Indian Pickle Tales: Uses of Rock Salt
Bonny Shah

Bonny Shah
27 May 2020

This article is authored by Bonny Shah. Bonny is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator.

The art of pickling dates back to the middle ages where the longevity of seasonal food could be extended through drying, curing with salt, sugar or brine and then storing it in airtight containers. India remains the cradle for the origin of diverse cultures, traditions and cuisines. Gifted with a wide variety of ingredients unique to each region, it is natural that you would find a rich spread of pickles to choose from here.

What Role Do Pickles Play in Indian Cuisine?

Our ancestors discovered that pickling was the secret to prolonging the life of perishable food, dealing with seasonal availability and scarcity. In India, they are usually served alongside rice and dal or chapatis or parathas. Here, they are better known as ‘achar’ and make a tasty accompaniment to your everyday meals. Not only do pickles vary in ingredients from one region to the other, but they also vary in flavour from sweet to vinegary. But whatever the flavour might be, the process of pickling involves a few similar steps across the world. Apart from imparting a tangy taste, pickles are rich in antioxidants and play an important role in digestion.

The Uses of Rock Salt in Pickling

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Rock salt plays a vital role in fermentation, which is an essential process involved in the preservation of food. Most pickles get their unique flavour through a process called anaerobic fermentation. The fruits or vegetables are first dried, then cured with salt in airtight jars and left in the sun. During this process, the salt-tolerant bacteria that is present on the surface digests the sucrose in the fruits and vegetables and produces carbon dioxide, acetic acid and lactic acid. This acetic acid then acts as a natural preservative and inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria which would make the pickle rancid. Rock salt is widely used as a preservative in India and across the globe. However, you could use any salt to pickle your food. Using rock salt comes with many health benefits – it helps regulate your sleep cycle and is a boon for your immunity.

While each country comes with its own unique variants of pickles, the Indian subcontinent is home to some of the most flavourful ones. Mango pickle or aam ka achar is popular across the entire country. Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh share a fondness for pork and bamboo shoot pickle. Thecha from Maharashtra and chukh from Himachal Pradesh are variants of chutney-pickles. They are both made from spicy red chillies that are cooked and marinated in oil. Prawn pickle is immensely famous in many Southern and Western Indian regions. Prawn balchao is the Goan variant while in Andhra Pradesh, prawn pickle is called royyala pachadi. On a sweeter note, chunda is a popular sweet pickle from Gujarat made with mango and is served alongside theplas or puris.

If you can think of a fruit or vegetable, there is probably a pickle recipe for it waiting to be executed. Making your own pickles at home ensures that you know exactly what goes into it. Use Rock Salt by Tata for your pickles. It is 100% pure and packed with essential minerals for that added flavour and nutrition. Happy Pickling!


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