Achar Masala is a combination of several spices used to prepare achar or pickles. Achar masala may be prepared with a blend of any of the various spices commonly used such as – chili powder, turmeric powder, asafetida powder, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, garam masala, dried mango powder, whole dried chilies and so on. These spices may be roasted and then combined together to dress vegetables and different food items along with oil, lime juice or vinegar to make pickles. These achar masala is used popularly used in the Indian sub-continent. However, there are a host of other spices used in various other combinations across the world to preserve food items and transform them into pickles.
Pickles first originated over 4000 years ago as a popular method of preserving food. The use of achar masala for this purpose has been found in ancient Egyptians, Greek and Romans. However, the first large scale commercial production of pickles using achar masala, began in 1820.
Preferred Methods of Cooking
Achar masala may be roasted or used as they are to flavor the fruits and vegetables while preserving them. Most often the achar masala is ground to a powder and then used as per the recipe requirements.
Cuisines and Popular Recipes
Achar Masala is most popularly used in Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepali and other South Asian cuisines to make interesting achars or pickles which may be sweet, sour or spicy. Some of the commonly made pickles are - mango pickle, green or red chili pickle, chickpea pickle, mixed vegetable pickle, lime pickle, carrot and cauliflower pickle, ginger pickle, onion pickle and several others.
Most achar masala used in pickles make them a good source of vitamin K and some vitamin B. However, they are high in sodium content.
Buying and Storing
Achar masala can be readily found in most grocery or kitchen supply stores, especially in the Indian condiments section. They are found in readymade packets and alternatively they can be prepared at home. It is simple to buy the various dried spice powders as per the pickle recipe and then proceed with roasting them or as suggested in the recipe. In order to store the achar masala, care should be taken that no wet items come in contact with it and it can also be refrigerated in an airtight container to extend its shelf life.