With so many local sour fruits of the region available at this time of the year, pickling is definitely an activity that’s a close second to gardening now!:) Widely available during this season is the Indian Olive/Elaeocarpus floribundas locally known as jalpai. Unlike the oil producing olive/Olea europaea of the Mediterranean region, the Indian olive is a sour fruit. The fruit is used for making pickles and chutney. The medium-sized tree produces hundreds of fruits. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the tree. Large homesteads usually have a tree or two in their backyards.
Since the fruit need to be blanched, it’s always good to buy them with the stalk intact. The few ripe fruits on the top are a variety of Hog Plum, locally known as Amra. The sight of the fruit took me back to my childhood picking up the fruit from the ground at the edge of my grandparents’ rice field with my cousins. And savouring them sitting on rocks on a small stream whose sparkling waters gushed along the length of the field. But ah, I’m here to talk about the recipe! I do tend to ramble on….
I blanched the fruit for a few minutes. The flesh must give away when you press the blanched fruit but it shouldn’t be too soft. Once the fruit cooled down on the colander, I pressed each fruit till a bit of the pulp gave away. The seeds were not discarded.
Then the fruit was put out in a sunny spot for the day. This one got about seven hours of sun. I turned them once to expedite the drying process. It doesn’t get totally dry but it doesn’t matter.
I felt like the Mistress of Spices as I prepared these for the pickle. The aroma that wafted across the house seemed a little overwhelming even to my Indian senses. Lol! It’s not everyday that I use that many! Our usual ones are coriander, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and not much else. these bowls contain fenugreek, caraway, fennel, cumin, and mustard seeds all roasted in a pan and ground to a powder. The bowls also contain rock salt, sugar,turmeric, Indian bay leaf/tejpatta, and panch puran, a combination of five spices to be tempered in hot oil. Not in the picture is asafoetida which also went into the hot oil.
Dry red chillies and garlic are ground in vinegar and added to the mixture.
I used mustard oil for this pickle, nearly a litre. The oil was heated and then cooled.The olives were 2 kgs. When the spices were done, I put them all together in this dish. Turmeric was heated up in a pan and cooled before it was added to the mixture. I mixed the pickle with a ladle and tasted it. It’s very sour when it’s newly made. But putting the bottles out in the sun for a week takes care of everything. Even the sugar melts down and the result is a wonderful blend of sweet, sour, and spicy. The combination of rock salt or black salt and ground garlic is unique. This is a pickle that goes very well with the different kinds of Indian bread.
In the above picture the plate holds puri ( fried Indian bread) made by adding a few spices to the flour, hence the dark colour, a small helping of olive pickle and a vegetable dish of cauliflower, potatoes, and spinach seasoned with a commonly used spices.
Here are my bottles sitting in the sun. One is half full. I had taken some out in a smaller bottle while out visiting a friend. Soon there’ll be just a little left. But that’s the fun part…sharing the fruits of the season! And everybody loves to receive a bottle of home-made anything! Be it jam, or squash, or pickle!