Spicy Lemon Pickle

Mmmm… lemon pickle – tart, hot, and perfect with paratha or anytime you want to kick the flavour up a notch.  This recipe will take a month to complete but it is well worth the wait and a great thing to do with fresh lemons.

In India, lemon pickle is cured in jars in the hot, Indian sun.  Here in Canada, we are using different methods for our pickles.  A sunny window for lemon pickle and our oven for lime pickle.  Both methods work very well, so choose a method that works for you.  You can see the lime pickle method described here.

Spicy Lemon Pickle

This recipe will make a little over 1 kg of pickle.  Lemon wasn’t something we came across often in Panjab (limes are everywhere) but Karan likes it and I can’t get enough lemon myself so, with a little research I came up with the following recipe for a spicy lemon pickle that goes over very well around here.


12 or 14 lemons, washed, dried and any stickers removed
12 green chilies
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cups coarse sea salt
1/4 cup chili powder (or to taste)
4 tsp fenugreek seed
2 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp asafoetida (also known as hing, available in Indian markets)
2 tbsp mustard oil


Cut each lemon into 8 or 10 pieces.  Layer the lemons with the salt in clean, dry, sterilized jars with tight lids, until you use up all the lemon and salt.  Close the lids tightly and leave the pickle jars in a window which has bright sunlight for about 4 weeks.  Shake the jars once a day to keep them thoroughly mixed.  The skin colours will change around the 4 week mark.

At that time, roast the fenugreek seeds in a dry pan on medium heat until their colour changes to a reddish colour.  Cool them then grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the mustard seed.  These will sputter and spit so be careful.  Add the garlic and stir until the garlic begins to brown slightly.  Add the chilies and saute for just a few seconds.  Add the chili powder, fenugreek powder and turmeric and stir until well coated.  Add the lemon pieces and stir them for 2 or 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the asafoetida and remove from heat.  Allow the pickle to cool to room temperature.  Remove the pickle to clean, dry, airtight jars.  Store in a cool dry place.

These will last about 6 months or so but they just aren’t going to last that long now are they?


Do not use table salt or iodized salt.  It will not produce the same result.

You can substitute mustard oil for canola or any other light oil but it won’t have quite the same tang.  Also, canola oil has a lower smoke point than mustard so watch it carefully while heating and reduce the heat if the oil begins to smoke.

Until next time,
Peace and love,


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