Instant Lemon Pickle

My home in Baroda has a beautiful lemon tree in the backyard, the branches of which clamber all over the terrace. We harvest it twice (or thrice) a year to get gorgeous green lemons, bursting with juice and flavour. Little wonder then that my mum has a simple recipe to turn all those lemons into a delicious pickle. With just a handful of ingredients and little bit of heat, you get a wonderful lemon pickle.

What you need:
Lemons, 20 large
Methi / Fenugreek seeds, 2 tablespoons
Green chillies, 3 large
Red chillies (dried), 5 large
Mustard seeds, 3 teaspoons
Asafoetida, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Oil, 6 tablespoons

To prepare the lemons:
Wash the lemons and dry them well. Cut into quarters. You can rub them with a bit of salt to soften them up. Some people even boil them for some time to soften them up. But I find that with salting them at this stage, they lose most of their lovely juice. And boiling them will destroy the Vitamin C in the lemons. So I just leave them as they are. They will soften anyway once they are pickled.

To make the pickling mixture:
Roast the fenugreek seeds till they turn a light brown and set aside to cool. Roast the red chillies for a minute and also set aside to cool. Grind both the methi and chillies in a dry grinder till you get a homogenous powder (not too fine and not too chunky). Heat the oil in a large pan and crackle the mustard seeds in it. Slit the green chillies lenghtwise and fry in the oil. Add the asafoetida, salt and the methi-chilli powder. Stir quickly and take off the heat. You do not want the spices to burn. Once the mixture has cooled a bit, stir in the lemon segments.

Bottle the pickle and keep it in the sun to soften.

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