What’s a simple lazy day meal without the kick of pickles? Pickles can level up anything. But who came up with the idea of preserving food like this? It is difficult to trace a single origin, but roughly in 2030 BC, cucumbers were being pickled by people living in the Tigris valley. We can ascertain that they were quite loved by looking at very famous testimonials. Cleopatra, the rumored idol of beauty attributed her looks to
a good diet of pickles. Aristotle mentions the healing effect of cured cucumbers. And, drumrolls please, cucumber pickle has also been mentioned in the Bible twice! Given that pickling lets you preserve edibles for a long time and allows you to enjoy seasonal fruits like mangoes throughout the year, it isn’t surprising that they are such a historical hit.
Trying to pin a point of origin for our beloved achar, or pickle in the Indian subcontinent is quite difficult. The word achar however has a very clear Persian origin. What is pickled where is mostly dependent on what is easily and abundantly available. For example, pickles made out of fish and shrimp are available in coastal areas but are mostly unheard of in landlocked regions. However, there is one pickle that is a staple in every Indian household- the mango pickle. We are all familiar with the green mangoes floating in a sea of mustard oil and spices, kept in big clay jars. The image, the smell, and the tangy-spicy taste of this pickle are quite easily available in our core-memory box.
But pickling isn’t limited to just mangoes, cucumbers, and fish. We don’t have to go far to look at a variety of pickles. In India itself, many states have a rich history of making non-veg pickles. The north-eastern states like Nagaland are famous for pickling meat. From shredded pork pickle and dried fish pickle to beef pickles with bamboo shoots or bhoot jolokia (one of the hottest chilies). The Southern states of Hyderabad and Kerala also have a legacy of meat pickles. Gosht ka achar or chicken pickle, made in a typical Andhra style with ingredients that are easily available in the region is a must-try if you visit Hyderabad. In Kerala, beef and fish pickles are quite popular and various preparations can be found in various communities in the state. Goa and Puducherry have their own prawn and fish pickles.
So the next time you wander off to a new place, along with trying the local cuisine, try the local pickles. It might be nothing like what you know pickles to be, and that is what makes it even more exciting! If you visit us at Paisley, you will find an assortment of in-house pickles like karela (bitter gourd), sweet chili, and dry shrimp pickle. The good news is, with Paisley Dukaan, our own line of products, you can buy any of these and level up any boring meal!