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Salad: Achaari Pyaz, Spiced Onions

March 21, 2024 1 Comment

Salad: Achaari Pyaz, Spiced Onions

A SIDE OF ONIONS WITH A SPICY TWIST. That's how I would describe achaari pyaz. Pyaz means onions, and I've long talked about how important it is to serve Indian food with a side salad of onion. That makes sense coming from me who was so obsessed with onions as a little girl that my youngest aunt tells me I would at age three make my way around our dinner table in Sector 9 in Chandigarh and grab the onions off of everyone's plates to gobble up. I just love these stories and heard them again this time when I was in India for my nephew's wedding. Stories from a time that's locked somewhere in my mind that I just can't seem to access, but snippets that explain so much. I love onions and no North Indian meal is complete without them. We just love that extra crunch with every bite and even better if the salad is doused with lemon juice, black salt, and red chile powder.

But, when I'm in a rush or when I want to add a gourmet touch, I simply stir in some achaar, or spiced pickles. See the spicy nuggets from the achaar in the photo above? Not a chutney - though that could work as well - and not a spice, achaar is the spicy relish aisle in the Indian grocer that those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine just don't know what to do with. We can make our own, as I have in this recipe, but typically we purchase a jar - it goes a long way and it's often simpler. These pickles can be made sweet, spicy, or a combination of the two, and can be made from nearly anything. Typically, you'll see chiles, mango, and lemon or lime, but I've also seen folks make watermelon achaar and recently was gifted a beautiful homemade achaar made from oranges. I'd never heard of this one before, but it was a gift to me from my sister-in-law's mother in Delhi and I have to say it was the best gift ever. I'm hoping she will share her recipe with us. 

Our house favorite is an extra hot and beautifully flavorful achaar made from spiced chili peppers. We typically place a dollop on the side of our plate as an added flavor burst with every bite. So, as you mix your dal and rice or scoop up your sabzi with your bread, you dip into the achaar before the bite. I still remember Saturday mornings when my mom would make a mitha (sweet) pooda (crepe) made simply from flour, sugar, and water. That sweet backdrop was perfect for the dramatic dollop of spiced achaar that we would dip it into. It was a heady experience that would lead me to eat one pooda after another until at about ten, my normally patient mother would finally say with a slight edge, 'are you done?' And I would say, 'no.' Another splurge we love is plain, hot freshly-made basmati rice, a dollop of butter, and a dollop of achaar topped with chopped onions and green chilis - my younger daughter's go-to snack. 

So now you know how Indian moms - restaurants - and even Hindu Temple restaurants add a quick and easy punch to their side of onions. You can even try it with other raw veggies including cabbage or grated carrots and daikon. Again, to my dear fellow Indians and Indian Americans - I know you know this, but consider it the little reminder that we all need from time to time. xoxo Anupy

Achaari Pyaz

1 onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon or more of your favorite achaar

Simply stir the two together. If you want even more flavor, add a touch of lemon juice and black salt to the onions before mixing in the achaar. This will last in the fridge 2-3 days. 

So, which achaar to buy? I have always been a fan of Nirav red spicy achaar. I cannot find a link to buy it online, but here's an example of the shape of the jar and the brand. This green chile achaar is really good as well. Once I find product I use I will post it. For now, you can google 'Indian Achaar' and you'll have a slew of items to choose from. Keep in mind, there is a range of quality and taste. I tend to stick with this one particular one, but feel free to experiment. I do prefer to stay away from anything that looks like it has a ton of oil on top. 

LOOKING AHEAD ... 

The next few weeks are filled with lots of fun. If you are in Springfield, IL, please stop in to Harvest Market and say hello. 

Consider taking a virtual Cooking class. The next one will focus on a traditional Punjabi Chicken Curry and for the vegetarians a Soya Nugget Curry that is out of this world. Click here to sign up now. Monthly classes take place on a Saturday at 10 am Chicago time --- and you can tune in from anywhere in the world! I cannot wait to see you all! 

 




1 Response

Lisa
Lisa

March 21, 2024

Definitely trying this out!

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