The craft of preserving foods by pickling them is such an important technique in so many of the world’s food cultures. In Nepal, the country of origin of October’s featured grantee, Street Child US, pickles are called achaar. They’re often served alongside the dal and rice dishes of Nepal, in order to provide flavor and texture contrast to all of those warming, earthy, savory flavors.
From Southeast Asia to Southern Europe to South America to South Carolina, the universal craft of making pickles of vegetables, herbs, and spices yields endless possible combinations and flavor profiles. Does it seem silly to consider that during this specific time in our lives – when it feels as if we are more divided than ever – pickles represent yet another perfect example of how our foodways connect us? Probably. But, on some days, I’ll take whatever I can get.
October is the perfect month to search the Dining for Women web site for a delicious dal recipe and serve it with a classic achaar alongside. As I’m thinking about the wonderful work going on at Street Child US, I plan to do just that! I hope you give this month’s pickle dish a try, too.
Yield: 2 quarts
Cooking tips/notes: This pickle makes the perfect, pucker-y accompaniment to many of Nepal’s dal and rice dishes. Light brown sugar can be swapped in for the jaggery. This will keep in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
1 ½ pounds of green cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
¾ pound carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
¾ pound fresh cauliflower, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 ½ ounces fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup dry-roasted peanuts
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons fish sauce
¼ cup tamarind paste
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oi
1 tablespoon prepared garlic-chile sauce
¾ cup white vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons jaggery
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add cabbage and blanch for one minute. Remove with a sieve, shake as much water off as possible, and spread out on paper towels to cool. Repeat with carrots and cauliflower, blanching for two minutes instead. Dry the blanched vegetables as much as possible. Set aside.
Place fresh turmeric, dry-roasted peanuts, garlic, fresh ginger, fish sauce, tamarind paste, grapeseed oil, and garlic-chile sauce in the bowl of a small food processor. Process for several minutes until pureed. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed throughout processing.
Heat a medium-sized, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the pureed mixture to the pot and cook for five to six minutes, stirring frequently, until highly fragrant.
While the pureed mixture is cooking, mix together the white vinegar, water, jaggery, and salt. Stir until well-combined. Add to the pot, scraping up any browned bits. Cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
Add all of the blanched vegetables to the pot and mix everything together. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to three weeks.
Recipe and photo credit: Traci Barr