Monday, 27 June 2011

Indian Lime Chutney

I thought I loved curries best during the winter months - with frozen breath floating over icy pavements, the need to rush home for something hot and spicy, rich and filling seemed to provoke a lot of curry cooking. Then spring came and I became quite sure that I loved curries best during the spring months - mild days with cold evenings, lighter nights but still a need for food that warms your bones from the inside out. But now it is summer, and despite a dearth of hot, hazy summer nights, the urge to linger over spicy food on a warm clammy evening is definitely with me.

Like cooking a Mexican menu, Indian meals in particular benefit from a plethora of side dishes: parathas; nan; scented rice; dhal; raita; poppadoms; and the ubiquitous chutney.

Lately I have become completely addicted to the hot and sour flavours of Indian Lime pickle. It introduces a sharp note to a mild creamy curry, adds a tangy heat dabbed into a paratha with spiced mackeral or adds balance simply served on the side of barbecued chicken or fish.

Many versions abound the internet, most taking weeks to age before they can be eaten (I do have one such version sitting maturing in a cupboard but I was too impatient to stop there so needed to find a flavourful but far more speedy version.) This is based on a chutney recipe but has no sugar to sweeten the end result leaving the most perfectly sour and spicy condiment.

Indian Lime Pickle

300 g of chillies (green or red or mixed)
1 kg limes
200 g grated fresh ginger
1 large bulb fresh garlic, peeled
5 or 6 curry leaves, shredded
900ml white vinegar
2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds
500ml rapeseed (or veg)  oil
5 Tbsp rapeseed (or veg) oil

Heat 3 Tbsp of oil in a large frying pan until hot.
Sauté the limes turning them over and over until their skins are a golden brown.
Cut the limes into about 6 thick slices and then half the slices.
Add 2 Tbsp of oil to a blender with the chillis, peeled garlic, grated ginger and curry leaves. Blend to a paste
Heat the remaining oil in a pan until hot. Add mustard and fenugreek and warm till the seeds are toasted and start to pop.
Add the chilli paste, stir and cook gently for 15 minutes.
Add the turmeric, lime and vinegar and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Cook for a further 10 minutes...  to reduce and thicken
Put the pickle into sterilised jars then cover with any remaining liquid. Seal and leave for a couple of weeks, if you can bear to - if not open immediately and serve.


  1. Huzzah for you! I tried a jarred version of Lime Chutney just to see what it was like. I normally love spicy food and Indian flavors aren't out of my realm, but I used the Lime Chutney as a base "sauce" for a vegetable pizza and even my stalwart husband couldn't complete the meal without adding an insane amount of cheese.

    What *should* we have used this for?

  2. Love the idea of it as a sauce for a pizza... very fusion... but I use it mostly as a side for Indian curries, served alongside poppadoms or parathas, it is great as a starter but it is really hot so serve it in small portions. It is also great served with barbecued chicken or fish.