When life gives you lemons or limes, you cherish them and turn them into a tangy, spicy pickle! Naranga Achar is a lemon pickle recipe which is a gift from one of the most beautiful cuisines of India, Kerala. Made with lemon, spices and herbs in sesame oil, this achar is also an integral part of the celebrated ‘sadya’ meal during Onam. This recipe of mine is going to help you make it at home, in a simple way.
Table of Contents
About Naranga Achar
‘Naranga’ (pronounced as nāraṅṅa) is ‘lemon’ in Malayalam language and ‘achar’ is simply a ‘pickle.’ So, this lemon pickle recipe is a popular one in the cuisine that belongs to ‘Gods own country’ Kerala.
As much as this South Indian state is famous for its robust stir-fries, curries and stews, exclusive breads and decadent sweets, it is also known for its pickles. These range from vegetable to seafood ones. This particular pickle recipe is a favorite of mine.
Amongst other things, my refrigerator always stores some good 2 to 3 jars of pickle at any given point. Not just me, my family is used to a side of pickle with both lunch and dinner meals. The Naranga Achar is especially relished with dal-rice and even with various stuffed parathas.
This particular Kerala style pickle recipe is an easy instant one. It gets cooked and doesn’t require sun drying. However, it requires a few more days post getting cooked, to be able to be consumed.
Here I have pan-fried the lemons instead of steaming them. One important thing to keep in mind is since we are pan-frying the lemons instead of steaming, make sure that the lemons don’t burst while sautéing. Or else this can turn the pickle bitter. Also, don’t use thick skinned lemons. Lime or wild lemon is also a good choice for this pickle recipe.
While I have used lemons, you can also use limes to make a wonderful pickle with the recipe. Just ensure that the limes are fresh and juicy.
How to make Naranga Achar
1. First rinse 6 to 7 (300 grams) large lemons very in water. Then, wipe them dry with a kitchen napkin or let them dry naturally placing them on a kitchen towel.
There should be no trace of moisture or water on the lemons before you proceed to the next step. Use fresh lemons and ones with a thin skin.
You could also swap lemons with 300 grams of limes to make a spicy pickle.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil (gingelly oil) in a kadai or pan.
3. Keep the heat to low and add the lemons.
4. Stir them well.
5. Pan fry the lemons for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat. Stir them often.
6. The lemons should not crack. In case, if they start cracking then immediately remove from the pan.
7. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Then, with a slotted spoon remove the lemons on a plate.
8. When they cool down completely, chop them in 8 pieces. Remove all the seeds. You will need 2 cups of chopped lemons.
Making Naranga Achar
9. Take the chopped lemons in the same plate or a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and 2 teaspoons salt.
10. Mix well with a spoon or with clean hands.
11. In the same pan or kadai, heat 3 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil). Keep the heat to a low.
12. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.
13. Then, add 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds.
14. Fry fenugreek seeds for 2 to 3 seconds.
15. Now, add 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger, 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic, 2 teaspoons finely chopped green chilies and 8 to 10 curry leaves, whole or chopped.
16. Fry for a few seconds on low heat, till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away.
17. Then, add 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder and ½ teaspoon asafoetida (hing).
18. Mix well and fry the spice powders for 2 to 3 seconds on low heat.
19. Add the chopped lemons. At this step you can also add ½ tablespoon white vinegar.
20. Mix thoroughly and switch off the heat.
21. Remove the pan from heat and let the pickle cool completely.
22. When cooled completely, spoon the pickle in a clean glass jar. Use a clean dry spoon. You can also use a sterilized glass jar to store the pickle.
23. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil from top. This won’t allow the pickle to get spoiled. Shake the jar gently.
Seal with a lid and keep the jar at room temperature for about 2 days. You can shake the jar each day.
24. After 2 days, you can start serving the pickle. Once you open the lid, refrigerate the pickle.
You can always add more sesame oil later, if required. When refrigerated, this pickle stays good for about 30 to 45 days.
You can serve the Naranga Achar as a part of Indian thali or with lachha paratha, aloo paratha, pudina paratha or with dal-rice, sambar-rice or curd rice.
In addition to this Naranga Achar, I have a few more lemon pickle recipe variations that are just lovely and you must try each one of them.
- The no oil, no cook Lemon Pickle recipe which is also incredibly easy to make with just 4 simple ingredients. It is naturally low-fat, vegan friendly and gluten-free too. It gets ready in sun light.
- Khatta Meetha Nimbu Ka Achar or the lemon pickle recipe which is my mother’s special recipe and has lemon, jaggery and spice powders. This recipe needs cooking and gets ready to eat by resting at room temperature. You may keep it in the sunlight as well. Details in the recipe.
- The no cook Tangy & Sweet Lemon Pickle is another variation of sweet and sour pickle. The main difference is that sugar is used to sweeten this one, while the other one has jaggery in it. This variation also has only red chili powder, while the above has other spice powders too. Requires complete sun drying.
- You have to use fresh large, juicy, thin-skinned lemons for this recipe. Don’t use the ones that are discolored on the outside. Thick skinned lemons take more time to soften and may turn the pickle bitter.
- In case you are using lemons just out of the refrigerator, get them to room temperature first and then gently wipe the fine droplets of moisture on them.
- Alternatively, lime or wild lemons are also good for this recipe.
- After opening the lid of the pickle jar for serving, refrigerate it to make it stay good for about 30 to 45 days. If needed, you can add some more sesame oil later.
- While making the pickle, make sure that your chopping boards, knives, spoons, bowls, jars and even the lemons are dry without any moisture.
- To sterilize your pickle jar: Bring sufficient water to boil in a large sauce pan. Immerse the glass jar with its metallic lid in it and continue to boil for 8 to 10 minutes. Use clean tongs to take out the jar and lid from the water. Keep the jar and lid inverted on a thick towel kept on the kitchen tabletop. Wait till the jar naturally dries completely.
The pickle takes 2 days to get ready. So, after 2 days you can start serving it. Once the lid is opened, you have to refrigerate it. This way it will stay good for 30 to 45 days. Keep adding more sesame oil, if required.
Citrus fruits have Vitamin C and the spices are good for digestion. Thus, lemon and lime pickles are beneficial for the health if eaten in small quantities. But be mindful if you are on a low sodium diet, as the pickle has a good quantity of salt in it.
Indian meals consisting dal-rice, khichdi, vegetable and paneer curries are great with this Naranga Achar. You can also have it with stuffed parathas in your breakfast.
Please be sure to rate the recipe in the recipe card or leave a comment below if you have made it. For more vegetarian inspirations, Sign Up for my emails or follow me on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter.
Naranga Achar (Kerala Lemon Pickle)
For pan frying lemons or naranga
- 6 to 7 lemons – large or 300 grams or swap with 300 grams of limes
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (gingelly oil) for pan frying lemons
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
For tempering naranga achar
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil)
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 inch ginger – finely chopped or 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves small to medium-sized, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 green chili – finely chopped or 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped green chilies
- 8 to 10 curry leaves – whole or chopped
- 1 tablespoon kashmiri red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
- ½ tablespoon white vinegar – optional
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil) to be added later
- First rinse the lemons very well in water.
- Then wipe them dry with a kitchen napkin or let them dry naturally placing them on a kitchen towel.
- There should be no trace of moisture or water on the lemons before you proceed to the next step.
Making naranga achar
- Heat sesame oil in a kadai or pan. Keep the flame to a low.
- Add the lemons and mix them with the oil.
- Then stirring them often pan fry the lemons for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat.
- The lemons should not crack. If they start cracking then immediately remove from the pan.
- After frying 2 to 3 minutes remove lemons with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
- When they cool completely, chop them in eight pieces. Remove all the seeds. You will need 2 cups of chopped lemons.
- Take the chopped lemons in the same plate or a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and 2 teaspoons salt.
- Mix thoroughly with a spoon or with clean hands.
- In the same pan or kadai, heat 3 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil). Keep the flame to a low.
- Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
- Then add fenugreek seeds and fry for 2 to 3 seconds on low heat.
- Now add finely chopped ginger, finely chopped garlic, finely chopped green chilies and curry leaves (kept either whole or chopped).
- Fry for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. Keep the heat to a low.
- Next add kashmiri red chilli powder and asafoetida (hing).
- Mix well and fry the spice powders for 2 to 3 seconds on low heat.
- Add the lemons. At this step you can also add ½ tablespoon white vinegar.
- Mix very well and switch off the heat.
- Keep the pan on the kitchen countertop and let the pickle cool completely.
- When cooled completely, then spoon the naranga achar in a clean glass jar.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil from top. This won't allow the pickle to get spoiled. Gently shake the jar. Seal with a lid and keep the jar at room temperature for about 2 days.
- Then after 2 days you can start serving the pickle.
- Once you open the lid, then refrigerate the pickle. You can always add more sesame oil later if required. When refrigerated this pickle stays good for about 30 to 45 days.
- Use fresh juicy lemons with a thin skin. Remove seeds after chopping lemons.
- While pan-frying, keep the lemons whole and do not add chopped lemons to the oil. If you prefer, choose to steam them instead of pan-frying.
- For a more spicy taste, add 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of kashmiri red chilli powder.
- If using any other red chilli powder, add more or less depending on the pungency of the red chilli powder and your spice requirements.
- The recipe can be scaled to make a small batch.
- The approximate nutrition info for about 2 tablespoons of naranga achar.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Naranga Achar recipe post from the blog archives first published in October 2017 has been republished and updated on 1 July 2022.