No Indian meal seems complete without some pickle by the side. Be it with paratha or roti-sabzi or dal-chawal, some sweet-spicy achar just makes the food tastes better. Alongside offering a burst of flavours to your palate, this condiment works as a palate cleanser also during a meal. If you explore, you will find a number of pickle recipes, unique to each region. While some prepare it with the local produce, others use unique masalas to make their pickle stand out in the lot. The best part is, pickle has no hard-and-fast recipe. Pickling is rather a tradition that is passed on through generations.
We bring to you a special pickle recipe from Himachal Pradesh that adds grace to the cuisine. It is called chukh or Chamba chukh. Prepared with locally grown chillies from the Chamba region in Himachal, this recipe is a perfect blend of heat and sweetness. It is basically a cooked chilli sauce or chilli paste that is made with various spices, mustard oil and local citrus fruits. You may make chukh with both green chillies and sun-dried red chillies. If you are already slurping, here's an easy recipe that can help you prepare chukh at home, that too with the ingredients easily available around.
How To Make Himachali Chukh (Red Chilli Pickle):
4-5 dry red chillies
3-4 Kashmiri red chillies
Half cup mustard oil
6 garlic cloves
Sugar or jaggery powder, as per taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt, as per taste
1 teaspoon roasted jeera powder
1 teaspoon roasted dhaniya powder
Half teaspoon fennel powder
A pinch of methi powder
A pinch of mustard seeds, powdered
Half teaspoon hing
Soak the red chillies in warm water for 15 minutes and transfer it to ice water to keep the colour intact.
Transfer the chillies to a mixer-grinder, add garlic, some salt and some water, and blend into a smooth paste. You may add some ginger if you want. Keep aside.
Heat oil, add hing and the powdered masalas and sauté for half a minute.
Pour the chilli paste and add salt, and cook well on low flame till you get the desired consistency. Add some water if needed.
Now add sugar or jaggery powder and mix everything well, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Switch off the flame and add lemon juice, and mix. You may replace lemon juice with tamarind pulp, plum, kokum or any citrus (tangy) fruit.
Cool it down and transfer to an air-tight jar and store in a cool and dry place for anytime use.
Pair it with paratha and relish!