This is a blog post on making achar at home. it is a Malaysian Nyonya spicy pickle not the ones from India. Although it has origins of coming from India. The spices that were used in this achar recipe are more southeast Asian ingredients like lemongrass, dried prawns. It is made quite specifically to regions of Malaysia and Singapore. This is because although achar originated from India. But over years it has evolved to suit local taste and the availability of ingredients. So local ones used instead.
Different types of vegetables to use in achar
It is possible to make this recipe vegan by omitting the belacan/ shrimp paste. This recipe uses different types of vegetables but mainly cucumbers and carrots are the main ingredients. There are many variations of different types of vegetables in this recipe so just use whatever is in season. I made this recipe during wintertime, romanesco cauliflower was very much in the season I just use it instead of ordinary cauliflower. Do use whatever vegetable you have on hand as most can be pickled except for leafy greens.
This recipe to great to serve as a side dish to accompany the main meal as it has nice strong flavors. It is great to serve with some rice and with some meat dish. Or with another bland vegetable dish.
Salt is added to the chopped vegetable to draw out excess water from them. It is the pickling process that gives crunch to the vegetables. Then it is left to dry in the hot sun or in a low heat oven. Other components of the dish is being prepare while the vegetables are drying out like the sambal paste and the peanuts. Then it is put together like a salad dish. But in a cooking pot.
Recipe For making Achar (Nyonya spicy Pickle)
1 large Cucumber
3 medium-size carrots
1 medium-size cauliflower
One Medium size aubergine
300 grams cabbage
200 grams long beans
1-2 tbsp table salt
1 medium size pineapple peeled and cubed
5 dried chillies soaked and rehydrated to taste
3-4 fresh red chillies stalks removed to taste
3 medium size onions peeled and cut into quarters
2-3 cm belacan / shrimp paste (omit for vegan option) roasted
1 small size fresh turmeric or 1 tsp turmeric powder, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass
3 cm galangal / ginger peeled
2 tbsp cooking oil
5 tbsp vinegar to taste
3 tbsp sugar to taste
5 tbsp roasted chopped peanuts
Prepare the salt-cured and dried vegetables. Chopped and peeled and cut the carrots and cucumber into stick size. I have made like below using carrot, cabbage, and cauliflower. I later add the cucumber and aubergine as I don’t have it on hand at that time.
Then layout in an oven-proof mat or tray and dry in the oven at 50-100 degrees Celcius. In the meantime, prepare the sambal by grinding all the ingredients in a blender. When the vegetables are ready as seen by the carrot and cucumber shrinking. Then start frying the sambal paste in a frying pan. Then add the oven-dried vegetables. Plus the rest of the ingredients the pineapples, vinegar, sugar and roasted peanuts.