A quick and easy Instant Pot recipe for a Sweet & Spicy lemon pickle, also called Nimbu ka Achaar in Hindi. This preserved lemon condiment is extremely popular in India and goes great with Indian dal and rice.
There are endless variations of this pickle and almost every family has their own spin on it. This recipe is inspired from my father-in-law's delicious family recipe, that he had inherited from his grandmother! It is an Instant Pot pressure cooker adaptation of his recipe.
Quicker and Easier than Traditional Recipe
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 45 minutes!
In this recipe, I made this sweet 'n' spicy lemon pickle in my electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, but it can be made in any programmable or even a stove-top pressure cooker.
What to Serve with Lemon Pickle
Lemon pickle is one of the most popular condiments in Indian cuisine. It goes great with lentils, curries, vegetable biryani, rice, stuffed flatbreads and naan. I personally love it with Dal tadka and Cumin Rice.
Recently, I served it on my cheese platter, along with crackers and creamy brie and it was such a big hit. So many of my friends asked me for this recipe. It is now a staple on my cheese board!
Pro Tips for the Best Lemon Pickle
This pickle tastes even more delicious as it ages. I make it and refrigerate it for a couple of weeks before taking it out. This time allows all the flavors to marinate with each other and the flavor intensifies as it sits.
Life of Instant Pot Lemon Pickle
When stored in an air-tight container, this pressure cooked Lemon pickle stays good in the refrigerator for a few months at least! Always use a clean dry spoon to scoop out the pickle, this prevents any cross contamination and prolongs its life.
Instant Pot Lemon Pickle- Variation
In this recipe, I use brown sugar to sweeten the pickle. Brown sugar also gives it a gorgeous dark color. You can also use Jaggery instead of brown sugar.
Jaggery is evaporated cane juice powder, which has a deep color and a distinct floral sweet smell. It works equally well in this recipe. I use the same quantity as brown sugar, but you can adjust it to taste and add another tablespoon or two, if you like your pickle sweeter.
Lemon Pickle 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! Definitely a keeper for us!
More Jams and Preserves from my Kitchen
Sweet 'n' Spicy Lemon Pickle in Instant Pot | Nimbu ka Achaar
- 6 medium lemons
Roasting Spice mix- (see instructions on how to roast and grind)
- 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.
Notes & Recipe Tips
- Cook time= Time to set for pressure cooking.
- For best results, refrigerate the pickle in an airtight container for 1-2 weeks.
- Variation: You can use jaggery instead of brown sugar.