The hilly state of Himachal Pradesh has a variety of traditional pickles prepared from native fruits, vegetables, tree stems, buds, roots and leaves. These pickles are revered by the locals for their nutritional, medicinal and healing properties. Each part of Himachal has a particular speciality based on the availability of the produce and its use.
One such delightful offering found across Himachal and specifically Kullu Valley is the famous aadu ka achaar or aaroo ka achaar. Known more commonly as smooth stone peach or smooth-pit peach, this native peach (Prunus mira) grows in the wild and can be found in abundance on the Himalayan foothills.
This indigenous peach is consumed as it is or in the form of jams, jellies, pickles and juices. The seed is an excellent alternative for almond and is used in local delicacies. Oil is often extracted from the seed and used for cooking or for hair maintenance.
The peach is plucked generally between May to September, cleaned thoroughly, boiled and kept in the sun for a little while. Spices like thyme, fenugreek and black mustard are lightly roasted and powdered in the grinding stone. Turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, ground spice powder and mustard oil are mixed with the dried peach and then put in a large jar or earthen container that has been previously smoked with asafoetida.
The smoke is to render a heady aroma and facilitate the fermentation process. The pickle is ready to be eaten after a few days and has a shelf life of about 2 years or more. The pickle is packed with flavours ranging from sweet, to tangy and bitter.
This pickle is sold in glass jars in the markets.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian