You know how ketchup is pretty much a permanent on grocery lists? So are achar in brown homes!!! And this 20 min Gajar ka achar (spicy pickled carrots) has become a must in my house during winters.
Achar (or Pakistani/Indian pickles) are a spicier version of a regular pickle (basically like most Indian foods). It’s a spicy condiment that we loveeeeee pairing with rice and lentils or a good vegetable flatbread (paratha)! yums! And this Gajar ka achar is soo soo good!
My nani (grandma) used to make the long fermented version which takes a couple of days to make. And I mean I don’t check up on the plants in my house that often, how am I supposed to remember checking up on this? Entered a 20 min version. You will need a stove top, a glass jar, carrots and spices. That’s it! let’s begin!
A QUICK PICTORIAL GUIDE TO MAKING PICKLED CARROTS OR GAJAR KA ACHAR
So Pakistani/Indian pickles are mostly made using mustard oil. It enhances the flavor of all the spices and works really well as a preservative.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Mustard oil is very bitter in taste if used directly. So to reduce the bitterness, we preheat the oil before use. We heat it in the pan for 3 to 4 mins and leave it to cool down. Then this oil becomes ready to use.
Since mustard oil requires preheating, I usually start with this step and then move on to cutting my carrots.
This achar is usually made in winters when really nice red sweet carrots are in season back in Pakistan. (Also why you will see me posting a lot of gajar ka halwa in winters on instagram).
I fortunately had access to these Pakistani carrots which taste amazingggggg! Regardless, I’ve made this recipe with regular carrots as well and it turns out just as great.
A little tip here. I cut the carrots up into a thin slender french fry cut. But I also removed the central yellowish portion of the carrot. This part of the carrot is usually tasteless. You can keep this if you like. I usually just use the discard portion for my salads.
Let’s start cooking the Achar. In the wok/pan which has the Mustard oil, add your curry leaves, cumin seeds, black and yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds and chopped garlic along with whole red chilies. I know it sounds like a lot of ingredients, but you probably already have a lot of them in your pantry. We are going to fry this till the garlic gets to a nice golden color.
Once we reach the nice golden color, we are going to chuck in all our carrots and powdered spices like salt, turmeric and red chili powder and flakes.
Can you imagine this was that easy? Go ahead and stir around those carrots in the wok with the spices. Cook it for a good 5 mins, for the spices to coat the carrots and the carrots to soften up.
Then add green chilies and cook for another 5 mins.
After 10 mins, we will turn of the flame and squeeze some lemon juice all over our carrots and cover them up.
The lemon acts as a preservative for the pickle and also adds that characteristic tart flavor that pickles have.
Once the carrots have cooled down, I am going to transfer them into an airtight glass jar and keep it in the fridge.
Serve with lentils and rice, or aloo ka paratha, yumm!!
How long does the achar last for?
It can last indefinitely in the fridge but to give you a date, it can last for up to 3 months in the fridge. I am not very confident of leaving this outside as the oil quantity for this achar is quite low compared to regular achars.
- You can use regular oil instead of mustard oil
- You can use 2 tbsp tamarind pulp instead of lemon but you will have to add it with the carrots so that it cooks as well