Indian Lime Pickle

Indian lime pickles are a blend of limes, chilli & spices, and you’ll always find them served with Indian banquets, as their zesty, fiery tang perfectly offsets the rich, dense flavours of curries.

Traditionally, Indian lime pickles are made by fermentation, in a similar way to Moroccan preserved lemons, but long before we got into fermenting, the idea of leaving a jar for fruit & salt on a sunny windowsill for two weeks sounded less than appealing so we hunted around for alternative recipes and mashed them all together to create this spicy, punchy pickle. It’s more like a chutney, and doesn’t call for any fermentation, which means it’s a bit quicker to produce.

Homegrown limes are best for this recipe, as you can leave them to fully ripen on the tree (the skin of Tahitian limes turn yellow when they’re ripe – the ones you buy at the supermarket are often very underripe), which gives this preserve a more rounded, sweet-and-sour flavour.


  • 700g limes (~9 limes)
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 sprigs curry leaves (~30 leaves)
  • 15 garlic cloves (~100 g), finely chopped
  • 50g ginger, peeled & grated
  • 1tbsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar


  1. Put whole limes in saucepan and cover with water. Boil then simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Drain and allow to cool overnight.
  3. Cut limes into small pieces. We use scissors. Cut lengthways into 8 ‘boats’, then snip each boat into 4 pieces. Set aside in a bowl along with any juices that escaped during cutting.
  4. In a small bowl, combine chilli, turmeric, garlic powder, and a little water until it forms a paste. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil on medium in a heavy bottomed pan.
  6. Add mustard seeds. When they begin to crackle, add fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Stir for about a minute.
  7. Stir in chopped ginger and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the powder paste, and stir over the heat for 4 minutes.
  9. Add chopped limes, salt, sugar and vinegar. Stir well.
  10. Heat, stirring occasionally, until piping hot all the way through, then pour into hot, sterilised jars. Seal while hot with sterilised lids.

Label once cool.
This preserve can be eaten after around a month, but will improve dramatically over time, so leave it for as long as you can to mature. The best batch we ever ate had been curing for a full 2 years.

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy

Looking for more savoury preserves to make? Take a look at these chutneys…

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