November 10, 2006

WHB-Karakka Achaar/ Carrot-Date Pickle

Carrot Pickle

Before I started accepting dates as a fruit, I used to eat it with gusto in pickle form. My mom always kept a bottle of home made dates (Karakka) pickle. Karakka achaar is a staple in the Malabar households. No Biryani or Neichoru is complete without it. Either they make it at home or get it from the Bombay Hotel near the beach in Calicut. The Bombay hotel sells their delicious pickle which is more sweet than spicy which goes so well with their awesome Biryani. Now I am homesick!

The other pickle I was very fond of was made by my friend Ki while we were at college. A simple carrot pickle with garlic and green chilies and ginger all cut up into slivers. I wonder if that would count as our vegetable intake while surviving on the hostel food (cafeteria). She made it and got it after every trip back from home and it used to last for a week with all of us preying on it. Unlike all our mom based food memories while at college, this was my Ki-based memory. At that time, I was amazed that she could make a pickle while I didn't even know how to make a tea.

I tried a lot of times to recreate it but it didn’t have the same zing. And over time, my taste for the date pickle and carrot pickle got muddled up. So now when I got the recipe from her, it was amusing to see that she has also started adding dates also to it. Yippee! Thanks Ki! So here is her recipe for the carrot pickle to which I have added dates. You could make with the dates or without. If making without the dates, add one more carrot to offset the spice powders.

You will need:
Whole Carrots -2 or 3
Ginger -1" piece
Garlic - 6 or 7
Green chilies- 5 or6
Fresh Dates- about 7-10 (increase or decrease as per sweetness)

Red Chili Powder- 2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder- 1tsp
Salt- 2 tbsp (Add after tasting)
Vinegar- 1 cup

Peel the skin from the carrot .Cut the carrots and ginger into even thin (about 1” long) pieces. Add some salt and turmeric to it and keep aside for 1/2 hour or so. Then gently squeeze out the excess moisture from the carrots by hand. Alternately, dry the cut vegetables in the sun for a couple of hours. This will get rid of the excess moisture which makes the pickle spoil fast.

Wash all the ingredients and dry very well. Remove the seeds from the dates and cut each date into 6-8 pieces lengthwise .Slice garlic and chilies also into thin long slivers. Mix them in a non reactive glass bowl and add vinegar and red chili powder. Add the carrots and check seasoning. Add more salt if needed. Keep refrigerated. The pickle is edible after 3-4 days but the dates start breaking down and sweetening it only after a week or so. The pickle gets better with age. You could add dried cranberries or raisins to it also.

This is a good spicy sweet relish to be enjoyed with any rice main course, naans and maybe even in other combinations. So I am sending some of this to my friend Meeta Of What's For Lunch,Honey? who is guest hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging. Weekend Herb Blogging was started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen to showcase recipes involving fruits or vegetables or herbs from different regions and now is hosted by enterprising bloggers each week.

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rp said...

shaheen, I love dates pickled with lemon. Have you tried that? Sweet and sour and really yummy! Dates & carrot pickle sounds tempting too.

Foodie's Hope said...

Love carrot achar,never tried with dates:) Good one Shaheen!:))

Btw, you and I are the contributors to Meeta's DT sofar.Have fun!

Annita said...

hmmm..sounds delicious,Shaheen

Krithika said...

Great achar recipe. Have never tasted dates in pickle.

shilpa said...

Carrot-date pickle? I have never heard of that. I am gonnu add this to my recipe collection. Thanks a lot.

(I always end up as anonymous here...this is shilpa from aayisrecipes)

Nabeela said...

wow...that's a pretty interesting combo. I never heard of it before...its amazing how many types of various dishes I come across just by browsing blogs!

gattina said...

What a lovely memory during your college years... I love carrot and date this combination (also popular in Chinese soup). Too bad the dates in here cost a bomb *sigh*
Btw, I love this shot you took, very artistic!

indosungod said...

Shaheen I have never tasted Carrot-Date pickle, this one looks great, easy to make. Love pickles of any kind.

Kalyn said...

I don't think I've ever tasted anything even remotely like pickled dates. I'm quite intrigued by it. I've had pickled carrots, but not spicy ones like this. I'm saving this recipe to

Just curious, is there a certain type of vinegar that would be traditional here? I would be inclined to use white vinegar for pickles, but curious as to what you'd recommend.

sher said...

Shasheen, I've never had pickled dates, but I must make this recipe because I know it must be fabulous. I enjoy carrot pickles with chilis, but have never made it with ginger or dates. Now I want it very much. Thank you for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best blog I ever I found in this subject

KeralaGirl said...

You made me homesick too talking about Bombay hotel Dates pickle...:-) You really have a wonderful blog here Shaheen.

Anonymous said...


maggi noodles is one thing i still assosiate with our hostel days..........


Shaheen said...

RP: thats next on my agenda.. now i am yearning for some soem lime pickle!!

Asha: Try this one..Hmm thinking of the DT ideas.

Annita: u probably would have tasted it in kerala.

Krithika: dates in pickles is soooo yummy.Sweet and spicy..

Shilpa: i know who u are.. don't worry.. and do make this and let me know.

Nabee: I feel my food knowledge has really increased since i started going thru blogs.

Gattina:Costco has nice dates once in a while..I would love to see ur soup.

Shaheen said...

Indo: I love this with any fried rice. try it. very easy to make too.

Kalyn: Use just regular wite vinegar.. I am sure even rice vinegar will enhance the taste. This is more like an Indian spicy pickle, to be used cautiously.:)The dates breaks down to become a gooey sweet flavoring the carrots.

Anon: Thanks..Wish u had left ur name..

Ki: maggi too.. that is still my comfort food.and the round parottas and peas curry from Lords.

kerala girl.. u are from calicut , right? Where?i remember coming acroos ur banana halva recipe..

Sandeepa said...

Never had date achaar before...there are so many things I don't know :(
Loved your Meen Polichatu (sp ?), please please don't try to drive away that smell :) My husband does that though, lights up scented candles, not for me but for THE FISH :)

Seema said...

love the prawn pickle and in vegies the brinjal pickle and carrot! this date and carrot is a sure it must be yummyyyyy like the others coming from ya !

Lakshmi said...

nice pickle recipe with dates and carrot.

Prabha said...

Interesting combo! I have never had a sweet n spicy pickle. A neat tropical twist...thanks!

Jayashree said...

I love this combo...a friend of mine used to bring beetroot-date pickle when we stayed at the college hostel. That tasted divine too.

cybercasey said...

Wow! I only knew about Gherkin pickles that we find here in the US. Indians have a great food culture I see. Not tried them yet. Just wrote about pickle trivia myself.
Looks like the Indian pickles are quite hot.

LERA said...

Love this combo achar,I am sure, it tastes great with curd Rice..:)

Shaheen said...

sandeepa: i love fish but can't stand the u are the true fish lover.!!!

Seema kutty: loved ur latest verse.

laksmi, Prabha: u will like it if u like sweet and spicy stuff together.

Jayshree: Thats interesting.. beetroot and dates.. must be an amazing color.

Shaheen said...

Cybercasey: good to know u are getting interested in Indian food.

Lera:It would taste good with curd rice.(my personal curd rice combination is with tender mango pickle)Like the new song at ur site.

Zerin said...

Hi shaheen,
zerin here. i wanted to know if we can use very ripe dates? my other doubt was if there is no tempering required for it? hope you are fine.

Shaheen said...

Zerin, no tempering is required. And if you use too ripe dates, they melt down in the pickle. so go for regular ripe ones.