I sadly never asked my dad for a chilli pickle recipe (another thing that I thought tasted weird and yucky when I was a child). So when searching for one for my Nepal fundraiser dinner, that might be closest to what he would make and eat I searched for his favourite chef: Madhur Jaffrey. Whilst the young, trendy chefs have taken over our screens, it’s Stalwarts like Jaffrey you can always trust for a genuinely traditional and authentic recipe.
This recipe makes an exceptionally hot pickle, so it’s not for the faint-hearted! The good news is you will only need a tiny dab of it to liven up your meal. My dad was one to eat at least two fresh green finger chillies with every meal (yes, including breakfast) so I am pretty sure that he would approve of this. One of the things that got him giggling the most, in fact, was showing off just how much chilli he could eat – just chomping away on them, whole, as if they were biscuits. Whilst I’ve definitely inherited his love for spice, I’m not quite at his level of superstrength palate but having this pickle enough might just get me a few Puri points!
I bought my chillies from the local market – £1 for a bowlful which is about a quarter of what you’d pay for that many chillies in a supermarket. It’s also where you are likely to get better chillies – I find the ones from supermarkets quite tasteless and really not spicy.
Having a big bowl of green finger chillies looks very pretty until you contemplate slicing each and every one of them… I took a bit of a shortcut and cut them in to chunks instead of slices – I call it rustic. However smaller slices or chunks may be better if you don’t want a chilli explosion in your mouth as the smaller bites are easier to handle. I’m not joking when I say that this pickle is super hot.
If this chilli is too hot to handle, or you want something a bit fruitier I highly recommend my lemon pickle. It has been loved by everyone who has tasted it!
Hot green chilli pickle
- 1/4 lb of fresh green chillies
- 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
- 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds (or 3 tbsp of just brown or black if you don’t have both)
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes or powder (optional – you probably don’t need this!)
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil (the recipe I found suggested mustard oil but I don’t have that)
- 1 pinch or asafoetida (optional)*
* This is a yellow fragrant powder also known as hing in Asian cooking. I got a big bag of this at Unicorn vegan supermarket in Manchester but it’s also available in most Asian stores or health food shops.
Cut the stalks off the chillies, wash them then cut them into chunks or slices. I pretty much quartered mine. If you have time (i.e. can be bothered) slice them as it means smaller bits which is probably better given the intensity of this pickle.
Grind the black mustard seeds using a blender or mortar and pestle. If you’re using just one colour of mustard seeds make sure you only use 2/3 of them here. Place them in a bowl and add the ginger, salt and optional chilli flakes/powder.
Heat the oil in a pan until it’s lightly smoking. Add the brown mustard seeds and asafoetida (if using), turn off heat and let cool completely. This process is called tempering in Indian cooking and the hot oil makes the flavours more intense so it’s important to do this step, even if you don’t use asafoetida. Add this to the bowl and mix well so all the flavours combine. Put the mixture in a bowl or jar and place in direct sunlight e.g. the window sill. Cover with cling film and then a non-metallic plate. Stir the pickle twice on the first day.
The next day, add the lemon juice and stir again. Stir the pickle once a day until chillies are soft and pale which means it is ready to eat. Then transfer it to an airtight jar(s)/container(s). Mine was ready after about one week. It will keep for at least a month. I’ve had mine for just over a month and it’s still tasting great!