Thursday, 8 August 2013




I made some superb garlic pickle the other day. My husband who hardly ever cares for garlic, in fact asked for a second helping; so fantastic was the taste. The smell is so inviting, so appetizing, so mouthwatering, that if only technology were so advanced, I would have gladly uploaded the wonderful smell, if not the taste, for you all to enjoy. For the time being, you will have to make do with the recipe.

Though it is a bit time consuming, shelling each clove by hand makes it worth your while when you see the joyous faces of your dear ones who relish the pickle with lip smacking delight. Moreover, the health benefits of garlic are so many and more are being discovered every day. Researchers tell us that garlic lowers cholesterol levels, regulates blood pressure, thins the blood, cleans out clogged arteries, is an excellent organic antibiotic, boosts immunity against the flu and cold, helps digestion and reduces unwanted fat. So go right ahead, cook and enjoy!

Ingredients (to make 500 gm.):

     1)    Garlic cloves, peeled and cleaned – 350 gm.
     2)    Pigeon eye chilies (see note) – 8 Nos.(if unavailable, use hot green chilies)

     3)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig
     4)    Gingelly oil (sesame oil) – 2½ tablespoons
     5)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     6)    Fenugreek seeds – ¼ teaspoon
     7)    Hot red chili powder – 2 teaspoons
     8)    Pickle powder – 2 teaspoons
     9)    Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
     10)     Powdered salt – 3½ teaspoons
     11)     Vinegar – 75 ml.

To Cook:

          Slit the pigeon eye chilies lengthwise on one side and set aside. Set a wok on high heat. Pour in the gingelly oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, throw in the fenugreek seeds. Stir gently. As soon as the fenugreek seeds are about to finish popping, turn down the heat and tip in the pigeon eye chilies and the curry leaves. Stir twice or thrice.

Now tip in the garlic cloves and stir frequently for 3 minutes. Now tip in the powdered salt, the chili powder and the turmeric powder. Stir well for another 2 minutes and switch off the heat. Let cool naturally.

When cold, transfer to a clean, sundried, airtight jar (500 to 600 ml capacity). Pour in the vinegar and close the lid tight. Keep undisturbed for at least 3 days. Use a dry spoon to mix up the pickle. Your delicious garlic pickle is now ready to serve. Serve with rice, chappatis, porottas or bread. Garlic lovers will need no excuse to dip in their spoons. Vampires beware!

Bon appétit!!!


     1)    Pigeon eye chilies, even though quite hot, have tremendous flavor and medicinal value. In Kerala, many cholesterol patients eat one or two raw pigeon eye chilies with meals. Called kāndāri or parangi in Malayalam, they grow on hardy bushy plants that thrive for 3 to 5 years. These plants do not require any particular care or treatment, but give bumper crops when watered and fertilized with farmyard manure and wood ash. These chilies cost around Rs. 300 to Rs. 600 a kilo, whereas ordinary green chilies cost just Rs. 20 to Rs. 50.

Pigeon eye chilies are also used in tribal folk medicine in the treatment of setting cracked or broken bones. These chilies are ground up together with some other herbs and applied on the skin just before it is bandaged with splints. The tribals believe that these chilies aid in quick and strong bonding of broken bones.

Convalescents with little appetite for food can mix one or two crushed pigeon eye chilies and a sprig of chopped tender curry leaves with a little bit of salt in a glass of buttermilk. They can pour some of this buttermilk over rice while sipping the rest of the buttermilk in between to promote appetite and digestion.

     2)    Some people soak the garlic cloves in oil and then dry them for a day in the sun to facilitate shelling. I do not recommend this shortcut as the drying tends to deprive the garlic of its juicy, crispy freshness, its prāna or life force, which makes the pickle sparkle both on the plate and on the palate.

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