Guava pickle. Yes you read that right. All the regional cuisines of India have such an ancient tradition of pickling and preserving all kinds of vegetables (including vegetable peels), fruits, meats and seafood but rarely do you hear of a hot guava pickle. I knew of green guava chutneys, a sweet North Indian guava pickle (flavoured with fennel, fenugreek and mustard seeds like mango chchunda) and even a Rajasthani amrud ki sabzi but had never tasted a savoury guava pickle.
An abundance of guavas this time of year inspired me to try making a quick pickle, one that doesn’t require time in the sun or a long pickling process. This hot and sweet guava pickle is a cooked pickle that stays well in the fridge for upto 10 days. Since it’s an instant pickle, there is no need for large quantities of oil or vinegar or sugar to act as a preserving agent. For this guava pickle recipe, I’ve followed the South India style of pickles and used spices and flavours that are typical to this part of the country – fenugreek, curry leaves, sesame (gingellly) oil, mustard powder etc.
The guavas were ripe and sweet but firm. Guavas once ripe, quickly turn soft and squishy; overripe guavas will turn mushy during cooking and are not suited to pickles. So make sure you choose fruit that is just ripe for this recipe. Fresh, hot, green chillies (bird’s eye, serrano, kanthiri from Kerala and other small varieties), fresh curry leaves and a few cloves of garlic bring an extra dimension to the pickle, which otherwise would be a little flat. This complexity is what makes the pickle feel fuller on the tongue. Your palate knows that there is a lot going on there and in a good way – it’s an ensemble of taste sensations.
This pickle is an instant one like I said so there is very little preparation involved other than chopping the guavas, chillies and garlic. This guava pickle is a great side dish to effortlessly add to your menu when you feel you need that one dish to complete your table. It holds its own and is wonderful with stuffed or plain parathas, curd rice (thaiir saadam or perugu annam), simple dal chawal, khichdi and even with different types of dosas and pesarattu (moong dal dosa from Andhra).
- 3 Largee, ripe guava diced and seeds removed
- 3 fresh, hot green chillies cut into 1 cm - long pieces
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 10-12 curry leaves
- ¼ tsp fenugreek or methi powder
- ½ tsp mustard or rail (black) powder
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ¼ tsp asafoetida powder or hing
- 2 tbsp jaggery powder
- 1¼ tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 dried red chilly broken into two
- 1½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1½ tbsp gingelly oil
- ½1 tbsp salt
- Heat the oil in a kadai or pan, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida, dried red chilli and curry leaves and let them crackle. Take care not to burn the tempering.
- Keeping the heat on low-medium, toss in the chopped guava, green chillies and garlic. Add the salt, mix well, cover and cook for 10 min till the guava are soft but not mushy.
- Now add the ground spices and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Mix in the jaggery powder and vinegar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes till all the spices are well incorporated.
- Check one last time for salt, season if required, turn off the heat and cool the pickle. Store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 10 days.