For most of us in India, limes are lemons and lemons are limes. As weird as that statement might seem to some of you, as far as our recipes and the vendors at our markets are concerned, they’re one and the same thing. That must sound odd for people who know they’re two different things entirely but for us, they’re all lemons. They’re sour and they can be juiced or pickled or whatever!
After a lot of thought and research, I have come to the conclusion that our lemons are actually limes, even though our markets keep selling us a mix of green/ yellow and thick/ thin skinned “lemons”. If anyone has any thoughts or conclusive information about whether our lemons are actually lemons or limes, please leave a comment.
In our home, limes are usually juiced to make absolutely refreshing summer drinks or used to add a tang to many of our spicy dishes including rasam, pav bhaji and chaats. Then, of course, they’re pickled. Depending on which part of India you are in, limes are pickled with a variety of spices and can be either salty or sweet. They can be so good that you would be spoiled for choice, as is the case with all Indian style pickles.
This particular pickle must be the simplest way of pickling limes. My father, like the rest of his side of the family, loved spicy food. I still remember my paternal grandmother would keep aside half portions of everything she cooked and would add the spice (read chillies!) to other other half. The “less” spicy half portions were reserved for us children and the odd adult who couldn’t tolerate the “heat”, while the rest of the family indulged in their fondness for spicy food.
Since we could never tolerate the levels of “fire” my father was used to, he would usually supplement what he termed “bland” meals with spicy pickles and this arrangement suited us all. However this salted lime and ginger pickle was one of the few non-spicy pickle favourites of his. So much so, that in our home he was the only one who made this pickle. Of course, one could argue that he picked the easiest pickle to make and left all the rest of the cooking to our mother!
There really isn’t much of a recipe to make this pickle proportion-wise. I am giving an approximate recipe but you may use it more a set of instructions for reference and adjust the salt and the green chillies to your taste. A slight increase or decrease of the ingredients will not make much of a difference.
It is important to let the ingredients sort of marinate and the lemon pieces become soft and pulpy in texture. Then have this pickle with cooked rice and freshly made plain yogurt for an absolutely delicious fuss-free and simple comforting meal.
I might be biased in this observation because I am a Palakkad Iyer for whom “thayir chaadham/ curd rice” (which is what we call our yogurt and rice) is the ultimate comfort food, so take my recommendation at your own risk!
Salted Limes Ginger With Green Chillies.