Calling all spicy food lovers! This Indian green chilli pickle, also known as mirch ka achar, is what’s missing from your dinner plate!
Green chilli achar is NOT for the faint-hearted. Just smelling this spicy pickle is enough to make you sweat.
When you eat an Indian meal, it’s common to serve pickle, also known as achar, alongside the meal. That way, those who prefer spicier food, can easily adjust the heat to their preference.
My recipes typically fall within the medium heat range because that’s how I like my food. While it’s easy to increase the amount of cayenne or chilis in a dish to make it spicier, sometimes it’s nice to have a side of achar as a condiment because it adds a unique flavor to the meal as well as heat.
After you make this green chilli pickle, let it sit for 3-4 days before eating it. Shake it once a day so that the oil coats all the chillis.
You can keep the achar on the counter for up to a month (shaking it every other day) or in the fridge for let’s say up to six months (though truthfully, I’ve kept some jars of achar in my fridge for years. I once saved a bit of my mom’s gobi, gajar, and shalgam achar for 2 years with hopes of one day recreating it through taste alone, only to have my dad finish it off during a visit, lol).
The photo below is what it looks like on the day you first make the pickle and the photo directly below that shows what it’ll look like after 3-4 weeks of sitting on the counter.
About the ingredients + a note about mustard oil
I use small Indian green chillis to make this pickle; you can find them at your local Indian grocery store. I’m sure other green chilis, like serrano, will work well too.
Different pickles have different flavors depending on the ingredients you use. My lemon pickle for example is sour, a bit sweet, and very mild. This green chilli pickle is spicy and pungent thanks to the green chilis and mustard oil.
For those unfamiliar with mustard oil, it has a sharp, wasabi-like flavor and is commonly used in Indian cooking. However, one thing to know is that in the US, mustard oil is sold with a warning that says “for external use only.”
Despite this warning, many Indian folks cook with this type of oil. If you’re buying mustard oil from your local Indian store – just ask the owner/employee there if it’s a brand they suggest cooking with. To learn more about this oil, you can read this article from the NY Times and this one from Serious Eats.
If you’re not comfortable using mustard oil, you can use another type of oil, however the flavor will be different.
Everything I know about achar, I’ve learned from my mom. She makes many different kinds of achar and they are all so good, including this mirchi ka achar. I’ve been trying to get mom’s recipes for years (I have probably asked her for a pickle recipe once every few months since first starting my blog back in 2013, lol). Those of us with Indian parents know how challenging it is to get our family’s recipes.
Getting my mom’s achar recipes has been especially tricky because when I visit, my mom has the pickles ready for me and so there’s no need to make more while I’m there. And when she visits, she brings me jars of them already made. And really, when someone is handing you homemade jars of achar, you don’t care to make them yourself… until they run out, lol.
Anyway, since we’re all spending more time at home these days, I’ve been able to Facetime my mom while she cooks and I’m learning some of her special recipes, including how to make her pickles. All that to say, stay tuned, there’s more to come! 🙂
What’s your favorite kind of achar? Is there a recipe you’d like to see here on the blog? Let me know!
- Rinse and dry the chilies. (the chilies must be dry, use a paper towel if needed).
- Wearing gloves, remove and discard the stems. Then, using a knife, make a slit in the large side of the chili. Set aside for now.
- Add the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds to a small pot or pan over medium heat and dry roast the whole spices for 2 minutes, or until the spices are slightly toasty and fragrant. Grind the spices (you can grind them so that they are coarse, finely ground, or somewhere in-between, it’s fine to leave some larger pieces).
- Add mustard oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until you see the oil begin to smoke (you’ll want to turn the stove off as soon as the oil starts to smoke, otherwise your smoke alarm will go off – ask me how I know).
- Wait a couple of minutes for the oil to cool down a bit, then add the chilies, freshly ground spices, salt, turmeric to the pot and mix well. Wait 10 minutes, then stir in the lemon juice.
- Once the mixture has cooled completely, pour it into a dry glass jar and let it sit for at least 3-4 days before eating. Shake it once a day so the oil coats all the chillis.
- Store the achar on the counter for up to a month (shaking it every other day) or in the fridge for up to six months.
- In the directions, I say that you can store achar in the fridge for up to six months but I’ve kept some jars of achar in my fridge for years.
- Make sure to always use a dry spoon when removing pickles from the jar.