Madhur Jaffrey’s Green-chile Pickle

August 2, 2007 at 12:03 PM (chiles and other capsicums, Delhi, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, India, Jihva entries, vegetables/ fruits)


This recipe was one of the first that I attempted from Madhur’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking, and I’ve been making it once a year since. As she states in the recipe’s introduction, this pickle- traditional to her Delhi-centered family- is hot! And also very good…very good for perking up other dishes, very good on sandwiches (even mixed into mayonaise or cream/Philly cheese/ yoghurt cheese to make spreads), very good with yoghurt-rice, and also great with Mexican food!

This is a salt-cured pickle, so be sure to use thin-walled chiles (similar to the ones pictured); the chiles soften fastest when set in warm sunlight during the day, but it does just as well if left on the counter-top at room temperature- it’ll just take longer. In the hot and sunny days of summer, this pickle will be ready in about a week or so; either way, just keep checking and stirring it daily until it’s ready.  If you enjoy spicy relishes, this pickle is a must, and worth the daily ritual!


Madhur Jaffrey’s Green-chile Pickle

1/2 lb. fresh hot green chiles (about 2 C shaken to settle in the cup)

4 T whole black mustard seeds

4 t salt

1 t ground red chiles (or more or less to taste- honestly, I stick with 1 t!)

1″ of fresh ginger, peeled and minced finely (I used home-made ginger paste)

2 T mustard oil

A pinch of hing/asafoetida (optional- my addition)

3 T lemon (or lime) juice

1)Wash and dry the whole green chiles thoroughly, then trim the stems off each and slice into thin rounds. Place in a bowl.

2)Grind the mustard seeds to a powder, then add this to the bowl along with the salt, ground red chiles, and ginger. Mix thoroughly.

3)Heat the oil in a small pan to smoking; add the hing (if using), turn off heat and let cool completely. Pour this over the mixture in the bowl and mix well.

4)Place this mixture into a small crock or jar (a crock works better as direct sunlight will leech the colour from the pickle), cover with a non-metal lid (I use a small piece of cotton muslin- keeps bugs out- and a ceramic plate), and place in a sunny spot for a day. Stir the container at least twice for this first day.

5)The next day, take off the lid and mix in the lemon/lime juice…


6)For the next few days, either keep the container near a sunny window or set it outside in a sunny spot (bringing it indoors at night), and stir the pickle once daily. (I have even made this pickle in winter-time by keeping it near a heating register!) The pickle is ready to eat when the chiles soften and turn a bit pale.

7) Spoon it into a clean jar and cover.

Here’s a photo of the finished pickle…


Ooops! Nope, it’s my cat Claireau. Nice kitty. I doubt if he’d want to try some, but if he does he’ll have to make do until the pickle is done- a week or so; then I’ll post the pic here! -D

This is my entry for JFI August 2007: Chillies, hosted by Nandita of Saffron Trail, continuing the tradition set forth by Indira of Mahanandi.



  1. Anita said,

    Well…talk about coincidences!

    Nice mustard-sharp achaar there, Pel. And a nice large man’s <handkerchief as well! 😉

    I was sure you were going to send an entry for JFI – the chilli lover that you are! (Now I can rest – sleep.) Red chilli powder in the masala for hot green chillies! You win!

    I know a no-oil chilli pickle…must tell Manisha about it…

    OMG! Well, I hope there won’t be a slew of pickle recipes like this! Here I thought I was being sooooo original- that few had eaten this particular pickle. 😦

    I checked yours out: main differences seem to be the hot-oil treatment- I re-checked my recipe; it’s meant to be fiery! And mine has ginger, yours has methi and haldi. Otherwise, spectacularly similar- and good for comparison! 😉 I’ll get more chiles and try yours out too!

  2. Manisha said,

    But of course there will be a slew of pickles like this! 😉

    That just isn’t fair…the only thing I had while growing up was hot, vinegar-pickled banana peppers…

  3. Manisha said,

    Hit submit way too soon!

    I need to find good green chillies. The ones at the Indian grocer’s weren’t that great. I guess I need to go to the Asian market soon.

    Green chillies and ginger is actually a standard combination as they go so well together. I’m surprised that Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe does not have turmeric though. The Marwari chilli pickle I have in my freezer has red chilli powder, too.

    Last year I tried making this but it spoiled. 😦

    I read that recipe over; the spice combo is intriguing- I’d like to try it!- but I think it’s important to stir the contents daily, especially in the beginning. The bacteria do release gas bubbles as they digest carbohydrates- which doesn’t smell pleasant- but when the pickle is old enough and the acid-level at its maximum, they die. Even a refrigerated fermented pickle keeps getting sour- the bacteria are still alive, just slowed down. Same as in wine-making: they use up all of their natural resources and die in their own mess. 😀 Pleasant, eh? Or kimchee, where it’s preferred to consume it “young” with living bacteria…

    I rely totally on the “Asian” markets (and growers who sell at the open markets) for great produce! I think their stuff is fresher because of a higher turnover rate. The lone Indian grocer in the area has produce that’s “hit and miss”- most of the time the karelas and chiles have spots of mold.

  4. sharmi said,

    waiting to see how your pickle looks. it looks like a very traditional recipe. very authentic too.

    I think I’ll add in a pic of it “in progress” tomorrow… I need to compete a bit with my green-chile pickle competitors… 🙂

  5. bee said,

    chillies, mustard seeds and red chillies ground? that is insane.

    [raises a hand] 😀

  6. Musical said,

    Lovely pickle! So you finally did manage to get it posted 🙂

    Just barely! If i hadn’t read your post I would have missed it…although, since then, I’ve been having recurring thoughts of green chiles with cheese and wheat that won’t go away!

  7. Suganya said,

    That big a pickle jar? Now, its not fair to post a hazy pic of Claireau X-(

    Yeah…low-lighting and no tripod…(yet!) And you’re right, that jar is too big! My mother has a cute, little, small crock that’d be perfectly-sized, but she won’t part with it!

  8. Jyothsna said,

    My MIL makes a pickle with green chillies, ginger and lemon, not sure it’s the same way though!

    That flavour-combo sounds great! 😀 Let us know if ever you are able to convince her to share the recipe, I’d love to compare…

  9. Anita said,

    Pel, it’s not a race, remember? Or a competition either! 😉 Besides, TLO always wins – and without any recipe! 😆

    Yes, somehow she does! Almost as if she’s charmed…

  10. Anita said,

    By that I meant everyone made lime pickle with her recipe from last year!

    Not me! I made orange pickles… 😀

  11. Manisha said,

    Anita, some recipes are timeless. More non-recipe posts coming up from me soon! Just what you wanted!

    Besides, what are you complaining about? You are the role model and idol for newbies and those older, alike!

    [munches popcorn and watches]

  12. Cynthia said,

    Hey Pel, How are you?

    Must the pickle be made with green chilies? I found some really plump jalapenos today and wondered about making a pickle with them. Any advice?

    I’m doing well; and yourself?

    Any mild to reasonably-hot green chile works well for this pickle; in fact, a few years ago I bought a REALLY BIG bag of fresh, green jalapenos and made most of them into this pickle- enough to give away to fellow chile-heads (I was not yet aware of bharleli mirchis you see). But if you decide to venture into green scotch-bonnet-land, you’re on your own! 😉

    • elaichietcetera said,

      Upon further investigation into chiles and salt-curing, i must say that i was VERY mistaken in saying that jalapenos would work for this pickle: they won’t- too much water! Use only thin-walled chiles for this pickle.

  13. Manisha said,

    I popped a bag myself. Waiting…

    Microwave popcorn?

  14. Anita said,

    bag of popcorn? Didn’t I show this trick yet (bad role modeling)? Use any old popcorn, but do get a popcorn maker for that microwave thing: TH blew up quite a few of my ceramic stuff making popcorn till we got that thing. Of course, there must still be those old-fashioned electrical popcorn makers that you plug in?

    Does this satisfy all the waiting or shall I go on? 🙄

    You know what? I have a stainless-steel stove-top popcorn thingy- I think from the 1950’s…it has a dpression at the bottom for the oil and kernels- found it for like 50 cents at a tag sale a few years ago. The electric air-poppers are old-fashioned now?!!!!! Oh, god I feel old….I remember only too well when those came out and they were all the rage… [checks the mirror for any new grey hairs]

  15. Anita said,

    I must add though, TLO has a new status – she’s now already a legend! 😉

    She always was! That pickle recipe helps though…me, now? I would have kept that recipe secret and stockpiled jars of it to sell…with slogans like: High in Vitamin C!…Ignite Your Drooping Love-life… Decorate Your Kitchen: Looks Great Next to Jar’d Scented Candles! …And Quite Edible Too!

  16. Manisha said,

    See how magnanimous I am?
    I share.
    I care.

    Bag because at that hour of the night, bag in the m/w is the easiest. And, it claims to be fat free. I have an electrical popcorn maker that spews the popped corn from its spout. I usually give it a zhanzhanit phodni – the result is to die for. I had no idea that the contraption was old-fashioned. 🙄

    I am still trying to get this weak head around why anyone would make popcorn that’s not in a bag in the microwave. [go grab some more popcorn, Pel!]

    Any old popcorn? <shudder> Quality kernels always, m’dear. In Nairobi, we used to pop corn on the stove in a regular pot with a lid. You really don’t need all this paraphernalia.

    Blah, blah, blah…that depression at the bottom of the pan IS nice though- less “old maids” (as we politically incorrectly call them)…though, my second ex-ago was quite proficient at using any old pan…(well, no..he was terribly fond one special pan that I was near-forbidden to use for cooking anything else!)

    What the buggery bollocks is zhanzhanit phodni….is that like a chatni powder? What’s in it? Are your pickles involved? 😀 If you care- share! 😉

  17. Anita said,

    I stand corrected, any old Indian corn! 😀

    But kidding part aside, ‘zhanzhanit’ is for electrifying as in spicy! And ‘phodni’ is the Marathi word for tadka: so a spicy tadka. Which, for Manisha, might mean a full half teaspoon of red chilli powder amongst other things! [ducks as the unpopped kernels come flying]

    That 50c pan has got all my attention – the typical frugal Indian that I am…There is such a satisfaction to be had when you get a lot of use from something you got at a very reasonable price.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to actually…..uh…..use it! 😀 I mean, I like popcorn and all, but those hulls get stuck in my teeth! However, when the mood strikes me- and it eventually will- I’m prepared! 😀

    Electrifying tadke eh? Hmmmm. See, that would make me try out that pan, now wouldn’t it? Manisha! Where are you!?

  18. Anita said,

    Gosh, Manisha, we could have been selling that pickle! Using organic lemons from Dad’s garden! Quick, delete that post – no one will know.

    [very quietly, he adds:] She ought! That way it’d be like a LIMITED EDITION: the recipe would be around perhaps…and sought after…people would proudly say: I have Manisha’s pickle recipe….

  19. Manisha said,

    Anita cared before I did and told you what zhanzhanit means. 😆

    Too late to delete any post now. Besides, it’s in Google’s cache as well!

    Ah! Right you are….what an honor it must be to be plagiarized! I can only dream… 😉

  20. Cynthia said,

    I am fine thank you. I am going to go ahead and make this pickle then, not with the scotch bonnets – I make a pepper sauce with those 🙂

    Me too… I love that unique flavour; the hotness makes me light-headed, so really I barely notice a thing!

    Let me know how you like the pickle; Madhur Jaffrey still hasn’t stopped here yet, so I’ll just take any raves myself when they come along… 😉

  21. neroli said,

    I’m still laughing over the picture of Claireau, looking as if he’s appeared straight out of a Melies film, playing the role of a finished-pickle-picture.
    Cognitive dissonance—always good for a laugh!

    Cognitive dissonance…it has a name!? Very good when used sparingly I would think- otherwise one’s audience anticipates it. I do enjoy music in which it is utilized: say, for instance, I know a particular “electronic”/sequenced piece that goes merrily along with its clever looping and such, and then wham!- it cuts to a three-measure sample of acoustic jazz (in the same key), and then returns just as suddenly to the first texture.

    I had never knowingly been exposed to Melies before, so of course I looked him up, read a brief bio, and watched three of his short films on youtube: L’Eclipse du Soleil en Pleine Lune, Le Voyage Dans La Lune, Une Homme du Têtes and Björk’s Earth Intruders.

  22. shilpa(aayisrecipes) said,

    Nice pickle…
    Am I the only one who gets scared at those cat pictures?

    Cat? What cat? 😀

  23. Anita said,

    Ah, we get a glimpse of the pickle! Yum!

    It is, it is! Very perky, and with a tolerable heat-level.

  24. Poonam said,

    Nice pickle! I like the less oil part of this pickle….Shipa, I am scared of those cats too!

    Oh, they’re a lot like young kids really- but they never grow up! 🙂 Yes, just enough oil to be a little luxurious… 😉

  25. neroli said,

    Bjork? Now I need to go to youtube—thanks!

    But of course!

  26. Raaga said,

    Hmmm… I have never made any pickle in my life… you’re all tempting me to try.

    Oh, do! Fairly easy, and you can make any of them to suit your taste!

  27. Pawan Kumar said,

    You have posted some great food stuffs. I have search lots of good recipes from as well.

    Sounds good.

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  29. Dassana said,

    Hey good I came across this recipe. I love chili pickle with a lot of mustard in it. If I get enough time, I will try this recipe.

    • Elaichi et Cetera said,

      I haven’t made this in awhile! It’s zesty…. that I remember! If you want to tone down the nose-tingling, just roast/fry some or all of the mustard seeds.

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