Achar is the name given to Indian pickles that are made with various ingredients, such as vegetables and meat, and in some cases even fruits. In fact, the spices that go into making the Indian pickles are popular with many Indian vegetable and meat side dishes because of which these recipes are prefixed with the term ‘Achar’.
Origin of Achar and Achar Recipes
Achar or achar recipes have their origin in the early times, when people wanted a way to preserve foods for a longer period and at the same time being able to use them as accompaniments to compliment the main course. This way of preparing pickles and pickle based dishes is prevalent in most of the cuisines even today and such recipes get their name from the fact that pickling spices are used for making them taste like achar.
Process of Making Achar and Achar Recipes
Achar is made by either cooking in brine and oil or just mixing all the ingredients including the vegetables/meat and letting them soak in and take in the flavors of all the spices. Certain basic Indian spices such as chili powder, turmeric, asafetida, fenugreek seed/powder, oil, salt and in some cases mustard seeds or pounded mustard go into making the spice base for the pickles.
Popular Achar Recipes
Achar is popular with Indian cuisine and this taste is incorporated into many meat and vegetable dishes. Some popular achar recipes are –
- Aam ka Achar : This has raw mango as the main ingredient pickled in Indian spices
- Nimbu ka Achar : This has lime as the main ingredient.
- Mixed Vegetable Achar : This pickle is prepared by mixing vegetables such as carrots, green chilies, raw mangoes, lime, and small sour berries.
- Achaari Ghost : This side dish is a meat dish that gets its flavor from achaar spices.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Achar
Achar has the advantage of being used as a side dish with rice and roti, when there is no other accompaniment and achar recipes stay long and can be eaten at any time of the year. The only disadvantage is that even a little water can cause fungus formation and spoil the pickle.
Achar or pickled foods are craved by pregnant women because of the hormonal imbalance during pregnancy.