Kaffir Lime, now referred to as Makrut lime due to the previous name having racial connotations in South Africa, is close enough to Narthangai for the sake of making pickles. I will also use Makrut Lime in pickles in place of Kitarangai.
My Makrut lime tree is now bearing well enough to make a couple of types of pickles, and this first recipe is from Meenakshi Ammal in the first volume of her books Cook and See. It is a raw pickle (the lime is not cooked before making the pickle). The chopped limes are macerated in salt and turmeric powder for a day before more spices and sesame oil is added. It is a pickle that will keep for a long time.
Makrut (Kaffir) Lime Pickle | Narthangai Oorugai
10 – 12 makrut limes, chopped into small pieces and seeds removed as much as possible
small handful salt
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
2 Tblspn Indian chilli powder, or to taste
0.33 cup Indian sesame oil (this is a light oil, not the Chinese dark sesame oil)
1 tspn fenugreek seeds
0.25 tspn asafoetida powder
1 tspn mustard seeds
Mix the chopped limes with the salt and turmeric powder. Let it stand for 24 – 48 hours to soften the limes.
Toast the fenugreek seeds with the asafoetida and grind to a powder. Set aside.
After 24 hours, add the chilli powder to the limes and mix well.
Heat the sesame oil, add the mustard seeds so that they pop, and pour over the limes. Stir through the fenugreek and asafoetida powder and mix well. Place into a clean, sterilised jar, top up with oil as needed to keep the fruit covered, and keep in the fridge.
recipe notes and alternatives
» Adjust the quantity of salt and chilli powder for the amount of limes as fruit can vary in size.
» Ordinary limes or other sour fruits (eg cumquats, lemons, citron, wild lemon, etc) can also be made into pickles using this recipe. Green Mangoes, Green chillies, young bamboo shoots, jackfruit, fresh ginger and a variety of other fruit and vegetables can be pickled in this way.
» Curry leaves can be added. Or use Indian mustard oil instead of sesame oil.
» Red or green chillies can be added.
» Mustard oil can be used in place of sesame oil.
» Garam masala can be added.
» Ram Dev’s Aachar Masala also works well for this pickle. Replace the chilli powder with it.
» Never use a wet or dirty spoon in a pickle jar, and always close the jar when not in use.
» If you have large quantities of pickle, transfer some pickle to a smaller jar for every day use. Keep the larger jar closed tightly.
» The skin of the lime becomes softer over time. If you can, place the jars in a warm, sunny window for 2 – 4 weeks. Then refrigerate. You can use it after about a month since making, but the peel keeps softening over time.