Naarthangai aka Citron is a citrus fruit used in cooking. In Tamilnadu we use it for pickles, preserves and pachadis whereas it is used in making jam, desserts and candied peels in some countries. I have never used naarthangai in cooking till now and have never seen mom making pickles with it. But I have tasted the pickle in hotels. The first time I came across a sweet with citron is while making Julekake for Baking Eggless challenge. Candied citron peels are used for flavour in that bread. In these four years of blogging, I never bought citron or made anything with it. After the month long sweets in my blog, I was craving for something spicy. When I went to the farmer’s market last week, I saw a lady selling naarthangai. They looked so much like lemons but the skin was ragged. I thought of buying half a kg but the lady insisted on buying one kg as it was very cheap. So I came home with lots of naarthangai without any knowledge of the recipes I could use them in.
If I ever face this situation, my first call would be to my mom asking for the recipe, but as I didn’t have that luxury this time, I caleed her sister. My aunt is a great cook and I call her if I am in doubt. When I called her, even she hadn’t cooked with citron but gave me some hope that she will get the recipe next day. She gave me two recipes the next day collected from her co sister. The recipes I read online mentioned about letting the citron pieces sok in salt and its own juice for a week before adding chilly powder and tempering. But my aunt told that as citron has a thick skin, it takes a long time to soak and even the taste will be a bit raw. So instead she gave me two options. What I did was, I divided the whole batch into three portions. I made two pickles as per my aunt’s recipes and the other batch is still on my counter to be used up for pachadi which I saw online. Today’s recipes need citron to be sliced into tiny pieces and is fried in lots of oil. This is absolutely delicious with curd rice. Whether it is lemon or citron they need a week time to develope flavour and get rid of the bitter taste. So if you find the pickle bitter on the first day do not panic. They will be perfect in a weeks time. But somehow I like this bitter taste so much and so I have been relishing the pickle from the first day onwards.
Citron -10 (lemon sized)
Red Chilly Powder-4 tbs
To Roast and Grind:
Fenugreek Seeds-1 tsp
Mustard Seeds-1/2 tsp
Gingelly Oil-12 tbs
Mustard Seeds-1 tsp
Hing/ Asafoetida-1/4 tsp
Wash and dry the citrons.
Cut them into tiny pieces. Do not discard seeds.
Now in a large bowl, mix together citron pieces, salt and red chilly powder and mix well.
Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile dry roast fenugreek and mustard seeds and grind to fine powder.
In a pan add oil and when hot add mustard and hing.
When they crackle add in the citron mix to the oil and keep on stirring. Lower flame and allow the itron to cook for 10 minutes. Keep on stirring in between.
Finally add the ground powder and mix well.
Switch off flame and allow it to cool completely.
Transfer to a glass jar.
Never use a wet spoon in a pickle jar.
Always close the jar when not in use.
If you have large quantities of pickle, transfer some pickle to a smaller jar for every day use. Keep the bigger jar tightly closed.