3.8/5 rating (16 votes)

Nimbu ka Achaar (Lemon Pickle)

Lime Pickle

  • Heat Medium
  • Prep 20 mins
  • Marinade 1 min
  • Cook 10 mins
Nimbu ka Achaar (Lemon Pickle)

Hot and spicy lime pickle.

Hari says

Any Indian meal is not complete without a selection of side dishes and condiments. Lime pickle is a classic condiment that is eaten with many dishes, it not just to dip your crispy poppadoms into it is so much more.

In India this pickle is made with lemons (nimbu means lemons). This is because the lemons are much smaller in size then european ones and they have a very thin outer peel. Also the climate over there means pickles like this soften much more quickly. I have also added a quick method below which involves steaming the limes to help soften them more quickly.

There are many ways of making this pickle and sometimes I also add ginger and garlic in step one. Others also like to add the same amount of sugar to give a slight sweet and spicy flavour. Once you have this basic recip under your belt you can start to add your own twists to it.

This is a very tangy pickle because all the acidity is drawn out of the limes but it's beautifully balanced with the salt and chilli.

This is a uniquely flavoured pickle that makes a wonderful gift to give to your friends.

  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • 4 limes, washed and cut into 8 chunks (skin on - remove pips)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder (adjust to taste)

Oil tempering

  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp kalonji seeds (nigella)
  • ½ tsp asafoetida
  • 3 dried red chillies (optional)


  1. Sterilise a glass jar and add the chopped limes, salt, chilli powder and turmeric.
  2. Put the lid on the jar and shake.
  3. Leave the jar on a window sill (preferably in the sun) for one month. Ensure you give the jar a shake everyday.
  4. After one month heat the mustard oil to smoking point then leave to cool.
  5. Once cooled, reheat and add the mustard, fenugreek, kalonji seeds, asafoetida and dried chillies until they sizzle. Cool and pour the spiced oil into the jar with the limes. Shake and leave for a few days before using.

Quick version

  1. After step 1 above squeeze the juice from the limes and set the juice to one side. Put the limes into a steamer for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Leave to cool.
  2. Add the juice back into the limes and place in a jar and leave for 2 days. Ideally on a window sill inthe sun. Ensure you shake the jar every few hours.
  3. Move to step 4 as above.


Served with

This pickle can be stored for up to a year. Ensure that no water is introduced into the pickle. This makes a tangy pickle for nibbles as well as a side for your main dishes. You can substitute the limes for lemons, green mangoes or aubergines instead.

Nutritional information

Typical values* per Serving
Fat (g)3
of which saturates (g)0
Carbohydrates (g)3
of which sugars (g)0
Fibre (g)1
Protein (g)1
Salt (mg)867
*Based upon calculated values, supplied by myfitnesspal.com. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated.

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Comments (6)

  • Al


    05 February 2018 at 03:49 |
    As the pickle is aged for 30 days, is it done by keeping the lid closed ( air tight ) or should cover with the cloth so air can circulate in the Jar?.
    I remember grand mother use to use a cloth tied on the top of the jar.


    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      05 February 2018 at 17:15 |
      Hi Al I usually do it with the lid on. I have heard others use a cloth too but I have it in a closed jar. Hope that helps. Thanks Hari


  • Helene


    14 January 2017 at 14:54 |
    Hi Hari,
    I've got a citrus house plant which produces small but edible, sour fruits, similar in taste to a lemon and I figured they would be perfect for this recipe! The only problem is, it is fruiting now (January) and my windowsill is nowhere near warm enough :( Any tips or suggestions?
    Thanks, Helene


    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      14 January 2017 at 18:24 |
      Hi Helene Exciting stuff - I think it will work anyway may just take a bit longer - make sure you give the jar a shake every day though. If you have an airing cupboard you could put it in there too. But I think it will work anyway. Let me know how you get on Thanks


  • Hari Ghotra

    Hari Ghotra

    21 May 2015 at 07:59 |
    Hi Nisha
    Don't panic just add a little more mustard oil to loosen it all up. Did you get juice in the jar from the limes?


  • nisha


    21 May 2015 at 00:59 |
    Hi I'm making this pickle and I've added the mustard oil but its in a big clump and won't separate when i shake the jar. Its also not as oily as the picture. What should I do?


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