As the first American-made achaar sold widely in Western markets we thought we'd put this little guide together for you that answers questions we've received over the years about achaar, the condiment that holds a special place in our heart.
WHAT IS ACHAAR?
Achaar is a South Asian word and means "pickled" or "preserved." The word also refers to a staple Indian condiment that is enjoyed throughout South Asia, as well as in Africa, the Middle East, and the Carribean.
Achaar is sometimes just called "pickle" or by different names depending on what region you're in, such as uppinakayi in Kannada, a language spoken in South India.
Most often, it's known for being spicy, savory, and sour all at once, but there are varieties that are also sweet and even bitter. The flavor is intense and complex.
VARIETIES OF ACHAAR
Depending on the region, achaar can be made from all sorts of seasonal produce, from limes, lemons, and green mango to tomatoes, cauliflower, and carrots.
In some regions, achaar is even made from fish and meat, while in others, it's used as a way to preserve ginger or asafetida, a plant resin.
The spices and oil used tend to be regional as well, from fennel and nigella seeds and mustard oil in North India to black mustard and fenugreek seeds and sesame oil in South India.
HOW IS ACHAAR MADE?
There's many different ways to make achaar, using different natural preservatives like salt, sugar, lemon juice, tamarind, vinegar, and various oils.
Some varieties are fermented over time using just salt, turmeric, and the sun (all three are used in pickling for their natural antibacterial qualities), while others come together more quickly, like a North Indian pickle my Great Aunt taught me to make with parboiled root vegetables, mustard oil, spices and vinegar.
HOW IS ACHAAR USED?
You add a spoon to a bowl of rice and dal or rice and yogurt (my personal fav) or have it on the side with chapati and a sabzi. The addition of achaar basically supercharges your meal. Add a little bit to whatever you're eating to give it a spicy, sour, sweet, and savory kick!
I love to pair my Tomato Achaar with eggs, on avocado toast, tacos, grilled cheese, and on mac and cheese. I also love to use my Roasted Garlic Achaar as a substitute for garlic in a cheesy garlic bread, pasta sauces like in Penne Vodka, and it's delicious mixed into hummus or with mayo on a sandwich.
WHAT MAKES BROOKLYN DELHI'S ACHAAR DIFFERENT?
I developed recipes for my achaars to taste more homemade, meaning not as much salt (75% less sodium to be exact) compared to leading store brands and absolutely no preservatives (I'm looking at you, sodium benzoate and acetic acid).
I love achaar so much that I wanted to be able to eat it all the time without feeling like I was loading up on sodium. Compared to traditional achaars, you can use more of it and use it more often.
I set out to capture the essence of the achaar I grew up eating while also highlighting the flavor of the produce.