai ka achar and kairi aur pyaaz ka teekha rank among Joshi Medhora’s personal favourites.
Our pick: Charoli’s achars are commendably low on oil and salt. We love their salsa-like sweet and spicy kairi aur pyaaz ka teekha, which can jazz up a Mexican meal, and the excellent and rather unusual rai ka achar, in which tender raw mango and small onion bulbs are immersed in an aromatic and creamy mustard sauce.
Price: Rs300 for 200grams.
Orders have to be placed via their Facebook page.

Mumbai-based Ruta Karve Misra is a pickle hater turned pickle retailer, who launched her brand Barnee in August last year. Karve Misra, who has a degree in patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu in London, married into a pickle-adoring family. Her mother-in-law’s affinity for making and eating pickles was what converted Karve Misra, who has been retailing the former’s recipes in barnees through Facebook. The Misra matriarch oversees the production of the achars, for which Barnee imports hing (asafoetida) from Lucknow and the bhut jolokia chilli from Assam. You can taste the trademark burn of the bhut jolokia, even though it’s used judiciously across their range that includes the best-selling Adbhut Aam, Must Mirch, and Tangy Turmeric (made using amba halad or mango giner).
Our pick: The fragrant, incendiary and chutney-like Must Mirch scented with fennel and flavoured with mustard oil is a must with your morning parathas.
Price: Rs150 to Rs275 for 200grams.
Orders have to be placed via their Facebook page.

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