Turmeric Pickle

May be it was because I was so little, but while growing up in India our small house looked like an ever-expanding empire to me. From the backyard garden where my dad carefully tended to the flower plants to the terrace with a swing that made a unique sound when more than two people sat on it – there are so many little memories scattered all around that place I called home not too long ago. I have spent many afternoons in India cooking and eating some amazing homemade food with my family. Our kitchen was about a hundred square feet, but oh did we create some wonders in that little space!

The thing I remember the most is making mango pickle with my sister and my parents! Making pickle was a family effort and every one had a role to play in the process. The preparations started days ago, with my dad in-charge of picking out the best mangoes. He was the one to go to the market in our family, so he would start keeping an eye on which vendor is bringing better quality mangoes, and at what price. After every trip, he would religiously report back to my mom about his findings. The precious mangoes would arrive in our home after careful comparison and often times drawn-out negotiations with the vendor. An afternoon would be set aside for pickle making once mom cleared up her schedule!

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A seasoned pickle maker like my mom had her steps down – the first one being wearing used, worn out cloths to avoid getting stains on our regular dresses! She would wear an old saree and find some old dresses that no longer fit me and my sister. I can still hear my grandmother in the background commenting on how fast we were both growing up! Our little kitchen would be transformed into a pickle making factory. While my parents and I would be focused on the task at hand, my little sister would run around the kitchen enjoying the process too much for my liking! Working together in a small space invariably started conversations – reflecting on the weeks past, and discussions about what lied ahead for the family. It was such a bonding experience!

I think cooking together as a family is a dying art. I see families not sharing a meal together for days, let alone cooking a meal together. When I look back upon my days in India, I don’t think about the restaurants where I ate nice meals, but I think about the little things I had done with my family where we all worked together, talked and did the more mundane things. Do you and your loved ones cook together? May be hold off that pizza delivery next time you have an evening free with you family! You might be amazed at how people open up while cooking together! Today, Anup and I have made raw turmeric pickle the way my mom used to make them!

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Turmeric has a number of health benefits. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, could potentially ward off dementia and prevent cancer. Turmeric is naturally anti-inflammatory; it inhibits the growth of new blood vessels in tumours and it’s a powerful antioxidant. Turmeric is also an immunity booster. My mom used to use turmeric paste on wounds as turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent.

Most western kitchens rarely use turmeric and its a common misconception that turmeric is only for curry dishes! While the dried powder form of turmeric is more commonly available, I love the fresh raw turmeric. I love pickled roots in all types of dishes. From pickled turmeric to pickled carrots, these pickles are easy to make and can be used for weeks. This pickled turmeric can easily be added to a number of dishes – from salads to soups, sandwiches to wraps. I love pickled turmeric on a toast, but I am sure you will have your own favorite way of using this pickled beauty!

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Turmeric Pickle

Cook time:

8 oz fresh raw turmeric roots
2 medium size carrots
juice of 4 lemons
1 tbsp salt

Scrub turmeric roots and carrots in running water. Peel the skin and slice in thin circles. You might want to wear gloves while cutting turmeric because it creates yellow stains on your hands. Alternatively, you can use a food processor with a slicing disk attachment.

In a big bowl put sliced turmeric, carrots, lemon juice and salt, mix well. Store in a sterilized jar and refrigerate. Shake well before use.

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  1. says

    Lately I have seen the fresh turmeric on many blogs, very intriguing to me. Will try and find at Whole Foods. On the subject of families cooking together, I believe I hear over and over about how that has really affected a healthy outlook again and again.

    • says

      Cheri, I found fresh turmeric at Whole Foods as well. Ethnic stores and farmer’s markets carry them too, especially in this season.

  2. says

    I love your stories! You are very lucky to have had that experience. It was me and my mom and she was always working. She stopped cooking for me at 14 because I was so picky but that made me start to cook and I am grateful for that! Do you miss India?

      • Steph says

        Thats nice you get to visit. My mom spent 3 months traveling around India. I would love to go! My mom and I spent 3 weeks in Sri Lanka, I loved it!

    • says

      Fresh turmeric is similar to ginger root. I have used turmeric juice in my smoothies and tea. Pickled turmeric in a sandwiches, salads and wraps. Shredded fresh turmeric in curries, stews and soups. While turmeric is good for you, some people find its taste overpowering other ingredients. So depending on your comfort with turmeric, you can adjust the amount used.

  3. says

    I didn’t know we can make pickle of turmeric and I am quite tempted to try this! Oh reading through your story was great and I miss home. treasured memories!

  4. says

    I am so in love with the story in this post and this recipe! I saw fresh turmeric on sale the other day and I was wondering what I could do with it, since I know it’s so good for overall health. This is so easy to make there’s no excuse.

    I only discovered indian cooking this past year. I love how every recipe for every meal seems to be determined by a strong sense of union and gathering. Memories like yours are the best. Every family with a busy life should make some time to cook together, even if it’s only once a week. Every kid has great memories of times spent in the kitchen with their parents/grands :)

  5. Shweta says

    I just brought some fresh turmeric on my last visit to the grocery. Usually I sprinkle some salt and lemon juice and eat it on the side for lunch or dinner. Next time I am going to try it as a topping on a sandwich. It sounds like a great addition.

    Thanks for the post! Reminded me of the happy days gone by. Although I have to admit it I took it all for granted back then.

    – Shweta

  6. says

    Turmeric Pickle is very new to me as I am not so fond of pickle except with the mango one! But your gorgeous pictures make me drooling … love the post!

  7. says

    Hi Medha :) I found your post via Pinterest. I enjoyed reading about your early food experiences! I love mango pickle and wish I could find real hard small green mangos in my area.
    Have you tried fermenting the turmeric by leaving it in brine on the counter for a few days?
    I’m going to try it!
    I have some fresh turmeric that I’ve added to salads and smoothies. I think adding the carrot would make it sweeter as well.

  8. Michelle says

    I’ve just made your recipe, do I need to get the juices above the turmeric slices and let sit out to ferment? I’ve put it in fridge but want it to ferment so it’s more available to my body – without fermenting it doesn’t get absorbed properly… Any assistance would be so appreciated – even if I should add water if it’s too acidic to leave on bench? Thanks in advance!

    • says

      I have never tried to ferment it, I have only eaten it fresh. The longer you keep the turmeric slices in lemon juice, the less bitter they will get. The purpose of the lemon juice is to get the rawness of the turmeric out. You can keep in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 10 days. If you want to preserve it for a longer time then I suggest to have enough lemon juice to keep the turmeric soaked. Sorry, I am not much help on the fermentation front!

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