When I was little, my parents decided to shift base from the US to India. Everyone told them they were crazy leaving the American dream behind… but my father was determined to come back and spend time with my grandparents…. Best decision ever.
I was blessed to have four doting grandparents who were incredibly influential in my love of food. My Govind Ajoba ( paternal grandfather ) would spend hours hand churning home-made ice cream or helping my mom prepare a Russian Salad fit to feed a king ! Saru Aaji ( paternal grandmother ) was a culinary wizard who would not only cook lip-smacking Karnataka influenced food but make sure every little craving we had was served to us on a plate oozing with love. My Sudha Ajoba ( maternal grandfather ) was not the kind to enter the kitchen, but he was one heck of a foodie ( and a devout Taj & Great Punjab fan )… and my Usha Aaji ( maternal grandmother ) would keep his love of food alive. Out of the four, the first three are now alive in my memories, but my Usha Aaji is here, aging gracefully with some amazing flavours at her fingertips.
I seldom saw vegetables at my maternal grandparents home while growing up… fried Pomphret with Sol ( Kokum ) Kadhi & rice was almost like a staple in the household. Fish was a favourite in the Rangnekar family and when I heard about Achaar Day, I immediately though of the prawn pickle my granny would make, that I absolutely loved. I rang up my granny and asked her if she would be keen to help me out with a blog for Achaar Day, she agreed immediately giving me a list of ingredients to get along.
by Usha Rangnekar
Turmeric ( Haldi )
Asafoetida ( Hing )
Split Mustard Seeds
Thakur Pickle Guard
* Devein & clean the prawns. Normally we use a tiny variety of prawn that we get in the market, however, since it wasn’t available we went for the freshest ones my awesome aunt could arrange for.
* Once cleaned, add table salt, turmeric & Chilli powder to the prawns and let it sit for about half an hour.
* In the meanwhile, deseed & juice the lemons.
* Take a bit of asafoetida. My granny uses asafoetida resin which she crushes with a pestle.
* After the 30 minutes are over, heat the prawns in a Kadhai. My granny added a little water to the bowl the prawns were kept in to make sure he got all the spice in it and then added it to the kadhai.
* Let the prawns cook on the stove on a medium flame for about five minutes. Granny says as soon as they go nice and white, its time to out off the gas & let it sit for a while.
* In another kadhai ( or tadka pan ) heat one cup of sesame oil.
* Once the oil is piping hot add to it mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds & a little asafoetida. Let the seeds crackle & then put off the gas. Keep the oil aside to cool down completely.
* Now go back to the Kadhai with the prawn & put it on stove.
* Add to it a pinch of sea salt & the freshly squeezed lemon juice and let it simmer for about two minutes.
* It’s now time to add the Thakur Pickle Guard & Split Mustard Seeds to the kadhai. Once mixed thoroughly, turn off the gas.
* Once the oil has cooled down completely, add it to the kadhai with the prawns and its time to mix thoroughly again.
* Once mixed, all you have to do is add it to your pickle jar and voila… your prawn pickle is ready.
* Granny says it always tastes better the next day.
The best way to have it? With a simple curd or dal rice to enjoy its flavours to the max.
Blog by EOAP team member Neha Rajadhyaksha