Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Bernardin and have received compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.
I always thought these lemons were a just my mama thing. As in I was actually convinced that no other person on this planet makes this super simple, clean, oil free lemon that is delightfully sour and the perfect condiment to brighten up your biryani and khichri alike. I shared an image of the process in my Instagram stories and was stunned when so very many of you responded and said that your mother, your mother in law, an aunty, a grandma, they all make it as well. In fact it was someone on instagram who supplied the moniker Khattay Leemoo.
So now I am going to put this pickle in the category of things that I keep humble delicious "ghar ka khana" (food cooked at home) dishes like daal and aaloo gosht in. Their utter simplicity means they may not be restaurant dishes, but they are definitely a worthy addition to the home cooks repertoire. Also can I just say how fun they were to do?
There is no stressful measuring, minimal mess, and there is something very satisfying about making them. They have also become a bit of a group effort. My husband, the enthusiastic condiment eater has probably been more interested in this than any thing before and my MIL has been taking the jars out at sun up and bringing them back in the house at sun down. My kids have been staring at the jars with me examining the rinds as they transform in colour and texture. I feel like there is a good science lesson in there folks.
Speaking of lessons, let's chat about what I have learnt my achar making friends
- I have learnt that throwing the lemons into whatever random container you have handy does not work. I used the 250ml Bernardin jars which I purchased at Wal Mart, but are available at Canadian Tire as well. For 10 bucks you get a dozen of these and they are reusable.
- The second lesson is that you HAVE TO use pickling salt. The table salt available in Canada will sometimes have anti caking agents added into it and those agents can cause the liquid of the Khattay Leemoo to become dark and cloudy.
- Third lesson, have patience. The lemons in Canada unlike those in Pakistan or India have a thicker rind and it takes about ten days (or more) for them to soften to perfection. Slim slivers take 8 days.
- Also, speaking of lemons, organic lemons are a must, think about it, you are eating the skin! Also organic lemons will have a thinner rind and no wax on the exterior.
This recipe for Khattay Leemoo is more like a guide and it is your opportunity to have some fun in the kitchen. Have a favourite whole spice? add it in. Think some chilli flakes won't hurt? Agreed. Just go for it, have fun and don't forget to tag me in your creations!
- 4 Organic lemons, washed and scrubbed
- 2 ¼ tbsp Pickling Salt
- Optional add ins: green chillies, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, star anise, etc.
Halved your scrubbed lemons and juice them most of the way. Save the juice for another use
Cut each half into six pieces or slim slivers
Layer the lemon pieces into the bottom of the jar, press them down enough to create an approximate 1.5-2 inch layer
Add your add ins of choice (or none at all) and sprinkle with ¾ tbsp pickling salt
Repeat until the jar is filled to the top
Shut the lid tightly and leave in the sun for 10 days. The lemon rind will change colour, the salt will leach some liquid out of the lemon, this is all normal (and good!).
Invert the jars every day to distribute the natural pickling liquid. Check on it after 10 days, the rind should be nice and soft, if not then leave out for another few days
Eat with daal chawal, khichri, biryani, matar pulao.
More fun stuff: once your lemons are beautifully tender you can always doctor small amounts to suit your mood. For example you can mix in a little brown sugar and chilli flakes or simply add a little chaat masala over top.
Wondering what I made? I made two jars with lemons/limes and green chillies, one with nigella seeds thrown in and a few plain ones as well. IMHO the lemon pickle is lovelier than the lime one. Please do note that the limes somehow take longer to tenderize.
Getting to this later? No problem, just pin it right here!