STUFFED CHILLY PICKLE- (MIRCHI KA AACHAR)- SAROJ
This is a hot, pungent long lasting pickle made from red chilly during the dry season in the Bhojpur region. It is made over three or four sunny days.
The ingredients for 30 pieces of chilly pickle
1 kg (30 pieces) medium size red chilly. This chilly has a thick skin which serves as a jacket for the ingredients.
200 gm banarsi mustard seed (the banarsi seed is a small in size).
200 gm fennel seeds (saunff)
20 gm cumin seeds and 20 gm fenugreek seeds (methi).
One teaspoonn ajwain and one teaspoon nigella (kallounji) seeds.
One teaspoon asfoetida powder (hing).
100 gm dry raw mango powder to impart tangy taste.
250 gm salt
Mustard oil to mix the ingredients
Method: This is complex task and needs to be done with care. Protect the preparation from moisture. Moisture which results in fungus is the enermy of pickle.
Preparing the Mixture: Mildly roast fennel (saunff), cumin and fenugreek seeds and powder it. Powder the banarsi mustard seeds. Mix this powder along with the other above mentioned ingredients including salt uniformly with just enought mustard oil just so that it is not soggy (just so that it is like panjeeri). Your mixture is ready.
The Chilly stage: Chop off the top stem of each red chilly. Remove its innards and shake off the seeds so that now you have 30 hollow chillies. Add the chiily seeds to the mixture you have prepared. Mix them together, This will impart the hot taste. Stuff the mixute into the hollow chilies.
All this takes a whole lazy afternoon. One usually has a neighbour or relative helping out. Gossip, they say, adds more spice to this dish.
Drying : You need to remove the moisture from the chilli and also some inadvertent mositure which may come from the ingredients. Spread the chillies out in the sun for a day. Put them into glass jars and add 200 gm mustard oil. Close the mouth of the jars with muslin cloth. Now set them out in the sun for an additional two to three days. Sufficient mustard oil is added so that the pickle stays preserved for 2 years or more.
Remarks: The pickle lasts for years. It is initally red in colour and then changes to brown after a few months. January or Febrary is the season to make this pickle in North India. You start eating them after a few months and during the rainy season when there is a dearth of vegetables. One dices a single chilly into 3 to 4 parts and it serves a table of four. Since you do not make it every other day one makes it in larger quantities, say a 100 chillies (3 kg) at at time and one is done with it for a year or two. This pickle is special to the Bhojpur region and it is often referred to as Banarsi Aachar by non Biharis.