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Mom’s Sweet and Sour Lemon Pickle

Ready to serve Whenever I have a bad day, am tired or generally feeling down , my go to dinner is to make me some moong dal khichadi and eat it with dollops of ghee and mom’s sweet and sour pickle or devour plain curd – rice with some lemon pickle.


My grand mom and aunt used to provide us jars upon jars of pickles that they would loving make in summer and mature in their attic. Whenever we visited in summer we used to find these typical pickle jars lining the top shelf filled with spicy salty mango, chilies and lemon pickles. Some had pickled garlic and fresh pepper berries. Some had whole mango, others had cubed or grated ones.

We had strict orders not to touch them and let them age so that the flavors would blend in and reward us with their awesomeness a few months later.Lemons chopped up

Like curry, every family has their favorite recipe and its handed down through generations. My mom is particularly fond of sweet and sour lemon but didn’t have the patience to wait for months to let it age. So she has a quick pressure-cooker based recipe that cuts down months to couple of days. It doesn’t require a copious amount of chopping and dicing as she lets a blender do the work. Pressure cooking ( or cooking in a slow cooker for entire day), soften the lemon skins as they are tenderized in the sugar -spice concoction. The pickle is amazing as soon as it is out of the cooker. But let it rest for couple of days before digging in.

Add some sugar and some spice

Of course, everything is better with age and this is no exception. If you can squirrel away a bottle and wait for a month or so, this is pure delight. Makes perfect Christmas and hostess gift given the Meyer lemon season around!

In and out of pressure cooker

Bottled up

Sweet and Sour Lemon Pickle Recipe

  • 15- 20 Lemons
  • Sugar – 1 .5 times the volume of chopped lemons
  • 1/2 cup jaggery – broken in medium-sized pieces
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons red chilli powder

1. Chop and de-seed the lemons. Whirl it through a mixer/ blender till it is roughly chopped but is not all ground.

2. Add sugar, jaggery, chilli powder and salt. Start with smaller amounts of salt and chilli powder. You can add to adjust to taste. Mix well

3. Place it in a pressure cooker taking care that water will not enter this pickle container. Let it cook for 15 whistles. Or for 4-6 hours in a slow cooker.

4. Take it off the heat and cool down.

5. Add more sugar , chilli powder and salt per taste. Mix well.

6. Fill in bottles and place them in a cool dry place for couple of days at least. Resist the temptation to open them up during this phase.

Two days later, enjoy with aloo paratha’s, pohe or simple curd- rice.

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