If you asked 10 year old me to describe what I'd look forward to in winters, it had to be "Gobi Gaajar ka Achaar". I grew up in a part of the world and during a time where vegetables were still only seasonally available and cold storages for vegetables wasn't big. I'm not a winter person by any means, but if there was one thing I looked forward to during winters, it was the knowledge that I would get to eat this during lunch and dinner, and for a 10 year old me, that was pure, unadulterated happiness. Not to say I've outgrown this, no, not at all. If I'm visiting my grandma in Jammu during winters, she'll ask me beforehand if she should start preparing some of this. All these years on, the answer still is a resounding "yes, of course!".
Childhood memories aside - and let's be honest, you're not here to read about my childhood, you're here to read about this dish - let's get down to business.
My grandma used to prepare this in bulk, so the quantities listed here would last you an entire season if you eat daily. Feel free to adjust these proportions accordingly. As you'll read along, you'll find that we sun dry the vegetables and cook them, and so when the pickle is actually ready, we come down from 6kgs to 4kgs or so.
Carrots - 2Kgs
Cauliflower - 2Kgs
Turnips - 2kgs
Mustard oil - 250-300ml.
Salt - 4 tbsp but adjust according to taste.
Red chilli powder - 200g. We used to use Kashmiri red chilli, which is more about colour than heat. If you're using a hotter chilli, then you may want to tweak the amount.
Jaggery (blocks or powder, either is fine) - 300g
White vinegar - 250g
Garam Masala - 50g. We've covered how to make this in a previous post right here.
Garlic paste - 100g
Ginger paste - 200g
Ground mustard seeds (rie) - 100g
The first thing to do is to wash the carrots, cauliflower and turnips with cold water. Drain the water well and dry them.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets and the carrots into pieces that are probably a couple of inches in length and around half an inch in width. This doesn't have to be very precise, and you can show your creativity here by cutting up the carrots, turnips and cauliflower into whatever shape you like. Do not peel the turnips, we'll be preparing the pickle with the skin on.
Time to sun-dry the vegetables. My grandma would basically sun-dry the vegetables for two days, but depending upon how strong the sun is where you live, you can reduce the duration. The sun drying is done to ensure there isn't any moisture content. It's important to not have moisture, as water will spoil the pickle.
Ok, now comes the mustard oil. If you've read some of our other posts, you'll know the drill by now. In a frying pan of an appropriate size, heat up some mustard oil on high heat, until it reaches smoke point. Once it reaches smoke point, turn the flame off and give the mustard oil a couple of minutes to cool down. It's imperative to let the mustard oil cool down, otherwise we'll end up burning the spices and aromatics.
Once the mustard oil cools down a bit, we add in our garlic paste. Give it a nice mix, allow the aroma to release.
Now introduce the ginger paste. Same deal here, wait for the aromas.
We then introduce the mustard seeds, and same deal as before. Mix well and wait for the aromas to be released.
Now the Garam Masala, followed by the salt and the red chilli powder.
Introduce the carrots, cauliflower and turnips into the oil and mix everything well.
On the side, mix up the jaggery and the white vinegar in a bowl.
When the pickle mix reaches room temperature, introduce the vinegar and jaggery mix we made in the previous step.
We transfer the contents when they have cooled down and are at room temperature into a completely dry glass or ceramic jar. Do not put the lid on the jar but cover the top of it with a muslin cloth and tie it with a rubber band. Keep it in the sun for 3-4 days bringing it inside when the sun goes down. Keeping it in the sun basically "slow-cooks" the raw vegetables so that they're a bit softer. A few pro tips - Do not use a plastic jar, there's a real chance that the oil and spices will have some kind of chemical reaction with the plastic and we don't want that. Secondly, the muslin cloth ensures any steam/moisture that builds up inside escapes out. If the moisture settles in, well, you know what'll happen. Thirdly and lastly, because the oils and spices will percolate and seep down due to gravity, a good idea is to basically give everything a good shake up every day. This allows the vegetables at the top of the container to soak up some more oil and spices.
If you feel the quantity of mustard oil is insufficient, you can always add up some more in the jar but remember you need to heat it up and then allow it to cool down before adding it into the jars.
If you ever decide to make it, I'd love to know how it went for you, so I'm looking forward to hearing/reading your thoughts in the comments section.
See you all in the next one :)