Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Lemon Pickle or lemon preserves are perhaps one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine. It’s popularly known as ‘Nimbu ka Achaar’ in the north. There are endless variations of this pickle. This is my father-in-law’s super-hit family recipe, that he inherited from his grandmother! It goes great with lentils, curries, biryani, rice pilaf, stuffed flatbreads, naan. Recently, I served it with my cheese platter, along with crackers and creamy brie- it was such a hit and so many of my friends asked me for this recipe. It is now a staple on my cheese plate appetizer!
Typically, lemon pickle is made in summer by brining lemons in their own juice, salt and a blend of spices, and sugar in some variations. The pickle is then matured in sunlight and this process takes a few weeks. This is my version, except this one got ready in 30 minutes!
This pickle tastes even more delicious as it ages. I make it and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before taking it out. It stays good in the refrigerator for a few months at least!
In this video, I have made this pickle in my programmable pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be made in a stove-top pressure cooker too by following the same directions.
If you don’t have Panch Poran spice blend, you can substitute with 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon methi seeds (fenugreek) and 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds instead.
If you like your pickle more spicy and/or sweet, you can always add more during the sauté process.
Variation using Meyer Lemons:
Recently, I picked up a bag of gorgeous Meyer Lemons from Trader Joe’s. I decided to try this recipe using those instead. But, I made one change though. Since I was out of Panch phoran, so I used a combination of mustard seeds, fennel seeds and fenugreek seeds instead. Meyer lemons are sweeter, juicier and have a thinner peel as compared to regular lemons. So, the pickle is naturally more sweeter, which was a plus 🙂 Since the peel was thinner and there was more juice and fibers in the lemon, the pickle is more like a chunky preserve, as you can see from the picture. This pickle with Meyer Lemons was a bigger hit in my house. My kids just loved it- they smeared it all over their Parantha (stuffed flat-bread) and enjoyed it! A keeper for us!
Sweet 'n' Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant PotPrint Recipe
- 6 medium sized lemons
- Roasting Spice mix- (see instructions on how to roast and grind)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1 tablespoon panch puran (5 spice blend)
- For Tempering
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 6 tablespoons Brown Sugar
Wash and dry 6 lemons. Turn on the Instant Pot. Pour 1 cup water in the inner pot and place a trivet. Place lemons in a bowl and place on top of the trivet. Close the lid. Set the vent to Sealing position. Hit Manual (High Pressure) for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, roast the spice blend for grinding. Place spices listed under the "Roasting spices list" on a microwave safe plate and heat in microwave for 3 minutes in 30 second increments, stirring in between. Cool for 5 minutes and grind to a fine powder in a spice blender.
Wait for natural pressure release from the Instant Pot. Open lid and remove the lemons. Cut in halves and remove seeds. Turn on the Instant Pot on sauté mode and let it heat up, about 30 seconds. Add oil and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to splutter, add lemons, salt, sugar and all spices. Stir well.
Continue to sauté for 4-5 minutes till the liquid reaches a jam like consistency. Turn off the Instant Pot. For best results, let the pickle rest in the refrigerator for 4-5 days before eating.