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A is for Achar #BlogchatterA2Z

Food is incomplete without its accompaniments, much like a shirt is without its buttons. The main dish might hog all the attention and get an enviable place in the menu but without the free pickle served alongside our meal is only partially perfect. Wait, did I say pickle? I prefer and am going to call it Achar, for sometimes the name does make all the difference! We Indians are suckers for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are two things that one will always find on a Marwari familyโ€™s spread; papad and achar. Iโ€™m not much of a papad fan but achar was like my soulmate. Every year my mother would make some 10-15 different types of them and send it to all and sundry.ย God knows she had plentiful fans of her cooking! The popular raw mango was just the tip of it, any vegetable could be pickled and its taste simply settled on our tongues.

Achar quintessentially adds zing and gives a tangy kick to any meal. Different types of oils and ingredients are used to make it differently in every part of India. It is high in salt content and other natural preservatives but there are healthy alternatives to it too.ย It also ranges in taste from spicy, sour, sweet to even bitter.

Housewives and even professional chefs hold their traditional achar recipes dearly close to their heart. The summer sun and heat is best for the preparation of Murabba which has great taste and digestive properties. Nimbu ki mirchi requires no oil at all. Also, you can make achars throughout the year in small quantities using garlic cloves, bitter gourd slices, shredded cabbage or other vegetables.

Come summer and our home would be buzzing with activity. A trip to the local grocery shop for masalas set the tone for the excitement to follow. Mom and other Aunties would head to the vegetable market early morning to get the best raw mango produce.ย Tired but pleased, they would return home loaded with bags full of pre-cut raw mangoes.ย Big pickle jars, washed and dried, stood lined up in the kitchen, ready to store the entire yearโ€™s achar supply.

My friends raided my lunch-box every time my Mom packed achar for me. We would snigger and tease each other playfully then since our limited knowledge suggested that pregnancy lead to achar cravings.ย This is the effect of watching too many Hindi movies of the 80s and 90s. Honestly, how silly could we be! ๐Ÿ˜›

A replacement for some sabzi I didnโ€™t like, my nostalgic companion away from home and my comfort food, achar made life bearable. Am I being melodramatic here? May be, but its true. The aroma of freshly-prepared achar was nothing less than magic for me and beckoned me like a long lost friend.ย Mom always insisted me to observe her process and sadly, when I did make achar for the first time, she was gone. ๐Ÿ™

Her memories are with me though and Iโ€™m sure to pass them on to Angel. ๐Ÿ™‚

This post is written for #BlogchatterA2Z and #AtoZChallenge for April 2019

41 thoughts on “A is for Achar #BlogchatterA2Z

  1. I agree, it is like shirt without buttons. I am a big fan of pickles but miss the authentic ones my mom.used to make . My all time favourite is the aam ka achaar .

  2. I am not a fan of pickles, except Chundo, but your post tickled my imagination. What fun the entire achar making process must have been! I could almost imagine it, thanks to your words!

    1. It was indeed fun, M. All of us kids lurked in the kitchen to see what was going on and were shooed away repeatedly since there was fear of contamination. As an afterthought we got to taste it first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Your post brought to mind so many memories! My granny makes mean achaar too – my favourite would be the imli one; my mom loved lemon and mango. Whenever I have achaar, I get reminded of the days gone by, especially the summer afternoons with delicious meals and infinite potential.
    All the best for the A-Z challenge – I am participating in it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Achar is the supporting artist who holds the story together by staying in the background. My mil makes lovely nimbu ka achar and my mom, well, made an achar out of anything like your mil. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I totally identify with your love for achaar and the special memories of food associated with childhood. Beautifully written post Varsha- nostalgic, humorous and very readable ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I am an achar person all the way Varsha, My kitchen currently has a variety in all possible seasonal achar, and everytime I visit home achar comes back with me all the way to Mumbai.
    Loving your Food fables.

  6. A wonderful comfort food option… And so many varieties too, not just in flavour but also due to the main ingredient choice… From Lime to even pepper

  7. I love achar. Infact I survived through a major portion of hostel life for having mango pickle to help me out in gulp the bland food. Your post made me pick up the tamarind pickle and dish out a generous portion in lunch now.

    1. Ah, hostel life and achar are inseparable. I made Mom pack a big jar of achar for me when I left for hostel too. ๐Ÿ˜€ Tamarind pickle, oh I’m craving for it now!

  8. I love pickles dear and your post resonated with the deepest corners of my heart. You know when my mom came to meet me for the last time before she left for heavenly abode, she made and brought will her all my favourite Achars

  9. I am a connoisseur of achar of all varieties. I love achar whether it is the north Indian or south Indian variety. I remember the stuffed mirchi achar of north India which I simply adore. I also love the avakkai pickle from the south which my mother used make at home in New Delhi when I was in school. I am also fond of Garlic achar but that generally leaves people around you with an ache to plonk you one on the head :). My wife is from Andhra and every time we go to her place we get to taste some really spicy achar varieties. I enjoyed your post thoroughly. Happy A to Z ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. You’ve been lucky to taste quite a variety of achars from various parts of our country. I love to try them out too since there’s a huge difference in the oils and spices used and that gives every achar a distinct taste. Glad you liked my post, Jai. Liked reading about the achars you shared here.

  10. Achar is such an dish that few dishes are incomplete with it, like Chole Bhature and nimbu ka achar or I must say Aloo pareanthe and aam ka achar. I am also big Achar fan, you can call me achari girl too :))

    Cheers
    MeenalSonal

    1. Absolutely, some dishes need a dash of achar on the side to complete them. We had achar with khichdi at our home too. Achari girl sounds good! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I love achaar too. Mom made few and we used to get from Nani’s place too, stock for the year. It can make any dull food tasty. Reminds me I need a re-stock I just finished today.

    1. I got my stock from Mom and my MIL till recently but have now started preparing myself. There is nothing like it to spruce up a dull dish.

  12. Born and brought up in Andhra, acchars are still a major part of my kitchen. There are many tales you can weave out of the achar making days. You have woven one so well. #blogchatterA2Z

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