While we’re waiting on the Preserved Lemons to finish curing, here’s a pickle that is addictive to eat as it is easy to make. This carrot, radish and cauliflower pickle is tangy sweet with a mild bite of mustard from the mustard oil and brown mustard seeds in the brine. Similar to a chow-chow or mustard piccallili, or even an Italian giardinera, this flavorful veggie combo can serve as a side dish accent to a main meal or as a condiment or ingredient in other dishes. We crave it with almost every Indian meal, but also serve with grilled or roasted meats, and chop it up and stir into tuna, pasta and grain salads. For pasta, rice or grain salads, I’ve also used the unctuous spicy brine as a shortcut to making a dressing for the salad. In the photo below, chopped vegetable pickles and the brine were added to sweet potatoes, peas, pineapple and couscous to make a filling for stuffed artichokes. This is a pantry staple for us now, too — it’s versatility seems to know no bounds!
CAULIFLOWER, DAIKON & CARROT PICKLE
(from Flavors of India by Madhur Jaffrey)
1 cup (240ml) mustard oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small coin of ginger, peeled and julienned
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium cauliflower, washed and divided into florets
1 small daikon (1 lb/450g), peeled and cut into 1-in/2.5cm cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-in/2.5cm cubes
2 tsp. garam masala
1-2 TBL cayenne pepper powder
4 tsp. ground cumin
2 TBL. brown mustard seeds, gently crushed
1 TBL. kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup (130g) raw sugar
1/2 cup (120ml) white vinegar
Heat mustard oil in wok or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, reduce heat to medium and cook until onions lightly brown. Add ginger and garlic, and stir fry 1 minute.
Add cauliflower, daikon and carrots and fry together 1 minute. Add garam masala, pepper, cumin, mustard seeds and salt, and stir through. Mix sugar into vinegar, then add to pan. Stir through and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
Sterilize a large quart jar, and transfer pickle to jar. Cover with cheesecloth or paper towel secured with a rubber band to allow excess moisture to evaporate.. Keep jar in a dry, sunny spot for 2 days. Occasionally shake the jars to distribute spices. On the third day, remove the cheesecloth and seal with a tight-fitting lid. Leave on countertop in a warm, sunny spot for another 4-7 days. Once pickle has soured a little, it is ready and can be kept in the refrigerator after use.
Serve as part of an Indian meal, or with roasted or grilled chicken. Add to couscous, rice or other grains, along with vegetables of your choice to make a quick salad or stuffing for cooked and de-choked artichokes.