How to make vegetable pickle

A punchy vegetable pickle or achar, as we call it here in South Africa, gives an instant kick to simple meals and is also an excellent way of preserving surplus fruit and vegetables so that they can be enjoyed out of season.
I grew up in a home where achar was always served with main meals. Just as the humble left-over steak sandwich is elevated with the addition of pickled gherkins, the same applies to a standard potato curry made lively with a lip-smackingly sweet and spicy carrot pickle. Download print-friendly version.

I based this recipe on Rick Stein’s Malaysian Vegetable Pickle from his Far Eastern Odyssey. This particular pickle is unusual in that it is a combination of sweet, sour, hot and nutty. Instead of using sesame seeds and peanuts, I used a passion chilli dukkah from NoMu. Any dukkah which is a mix of nuts and spices will work. I also used ginger to give a warmth and distinctive flavour to the pickle.

You may substitute any of these fruits and vegetables with green beans, cucumber or radish but I wouldn’t recommend potatoes, tomatoes or pumpkin.

4 large carrots, chopped into 2-3cm batons
240g cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 2-3cm chunks
20g medium-hot red and green chillies, de-seeded and chopped
1 tbsp and 1/2 tsp table salt
2 large dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
450ml distilled vinegar
200ml plus 2 tbsp water
4cm ginger, chopped
1 ½ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
80g peanuts, toasted
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted (or substitute peanuts and sesame seeds with few tablespoons of dukkah)

1. Try to cut the apples and vegetables into relatively similar sizes.
2. Place the cauliflower, carrots and apples into a colander. Add 1 tbsp salt and mix through. Place the colander over a bowl and set aside for 1 hour.
3. Bring the vinegar and water (200ml) to the boil in a pot.
4. Add 1/3 of the salted vegetables and apples and bring to a vigorous boil for 1 minute. Do not boil for longer – this is sufficient time.
5. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining two batches.
6. Discard the vinegar/water solution.
7. Blend the soaked red chillies (discard the water), ginger, turmeric, 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp water until it’s a fine paste.
8. Gently fry the paste in 1 tablespoon oil for 3-4 minutes until aromatic and leave to cool.
9. Mix your fragrant paste into the vegetables/apples with the sugar, ½ tsp salt and dukkah or nuts and seeds. Mix well.
10. Add to sterilized jam jars, top with a vegetable oil (if desired), seal and refrigerate. Allow to sit for at least 24 hours for flavours to develop.

And there we have it – achar to spice up any simple meal.

Recipe contribution from Food and the Fabulous.