Andhra-Style Instant Cauliflower Pickle

Growing up, I was fortunate to have a lady from Andhra Pradesh as my mother’s friend. ‘B Aunty’, as I called her, loved the Tam-Brahm food that my Amma made, and spending hours together at our place. In turn, she loved cooking up delicacies from her homeland for me, the biggest fan of the food she cooked in our family. She specialised in making different types of pickles – she would turn anything and everything into a pickle, surprising us to no end.

B Aunty’s husband had gotten a job assignment in Ahmedabad, and that was how the friendship between her and Amma happened. Just before I got married to the OH, B Aunty shifted back to her hometown, Andhra Pradesh, keeping in touch with us once in a while over the telephone.

In 2009, she visited Amma in Ahmedabad just a short while before the OH and I dropped in, to celebrate our first Diwali as a married couple, at Amma’s place. She had prepared a few of her signature pickles for me, as a sort of parting gift, because she knew I loved them to bits. The pickles were waiting for me at Amma’s home when we visited, and the OH and I gorged on them day and night.

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This instant cauliflower pickle that I am about to tell you today is one of B Aunty’s signature dishes, one of the beauties that she had prepared for us, that winter of 2009. I made it for the first time ever, following B Aunty’s recipe, and the memories came flooding back.

This pickle, called Cauliflower Avakkaya, is a traditional Andhra Pradesh dish, typically made during the winters. It goes very well with curd rice and parathas, though you can eat it with just about anything.

Here’s how I made the pickle, the original recipe being B Aunty’s.

Ingredients (makes 1 bowl):

  1. 1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped into large florets
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  4. Juice of 3 lemons
  5. Red chilli powder, to taste
  6. 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  7. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  8. 6-8 garlic cloves, roughly crushed using a mortar and pestle or finely chopped
  9. 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons oil (I used groundnut oil)

Method:

1. Wash the cauliflower florets well in running water and pat dry thoroughly using a cot,ton cloth. Make sure the florets are completely dry before you start making the pickle, otherwise they will splutter when you put them in oil. Also, retention of water in the florets will make the pickle spoil faster than it would normally. If you have the time, spread out the dried cauliflower florets on a cotton cloth, and leave them to dry out further under the fan, for a couple of hours, and then start making the pickle.

2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the dried cauliflower florets. Saute them for just about 2-3 minutes. Take care to ensure that the cauliflower retains its crunchiness, and does not lose it while sauteeing.

3. After 2-3 minutes of sauteeing, remove the cauliflower florets into a large mixing bowl. Do not let them remain in the hot pan, as they will lose their crunchiness that way. Keep aside.

4. Dry roast the methi seeds in a hot pan, till they start emanating a nice fragrance. Remove them onto a plate. Let them cool down completely.

5. Crush the roasted methi seeds and the mustard seeds together in a mixer, to a powder. Add this powder to the cauliflower florets in the mixing bowl.

6. Add the turmeric power, salt and red chilli powder to taste, lemon juice and crushed/chopped garlic cloves to the mixing bowl. Do not mix the pickle yet.

7. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in a pan, not till smoking point but till it just gets hot. Add the hot oil to the cauliflower florets in the mixing bowl.

8. Mix the pickle well. Let it cool down completely before storing it in an air-tight bottle.

Notes:

  1. This pickle, when stored at room temperature, keeps for up to a week. Refrigerating it would increase its shelf life further.
  2. Use a cauliflower that is free of any fungus or worms, for best results.
  3. You can use vinegar in place of lemon juice, too. That would increase the shelf life of this pickle further. I used lemon juice to make this pickle.
  4. The pickle might initially look too oily, but with time, the oil and lemon juice and other spices gets absorbed by the cauliflower and the pickle gets more solid.
  5. Increase the quantity of oil and/or mustard powder, if you are okay with it.
  6. You can avoid using garlic in this pickle, but I wouldn’t really recommend that. The use of garlic enhances the flavour of the pickle a whole lot.
  7. Make sure the pickle is stored in a clean, air-tight bottle, for it to keep longer.
  8. Give the pickle bottle a good shake every day, to ensure that the cauliflower florets remain well coated with the spices, oil and lemon juice. The spices get better absorbed this way, and the shelf life also improves.
  9. You can begin using this pickle from the very next day after you make it, but it tastes the best after a couple of days.

You have to taste this pickle to believe just how awesome it tastes! I hope you will try this out at home, too!

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