Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bilimbi Pickle (Bimblaa Nonchey)

Mom makes the best Bilimbi Pickle/ Bimblaa Nonchey which I have ever tasted. Even my friends agree to that and they say that her spice accuracy, taste and aesthetics blend perfectly. I think every kid feels a bit biased or all the more to their Mom's. Mom loves Pickles and feels that its one food item which completes every meal. I cannot agree more with her. She always has a perennial stock of 4-5 types of Pickles pickling in the cosy corner of kitchen at all given times. Primarily, she loves the salty and spicy mesh of flavours. She stores all of them in Porcelain Jars also called as Bharnee. I am a big pickle addict.

We have Bamboo Shoots Pickle (Keerlaa Nonchey), Hog Plums Pickle (Aambadey Nonchey), Lemon Pickle (Limbey Nonchey), Star fruit pickle (Karambala Nonchey), Stuffed Raw Mango Pickle (Bharleley Torachey lonchey -a Goan style pickle), Garlic pickle (Lasuni nonchey - one of my aunties specialties) and Small Mango pickle (Appey Midi Nonchey). Phew! That's quite a big list. Mom makes this special type of pickle powder which is good while travelling abroad as the pickle liquor is powdery and does not ooze out any oil which will mess the clothes/ baggage. Her pickle-packing is so perfect and something which I do not seem to comprehend to this date. The Lime pickle Jar which Mom had packed was perfect and intact with no spillover at all.

I personally love joining anyone to make pickles. Guess, its got more to do with nostalgia because Pickle making is observed as a big ritual in Goa where I grew up. One of our close friends handed over a big batch of Bilimbi to Mom since they knew we all love Pickles. I cannot be less thankful to them for this kind act. There are many styles and versions to this, however my Mom's style is a personal favorite. I like to eat them raw with salt and red chilli powder. Bilimbi is a fruit cum vegetable and originates from Indonesia. It is popularly used as a souring agent for various Konkani dishes like Patrodo, Sukke and Gravy based curries. The tiniest light green variety of Bimbal gives best results. The bigger ones which are more moss green in shade sour very fast owing to which the pickle gets spoilt with a highly fermented flavour. In Udupi, Mangalore you will find this tree in the garden area of many a konkani homes. Curry leaf saplings, Bilimbi saplings and Papaya saplings are quite a common sight.

The best part about this pickle is its quick to make and requires very less pampering. I like dishes which do not require me or anyone slogging in the kitchen for hours together.
Recipe Source ~ Mom
Preparation time ~ 60 minutes including marinade time

Bilimbi (chopped) - 15-20
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety) - 6-10 ~ Tone down should you want the pickle less spicy
Salt - 3-4 teaspoon (approximate)
Methi/ Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/3 teaspoon
Oil - around 2 teaspoon ~ For frying

Wash the Bilimbi thoroughly and clean them with a dry cloth. They should be dry and should not have any moisture on the surface. Chop them into slices and add salt and transfer to a non-reactive glass mixing bowl. Give a good shake and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, squeeze out the water. This is a very important step in ensuring that the pickle turns out dry and oozes no or minimal liquor.

In a saucepan, heat 2 teaspoon of oil, lightly toast Red Chillies, keep aside. Also roast Methi seeds, mustard seeds and asafoetida powder separately and set aside. Make a powder of all these roasted spices together. Pour this powder on the sliced Bilimbi and give a good stir. Adjust salt as desired. Store in an air tight glass jar for usage within 4-6 days. Store in a cool dry place away from moisture.

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