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A Pickle from the Hills

Regular readers of this blog would know that we are currently on an exciting journey into the world of Pickling. The season is on all across northern India, and the secret recipes handed down by grandmothers through generations are being used to make a mind-boggling array of deliciously tantalizing pickles.

Today, we will visit the foothills of the Himalayas as we travel to Himachal Pradesh to explore an exotic Mushroom Pickle – the local people call it Dhingri Achaar.

Here are the ingredients that you will require.

Ingredients:

  1. Button Mushrooms (Dhingri): 500 grams

  2. Lemons (Nimbu): 2

  3. Vinegar: 3 tablespoons

  4. Mustard Oil: 500 millilitres

  5. Mustard Seeds (Rai): 2 teaspoons

  6. Garlic (Lasun) Cloves: 100 grams

  7. Ginger (Adrak): One small 1-inch piece

  8. Dry Red Chillies: 6

  9. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: Half a teaspoon

  10. Fenugreek (Methi) Powder: Just a pinch

  11. Red Chilli Powder: 2 teaspoons

  12. Asafoetida (Heeng): 1 teaspoon

  13. Rock Salt (Sendha Namak): Half a teaspoon

  14. Salt: to taste

Preparation:

Cut the mushrooms into pieces that are around one inch long. Spread the pieces out on a tray and put them out to dry in the sun. Make sure they are completely dried out. Do remember, moisture is very bad for the pickling process.

Peel and wash the garlic cloves.

Scrape, wash and coarsely chop the ginger.

Extract the juice from the lemons.

Break the dry red chillies into small pieces with your hands.

Method:

Heat around 450 millilitres of the Mustard Oil in a pan on a High flame. When the oil reaches its smoking point and begins to emit whiffs of white smoke, turn the flame down to Medium. Deep-fry the garlic cloves. Transfer the fried garlic to a clean, dry mixing bowl.

Add the ginger to the same pan and fry it, and then transfer it to the mixing bowl.

Next, deep-fry the mushrooms till they turn golden brown in colour. It is best to do this in batches so that the mushrooms don’t get burnt or overdone. As you complete the deep-frying process, keep transferring the mushrooms to the mixing bowl.

Once the mushrooms are done, turn the flame off and keep the pan with the oil aside. Let the oil cool down to room temperature.

Heat the remaining 50 millilitres of Mustard Oil in a frying pan on a Medium flame and add the dry red chilli, mustard seeds and asafoetida, and sauté till the mustard seeds begin to splutter. Then add the turmeric, fenugreek, red chilli powder and rock salt. Mix well and continue to sauté. Finally, add the vinegar and salt and mix well. Turn the flame off.

Transfer the contents of the frying pan to the mixing bowl containing the mushrooms, garlic and ginger. Add the lemon juice and mix well to ensure that the mushroom pieces are well-coated with the spice mixture. Keep the mixing bowl aside and let the contents cool down to room temperature.

Take a glass or porcelain pickling jar and sterilize it. Ensure that it is completely dry. There should be no residual moisture inside the jar.

Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into the jar. Next, pour the Mustard Oil (that you had set aside earlier) into the jar.

Make sure that the mushrooms are completely immersed in Mustard Oil, with the oil level around one centimetre above the mushrooms. Add more Mustard Oil, if required.

Next, cover the mouth of the jar with a clean, dry muslin cloth and hold it in place by tying a string around the neck of the jar. Place the jar out in the hot summer sun. A terrace or rooftop is the best place because it gets continuous sunshine throughout the day. However, you can also put the jar out in a balcony or on a window sill – but in such cases you will need to move it around as the sun shifts across the sky.

Remember to bring the jar indoors at night to prevent moisture from setting in. While keeping it indoors, ensure that the jar is placed in a dry environment, away from moist areas like kitchen sinks.

After around four days in the sun, your Mushroom Pickle will be ready. This pickle will not last as long as other pickles because there is some moisture left over from the lemon juice and mushrooms – but it should easily last for around three months; longer, if you keep the jar in a refrigerator.

Let this traditional Dhingri Achaar bring the delectable flavours from the hills of Himachal Pradesh to your dining table.

You can find more recipes at: https://www.purioilmills.com/pickles/


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