Let’s talk about achar – it is that very subcontinental of condiments that includes a range of spices that give the achar it’s depth and fiery heat. You can make an achar out of many things but I suppose the most common ones are mango (the unripe kind), carrots, green chillies, lemon, and garlic. Me? I am not such a fan of the stuff. My husband? He probably secretly fantasizes about a day when we have no food in the house and he can just eat achar and roti (bread) – or achar and rice. I used to think of his fondness for achar as a cute quirk until Daddy Jafri pointed out that ‘that says a lot about what he thinks of your cooking’. Pfft.
So anyway, I have learnt to adapt and have added things like this dish to my repertoire. My favorite part? Thanks to the existence of frozen chopped Okra I just toss a bunch of stuff together and then let it cook. Eassssyyyy Peassssyyyyy.
As a disclaimer there is a family of ingredients that will give you that ‘achari’ taste and if you are missing some then you probably will not get the same flavour but it will still be quite delicious. The one element of this recipe that I skip quite frequently is the ‘kachri’ powder which I believe has the unique capability to hide when I need it.
Achari Bhindi or Okra in Pickling Spices
1 pound okra
2 sliced onions
1/2 tsp nigella seeds/kalonji
3-4 sliced green chilies
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tbsp dried mango powder/kachri powder
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp aniseed or saunf
Salt to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Mix everything in a bowl and set aside. Warm two tablespoons of oil in a saucepan with higher sides or a wok. When the oil is hot add the okra mix cook on medium high heat for a few minutes then lower the heat to medium low and cover. Cook till the okra is done – cooking times can vary depending on whether you use fresh or frozen Okra. I recommend checking on the Okra every 5 minutes until it is done. Add more oil or a splash of water if necessary. Eat with roti/naan for a nice light lunch.