Achaar — or “Indian pickle,” as it’s sometimes referred to — is a popular Indian condiment made from local fruits or vegetables, spices, chili and oil. The flavor is spicy, sour, savory and sweet. You can think of it as the Indian equivalent of Sriracha, kimchi, or harissa. I grew up eating it mixed into rice and dal, in plain yogurt, or on sandwiches. It has so much flavor, you just need to add a bit to give your meal a pick-me-up!
My favorites that I bring back from India are green mango, thin-skinned lemon and gooseberry. I started making my own achaars from local produce I received in my farmshare when I realized I couldn’t really find achaars with that homemade flavor available in stores in the US. I experimented with rhubarb, American gooseberries, garlic and heirloom tomatoes. I ended up serving up these achaars at my cooking classes and pop-up dinners. Seeing how popular they were, my fiancé Ben, who is a food packaging designer, encouraged me to launch my own line and he offered to design the labels. Thus, my Indian condiments line Brooklyn Delhi was born!
I’ve made my achaar recipes more versatile in flavor than traditional achaars — which usually have more salt — so you can use them in a variety of ways: on eggs, on a baguette with cheese, to flavor sautéed vegetables, on burgers and marinades, mixed into soups, or even in a Tarte à la Tomate:
I adapted my friend Brigitte’s recipe for her famous Tarte à la Tomate and made it spicy with the addition of my handmade tomato achaar from Brooklyn Delhi. —Chitra Agrawal
- Test Kitchen-Approved
- For the tart dough:
sticks unsalted butter
ice water (may need a little more if the air is really dry)
- For the tart filling:
Brooklyn Delhi tomato achaar (or a spicy mustard or just dijon if you don’t have achaar)
grated cheese (Emmental, Gruyère, and Parmesan — I’ve used cheddar too)
freshly chopped parsley or oregano
Fleur de sel
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Prepare the dough. Combine flour, salt, and butter in a food processor or by hand in a bowl. Add ice water slowly while pulsing in the food processor until it gets clumpy (or gradually by hand). Gather the dough together, being careful not to over-handle it; if it’s overworked, it won’t be light and flaky. Cover it in saran wrap and if you have the time, let it rest in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes (or longer, if you want to prepare the dough ahead of time — just let it sit at room temp briefly before working with it, to make it easier to roll out).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough to be large enough to cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides. Add additional flour as you roll to keep it from sticking. When finished, roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll it onto your tart pan. Press the dough down so it fits snugly into the pan, cutting off excess dough that falls outside the top of the pan.
- Prick a few holes in the dough to prevent it from puffing up. Cook it for about 10 min at 450° F or until it begins to brown.
- Spread the tomato achaar on the dough. Layer half of the combination of Gruyère, Emmental, and Parmesan cheeses. Then layer your sliced tomatoes and top with another layer of cheese. Cook it for about 20 minutes at 450° F. The crust needs to be “golden to brown” and the cheese should be nice and melted and almost browned and crusty.
- Sprinkle the finished tarte with fleur de sel and chopped parsley, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm or cold.
Specialize in Indian recipes using local ingredients. I’m the owner of Brooklyn Delhi and author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn (Penguin Random House).