Whenever we visited my paternal grandma in summer holidays, her courtyard used to welcome us with mango poli and jackfruit poli (sweet made from fruits in a round shape), aamsul(dried mangosteem), roasted cashewnuts and my maternal grandma used to wait for our help in finishing the burnished dough of pappdam lied at the bottom of the pot. Happy days! Her day used to start early in the morning to make different types of pappdam,hot ghati masala.But one thing was common in those both preparations.. “pickles”. While my one grandmother was ok with only dried mango pickle covered in turneric & salt (which I think taste better when it is half dried,ttak!!😋)and sweet muramba, other one created a lot of varieties of scrumptious pickles.Spicy, tangy,sweet,salty which will make you squint unintentionally. Lemon, chillies, turmeric,mainmula, bitterguard etc etc etc (a long list).
That month of summer used to be a month of hustle bustle and kitchen overflowing with mouthwatering smell..I can still feel that warmth just by imagining it.Both my grandmothers were busy in preparations of preserving food for the whole year like many Indian households.And Pickle was the indispensable part of those preparations.Between the fresh and rotten,lies a taste of ‘fermentation’..which has started as a method of preserving food but continued as a flavorful part of the cuisine.
The tasty pickle having intense aroma attracted every part of the world. It can be a ‘pickled cumcumber’ glided between the bun in north america or beloved ‘kimchi’ of korea(it is loved so much that they have built a kimchi museum) or ‘giadiniera’ to accompany salads in italy or ‘torshi left’ which gives that sour taste to your falafel(exactly!a middle eatern pickle) or ‘pickled herring’ with a shot of vodka in sweden or a famous ‘saurkraut’ in germany.Of course India alone has hundreads of recipes of pickles,not only veg but nonveg too..a vital part of our cuisine. But it is sad that in rampant increase of commercialised pickles, real taste of love and care behind those tightly sealed pickle jars has lost somewhere.
If there is a will,there is a way. So true! My mother would also agree with it. She frequently used to grieve about not getting us a chance to eat her grandma’s famous ‘mashacha lonch’ (fish pickle)while we were gulping on mutton/chicken pickle.Everytime!! She never got a chance to learn that recipe from her. And one day her concerns flew away when her long lost cousin(my uncle) invited us over a dinner..ta-da! she found her grandma’s ‘mashacha lonch’.The next thing she did was that she wrote it down.My aunty learned it from her mother in law which she has learned from her mother in law..i.e. Mom’s grandma. No doubt it was famous!!A mouthful of spicy, savory, pungent flavors yet mild!!That day I saw her eating with glee. I am sharing this ‘happily ever after’ recipe below😉 .
‘Authentic Malvani Mashacha Loncha’
- 300 gm – Indian Mackerel/surmai fish cut into pieces
- 1 cup – Oil for preserving
- For Marination – salt & turmeric
- 7 to 8 no – lemons
- Oil – For frying
- 18 no – Dry red chillies
- 2 tbsp – Coriander seeds
- 6 tbsp – Fennel seeds
- 4 tbsp – Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp – Fenugreek seeds
- 6 tbsp – cumin seeds
- 4 tbsp – salt
- 2 tbsp – Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp – Asafoetida
- Marinate fish pieces with some salt and turmeric powder. Keep it aside for some time.
- In a pan dry roast dry red chillies,coriander seeds,fennel seeds,fenugreek seeds,mustard seeds, cumin seeds till slightly browned and fragrant.
- Cool for 5 minutes.
- Blend in the blender with rest of the ingredients for masala and make a coarse powder.
- Heat some oil for frying. Fry marinated fish until it becomes slightly crispy on outside. Let it cool completely.
- Remove bones,skin from the fish and break it into chunks.
- In a large bowl add masala prepared above and add juice of 8 lemons.Add fish chunks into it and mix it well.
- In a small pan heat 1 cup of oil. When it slightly cooled down pour it over the mixture.Mix it completely.
- Bottle the pickle and leave to stand for a couple of days.(But that does not mean you can not have it fresh😉)