Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Gooseberry pickle(s) Spicy South Indian style and Trinidadian style

One of the best things about living in Scotland (& I am sure many other parts of the world) is being surrounded by farms and the change in seasons bringing wonderful "seasonal" fruits and veggies fresh from the farm. Best of all, is having a pick your own farm nearby which allows us to go in for a visit and pick fresh farm produce ourselves and pay for them (usually works out cheaper) by weight. Such trips make an excellent day out for the entire family and little children usually enjoy running about and seeing how their favourite fruits and veggies grow. On one such visit recently, we picked some late strawberries and lots of goose berries. I am familiar with Indian goose berries (nellikkai in Tamil) and love them in any form or fashion. The sour variety (aru-nellikkai) in particular is my favourite. Goose berries are rich in Vitamin C and can help fight off infections. The Scottish ones did not look anything like the Indian counterpart. But it tasted quite similar to the aru-nellikkais I knew. In fact, I prefer the Scottish ones since they are more tender and the seeds (yes there are many- unlike the Indian ones) are edible too! So using them to make pickles is a lot easier since I do not have to bother about taking the seeds out. After a days trip enjoying our farm visit, we pickled the gooseberries in both Trinidadian and South-Indian styles. While, Naz & I have both our preferred versions (no points of guessing!), Anjalie liked both of them (seems to depend on her mood) and ever the diplomat she says she likes a little bit of both! We like our pickles spicy so I give the recipe for what I used. But if trying out pickles for the first time, I will suggest to, go a bit easy on the peppers.

Here we are hunting for our treasure at the farm

For the South-Indian style:
Brown mustard seeds (for milder taste use yellow) - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 2 big pinches
methi/fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
dried red chillies (for milder taste use Kashmiri chillies) - 40 no.s (remove any stalk before using)
Cooking oil (preferably sesame oil) - 1/2 cup
salt to taste
curry leaves - 10 sprigs
goose berries - 3.5 kgs to 4 kgs

Wash and clean goose berries. Dry roast mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds & red chillies and powder coarsely. Heat oil in a large pan, add asafoetida, curry leaves and goose berries. Add salt and cook covered for 5-7 mins stirring occasionally. There is no need to cook the berries thoroughly. We only want it get a bit soft so that it can take in the spices. Add the spices, mix well and cook on med for another 3 mins. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For longer shelf life (& for those living in the tropics), you can soak the goose berries in salt (&/or vinegar) for a good few days (around a week) and continue with the above process. Such a pickle will last for about a year at room temperature. For the direct method make small amounts at a time and keep it chilled and use within 3-4 days. The main preservative in this pickle are salt and oil. So be generous with them.

 For the Trinidad style:
Goose berries - 1.5 kgs
White vinegar (or cider vinegar)- 4 cups
 Habernero/scotch bonnet peppers - 4 (washed, stalk removed & slit on the sides)
garlic cloves- 4 or 5 crushed
salt to taste

In a clean glass jar, add all the ingredients and mix well. Make sure that the vinegar covers all the berries well. This can be stored for many months even up to a year. Make sure to top up with vinegar & salt now and again.

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