Indian Lime Pickles (Nimbu ka Achaar)

  • Serves

    makes About 2 Cups


Tangy, tender lime pickles are a flavorful staple of India, a condiment that adds sour, spicy punch to meals. We've adapted the classic recipe, which calls for fermenting the citrus with salt in the sun before blending it with a spice paste and lime juice, by using small and sweet Key limes rather than traditional Indian varieties. This recipe first appeared in our October 2011 issue along with Sara Dickerman's article Preserving Plenty.


  • 25 Key limes
  • 14 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 13 cup canola oil
  • 1 12 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • 12 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 20 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 12 tsp. asafetida
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice


Step 1

Using a paring knife, quarter Key limes lengthwise, leaving them attached by ½″ at the stem ends. Using your fingers, rub the limes inside and out with salt in a bowl. Transfer limes and salt to a 1-pint sterilized glass jar, packing them in tightly to fit. Cover jar with lid, and place jar near a window or any other spot indoors where it will receive a lot of sunlight and warmth; let the jar sit in this environment for 1 week, shaking the jar once a day to evenly disperse brine.

Step 2

After limes have sat for 1 week, heat canola oil in a 10" skillet over medium-high heat; add brown mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves, and cook, stirring, until seeds stop popping and spices are lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or small food processor, and process into a smooth paste. Stir in cayenne, turmeric, and asafetida. Mix spice mixture with lime juice, and then pour mixture into jar with limes; seal with lid. Shake jar to evenly disperse ingredients, and store in the refrigerator for at least 1 additional week to infuse flavors. Use for up to 1 year.

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