Achaar (Pickle)

There’s rarely an Indian
who will not rave about the ‘achaar’
their Dadi or Nani made.
They may also tell you of the strict rules
to making of that ‘achaar’
lest it get spoiled!
Recipes were passed down
from mother-in-law to daughter-in-law
Come summertime, raw green mangoes
kilos at a time
would leave the home smelling like a green paradise
and then Dadi or Nani depending on which set of grandparents
you were visiting that summer
would call for her special mix of spices
Fennel, fenugreek, nigela, mustard, turmeric
salt and chilli powder red and feiry!
The colours all a riot on a large platter
A pouring of a hot golden glaze of mustard oil
and everyone’s salivary glands would go into a frenzy
at the aroma announcing to the neighbourhood
It was ‘achaar’ day at our home!
Those jars with white muslin-covered mouths
would rest for days under strong sunlight
deepening the flavour and developing character!
Such a character and flavour that was
that it’s been 40 years since Nani’s gone,
but my salivary glands still go into a frenzy
at the mere thought of Nani’s ‘achaar’!

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