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Sauces and Condiments

Sour Lemon Pickle

Sour Lemon Pickle
Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

Indians love pickles. Vegetarian households invariably serve at least one pickled dish or relish at every meal. And even when there is meat on the table, there is usually also a pickle or two, particularly at special occasions. Part of ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes, plus 2 months standing | Makes 1 1/2 quarts
  • 12 lemons, hard stem ends removed
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons carom seeds
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 9 tablespoons salt

Step 1Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Step 2Cut the lemons in half lengthwise and then cut each half lengthwise into 6 to 8 wedges. Save any juices you get from cutting the lemons; set aside. Lay the wedges out on 2 paper towel-lined trays and place in the oven 1 hour.

Step 3Grind the peppercorns, cumin, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a spice grinder to a powder. Transfer to a large bowl and add the cayenne, mace, nutmeg, carom seeds, red pepper flakes, asafetida, ginger and salt. Add the reserved lemon juice and mix well. Add the lemon wedges and mix, pressing the spice mixture onto the flesh of the lemons.

Step 4Pack the lemons into 1 clean (1-quart) jar and 1 clean (1-pint) jar. Cap the jars and set in a sunny window for 5 weeks, turning the jars up and down several times, 3 to 4 times a day. Let the pickles age at least another month before eating. Refrigerate after opening.

Note: Indians traditionally eat this pickle with lentils and rice, and a small piece is often given to soothe an ailing stomach. Carom seeds, which may be labeled as ajowain, are found in Indian stores, as is asafetida.


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