Last week at Wegman's I chanced upon a bag of Meyer lemons. Now earlier I had no clue about these lemons and so they never caught my eye or fancy. However every other person I know in the blog world has posted something or the other about Meyer lemons in the recent past. So when I saw them at Wegman's I had to buy them even though they were going more expensive than my 5 for $1.00 lemons at Patel Brothers. But you know I told myself "these were no ordinary lemons and it is not every day that I get to see them", so I bought a bag of lemons.
Having no specific plan about them I used them as any other lemon. Which means I squeezed them on my black tea with honey, on BS's dal rice, on the Sunday mutton curry and even on the cucumber salad. They were full of juice, plump and overflowing. The skin was thin and smooth and the juice sweeter.
And then the weekend being very warm and sunny it struck me that I could use them in a bottle of Manisha's famous lemon pickle. Very excited at the prospect I shelved the plan for Monday. It was supposed to be sunny said my phone. Monday morning, being a holiday, I dunked 5 of the Meyer lemons and 2 of the regular lemons in water with the thought of making "an achaar". Since we love green chilli in our pickles I decided to add those too. LS was home with me and she stood beside me on a step stool helping me throughout.
Once the lemons were soaked, dried and cut in the manner Manisha had told us to, the clouds started gathering in the sky. The sun played a peek-a-boo and finally decided to call it day. It was only 11 in the morning. I panicked. How to sun my pickle ? I thought. The weather now showed "Snow" even on Wednesday. Being a novice pickle-er I did not want to take a risk.So, I thought I will go the stove-top way of pickle making which again Manisha had suggested in her post. "I will then sun the cooked pickle with whatever sun I get in the next few days", I told myself. Now she had warned that cooking on the stove top will not bring the same flavor that slow curing in 60 days of sun would. This would be like going to the tanning salon instead of the beaches of Hawaii.
Ah! whatever I told myself. I have Meyer lemons. I need a pickle. The sun I have no control on so I will take this route.
All of you do follow Manisha's Lemon pickle pictorial for the original taste. I have adjusted my measures because I saw the size of my lemon were smaller than hers and I used only 5 to her 6 large ones. I also increased the juice and reduced the salt since I was doing it on the stove and decide I did not need that much salt for curing.
After two hours of cooking on very low heat the chilli-lemon pickle tasted truly amazing. Did I tell you it does not have a drop of oil either ?
Here is how I did It
Wash 5 lemons and about 12 green chillies well and then dry them. They should be really, really dry.
Next cut the lemons the way Manisha has said. Slice of the edges to begin with. Since mine were smaller in size I first cut each lemon in half, then each half in two so that we have four quarters from a lemon. Each quarter wass then further divided in 3 or 4.
For the green chillies, I removed the stem and chopped in half.
Put the lemon pieces and green chillies in a glass jar. In my case I put them in a saucepan.
To it add the following
1/4th cup of sugar
1/8th cup of salt (Manisha suggests 1/2cup salt for 6 lemons. I had 5 but I could see mine were smaller in size and I was also doing it on the stove top so went with less to start)
2 heaped tbsp red chili powder(again Manisha uses 1/4th but I had green chilies so I put less)
1 tbsp Turmeric powder
Next make a spice powder by roasting the following
1 tsp Methi seeds
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4th tsp Hing
and then grinding to a powder.
Add this spice powder to the cut lemons.
Now juice two of the lemons and add this juice to cut lemons and green chilies.
In the original recipe you would have added all of this to the jar of lemons and then left it to sun. In my case I put the saucepan on low heat on the stove top. The lemons were cooked at very low heat for almost two hours. They released enough water and I cooked till the texture was something like the picture below. I then cooled and put it in a glass jar which I have left on the window ledge. At this point this lemon-chili pickle is edible and it really tasted awesome. Since I have not had the sunned version I cannot compare but it must surely be better.