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Red Hot!


The world of Achaar is filled with variety! Some people like their pickles sour… some like them sweet… and some prefer spicy ones. Earlier, we shared a recipe for a green chilli pickle. Today’s post is an ancient and traditional recipe from Varanasi – and it’s hot. This one’s made with red chillies. Varanasi is an ancient city where the lanes and by-lanes bustle with enticing flavours and aromas… and pickles form an integral part of the culinary landscape of the city’s cuisines.

So let’s get started! The ingredients that you will need are:


  1. Red Chillies (Lal Mirch), large-sized: 1 kilogram

  2. Mustard Oil: 1 litre

  3. Mustard Seeds (Rai): 300 grams

  4. Turmeric (Haldi) Powder: 60 grams

  5. Dry Mango Powder (Aamchur): 250 grams

  6. Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds: 200 grams

  7. Fennel (Saunf) Seeds: 100 grams

  8. Asafoetida (Heeng): 1 tablespoon

  9. Salt: 100 grams


Wash the red chillies and put them out to dry. When the red chillies are completely dry, remove the stalks making a large cut around the base of the stalk to create a hole through which fillings can later be inserted.

Grind the Mustard Seeds into a coarse powder.

Coarsely grind the fenugreek seeds.

Coarsely grind the fennel seeds.

Wash and sterilize a large glass or porcelain pickling jar. Carefully wipe the jar dry. Make sure it is completely dry before you use it.


In a bowl mix the ground mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds along with the dry mango powder, asafoetida and salt. Add around 30 millilitres of Mustard Oil and mix well.

Carefully fill each red chilli with the spice mixture. If any of the mixture is left over, keep it aside.

Heat the remaining Mustard Oil in a large pan on a Medium flame till it reaches its smoking point. Turn off the heat and let the oil cool down to room temperature.

Dip each stuffed red chilli in the Mustard Oil and then place it in the sterilized pickling jar you had prepared earlier. Now place the leftover stuffing, if any, in the jar. Pour the Mustard Oil into the jar till it covers all the red chillies. Ideally, the oil should be about a centimetre above the stuffed chillies.

Cover the mouth of the jar with a piece of clean dry muslin cloth and tie it firmly with a cord. The cloth allows the pickle to breathe as it slowly dries. Put the jar out in the sun, bringing it in at night to protect it from moisture. Do this for around seven days. Then remove the muslin cloth and close the jar with an airtight lid.

Your traditional Lal Mirch Achaar is now ready. It’s spicy, it’s hot – and it’s delicious. Usher an ancient flavour all the way from Varanasi into your home.

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