I think every home in Kerala stocks up a minimum of two pickles, the common varieties being lemon, mango, gooseberry, garlic etc. Dates, meat and fish pickles are usually reserved for special occasions. We are, at least my family is, so much in love with pickles that every meal, however scrumptious it may be, seems incomplete without it. In fact, people used to warn my mom during her pregnancy to reduce her pickle intake, or else the baby would be born with rotten eyes! (No, no, that prediction didn’t come true). And we have, unintentionally, insulted many dinner hosts and restaurant chefs by requesting them for pickle, implying that the food they painstakingly made was mild.
FYI, pickles are generally meant to jazz up an otherwise bland meal. An exception to this is the Kerala dates pickle which is served along with biryani. Biryani is in no way mild. The sweet, fiery and tangy pickle complements the spicy meat in biryani so well that the already delicious biryani is elevated by a few notches. I hope you try this combination. Check out delicious biryani recipes here.
This date pickle recipe is closely inspired by Lakshmi Nair’s pickle recipe on Magic Oven. She has used dates (obviously), jaggery for sweetness, tamarind for “tanginess” and chilies for heat. I have followed the same procedure but varied the quantities because I wanted the pickle to be equally sweet and hot, rather than mostly sweet.
I think every home in Kerala stocks up a minimum of two pickles, the common varities being lemon, mango, gooseberry, garlic etc. Dates, meat and fish pickles are usually reserved for special occassions. We are, atleast my family is, so much in love with pickles that every meal, however scrumptious it
- Soak tamarind/vallam pulli/sambar pulli in hot water. Mush it up with your fingers. Keep aside.
- Heat oil in a large wok.
- Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Fry fenugreek seeds. When they change color lightly, add curry leaves, garlic cloves, ginger, green chilies and saute till color starts to change. You may use around 15 birds eye chilies (kanthari mulagu) instead of regular green chilies.
- Reduce heat and add turmeric powder and red chili powder. Saute till fragrant so that the spices don’t taste raw.
- Mix in finely chopped dates.
- While the dates are cooking, mush up the soaked tamarind with fingers. Remove seeds and fiber, if any. Pour the mushed up tamarind along with the water in which it was soaked to the wok.
- Add grated jaggery and salt. Let the mixture simmer over low heat. Stir every now and then. Remove from heat once the dates are soft and cooked through.
- The pickle will thicken when it cools down.
- The pickle may be stored at room temperature for 4-5 days. It can be refrigerated for longer periods.
Enjoy with biryani, roti or rice.