While Hyderabad is more famous for its biryani, haleem and other lip-smacking dishes, one can't ignore its variety of achaar or pickles.
Achaar, along with papad, adds that extra taste to the typical Hyderabadi spread. Families prefer spicy achaar in different varieties, especially when they go for simple meals, comprising plain rice or 'khichdi' and dal. Achaar with papad or murkul or dahi ki mirchi satiate appetite. Available in different varieties, pickles are all-time favourites and a must for a many families, especially for lunch.
From Mir Alam Mandi and Chowk near the historic Charminar to Nampally; one finds many shops selling achaar and other condiments. While pickles prepared in Hyderabadi style are available at these shops, there are also many outlets in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad selling achaar with a distinct Andhra taste. Some traders have also joined the bandwagon by supplying home-made pickles to local kirana shops.
While pickles made of raw mangoes or vegetables are the fastest moving item off the shelves, some old Hyderabadi shops are famous for gosht ka achar'or pickle made of mutton. One also finds leemo (lemon pickle), imli ka achar, tomato pickle, aamla achaar or gongura achaar.
'Deccan Achar', a leading store in Nampally, sells 30 varieties of pickles and is quite popular with the locals. "We don't compromise on quality. We use only quality ingredients," said Sadiq Bin Mehfooz of Deccan Achar.
A third-generation businessman, Sadiq said their varieties of achaar include chicken achaar, green chilli achaar and red chilli achaar. People coming to Hyderabad from other states and even from abroad make it a point to buy achaar in the city.
"Our achaar also goes to the Middle East and other countries," said Sadiq. The NRIs visiting their relatives here make it a point to buy some achaar before returning. Traders say that many families also send achaar through friends to their near and dear ones working in the Gulf.
Most of the families in the past used to make pickles at home. They used to buy kairi (raw mango) in huge quantities, cut them into small pieces and prepare pickle out of them. With changing times, people started depending on shops to buy ready-made ones.
"We don't get time to make pickles at home and the process is also time-consuming and tedious," Sajida Khatoon, a housewife, told IANS. This led to many shops mushrooming in different parts of the city. Achaar made with flavourful spices and with a traditional Hyderabadi recipe remaines everybody's favourite till date.
While achaar is sold throughout the year, the sales pick up during summer, which is also the season of mangoes. Some shops are also famous for mutton and chicken pickles. For many, especially students and bachelors, these pickles replace curries and save the time they spend on cooking.