In India, it is one thing to have a regular Red Chili Pickle and really special to have the famed Banarasi style stuffed one made with fresh red chilies. This Lal Mirch Ka Achar recipe is the latter one and is just stunning – both to look at and for the palate. And I really mean it. Once you try it, it’s going to be your favorite too. You would literally pair it with almost every Indian meal!
Table of Contents
My tryst with Red Chilli Pickle
Just like every other Indian, summers for me too are synonymous with making different types of pickles, preserves or sun-drying vegetables/fruits and homemade papads. My go-to summer pick has always been the Mango Pickle, followed by this luscious Red Chili Pickle.
It was during our trip to Kashi a.k.a Banaras or Varanasi that we got to taste the lovely Lal Mirch Ka Achar there. One bite, and I was mesmerized by this spicy, very rustic pickle that oozed tradition in all ways. So much that flavor and texture stayed with me.
Back home, I was quite interested in preparing it myself. So, I asked my mother-in-law about it and when she replied in affirmative, I was delighted and quickly jotted down the recipe. Luckily, I could source the kind of fresh red chilies that were used for this typical pickle too.
Usually, we like our meals as well as our stuffed parathas with a good side of pickle. Since the day I recreated the Lal Mirch Ka Achar recipe at home, it has been a constant for me and my family. I always have 2 to 3 jars of pickles in the refrigerator.
More on this Lal Mirch Ka Achar
Red chillies are called Lal Mirch in Hindi and achar means pickle hence the name Lal Mirch ka Achar. I love this Red Chili Pickle as it is a ‘no fire cooking’ recipe.
The pickle is easy to make and takes about 20 to 25 minutes to get prepared. The only time-consuming part is sunbathing the jar for the flavors to amalgamate in the best possible way.
This Lal Mirch Ka Achar matures in about 5 to 7 days after the pickle is slow-cooked in the natural heat from the sunlight. So, you will definitely need good sunlight to make this recipe a hit.
Cloudy weather is a big no for this. If the sunlight is intense, then the pickle might get done in 3 to 4 days itself.
One way you can check the doneness of this Red Chili Pickle is to taste the stuffed red chilies. Crunchiness in them would mean that some more days are required for the pickle to mature. Once fully done, the chilies should soften from the heat of the sun.
You can also have a look at my Green Chilli Pickle recipe that is made with green chillies and has a totally unique flavor and taste than this red chilli pickle.
Tips Before You Begin
- As always for any pickle, use natural ingredients – good quality chilies and fresh spices. Check if there are insects or mould in the spices.
- Once the red chilies are rinsed properly with water, you have to wipe them dry with a clean kitchen towel or let them dry naturally on a plate.
- Before you begin with the pickling process, ensure that the red chilies have no moisture in them and are completely dry.
- For the tastiest and best result, mustard oil is a must in this recipe. Use that only.
- Ensure that the jar is completely dry before placing the red chilies in it.
- It’s very important to use clean and dry chopping boards, spoons, bowls and knives. Rinse and sun-dry your jar for storing the pickle. Alternatively, sterilize the jar.
- Your skin can be sensitive to fresh red chilies and they might cause irritation. So, wear gloves while working with chilies.
- This recipe will yield 1 medium jar of Red Chili Pickle. I have mentioned quantities both in grams and cups/tablespoons equivalents. You can refer to either of it.
How to make Red Chili Pickle
Prep Red Chilies
1. Rinse 300 grams or 12 to 14 fresh red chilies with water a couple of times. Then, wipe dry each red chili with a kitchen cotton napkin.
The chilies have to be completely dry before you proceed with stuffing them with the pickle masala.
2. Remove the crowns of the red chilies. Then, with a knife make a slit on each red chili. Ensure that you slit the chili only one side and keep it whole.
3. With the back handle of a small spoon, scrape of the seeds and pith from each red chili.
4. Remove the seeds and pith from each red chilli. Cover them and keep aside.
Make Pickle Masala
5. Take 4 tablespoons mustard seeds, 6 tablespoons fennel seeds and 3 tablespoons fenugreek seeds in a small grinder jar or coffee grinder.
6. Powder the spices coarsely. Do not make a fine powder.
7. Take the coarsely powdered spices in a mixing bowl or pan. Add 5 tablespoons dried mango powder (amchur powder), 2 tablespoons turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing) and 3 tablespoons salt.
8. Mix very well with a spoon.
Making Red Chili Pickle
9. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons mustard oil in the coarsely ground pickle masala. This is to moisten the masala so that it can easily be stuffed in the red chilies.
10. Mix very well.
11. Take a portion of the pickle masala and stuff in each red chili.
12. Stuff the pickle masala in all the red chilies.
13. Now, place each stuffed red chili in a clean glass jar or ceramic jar. You can either sterilize the jar or keep it in sun with its lid for a couple of hours. If there is any leftover pickle masala, then add it in the jar.
14. Now, pour 1 cup mustard oil in the jar. Note that you do not require to heat mustard oil before pouring it on the stuffed chillies.
15. Close the jar with its lid. Then, shake the jar, so that the mustard oil coats all the red chilies.
16. Remove the lid. Place a muslin cloth on the mouth of the jar and secure it tightly with a string or rubber band.
17. Place the pickle jar in the sun. During the evening, remove the jar from your window sill, balcony or terrace and keep in a dry place in your kitchen.
Next morning, keep in the sun again. Shake the jar everyday before keeping in sunlight. Keep in the sun for about 5 to 7 days.
To check if the Red Chili Pickle is done, taste the red chilies. It there is crunchiness in them, then some more days will be needed for the pickle to mature. The red chilies should soften due to the heat from the sunlight.
18. Once the pickle is matured, you can start serving it with your meals. You can also store it in the refrigerator or keep the jar in a cool dry place.
Banaras and Food
Apart from this popular pickle, which is also sometimes known as the Bharwa Lal Mirch Ka Achar (Stuffed Red Chili Pickle) locally, Banaras’ enchanting way of tingling one’s senses with its food is treasured by connoisseurs from across the world.
And it’s not just me who’s guaranteeing you on this. It’s a well-established fact! Banaras or Varanasi can rightly be termed as a foodie’s heaven.
This list is only going to give you a glimpse of what all you shouldn’t miss when in this ancient city of gods, ghats and great food.
- Kachori Sabzi; try this Kachori recipe too
- Chena Dahi Vada; till the time I create this version, you can enjoy this Dahi Vada
- Meethe Golgappe or Dahi-Chutney Golgappa; a sweeter version of the Papdi Chaat
- Choora Matar
- Laiyya Chana; the Banarasi cousin of the Mumbai special Bhel Puri
- Tamatar Chaat
- Bati or Litti Chokha; this Aloo Chokha or Baingan Ka Chokha is just as good
- Banarasi Paan
Since I’ve also expressed my love for Banaras here, I would love for you’ll to go ahead and make the delicious Banarasi Dum Aloo at home and enjoy it with crisp, puffed poori.
Yes, it is.
No, you don’t have to heat the mustard oil before pouring it on the red chilies.
I wouldn’t advise you to do that. Since the spice mixture is stuffed in the chilies, it is best to use the thicker and larger variety of fresh red chilies.
This Lal Mirch Ka Achar tastes best when made in mustard oil. So, go for that only.
You may skip using it. However, the addition of hing imparts a unique zing to the recipe and the flavor is elevated because of that. So, it’s better to use it.
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Red Chili Pickle (Lal Mirch Ka Achar)
- 300 grams fresh red chilies or 12 to 14 fresh large red chilies (lal mirch)
- 4 tablespoons mustard seeds – 35 grams
- 5 tablespoons dried mango powder – 32 grams (amchur powder)
- 6 tablespoons fennel seeds – 40 grams (saunf)
- 3 tablespoons fenugreek seeds – 30 grams (methi dana)
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
- 3 tablespoons salt – 45 grams
- 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
- 4 to 5 tablespoons mustard oil – for mixing with spices
- 1 cup mustard oil – to be added later
Prepping red chillies
- Rinse fresh red chilies with water a couple of times. Then, wipe dry each red chili with a kitchen cotton napkin.
- The chilies have to be completely dry before you proceed with stuffing them with the pickle masala.
- Remove the crowns from the red chilies. Then, with a knife make a slit on each red chili. Ensure that you slit the chili only one side and keep it whole.
- With the back handle of a small spoon, scrape off the seeds and pith from each red chili.
- Once you remove the seeds and pith from each red chili, cover them and keep aside.
Making pickle masala
- Take mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds in a small grinder jar or coffee grinder.
- Powder the spices coarsely. Do not make a fine powder.
- Take the coarsely powdered spices in a mixing bowl or pan. Add dried mango powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt.
- Mix very well with a spoon.
Making red chilli pickle
- Add 4 to 5 tablespoons mustard oil in the coarsely ground pickle masala. This is to moisten the masala so that it can easily be stuffed in the red chilies. Mix very well.
- Take a portion of the pickle masala and stuff in each red chili.
- Stuff the pickle masala in all the red chilies.
- Now, place each stuffed red chili in a clean glass jar or ceramic jar. You can either sterilize the jar or keep it in sun with its lid for a couple of hours. Add any leftover pickle masala in the jar.
- Now, pour 1 cup mustard oil in the jar.
- Close the jar with its lid. Then shake the jar, so that the mustard oil coats all the red chilies.
- Remove the lid. Place a muslin cloth on the mouth of the jar. Secure it tightly with a string or rubber band.
- Place the pickle jar in the sun. During evening, remove the jar from your window sill, balcony or terrace and keep in a dry place in your kitchen. Next morning, keep in the sun again. Shake the jar everyday before keeping in sunlight. Keep in the sun for about 5 to 7 days.
- To check if the pickle is done, taste the red chilies. If there is crunchiness in it, then some more days will be needed for the pickle to mature. The red chilies should soften due to the heat from the sunlight.
- Once the Red Chili Pickle is matured, you can start serving it with your meals, store it in the refrigerator or keep the jar in a cool dry place.
- Use the larger variety of fresh red chillies. Ensure that you don’t end up using an overly spicier or hotter variety of chillies as then the pickle will become very spicy.
- Do not replace mustard oil with any other oil. Also, you do not need to heat mustard oil.
- Make sure that the spices are fresh, within their shelf-period and without any insects and moulds.
- Note that the approximately nutrition info is for 1 pickled red chili.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Red Chilli Pickle post from the archives first published in April 2018 has been republished and updated on 15 May, 2022.