Traditional pickles of Himachal Pradesh

Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge Vol. 15(2), April 2016, pp. 330-336
Traditional pickles of Himachal Pradesh Monika, Savitri, Anila Kumari, Kunzes Angmo & T C Bhalla
Department of Biotechnology, Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla-171005, India
Received 18 March 2015, revised 17 April 2015 PDF Link
The traditional pickles of indigenous fruits and vegetables, viz., galgal, lingri, aaroo, plum, lasura, dehu, kachnar and beedana are popular in rural and urban areas of Himachal Pradesh since the very early times. These are used as appetizers and served practically with every meal. The traditional pickles of Himachal Pradesh are unique in the raw material, method of preparation and taste from the pickles in other parts of country. In the present study, the methods of preparation of traditional pickles as practiced by the rural folk have been documented. Keywords: Himachal Pradesh, Traditional, Pickles, Fermentation IPC Int. Cl.8: A23L 19/20, C12C 11/00, C12Q Traditional fermentation is a form of food preservation method used since ancient times. In addition to preservation, fermentation improves the nutritive value of foods, enhances flavor and enable the foods more digestible thus making these foods popular all over the world1-3.

Fermented foods play a crucial role in providing food security, enhancing livelihoods and social wellbeing of people all around the world4. The rural folk have preferred fermented foods over the unfermented ones due to their longer shelf life, pleasant taste, texture and appearance. In India a lot of diversity prevails in the food habits of the people living in different states and many of the states especially the hilly states have their conventional fermented products5,6. In ancient time when hilly state did not have transport systems, people were dependent on food material available seasonally/locally and developed their traditional recipes for food processing and preparation7. In Himachal Pradesh traditional fermented pickles, viz. brinjal, lingri, beedana, peach, pear, plum, tomato, dheu, radish, carrot, chilli, garlic, mushroom, etc., have been consumed as a regular food in different recipe over a long period of time. The plant materials used by the people for pickle preparation included its leaves, stem, fruits, buds, vegetables and roots.

The fermentation of vegetables and fruits with the addition of salt and spices increases the shelf life of food generally by 8-10 months8. In addition, mutton, chicken and fish pickles are also prepared and consumed in different regions of Himachal Pradesh. Pickles are fermented mainly by lactic acid bacteria which are considered to lower serum cholesterol level and help in preventing tumors by stimulating immune response thus acting as probiotic9. So far, the traditional processes for the production of pickles of Himachal Pradesh have not been documented and these folk recipes for pickles preparation are losing sheen in the fast food culture. So, there is a need to conserve our traditional knowledge of pickling for making fruits and vegetables persistable, shelf stable and easily transportable without aid of refrigeration.

This paper focuses on documentation of traditional methodology of pickle preparation in Himachal Pradesh and efforts have also been made to elaborate some of the traditional pickling processes. Methodology A survey of rural and tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh was done to identify popular indigenous pickles of Himachal Pradesh. Survey was carried out in around 70 households in ten district of Himachal Pradesh representing the diverse ethnic groups and different geographical conditions. Data on the raw materials, spices used in preparation and popular fermentation procedures used in pickle production were collected by active interaction with people of rural and tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh. The local names of raw materials used were included


*Corresponding author


and the taxonomic identification of fruits and vegetables used in pickle preparation was done. Microorganisms involved in fermentation of some of the traditional pickles were isolated on MRS agar and were identified by 16s rDNA sequencing method. The sequences were submitted to Gen Bank, NCBI. Results and discussion Pickles made from galgal, lingri, aaroo, plum, elon, dheu, beedana, lasura, ghia and brinjal are indigenous to Himachal Pradesh. Other vegetables used for pickling are carrot, cucumber, cabbage, bittergourd, beans, chillies, jackfruit, garlic, ginger and onions. These pickles besides having nutritional value also act as food adjunct and appetizers and add palatability to the foods. Some of the traditional fermented pickles of Himachal Pradesh along with raw material, spices used and area of preparation are listed in Table 1.The nutritional value of raw materials used for pickle preparation are given in Table 210,11.The generalized method of pickle preparation common to most of the pickles of Himachal Pradesh is given as flow chart in Fig. 1. The approximate quantity and the role of various spice /ingredients used in pickle preparation are also summarized in Table 3.The amount and type of various spices used in different pickle depend upon the type of the fruit and vegetable used in the pickle prepared in Himachal Pradesh, black mustard is the unique ingredient which gives characteristics traditional flavor to the pickles. However, black mustard seed (which is supposed to give slightly sour taste to the pickle) is not used in the pickles prepared from ingredients already having acidic taste/sour taste. Table 1—Some of the traditional pickles of Himachal Pradesh

Local name Raw material used Common name/ Botanical name/ Family Ingredients used Area Aaroo pickle Fruit Peach/Prunus persica (L.) Batsch/Rosaceae Thyme seed, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, fenugreek powder, salt, black mustard and mustard oil. Kullu Beedana pickle Fruit Quince/Cydonia oblonga Mill./ Rosaceae Mustard oil, black mustard, red chilli, fenugreek powder, turmeric powder and salt

Kullu Chukh Green and red chillies

Green and red chilli/Capsicum
annuum L./ Solanaceae Chilli, lime juice, salt and mustard oil. Chamba Dheu pickle Unripe fruit Monkey jack fruit /Artocarpus lakoocha Roxb./Moraceae Mustard oil, thyme seed, red chilli powder, fenugreek powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, salt and 3-4 spoon sugar. Shimla,Mandi, Hamirpur Elon pickle Elon seeds Foetid Cassia/Cassia tora L./Caesalpiniaceae Mustard oil, juice of galgal, salt, turmeric powder, fenugreek seed, red chilli, asafoetida, sugar, thyme seed, cumin seed. Kangra, Chamba Galgal pickle Fruit Hill lemon/Citrus psedolimon Tanaka/ Rutaceae Mustard oil, thyme seed, fennel seed, red chilli, fenugreek seed, turmeric powder, sugar and salt Kullu, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Mandi, Shimla,Solan. Kachalu pickle Tuber Taro/ Caloca siaesculenta (L.) Schott/ Araceae

Mustard oil, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli,

asafoetida, thyme powder and cumin powder, Juice of galgal. Bilaspur Kachnar pickle Flower buds Orchid tree/ Bauhinia variegate L./ Caesalpiniaceae Mustard oil, cumin seed, red chilli, vinegar, fenugreek seed, turmeric powder, nigella seed and salt. Sundernagar, Bilaspur,Solan Lasura pickle Fruit Indian cherry/ Cordia myxa L./ Boraginaceae Mustard oil, thyme seed, red chilli powder, salt, fenugreek seed and turmeric powder. Shimla, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Solan Lingri pickle Young fronds Fern/Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw/ Athyriaceae Mustard oil, thyme seed, black mustard powder, red chilli powder, fenugreek powder, salt and turmeric powder. Kullu, Chamba, Solan Nashpati pickle Unripe fruit Pear/Pyrus communis L./Rosaceae Mustard oil, thyme seed, red chilli, black mustard, fenugreek powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder and salt Kullu Tamatar pickle Unripe fruit Tomato/Lycopersicon esculentum

L./Solanaceae Thyme powders, fenugreek seed, black mustard, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and mustard oil. Kullu


Some of the traditional pickles of Himachal Pradesh Lingri pickle Lingri [Diplazium esculentum (Retz.) Sw.] is a fern locally available in high altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh. Its pickle is prepared during summer when there is ample availability of this fern. This is also used in preparation of traditional vegetable curry (lungru ki sabzi) in Himachal Pradesh7. Rhizome of lingri is used in treatment of cough, asthma, fever, dyspepsia, stomachache, diarrhea and its leaves are useful in constipation and used as antibacterial12. For preparation of lingri pickle, scales present on the stem are removed with wet cotton cloth, washed with Table 2—Nutritional value (per 100 gm fresh material) of the raw materials used for preparation of traditional pickles10,11

Food item Moisture

(%) Protein

(gm) Fat (gm) Fiber (gm) Carbohydrate (gm) Calcium (mg/100gm) Phosphorus (mg/100gm) Iron (mg/100gm) Energy

(Kcal) Aaroo 86.0 1.2 0.3 1.2 10.5 15 41 2.4 50 Beedana 71.13 0.40 0.33 1.61 23 10.70 22.33 0.76 103.34 Chukh 10.0 15.9 6.2 30.2 31.6 160 370 2.3 246 Dheu




2.0 13.3



0.5 66 Elon 9.7 20.7 3.9 10.4 43.5 3200 292 – 292 Galgal 84.6 1.5 1.0 1.3 10.0 90 20 0.3 59 Kachalu 73.1 3 0.1 1.o 21.1 40 140 0.42 97 Kachnar 78.3 4.8 1.3 6.8 6.4 56 54 5.3 58 Lasura




3 –


25 – – Lingri 90.09 1.29 0.16 4.68 2.61 0.08 0.06 8.40 18 Nashpati 86 0.6 0.2 1.0 11.9 8 15 0.5 52 Tamatar 94 0.9 0.2 0.8 3.6 48 20 0.64 20 Table 3—Role of common ingredients used in fermented pickles

Ingredients Quantity per 10 kg Possible role in pickle fermentation Asafoetida 5gm Antimicrobial action inhibits spoilage causing and Pathogenic microorganisms Coriander 100gm Inhibit spoilage causing/ pathogenic microorganisms, impart aroma, flavor and taste Cumin 100gm Inhibit spoilage causing and pathogenic microorganisms, enhance starter microorganism, Fennel 250gm Flavor enhancing Fenugreek 200gm Flavor enhancing and preservative Lime juice 1L

Improves pickle firmness. Mustard oil 2 L Inhibits aerobic spoilage causing bacteria yeasts and molds, Enhance growth of LAB Mustard seed 350gm Flavor enhancing, preservative, antibacterial and antifungal properties, growth promotion of LAB Nigella seed 100gm Flavor enhancing Red chilli 100gm Inhibits spoilage causing and pathogenic microorganisms, improves flavor, taste and appearance. Salt 250gm Antimicrobial, extract nutrients from raw material, improves flavor and taste Thyme 200gm Flavor enhancing Turmeric 50gm Antimicrobial action: inhibits spoilage causing and pathogenic microorganisms. Vinegar 1.2 L

Gives pickles a tart taste. Acts as a preservative due to the acidity of vinegar.

Fig.1—Generalized flow chart for pickle preparation


water, dipped in boiling water for 2 min and cut into pieces. These are transferred into shoop/changer/ sheeng (kind of tray made from bamboo stick) (Figs. 2 a, b, c) kept in sunlight for oneday to dry any extra water present on it. Thyme seed, fenugreek seed and black mustard seed were roasted and powdered on shilbatta (traditional grinding stone) (Fig. 2d) . Salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, roasted spice powder and mustard oil are added to the lingri. This mixture is then kept in chouti/achhari gharha/martbaan (Figs. 3a,b,c) for 30-35 days for fermentation (Fig. 4).The pickle formed after fermentation is dry in appearance with spicy and slight acidic flavor. Three strains of Enterococcus faecalis (KR137532, KR137543, and KR137544) have been isolated from three samples of lingri pickle collected from different villages of Himachal Pradesh. The lingri pickle can be consumed for 1-2 yrs without any change in the quality of the product. Kachnar pickle Kachnar (Bauhinia variegata L.) is a medium sized deciduous tree which has green buds and pink flower. Kachnar is a good source of nutrients especially in fiber component and can be beneficial for the patients with constipation and cardiovascular diseases. Bark is used in removal of intestinal worms. Young buds of kachnar flowers are used for preparation of raita, pickles, flour and curry and also used as flavoring compound13. Buds of Kachnar are source of dietary antioxidants14. The method of preparation of kachnar pickle (Fig. 5) is similar to that of lingri except the types of spices used. In kachnar pickle, nigella seed, roasted cumin powder and vinegar are added along with other spices. However, black mustard seeds are not added in its preparation. Due to the tangy flavor of kachnar pickle, it is relished with most of the foods. The shelf life of kachnar pickle is 10-12 months. Beedana pickle Beedana (Cydonia oblonga Mill.) is an edible pear shaped fruit mostly grown in Kullu district

of Himachal Pradesh. Consumption of beedana

fruit is considered to help in curing the people

suffering from tuberculosis, hepatic insufficiency,

diarrhea, dysentery, gastric ulcer, liver and eye

diseases. Beedana pickle is prepared by first washing of fruits followed by chopping into pieces, boiling for 2-3 min and sun drying. Dried beedana pieces are then mixed with red chilli powder, salt, roasted black mustard powder, roasted fenugreek powder, turmeric powder and mustard oil in large pan and this is put into gharha for pickle fermentation (Fig. 3b). The inner surface of gharha is coated with mustard oil for 5-7 times. In old pot, only one coat is sufficient for quality fermentation. After filling the gharha with the mixture, the upper surface of lid is sealed and kept in sunlight for fermentation (Fig. 6). Due to the addition of black mustard powder, this pickle has a unique acidic taste and can be kept for more than 2 yrs without being spoiled. Lasura pickle Lasura (Cordia myxa L.) is green colored fruit containing gum like sticky material and consumed by the rural people of Mandi, Bilaspur, Kangra, Una and Hamirpur districts in Himachal Pradesh as vegetable curry7 and as pickle (Fig. 7). Lasura is considered to

Fig. 2—

Utensils used for drying purposes of raw material of

pickle (a) Shoop (b) Changer (c) Sheeng (d) Shilbatta



Fig. 3—Traditional vessels used for pickling (a) Chouti (b) Gharha

(c) Martbaan


be helpful in decreasing the blood pressure and also

consumed as antidiabetic. Traditional method used for preparation of lasura pickle is shown in (Fig. 8). The prepared product has a characteristic spicy taste and can be kept for consumption for about 1-2 yrs. Aaroo (peach) pickle Aaroo pickles made from wild peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] which is an indigenous fruit of Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. This wild peach is put to no use except for preparing the pickle or local achar (Fig. 9) by rural women in district Kullu. For the preparation of aaroo pickle, aaroo fruit is washed with water, boiled and transferred into sheeng (traditional sieve) (Fig. 2c) and allowed to drain and kept in the sunlight for drying. Different types of spices like thyme seeds, fenugreek and black mustard were roasted and powdered using shilbatta. Turmeric powder, red chilli powder, salt, mustard oil and powder of roasted spices (thyme seeds, fenugreek and black mustard) are mixed thoroughly with aaroo and the whole mixture is then put into a large gharha (earthen pitcher) for fermentation. Before shifting the mixture into gharha smoke of heeng (asafoetida) is given into empty gharha to impart good aroma to the pickle. Enterococcus faecalis (KR137535) has been isolated from the samples of aaroo pickle. This pickle can be kept for about 2 yrs or more at room temperature for consumption. Nashpati (pear) pickle Pear pickle (Pyrus communis L.) is prepared in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh during the month of July and August when there is ample availability of this fruit. Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, antioxidant, minerals and good quantity of vitamin C. The method of preparation of nashpati pickle (Fig.10) is similar to that of aaroo pickle. However, the shelf life of nashpati pickle is less (12-18 months) than that of aaroo pickle. The pickle is sweet and sour in taste. Chukh Chukh (Capsicum annuum L.) is a traditional fermented delicacy of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. It is a pickle made of chillies, lime juice, salt and mustard oil (Fig.11).Although it is very hot (spicy), but has pleasant aroma and taste. It can be eaten with chapati, prantha and breads. Flow chart for chukh preparation is given in (Fig.12). The shelf life of chukh is about 2 yrs. Tamatar pickle Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.) are the source of vitamin A, C and used in salads, sauces, flavoring in soups and as ingredient in other cooked foods. Tomatoes are considered to promote gastric

Figs. 4—Lingri pickle: Fig. 5—Kachnar pickle : Fig. 6—Beedana

pickle: Fig. 7—Lasura pickle

Fig. 8—Flow chart for preparation of lasura pickle

Figs. 9—Aaroo pickle: Fig. 10—Nashpati pickle : Fig. 11—Chukh


secretions and stimulate liver and also useful in asthma, bronchitis and dyspepsia. The tomatoes are cut into small pieces, dried in sun for one or two days and then mixed with salt, turmeric powder, roasted powder of thyme, fenugreek, black mustard and red chilli, mustard oil. Before putting the mixture for fermentation, martbaan is exposed to the smoke of heeng and then kept for fermentation (Fig.13).The pickle is acidic in taste and can be kept only for 4-6 months for consumption if properly stored. Dheu pickle Dheu (Artocarpus lakoocha Roxb.) fruit has a pleasant unusual flavor and distinct taste which is not found in any other fruits. Dheu is mostly used for pickles and chutney preparation. The dried slices of fruit are also used in preparation of meat and fish curries as these impart a very special flavor to the curries. The fruits of dheu are useful for treatment of dysentery, arthritic swelling and skin diseases. Dheu pickle is an indigenous fermented product of Shimla, Mandi and Hamirpur districts of Himachal Pradesh. For its preparation, dheu fruit is immersed in boiling hot water for two minutes and dried in sun for one day. Fruit is cut into small pieces and mixed with thyme seeds, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, roasted fenugreek seeds, sugar and mustard oil. The mixture is then transferred into clay pot called chouti (Fig. 3a) for fermentation (Fig.14) and can be consumed in the period of 12-18 months. Galgal pickle Galgal (Citrus psedolimon Tanaka) is a variety of citrus fruit which is available during winters. The method of preparation of galgal pickle is similar to other fermented vegetable pickle. Fully ripened galgal fruit is selected for its preparation which is then washed with water, immerses in boiling water for 2 min and sundried. The fruit is cut into small pieces, heat the mustard oil, put fenugreek seed and brown it. Mixed galgal fruit with salt, red chilli powder, thyme seeds, mustard oil, sugar, turmeric powder and fennel seeds to the heated pan and cooked for 5-10 min, cooled and left to ferment for 15-25 days (Fig.15). Galgal pickle is usually prepared during winter season when temperature is not ambient for fermentation. So to provide the ambient temperature for fermentation, in the upper Himalayan regions, fermentation is carried out near the traditional fireplaces called tandoor. Enterococcus faecalis (KR137541) and Leuconostoc mesenteroides (KR137536) have been isolated from galgal pickle samples. This pickle can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 yrs. Galgal pickle has unique aroma due to the presence of fennel seeds which also give it a sweet and slight sour taste. Elon pickle Elon (Cassia tora L.) is generally distributed throughout India and known as Charota. In Himachal, this grows as a wild plant in Kangra and Chamba districts. This plant is an annual herbaceous herb, almost an under shrub growing upto 30-90 cm high with pinnate leaves. Elon is used in Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of leprosy, ringworm, and cardiac disorders. The herb also eases the skin itch when it is given mixed with lime juice. The seeds of elon are put to no use except for preparing the pickle and chutneys. For the preparation of elon pickle, dry seeds of elon are roasted in a pan for 2-3 minute and grinded in a shilbatta. Mustard oil is heated in a pan and juice of galgal is added and boiled to concentrate the juice. To this salt, turmeric powder, roasted fenugreek seed, red chilli, asafoetida, sugar, thyme seed, cumin seed and grinded roasted seed of elon are added and mixed properly. The mixture is cooled and kept in a clay pot or chouti for 15 -20 days (Fig.16). The shelf life of elon pickle is 12-18 months.

Fig.12—Flow chart for preparation of chukh


Kachalu pickle Kachalu [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott] is tuberous perennial with a group of underground corms consisting of a central large one and surrounding ones of varying sizes.The juice of the corm is laxative, demulcent, anodyne and is useful in haemorrhoids and congestion of the portal system. For the preparation of kachalu pickle, kachalu is peeled, cut into round pieces and cooked in mustard oil, half fried, galgal juice is added, heated and mixed with different types of spices, i.e., salt, turmeric powder, red chilli, asafoetida, thyme seed and cumin powder. As different spices are added during fermentation, the pickle is spicy in taste. After cooling the mixture is transferred into air tight martbaan for fermentation (Fig.17) and should be consumed within one year of the preparation. Conclusion In Himachal Pradesh, a variety of pickles are prepared from local fruits and vegetables. The preparation of most of the pickles involves fermentation of fruits and vegetables that are available in ample amount during a particular season. In Himachal Pradesh, pickle production is mainly carried out by rural women using their indigenous

knowledge. Documentation of methods of pickle

preparation offers the opportunity for scale-up to make the household confined fermented products available to a much wider population. This will provide better avenues for rural entrepreneurship development. Moreover, there is a need of microbiological and biochemical evaluations of these traditional pickles in the light of developments in fermentation technology. The pickling of surplus

vegetables and fruits enhances the shelf life of the

products, Moreover, in pickle fermentation lactic acid

bacteria are involved and pickles are thus probiotic

product. Fermentation with known probiotic strains

and traditional raw material will further add quality to

the pickles of Himachal Pradesh. Acknowledgement Authors are thankful to the people of various districts of Himachal Pradesh for sharing the information regarding the preparation of traditional pickles. Financial support from University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi as Maulana Azad National Fellowship to Ms. Monika and Post-Doctoral Fellowship to Dr. Savitri is greatly acknowledged. References 1 Aderiye BI & Laleye SA, Relevance of fermented food products in southwest Nigeria, Foods Hum Nutr, (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum), 3(2003) 1-16. 2 Mosha TCE & Vicent MM, Nutritional value and acceptability of homemade maize/sorghum based weaning mixtures supplemented with rojobean flour, groundsardines and peanut paste, Int J Food Sci Nutr, 55(4) (2004) 301-315. 3 Nout MJR & Sarkar PK, Lactic acid fermentation in tropical climates, Antonievan Leeuwenhoek, 76 (1) (1999) 395- 401. 4 Felix O Enwa, A mini review on the micro biochemical properties of Sauerkraut, Afr J Sci Res, 3 (1) (2014)15-16. 5 Prajapati JB, Fermented foods of India, In: Proceedings of International seminar and workshop on social well being, Anand, India, (2003) 1-4. 6 Savitri & Bhalla TC, Traditional foods and beverages of Himachal Pradesh, Indian J Tradit Knowle, 6 (2007) 17-24. 7 Kapoor A, Kanwar P & Gupta R, Traditional recipes of districts Kangra of Himachal Pradesh, Indian J Tradit Knowle, 9 (2010) 282-288. 8 Saritha K, Jeyasanta IK & Patterson J, Physico chemical and sensorial characteristics of commercial seafood pickles Tuticorin super market, Tamil Nadu, India, Int Food Res J, 21 (2) (2014) 649-654. 9 Perdigón G, Macias M E N, Alvarez S, Oliver G & De Holgado R A P, Systemic augmentation of the immune response in mice by feeding fermented milks with Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus acidophlilus, Immunology, 63(1988) 17-23. 10 Gopalan C, Ramasastri BV & Bala Subramanian SC, Nutritive value of Indian Foods, (National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad), 1995. 11 12 Semwal A, Kaushik S, Bhatt SP & Negi A, Antibacterial

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Figs. 13—Tamatar pickle: Fig.14—Dheu pickle : Fig. 15—Galgal pickle


Fig. 16—Elon seeds: Fig.17—Kachalu pickle

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