Lemon Chilli Pickle | Nimbu Mirch ka Achaar

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How to make Lemon Chilli Pickle | North Indian Nimbu Mirch ka Achaar
Two little sparrows visit us everyday. Just a customary visit, but we've become friends with them. I wonder why they did not visit us today. May be they have migrated to another place. Or retreated elsewhere. Or they just sniffed a sixth sense.

The sky turned dark and stodgy this morning. They stayed that way all day long; dull and gloomy. They could put any happy soul into depression. A stark contrast to the burnished blue and buoyant clouds of yesterday. The peppy hues of blues faded to somber shades of greys, blurring the horizon. As the clouds collided, they tore the skies up to a dreary downpour, like it was meant to mourn.

The wildflowers we tucked into the vase last evening sighted a battered slop. They wilted from crisp yellows to dregs of pale browns. Quite unusual, as they last nothing less than three days before the next change. This morning they too weren't in a mood. It seemed so. They had paled so much, they were beyond caring.

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We crept last night under the duvet hoping for a night longer than ever. For a day, we did not wish to come of. To witness an evening crammed with anxiety and emotions. We wished the day would never come, an evening we would never want to be in. Just the way we had wished about six months ago when D left from India to the US. I barely slept counting hours by minutes.

I woke up this morning with a heavy heart that felt like being weighed in tonnes, outweighing my body. With a pounding head, of a hangover from the deprived sleep and shorter breaths of anxiety. The water would barely go down the throat. It choked and felt wretched at every thought of this evening.

The day raced by quite quickly, much sooner than any other day. There was more silence in words and more action with bag packing. An unbalanced state of affection and emotions floating through the length of it. Our suitcases were packed and so were our tickets. Evening, we left home to airport. To fly back from this home and to be in another. Back to India - to a home we built together lovingly six years ago. Like birds migrating continents, my daughter and I are heading back to India after being here in US for three worthy months with D, every bit of it thrilling and memorable. D will stay back in US and continue his stint.

No tears though. We promised ourselves, we would not cry and make a scene. We've been taught that crying is a sign of melancholy and weakness. And we will live up to it. We will swallow the lumps in our throat. We are not the ones to depart with a twinge of guilt or pain. But positively and hopefully. We will bid a happy bye, give tight hugs and smile our way through as we depart. We will remind ourselves, once again - this distance is just a stretch of space that will get shorter with time. And soon we will be together again.

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As you read this, we may be standing in our queues going through security checks or soaring high up in the skies flying through continents. D will head back home in an empty car and the toddler's seat for his company. Our home will welcome him with our sounds resonating from the stuffs we've left behind. The sounds, that will echo from small joys we sought together while we were around.

From beneath the carpet floor that creaked each time we trod on, or the little one bunny hopped on it, reminding of how we taught ourselves to be gentle on it.

From the clitter-clatter of the vessels from the once-busy-kitchen. Now it's just his space.

From the photographs of us, the naughty three hanging on the wall, grinning ear to ear.

From the carton of half a dozen mangoes, of which only two are left behind - our mandatory family time of sitting around it every night; me peeling and chopping, the papa and daughter forking through it over tons of laughter, play and endless frolicking.

From the doll that the little one has left behind for her papa. She didn't want her papa to be all alone. Her doll, as she says, will now give him company.

From the jars of this lemon pickle I made for D last week. Homemade, just as he loves them alongside with his dinner. A taste that will bring him back to our home in Bangalore.

They will all speak to him, in silence; our essence lingering around in tits and bits, here and there. Almost in everything and everywhere. Ditto the way we felt about six months ago. Distance is terrible, it can be a crippling thing. But we remind ourselves, its just a matter of time; a stretch of space that will get shorter with time. And soon we will be together again.

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Lemon Chilli Pickle | Nimbu Mirch ka Achaar


10 Lemons
5 green chillies
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp. split yellow mustard seeds
1 cup mustard oil
2 tbsp. of red chilli powder
1 tbsp. dry roasted fenugreek seeds, ground
1 tsp. of asafoetida
2 tbsp. lemon juice


Wash the lemons and green chillies. Pat them dry with clean kitchen napkin. Slit each lemon into 6-8 wedges. Similarly chop the green chillies to 3-4 rounds each. Rub them with salt and keep aside for few minutes for them to absorb salt.

Heat the mustard oil till its smoky. Add the split yellow mustard seeds and stir in. Add the chilli powder and asafoetida powder and mix well. Then add the salted lemons and green chillies and stir them well.

Place the vessel back on heat and cook on low flame until the lemon tenders slightly. Stir in the dry roasted and ground fenugreek seeds, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove the pickle from fire and add lemon juice. Allow to cool completely uncovered at room temperature. Transfer into clean, dry glass jars or ceramic barni. Use only dry spoon to serve the pickle.

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  1. too emotional blog :(...gr8 pics ...missing you guys...pls come back asap.

    1. Remember, we are strong folks with no weak knees. We will be back soon, till then missing you too. Take care.

  2. This is such a great post!!! Lovely write up as always!!! Right now I my feelings are the same as yours!! Yeah my husband is in bangalore right now and even if it is for a mere two weeks time, I feel miserable. The pickle looks divine. Loved the flavors!! Wishing you a safe flight to Bangalore

    1. Nandita, a my apologies for being late here. Back home now, got my net working after series of arguments with our provider. Hope your husband is back and you guys are now together. I know separation and distance are not easy to live with. But we all have to deal with it at times. The joy of reunion is amazing though. Glad you liked the pickle.

  3. Mallika, stumbled upon your blog while searching for something..you have a lovely space here and the pictures are really wonderful..it was great seeing some very familiar havyaka recipes ...I am from Kumta myself and love seeing other bloggers write about their versions..Hope you had a safe journey back home and hope the familiarity of your surroundings and loved ones soothes you until your hubby joins you again !

    1. Welcome to my little space Chhaya. So glad to meet you. Kumta is a beautiful place, and though I don't belong to it, I have been there in the past and love it.

      I am back home, to our home in India. To all things familiar and own, with a hope we'll all soon be together. Thank you for dropping by and leaving your comment. Appreciate it.