Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Nimbu ka Khatta Mittha Achaar Namak Bina


Most achaars (pickles) are full of salt and made with lots of mustard oil and if you are on a diet or watching your salt intake, you certainly cannot eat them. The craving for a good pickle still will tempt you and this recipe for nimbu achaar is just the right one for you as it is made without any salt. And what’s more, where other achaars have a curing time of days or weeks, this achaar can be made within an hour!

This achaar is a variation of the uniquely Punjabi khatta mittha achaar which is made with mustard oil and many types of vegetables (see IAN Feb. 1, 2013). But whereas that achaar takes a lot of preparation and many days of curing in a jar, this nimbu khatta mittha achaar only use nimboos (lemons) and is ready within an hour. You could actually compare it to a sweet and sour lemon preserve, but with typical Indian spices.

Although called nimbu achaar, it can be made equally well by substituting limes for the lemons, the only difference being in the thickness of the peel. In either case, this achaar can easily be eaten with bread as well as desi rotis and compliments many different dishes. Moreover, all the ingredients are quite inexpensive and the achaar can be kept for a long time in the refrigerator and can even be left out at room temperature for several days.


1 kg nimbu (lemons) – thin skin is better

250 gm gur (jaggery) – broken into pieces

1 tsp methi dana (fenugreek seeds)

1 tbsp safaid sirka (white vinegar)

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp lal mirch (red pepper)


1. Wash the nimboos and then dry with a soft cloth.

2. Cut the nimbu into four quarters then carefully take the seeds out.

3. Place the in a pressure cooker without any water over medium heat. When it gives off the first whistle, turn the heat off and let the cooker stand for 15 minutes.

4. Open the cooker and then add the gur, methi dana, lal mirch and garam masala and vinegar and mix well, carefully not to bread the lemons.

5. When the entire mixture is cool, place in a glass jar and close the lid tightly. Or, if you want, you can try the achaar right away.

mamas recipe inside3Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.



As Diwali approaches, this tip can be timely if you should want to try a traditional, old-style of lighting up your home. Actually, this method is still used often in the villages of India, though even there, the small LED diyas are making their presence known.

Atta, or wheat flour dough, is used in most Indian homes to make rotis and paranthas. But it can also be used for other purposes too. A small dab of a thin paste of atta on a piece of paper or cardboard can become a strong glue, binding things together.

And then at Diwali time, when you are running short of old-fashioned clay diyas (oil lamps) for pujas, then the same atta can be quickly molded into the shape of a diya and after a short drying period, turns into a hardens so that you can pour oil in it and place a wick which can be lit.