Thursday, June 20, 2013

Naplam Achar/Fermented Fish Pickle

A jar of pickle and freshly cut anthuriums/ferns light up my kitchen table
The fermented fish/naplam that is so loved by us is made into chutney, khari, and pickle. Today I made this pickle adding some dried shrimp and dried fish. 
Most of the ingredients that go into the pickle. Only the oil, turmeric and  salt are not in this photo

About 200 grams fermented fish
100 grams of dried shrimp
100 grams of dried fish, cut into half inch pieces
Ginger, I used a 3" piece
Garlic, I used about 30 cloves
10 large onions, grated
One packet of hot chilli powder
About half a litre of mustard oil
A few Indian bay leaves/tejpatta
Salt to taste
Coriander powder (optional)

Wash the shrimp, check for grit and drain. Chop the dried fish (I used Bombay duck) into half inch pieces. Wash and drain. Do the same with the fermented fish. 

Heat oil in a karhai. When it comes to smoking point, add the bay leaves and then the onions. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic pastes.

Keep frying then add the turmeric and chilli powder. if using, the coriander powder can be added at this point. The dried fish and the shrimp can go in now. When the pickle is nearly done (you can tell by the look and the colour) add the fermented fish. Fry only for a few more minutes as it will get cooked in the hot oil, then turn off the gas. Check the seasoning. The entire cooking time will be between 20-25 minutes. Cool and bottle. The pickle will keep for 15-20 days without refrigeration.

The turmeric I used was preserved in vinegar. A visitor on seeing my turmeric plants in pots had told me that she slices them, keeps them in vinegar, and eats them straight from the bottle. Just a few slices a day. The health benefits of this spice are many. Well I tried it but the taste was so awful. But I'm glad I have some home-grown turmeric in vinegar and that is what I used in this pickle.Coarsely ground, of course. Traditionally, turmeric is cleaned, boiled, sliced and dried in the sun before being powdered. It's a long process. I prefer to use the fresh ones when they are dug up around March/April. The rest of the time I use the powder form from local growers.
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