As our love for sauces, pastes, and blends lead us into exploring the greatest condiments around the world, let us take a look back home into what’s been humbly existing for around 4,000 years now. Achaar, our wonder condiment, with its strong punch-worthy flavours, delightful aromas, and all-organic preservation has been thriving in our mothers’ and grandmothers’ kitchens for as long as we can remember. Such is the power of the pickle that a dollop on the plate is as good as any other dish made from scratch. India’s answer to ketchup and the fancier dijon mustard, achaar goes well with a varied number of permutations and combinations of foods and dishes you wish to pair it up with. Such is the versatility of this preserved mush of veggies and fruits that we have wafers and even nachos of the same flavour. Indian pickle goes well with just about everything on your plate and soothes every craving on your palate. It’s meant to satiate the sweet, sour, salty and spicy all at the same time!
Here’s taking a look at all dishes that go well with achaar, the best achaar combos, and recipes where you can pair up achaar as the major condiment.
Curd Rice– Simple and rustic scores high when it comes to the flavour game. As children, one would gorge on piping hot rice with creamy cool curd accompanied by some delicious achaar. You can go the nostalgic route by taking the tried and tested mango pickle or go for a twist of taste with garlic! The achaar and curd-rice combo is something you can always rely on whether it be a lazy day or one when the tummy needs a bit of rest.
Paratha Achaar– Aloo, gobhi, muli – you name it and there’s an achaar that goes perfectly well with it! Standing the test of time, paratha-achaar is a combo our parents used to pack in the tiffins, our siblings ate as a snack and is the current go-to office luncheon. A solidly north Indian dish, this combination has made its way into southern homes thanks to cities turning a melting pot of cultures.
Thalis – The Rajasthani thali, the Gujarati thali or even in the humble sadhya, achaars have inhabited the Indian tongue adding zest to every cuisine despite the region. The type of achaars might vary – a spicier one up north, a sweet aam chutney for the Gujarati palate and a sour lime one for the southern delight. Pickles in thalis ensure your palate is refreshed after every bite of the elaborate spread.
Khichdi – The quintessential sick-food gets a kick of flavours with achaar. The idea of achaar with boiled dal, rice and veggies has evolved so much in the recent past that it has lead to the birth of “Achaari khichdi”. Even naysayers can’t pin out a singular thing that doesn’t work in this magic recipe. It’s spicy, tangy and made up of everything healthy. Opt for a mixed pickle for the perfect Achaari khichdi.
Idli– A combination that might surprise many but delight all. Idli and achaar is a love story that one has to discover. With every bite, you acquire a greater understanding of how the seamless blending of soft, delicate idlis with tangy, sweet achaar is a combination you should’ve known a long time ago.
Dhokla– A close cousin to our previous option, the sweet tamarind chutney can be replaced with a sweet achaar for a more powerful bite. It gives a burst of flavours and saves you a lot of time on lazy days when you don’t have the patience to make the chutney from scratch.
Sandwich– As we tread into the more unusual options, the sandwich might come off as something more western than our usual options to eat the Indian pickle with. However, a true foodie knows that a well made Bombay Sandwich with the perfect mash of potatoes, generous dose of onions and capsicum with creamy paneer and cheese can have the perfect partner in achaar. With an Indianized twist to the entire concept, we hope the next time you take a bite off your sandwich you crave the good old achaar.
Upma – A solution to our breakfast woes back in the day, a plate of Upma despite not being a kid-favourite meal can be salvaged if paired with the right pickle. Take a brave dip of the carrot pickle and you are good to go with endless mouthfuls of carrots and peas.
Rice and ghee– As boring as the combination might sound, it is what comfort food dreams are made up of. The ghee melting in for the aroma and the pickle the adding the right tinge of spice and savoury is what makes us gobble up immense amounts and before you know it, you’re on your next serving already. Try this out the next time you can’t bother with coming up with gravy.
Mathri– An often overlooked snack, this particular dish comes from the northern and western parts of India. A perfect accompaniment to the evening chai or tipsy night, achaar is what elevates the entire flavour and goes best with the strong gram flavour. Pakoras are another crowd-pleaser that finds a match with the most unusual of pickles
The baseline, we can conclude from the above is that Achaar or the Indian pickle goes well almost everything. It’s a reflection of our traditions, culture and indigenously produced spices and a celebration of all the Indian flavours coming together to just be enough in a spoonful. It lends acidity, strong flavour and a zing of savoury/ sweet to the food that you eat. So, the next time you run out of ketchup, curd or wish to slack off on a curry or two, look back into your kitchen shelf and dig into some pickle-y goodness and enjoy as your taste buds are transported back into nostalgia town.