India is the land of unmatched culinary diversity. While there are some dishes that play a major role in our daily diet, but there are some side dishes that are eaten in smaller amounts, yet are close to the hearts of many. Often, making these dishes is a family-tradition, or a full-family activity. One such set of dishes in India is pickles. Pickles in India are sure to make anyone nostalgic. People who live away from their families almost always carry a container of pickles made lovingly by their mothers and aunts and grandmothers, and relish every bite of it. Tasting a pickle from back home can make anyone home sick. Moreover, there is such a wide variety and range of pickles – from fruits and vegetables to fishes, prawns and meat, pickles are a seasonal traditional in just about all Indian households. Even for something as basic as a simple mango pickle, there are numerous regional variations in the oil, spices and methods used to make the pickle – for instance, Gujaratis in the west of the country use a ‘methiyo’ masala (a mixture made using ground fenugreek seeds) to make the traditional mango pickle, while towards the east people in Andhra Pradesh make their traditional mango pickle with considerable amount of aavalu (powdered mustard). There are also sweeter versions of mango pickles like the chhundo, murabba and golkeri. With so many varieties available, exploring the pickles of India has to be a journey of its own, with each pickle inspire countless memories and cherished feelings in everyone.
One of the very popular pickle from the eastern state of Andhra Pradesh in India is the Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi or Korivi Karam. Simply translated, it means red chili pickle. The other two most popular pickles from the region are the mango avakaya mentioned earlier and the Guntur Gongura Pachadi.
The first time I tasted the Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi, my taste buds were set on fire, quite literally. I might even had smoke come out of my ears. That’s how spicy it was. But the taste sits nicely on the palete, especially when accompanies with hot steamed rice, with oodles of ghee, some crispy papaddums and a glass (you might even need 2-3 glasses) of buttermilk. The joy of the pickle lies in its spice quotient. Pandu Pachadi lovers are fiercely protective of their achar dabbas, and might be willing to kill you if you take more than a decent amount when offered a spoon. The pickle also pairs amazingly well with plain dosas and idlis. The key is to balance the spicyness of this pickle with something milder.
Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi is generally prepared towards the end of winters. As a standard practice, farmers harvest their chili produce before winters, though they leave some chilis on the plants during the harvest season, which by the end of the winters rupen up and turn red. These red chilies are then harvested, and sun dried, to be used to make the Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi. Andhra Pradesh is known for its red chilies, especially those from Guntur. Guntur chilies are really red and fiery. Good red chilies for pickling are available from December to February-March. Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi is made using the Pandu chilies or the Pandu Mirapakayalu.
Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi is a very, very spicy pickle, so it is ideally recommended to have it in limited quantities and ensure you drink sufficient amount of water, buttermilk and eat some yogurt after to calm the fired up taste buds. But the pickle is actually so delicious that it is hard to stop at just a spoon or two.
Here’s a quick recipe for Pandu Mirakaya Pachadi or Korivi Karam:
For the pickle:
500g red Pandu chilies
Salt to taste
1 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tsp powdered dry roasted fenugreek seeds
50g garlic cloves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp split Bengal gram/ chana dal
1 tsp split peeled black gram
3 dried red chili
1 sprig curry leaves
4 tsp oil
- Rinse the red chilies thoroughly and pat them dry.
- Once dried, remove the stems and remove any damaged or soggy chilies.
- Grind the chilies, salt, tamarind and turmeric together to form a rough blend.
- Put this mixture aside in a glass jar or a pickle jar for 3 days.
- After 3 days, take this mixture and grind it to a finer consistency, or as per prsonal preference. Some people prefer it ground to a coarse paste, some prefer it to be a finer, smoother paste.
- Take the paste in a big bowl.
- Add the asafetida, roasted mustard powder, and roasted fenugreek powder. Mix well.
- Adjust the salt, as required.
- The pickle is now ready for storage and consumption.
This pickle goes best with hot steamed rice and oodles of ghee. The pickle can sit out at room temperature for a few days, though after that, it would need refrigeration to prevent spoilage.
If like me, you love pickles so much that you can’t wait to have it along with your meals, dig right in and lick it up!