Pickles are an essential mealtime companion in India and an all-time favourite. When eaten with the wonderfully earthy flavoured daal chawal, Indian pickles add a much-needed sharpness that keeps you reaching for more. During hot Indian summers, when all you have an appetite for is curd rice, a dollop of pickle makes the meal burst with flavour. The fresh and tangy flavour also cuts through the fat and oil when eaten with your favourite biryani.
All it takes is a spoonful of your favourite pickle to elevate any dish it accompanies. People in India have been eating pickles for thousands of years and with good reason. Not only is it delicious, but it also comes with significant health benefits. Every state in India has its distinct way of pickling. Thanks to the internet, you can buy varieties of pickles from various regions of India online and choose from the best pickle brands like Add Me, Sun Grow, and more.
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Recipes for Indian pickles, achar, oorkai, or uppinkai, depending on where you're from, have long been pass down through generations and have always had a presence in our homes. Almost every Indian can remember the nostalgic taste of their Grandma's pickle. Even if we didn't live with our grandparents, we were sure to receive a jar of lovingly pickled delights every year.
However, with changing family structures and lifestyles, there is now an increasing need for store-bought pickles. Thanks to this, there are now many brands on the market. We understand how difficult it can be to choose from all the available options, so we have done all the work for you. In this buying guide, we've covered all the essential factors like ingredients, preservatives, FSSAI license, and pickling method to consider before making your purchase.
Standard Indian pickles are made using vegetables or fruits, salt, and spices and usually preserved in vinegar, oil, or water. When buying store-bought pickles, a rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients on the label, the better for you. But, make sure to check the brand’s website double, as some of them might not disclose their full list of ingredients on the bottle. Let's take a look at the various elements and their roles in the pickling process. We've broken down the ingredients into:
Oils partially work as a natural preservative to create a vacuum, thereby preventing the growth of organisms and increasing the pickle's shelf life. While it is typical to find brands made with refined vegetable oils, authentic North Indian pickles use mustard oil. The south Indian varieties traditionally use sesame oil. Many new brands feature pickles made in cottonseed oil, olive oil, and groundnut oil.
The herbs and spices used vary depending on the recipe and region, but the most commonly used spices include fennel (saunf), fenugreek (methi), mustard, red chilli powder, and turmeric. These are used for flavour as well as their chemical and medicinal properties. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Cumin and coriander are rich in vitamins.
While sugar does have some preservation properties, it's usually only added for flavour and is not really necessary for spicy or sour pickles. Sweet pickles often use sugar or honey for fermentation as well, and it is a crucial ingredient in murabbas. So unless you are actually looking to buy sweet pickles, avoid labels that list sugar as an ingredient.
Fruits used for pickle preparation contain a lot of moisture and high ph levels, making it a welcome atmosphere for microorganisms. Acetic acid (acidity regulator E260 or INS 260), often seen on product labels, is an organic acid added to foods to reduce the overall pH. A lower pH level makes the preparation more acidic suppressing bacterial growth.
While a perfect pickle would only contain natural class one preservatives, it definitely cannot be stored for a long time. Therefore, class II preservatives are present in almost every commercial pickle in India. Although the food safety authorities approve these preservatives in India, it is still best to moderate the intake of pickles with added preservatives.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, or FSSAI, is an organisation that monitors and governs the food business and Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. It is mandatory for business entities that engage in food and related activities to obtain an FSSAI license, thus ensuring that the business produces quality products.
Traditional Indian pickles essentially belong to the "pickle in oil" category. To meet the regulations of the FSSAI, they must have a minimum drained weight of 60%. These pickles generally possess low pH, may or may not contain sugar, and are preserved using sodium benzoate. So, we recommend looking for brands with an FSSAI license to ensure safe and hygienic products.
The traditional way to make Indian pickles is to wash, cut, dry fruits and vegetables in the sun and cure them with salt and spices. The pickles are packed into a jar made from non-reactive material such as ceramic or glass. It is then covered with a thin layer of oil for about 2–3 weeks until it's ready. Indian pickles result from anaerobic fermentation, which occurs without oxygen in airtight jars left out in the sun.
Direct sunlight provides just enough warmth for fermentation to take place. It is a long process and needs daily attention, such as moving it in and out or the sun and daily stirring. To expedite the process, it has become quite common to partially or flash cook the main ingredient before starting the pickles process. However, this results in a significant loss in natural antioxidants and nutritional value. So, go for pickles made using a traditional process as they will be rich in flavour and nutrients.
The safety of artificial colouring and flavouring has always been controversial, and there isn't any definitive proof that food colouring is dangerous for everyone. There have been many reported cases of allergic reactions and hyperactivity in sensitive children. Many studies have also claimed ill effects of these additives include hyperactivity, neurodevelopmental disorders, and other behavioural changes.
While most artificial additives have gone through testing for toxicity and approved for use, it is best to avoid them actively. It is important to note that food colourings approved for human consumption in some countries are labelled dangerous and banned in others, making its safety questionable.
The acids and spices in Indian pickles make them highly reactive and are best stored in non-reactive containers like ceramic or glass jars. Traditionally, most households preserved pickles in large ceramic or earthen pots or jaadis. However, changing times, innovation, and space constraints have led us to use glass jars to store pickles.
Plastic jars are ok to use as long as they are of food-grade quality. If you've ever stored pickles in a plastic jar for a long time, then you're familiar with the weird smell when you open the jar. This happens because plastic leaches into the pickle and changes its flavour. Glass jars, on the other hand, are non-reactive and a perfectly eco-friendly option as they can be reused.
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Stuffed Banarasi Red Chilli Pickle
Organic, Healthy, and Homemade at a Reasonable Price
Dry Mango Pickle
Try Homemade Pickles in More Than 40 Varieties
Taste the Rich Culinary Tradition From Various Parts of India
Bhut Jolokia Pickle
If You Like It Hot, Look No Further!
Spice Not Your Thing? Try This Sweet Amla Achar!
Don't Like Garlic? We've Got You Covered!
A Popular Choice in Over 45 Countries
Enjoy the Results of Traditional Pickling Techniques
Amoga's Pickles Factory
Mango Avakaya Pickle
Taste the Authentic Flavours of Andhra Pradesh
An Authentic Taste of North India
Sun Grow is an organic brand known for its healthy food products. The ingredients are handpicked, making their products nutrient-rich. Sun Grow is also FSSAI certified and is making a name for itself as a trustworthy brand name. The pickles are homemade and subsequently packaged and sealed.
Their pickles are entirely vegetarian and don't contain any artificial colours or flavours. They boast a variety of other flavours, including but not limited to carrot pickles, garlic masala, Gujarati sweet and sour pickles, Rajasthani dry mango pickles, and delicious murabbas. Some flavours even come with no onion and garlic if you have an aversion to them.
The stuffed Banarasi red chilli pickle is spicy and a hot favourite! Red chillies are rich in vitamins C, B6, and K1. They also contain copious amounts of capsaicin which is excellent for pain relief and weight loss. It uses minimal ingredients and uses mustard oil. It comes in a plastic insulated jar ensuring no spillage and safe delivery.
Add me pickles, manufactured by VPS Foods in Delhi, features a wide spread of about 40 varieties, including seven types of mango pickles and other rare recipes like bamboo, mushroom, sweet lemon and more. They have many diet-friendly options like pickles with very little or no oil.
Their products are naturally fermented and contain no artificial colouring or flavouring. They are FSSAI certified and only uses permitted preservatives. Add me promises highly stringent levels of quality control at every stage of the pickling process, including procurement of raw ingredients.
This dry mango pickle from Add me uses minimal oil, which allows the mango pieces to stay crunchy. The limited use of oil makes this pickle the perfect choice if you're watching your weight. It's packed with Vitamins C and A, which help boost immunity and maintain your vision, respectively.
Pravin pickles have been manufactured by Chordia Foods Products Ltd in Maharashtra using handpicked vegetables and fruits, which are then cut and mixed in an original spice mix and oil. They have been producing pickles since 1962, and their product list features a good mix of North Indian and South Indian pickles.
This spicy South Indian mango pickle is pickled with turmeric, chilli, salt and a blend of mustard and fenugreek seeds. It uses cottonseed oil which helps treat high cholesterol, blood pressure, arthritis, and other inflammatory conditions. It comes in a cute mango shaped plastic jar that you can reuse when you buy refill pouches.
With ingredients sourced straight from the farmers of North East India, FLAVAA's products are manufactured by Frontal Agritech in Jorhat, Assam. The company cultivates Bhut jolokia peppers in a nature-friendly environment using organic methods. While FLAVAA has a limited product list, its offerings are authentic and of export quality.
Scoville heat units are a measure of how hot chilli peppers are. Green chillies used in most Indian kitchens have 25,000 – 100,000 Scoville Units. Made from real Bhut Jolokia or ghost peppers with a Scoville heat unit of 4,00,000 to 5,00,000, this pickle is not for the faint-hearted. A tiny amount goes a long way and is the perfect treat for the ultimate spice lover. The peppers are pickled in mustard oil and sealed in a 250g airtight glass jar.
Natural Hub pickles, sold by Goldy Enterprises in Haryana, are homemade from 100% natural ingredients. They don't use any artificial colours and flavours. Their products combine sweet and tangy tastes, making it a hit with everyone in the family. Natural Hub pickles also use less oil which makes them an excellent option for kids and the elderly.
This Amla murabba or sweet gooseberry pickle is 100% organic and packed with nutrients. It contains enormous amounts of vitamin C, and its high fibre content aids digestive and gastric problems. Amlas, rich in probiotics and antioxidants, work as an immunity booster for the entire family. An invaluable winter preserve, amla murabba is the perfect healthy snack for sweet lovers.
Priya Foods, a part of the Ramoji Group in Hyderabad, has been a trustworthy name in most South Indian households name for over 40 years and with good reason. In addition to holding various global certifications, it is HALAL certified and has also been successfully audited by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
Priya features over 30 varieties, including unusual pickles like gongura, karela (bitter gourd), and brinjal. Another attractive feature is that many of its popular pickles are available with and without garlic, making them suitable for most households in India.
The tomato pickle from Priya is a mouth-watering Andhra pickle combining the fresh and tangy flavours of tomatoes. Other brands rarely offer tomato pickles, which makes this a great find! It comes in a sturdy glass jar and is a perfect addition to your pantry.
Mother's Recipe, owned by Desai Foods, is a well-known brand recognised nationally. It also has a strong presence in international markets, with its products being exported to more than 45 countries. Mother's Recipe has an ever-growing list of products featuring flavours from across India like Gujarati choodo, Kerala vadu, Madras thokku, and Bengali mango.
If you choosing from all the delicious varieties is hard, you can't go wrong with this mixed pickle option. It includes carefully selected fruits and vegetables like mangoes, carrots, limes, green chillies, and amba haldi, also known as white turmeric. However, most of their products include cottonseed oil and garlic, which might not suit everyone's tastes.
Favor8, produced by Swadeshi Agro Products in UP, is a relatively new player in the pickle industry and is certified by FSSAI & ISO. Its pickles are prepared by Gram Udyog Sansthan using traditional pickling techniques in hygienic conditions. They do not use any acidity regulators or chemical preservatives.
Pickled in natural sunlight, the mango pickle from Favor8 uses pure mustard oil extracted from mustard seeds purchased directly from local farmers. It contains no added sugars and has a shelf life of about 12 months. The pickle comes in a rustic ceramic jar or jaadi, which is fragile but attractive.
Amoga's Pickles Factory features 23 varieties of homemade pickles in distinct flavours of Andhra Pradesh. They are made in small batches to ensure taste and quality. The concoction is then preserved traditionally in earthen jars. They source the ingredients directly from farmers, and women wholly produce the products.
Avakaya is a famous mango pickle variety from Andhra cuisines bursting with flavour. Pickled using authentic Andhra chillies, pure groundnut oil, and high-quality spices, the finished product comes in an eco-friendly glass jar. It is entirely organic and uses no preservatives, so it has a relatively short shelf life compared to other products on our list.
Aroura Achar, produced by the Aroura Fruit Industry located in Lucknow, is known for its pickles, murabbas, chutneys and other delicacies. They handpick the spices and raw materials used in their pickles from places all over India. Aurora Achar promises high-quality products at very reasonable prices.
This mango pickle from Aroura Achar is entirely vegetarian and does not contain any garlic or onion. The product label features a useful spice level indicator to help you choose the appropriate spice level, especially if you have young children or cannot handle too much spice.
Here are some of our top recommendations for nutrient-rich and immunity-boosting foods to promote your digestive and overall health. All the mentioned below articles have detailed buying guides, so check out to know more.
Just because we can no longer spend weeks pickling our mangoes, there's no need to compromise on taste and quality. We hope our detailed buying guide helped you understand all aspects of Indian pickles and choose the best Indian pickle brand that's just right for your tastebuds!
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