There are many fruits in the world that are lesser known, but packed with nutrients and are great ingredients to make condiments. One of them is the humble star gooseberry – the tart, distant cousin of the Indian gooseberry or amla. This recipe is thus a Star Gooseberry Pickle (called Harfi Achar in Hindi) and which requires no sunlight. Also, this Kerala style Star Gooseberry Pickle is fuss-free and easy to make too.
Table of Contents
What is Star Gooseberry
Before you begin with this Star Gooseberry Pickle, you must know a little about this unique berry. These fruits are highly effective in treating digestive disorders, piles, diarrhea, bronchitis and are known to stimulate the appetite and purify the blood.
The star gooseberry, also known as Malay gooseberry, country gooseberry, Tahitian gooseberry, arbari, starberry, etc. is a species found popularly in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Caribbean, Asia, Central America and South America.
In India, this tree is abundant in moist regions of Kerala to Manipur. The taste of this berry is sour and pungent from its crisp, juicy and watery flesh.
The star gooseberry has many names in different Indian regional languages. For instance, ‘nallikai’ in Kannada, ‘arai nellikai’ in Tamil, ‘nellikka puli’ in Malayalam, ‘narakoli’ in Oriya, ‘nora/noyal/loboni’ in Bengali, ‘raya awala’ in Marathi, ‘kawlsunhlu’ in Mizo, etc.
Star Gooseberry Uses
Since this fruit has a typical texture and flavor, it is great for pickling and this Star Gooseberry Pickle recipe is one of those easy ones that you can definitely try at home.
Other culinary and general uses of star gooseberry are:
- Besides pickles, it can be consumed raw or cooked into murabbas too. Here’s another murabba that you must try: Mango Murabba
- You can make yummy preserves, relishes and chutneys with star gooseberries.
- The raw fruit can be used as a souring agent or used to make unique vinegars.
- Star gooseberries can be juiced, mixed with some sweetener and consumed as refreshing beverages.
- In addition to the fruit, star gooseberry leaves can be cooked, the wood of the tree can be used as fuel and the bark as a tanning agent.
About Star Gooseberry Pickle
Summers definitely mean a Punjabi Mango Pickle getting prepared at home. But when there are cloudy skies with the chances of rain, this Star Gooseberry Pickle recipe is what I bank on, as it doesn’t require any sun-drying.
For this Star Gooseberry Pickle recipe, I referred to a recipe from one of the cookbooks that I have and changed the quantities accordingly. This resulted in about 500 grams of a spicy, tangy pickle, which can stay good for 6 months.
This Star Gooseberry Pickle stays well and doesn’t get spoilt because of the oil and salt in it. These act as natural preservatives. You can use the same method to make a pickle with Indian gooseberries too. I have also shared earlier an Andhra style Amla Pickle that you must give a try.
About This Recipe
This Harfi Achar is simple as there’s really no cooking involved, other than the tempering with oil and spices. Prepare the spiced star gooseberries, pour the temper on it, mix everything well and fill properly sterilized glass jars or bottles with the pickle.
After this, you’ve got to just wait for this Star Gooseberry Pickle to mature after you keep it in a dry place. Make sure you shake the jar or stir the pickle every 2 to 3 days with a clean, dry spoon. It is ready to use in 7 days.
You can relish this pickle with any Indian meal. Tastes fab with sambar-rice, curd rice and dal-rice too. One more favourite combination is steamed rice topped with some ghee and served with this Star Gooseberry Pickle.
How to make Star Gooseberry Pickle
Prep Star Gooseberries
1. Firstly rinse 400 grams star gooseberries and dry them with a kitchen towel. There should be no trace of moisture. These are small in size and are deliciously tart.
I have not removed the seeds as they were too small. If using a larger variety, then chop and remove the seeds. Slice off the sides which are bruised, if any.
Mix Spices and Salt
2. Take the gooseberries in a large bowl. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons red chili powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder and ¼ cup rock salt.
3. Mix very well. If you taste the gooseberries now, you will find them salty. After adding oil and the pickling process, the saltiness is not felt. The flavors mellow down.
4. In another pan, heat ½ cup sesame oil (gingelly oil). Let the oil become hot. Not smoking hot, but hot enough to fry the spices.
5. Then, add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds and allow them to splutter.
6. Now, add 1 teaspoon asafoetida (hing). Stir and switch off the heat. Keep the pan on your kitchen countertop for the oil to cool at room temperature.
Make Star Gooseberry Pickle
7. Let the oil cool completely and then pour it over the star gooseberries mixed with the spices.
8. Mix everything very well.
9. Spoon the pickle in a sterilized jar. Close with a lid and keep the pickle in a dry corner of your kitchen for 7 days.
After every 2 to 3 days, give the pickle bottle or jar a good shake or stir with a clean dry spoon. The yield is about 500 grams of pickle. The oil will float on the top later. But don’t worry as that’s how Indian pickles are.
10. The Star Gooseberry Pickle will be ready in 7 days. Once it is is ready, keep outside or in the refrigerator.
In cold climates, you can keep it outside. In a hot and humid climate, keep in the refrigerator. Serve the Star Gooseberry Pickle with any Indian meal of your choice.
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Star Gooseberry Pickle
- 400 grams star gooseberries
- 2 to 3 tablespoons red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ cup rock salt (edible and food grade) or regular salt, add as required
- ½ cup sesame oil – Indian sesame oil made with raw sesame seeds one and not the South Asian one made with toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
- Firstly, rinse the star gooseberries in water. Dry them with a kitchen napkin. There should be no trace of moisture on them. If they are large in size, then chop them and remove the seeds.
- Take them in a large bowl. Add the red chili powder, turmeric powder and rock salt. Mix very well.
- In another pan, heat the sesame oil. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and allow them to splutter.
- Then, add the asafoetida. Stir and switch off the heat.
- Set the pan aside and let the oil cool completely at room temperature. Later pour the cooled oil over the gooseberries marinated with the spices. Mix very well.
- Spoon the pickle in a sterilized jar.
- Close tightly with a lid and keep the pickle in a dry corner of your kitchen for 7 days.
- After every 2 to 3 days, give the pickle bottle or jar a good shake or a stir with a clean dry spoon.
- The Star Gooseberry Pickle will be ready in 7 days.
- Once the pickle is ready, keep in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- In cold climates, you can keep the pickle outside. In hot and humid climates, refrigerate the pickle. Serve Star Gooseberry Pickle with any Indian meal of your choice or with stuffed paratha.
- Adjust the chilli powder according to your preferences.
- Instead of sesame oil, you can use sunflower oil. But the flavor and taste will change with sunflower oil.
- Use fresh star gooseberries when in season.
- Either refrigerate or keep the pickle jar in a cool dry place depending on the temperature and climate conditions.
This Star Gooseberry Pickle post from the archives first published on June 2014 has been republished and updated on 19 May 2022.